Places to see in Ireland. Diary of our journey. August 2023. A travel blog.
We always wanted to visit this part of Europe. So we planned our trip a few months in advance. I ordered books online and searched for places in the internet. But what helped me a lot was when I asked my kids' teacher about Ireland because she told she would stay there for summer. Many teaches in our kids' school in Dubai are from Ireland and our class teacher asked them about places we could visit based on our itinerary. It helped me so much!
Visas to Ireland
Ireland permitted Ukrainians to come without visas since March 2022, and we decided to use this opportunity.
Apart from that, our friends moved to Ireland after the war started in Ukraine so we wanted to see them too.
Walking trails in Mayo, next to the house where our friends live
Rain boots is a must-have
The view on our way to the South of Ireland.
I kept track of our journey and wanted to write a blog about our trip when I came back to Dubai.
We traveled at the end of July and our journey lasted for 2 weeks in total. I flew with girls from Bilbao where we stayed two more weeks before, and my husband joined us in Ireland (he flew from Dubai) after a few days we arrived there.
It was an amazing time. We rented a car and our plan was to explore as many places as possible. Of course, two weeks is not enough but we didn't want to be in a rush. We knew that we couldn't see everything.
So what did we do? I had a plan and pinned locations in a Google map I found before the trip. Everyday we decided how we would travel and how long our drive would last to the next staycations. Based on it, we chose places on our way. Sometimes we visited several locations, sometimes only two. And it was ok.
I hope this information will help you to plan a trip to Ireland. Do it beforehand, because it was not easy at all to find places, most of them were too pricey.
I knew that I needed to pack rain jackets. But they turned out to be too light so we needed to buy thicker and more rain resistant.
As I planned, the first thing I bought on our arrival was wellies for girls. It turned out to be not so easy because now our girls have a size between children and adult so it was a quest. But we did it.
I would recommend to pack these items for sure:
- Rain coats for everyone. Ours we bought in Wolfskin and for kids we bought in Ireland in Pennyes Primark.
- Wellies (rain boots) for kids and good hiking shoes for adults. Although in some places I wished I had wellies as well. We bought waterproof hiking shoes in Jack Wolfskin and were very happy with the choice. Shoes for Amelia were bought in NEXT shop and for Milana - in a HomeLand shop.
- Umbrellas (at least two for a family of four);
- Two pairs of leggings and tops with long sleeves
- Many socks because you need to put them everyday:)
- Hats (in some windy places we used them a lot)
Our thick raincoat was a perfect choice in Ireland
Girls wore wellies most of the time. Only in Dublin they didn't use them.
Sleeveless vest was also very useful in Ireland with ever changing weather.
Evening on Bertra Beach.
Happy Amelia who really enjoyed running on the dunes and on the beach with foam floating in the water.
One day we woke up at 5.20 am and set off before 6 am with my friend. We wanted to climb on the Patrick mountain, 25 minutes drive from where we live at our friends. When we arrived we realized that there were too many cars parked. We were told that it was a Reek Sunday, which takes place on the last Sunday in July, is an auspicious occasion celebrated in Ireland. This year, it falls on July 30.
My first thought was to run away because I wanted to enjoy our walk without anybody around. But we parked and started to climb.
To be honest, I was not sure if I could do it. I felt so tired, and it was just the beginning. Old women and men were passing so fast so I felt pressure that I am much younger but feeling not ok.
Then I just decided to accept it, and climb slowly. We took breaks and drank hot tea. It worked.
A location for Parking for the Croagh Patrick
Mornings at our friends.
Fields full of camomiles.
Clouds in the sky is what made my look up and admire everyday.
Hiking and walking in Mayo
Letterkeen Trailhead. We took a middle track, 5 km. Kids really enjoyed it.
It rained so many times. Then the sun went out and it became hot. The wind was severe. So it was a good idea to take rain boot and raincoats. The weather is very changeable.
In the evening we went for a walk in Lough Lannagh.
Letterkeen Trailhead hiking
Our trip along a breathtaking landscapes.
The list of places we visited:
- Spanish Armada Viewpoint
- Keem beach
- Keel beach
- Mulranny Beach
After 2 pm we went to the West to search for beaches and nice landscapes. We really hoped for a nice weather. This time we were very lucky🙂 It shined most of the time with some short drizzles.
Our final destination was Keem beach. But you need to know which road to take to go along a seaside .
On our way back we stoped at Keel Beach.
I loved this place: the view and atmosphere. There were few food trucks where we bought food and tea. Girls played on a playground and I enjoyed the sea view and clouds floating in the sky.
I will give you our route we chose to get the best view while driving (thanks to our friends living in that part of Ireland). This is our route.
Sky dance from Spanish Armada Viewpoint
Keel beach in Ireland
Downpatrick head trip
List of places:
- Downpatrick Head
- Cbi beach
We went to Downpatrick Head. A breathtaking view with quite dangerous cliffs. The road took around one hour from the place we were staying.
There were few people and the weather was nice. But it was sunny only in the beginning. Then the rain started so we had to shorten our visit and hide in the car.
Our next stop was Cbi beach where girls played and we had a rest. I even took a short nap before the rain (again) started🙈 You'd better bring some snacks because it was not easy for us to find a place to grab a lunch.
In the evening on our way back home we had a dinner with friends at Giovanna's Restaurant in Westport. The pizza was delicious.
View from Downpatrick Head
It was a nice walk there, but then the rain started.
List of places:
- Tourmakeady Waterfall
- Connemara Sheep and Wool Centre
Last day at our friends’ house and now we are on our way to explore other parts of Ireland.
First stop: Tourmakeady Waterfall. A nice walk to the waterfall and hiking trails. People even swam in the waterfall. 🙈
Then we set off to Connemara Sheep and Wool Centre along a very picturesque road with mountains and lakes.
We took an excursion at Connemara Sheep and Wool Centre. There were only us and two more women from France. The tour is worth visiting, for sure. We could try things and the guide was a very lovely man. I didn’t know that so much wool is bought by Chine by very cheap prices.
After the museum visit we wanted to have a lunch (dinner) but a cafe closed at 5 pm. If you plan to visit this museum and shop come earlier for sure. So our stop was at a very Irish pub:) Gaynor's Bar, The Field Bar Hamilton's Bar. Kids chose beef burger and chips and Alex chose a stew. By the way, burger here means a bun with a beef and cheese (if u want). You put ketchup or mustard by yourself.
Our first overnight stay is in Sonas Bed & Breakfast. We had a room with three beds. And a breakfast was included.
Tourmakeady Waterfall hiking
Beautiful landscapes on our way to the South, Ireland
A quick snack with sandwiches from Sourdough bread:)
List of places we visited:
- Coral Strand
- Brigit's Garden & Café
- Dunguaire Castle
- Burren National Park
Today we visited 4 places in total. We were traveling now to the South through Galway. We didn't stay in the town though.
First we went to Coral Strand. It was very windy but one old man even swam… so maybe it was cold only for us🤣
The road took around 50 minutes. It was a low tide so we could walk and see some sea life left on the shore.
We even saw a butterfly who was afraid of a strong wind:)
Next stop was at Brigit's Garden & Café ( 50 min drive from the beach). An amazing wonder place for kids. The girl at the reception gave a brochure with tasks for kids and said that if they finished it they would receive some small reward. Guess who was motivated to accomplish it? Our little one, Amelia, of course)) In the end they got a lollipop and a small sticker.
Fee entrance for our family was 29 euros. Moreover, we had a delicious lunch with herbs grown in that garden. A chai latte is the one you need to try for sure!
Then we wanted to get inside this Dunguaire Castle. The road took an hour and it said that the castle closed at 5 pm. So we were running out of time. Anyway, we were very lucky. We arrived at 4.29 pm. One minute later and we would have been not allowed! The last visitor could enter at 4.30 pm.
Our next decision was what to do before going to our next stop near Limerick town. We decided to spend this time hiking a bit before bedtime. So we drove to Burren National Park. There were no signs. We drove along one lane road and I was not sure if we were going the right way🤣 But we did. Thank you, Google map!
There was no obvious entrance. Just go and hike. We didn’t take the full hiking loop because it would have taken us more than 2 hours. We wanted to walk only for 1 hour. The wind was very strong so we put on many layers of clothes. In the end, the sun came out and it became much more comfortable. It felt like in Iceland.
Burren National Park
Burren National Park
List of places:
- Moher cliffs
- Lunch in Doolin (The Ivy Cottage)
- Spanish beach
- Kilkee Cliffs
I usually make a plan where to go in the evening. Today, our route included several stops. Because of the weather, we didn’t hike at the last stop and a cafe nearby closed at 6 pm (we arrived at 6.15 pm). But it would have been a nice walk in case of a sunny weather.
Our first stop was famous Moher cliffs. My friend told me that the entrance was not free. I wanted to see if there was any other way to get there. I opened Google map and investigated it. Guess what? I found another entrance. I read the reviews and realized that the entrance to the cliffs is free but u need to pay 12 euros for each adult in a car.. . so u pay not for the entrance but for a parking. People complained about it.
I put another location and we drove there. The roads became busier and we had a feeling that this part of Ireland is quite popular.
We got to the parking and paid 5 euros. Instead of 24 euros ( 2 adults and kids free) we paid only 5 euros:) not so many people but u need to walk quite a bit. Anyway, we had a nice view of the cliffs. With our kids we hiked around 40 minutes one way. But the whole walking trail could have taken 1.5 hours one way. We decided not to spend too much time with kids who started to complain anyway🤣 we had a rest, climbed the hills and went back to the car.
Our next stop was a cafe in Doolin (The Ivy Cottage, Fisher St, Ballyvara, Doolin) highly rated on Google map. The choice was good:) you choose a table, remember the number of it and go inside to order. We got crab and shrimps. This place is known for its fish and chips but we didn’t order them.
Then we took a drive to Spanish beach. It lightly rained so we just walked a bit on the shore. People swam in the sea but I didn’t even want to remove my coat🤪
Alex took a power nap in the car because he drove pretty a lot that day.
Our last stop for that day should have been Kilkee Cliffs (park near Rock cafe) but the weather was so unwelcome so we decided not to get wet and went home.
Moher cliffs, Ireland
People walked to the main entrance of Moher cliff but with kids it was not for us so we just walked a little bit without any rush.
- Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
- Muckross House in Killarney National Park
We checked out from our home at 10 am and headed towards South, our next stop. Our first destination was Bunratty Castle & Folk Park where we spent around 3 hours. I am a big fan of castles so this place was just what I needed to get inspired. Be early to get first and there will be not that many people on the premises.
Apart from that there were many houses to show how Irish people lived. Poor and rich.
We saw how an apple pie was prepared. Later, we even bought a piece of it in a cafe:)
Our next stop was Muckross House in Killarney National Park. We arrived around 5 pm and buses with tourists were already departing. The last entrance is at 5.40 pm so actually we got very lucky (again). We arrived at 5.20 pm and spent 40 minutes inside, admiring how big the house was for that time.. (built in 1843). Not many people inside and basically we were one of the last to exit the building. Even girls liked to see the kid's room, bathrooms and maids' rooms.
Muckross House, a beautiful surrounding and a visit to the house is a must for those who love to see how people used to live.
Basically, that was all we saw that day. But we spent there several hours in each and it was still not enough.
We went to our camp van place in the South. Somewhere here.
In the evening I went for a walk with Milana to see the ocean. She was really happy and the weather was just perfect. It was quite muddy and I couldn't go further because the pond in the middle of a road was too suspicious:)
This was our home for one night. Such a unique experience.
Walking in the nature is such a luxury for us after living in Dubai for 8 years.
- Dereen Garden
- Ewe Experience
We stayed one night in the van and next morning went further to Cork direction.
The road was through the mountains (with beautiful view) but the driving in some places were not easy. I cannot imagine how drivers go with vans there..
We went first to Dereen Garden with a nice cafe and a big territory to walk around. I love such places. It's like in a magic garden. The place and nature reminded us of a Vancouver island. So peaceful and inspiring. We had a lovely brunch after the walk in the same place.
Our next stop was Ewe Experience. An interesting place to go with kids. I didn’t plan to go there first. There was no information in books or google map. But in one magazine in the van (we stayed last night) I read about this place:) So sometimes it's worth reading magazines and newspapers))
In the evening we arrived at a cosy house for two nights in Ballymacoda (via Airbnb). It took 10 minutes walk to the beach and we spent a nice evening there.
The house is away from the city life. The lady even left some cookies, eggs, milk, fruits, raspberry jam and baked cones which was very sweet of her💛
the breathtaking landscapes on our way in Ireland
It was such a treat to have food from a host in a house where we stayed
- Blarney Castle and Gardens
- Cork city
- Walking path in Ballycotton.
Our first stop that day was Blarney Castle and Gardens. A huge territory with a medieval castle, gardens, park and a Blarney House.
Most of the time with spent in the castle because there was a magic stone and if you kiss it you will become eloquent🙈 Therefore, there was a queue there. I decided not to kiss the stone ( not a big fan of such things and thousands of people already kissed it before), but Alex did.
Our next stop was a city Cork. It seemed a bit of depressed for me, to be honest. Like you got into a movie about Irish old times. Not as tidy as in other small towns. Not many trees and parks. But it was a nice walk. We had pizza in an Italian cafe. We liked that in most big cities there is a car parking 🅿️ in the downtown so you will find a place to leave your car for several hours.
On our way back we visited this nice walking path and had a walk in the city along the sea with Lighthouse in the distance Ballycotton.
Walking in the rain in Ballycotton. Not far away, there is a view at the Lighthouse on the island.
A Lighthouse in the distance
- Kilkenny and its castle
- St. Mary’s Medieval Mile Museum
- Curracloe Beach
- Enniscorthy town
The time to move further to the North. Our first city was Kilkenny and its castle. Today we spent quite a lot time driving but the trip was full of good memories and places. We parked here and went first to the castle. It included many rooms to visit and afterwards girls played on a big playground while we had a coffee break outdoors in a small cafe by the castle.
On our way back to the parking lot we visited St. Mary’s Medieval Mile Museum . When they heard that we were Ukrainians they didn’t charge us for the entrance.
The kids got a map with lego pieces ( Irish heroes) to find in the Church and this is what kept them busy:)
Kilkenny castle from outside
Latte time while kids played on a playground nearby. But then the rain started...again))
Our next destinations were places where a movie “Brooklyn” was filmed. There are few places in Ireland as I read about a day before. We watched this movie in 2015 in Dubai, during our first year and it stayed in our hearts. Because it’s about emigration and life afterwards.
So my goal was to find these places. I googled the beach and streets in a city where some episodes where filmed.
Some famous movies were filmed on the same beach as well. The name is Curracloe Beach. And the beach itself is amazing. It was cloudy in the beginning but then the sun came out as a present for us. The beach is huge and so amazing.
Our next stop - the town of Enniscorthy where the city scenes from the movie were filmed. I found in Google map streets where it was filmed: John St, Court St, The Folly, Mrs Kelly’s shop, and The Athenaeum.
There is Raven Wood Nature Reserve nearby but we didn’t have time for it. In case u go there check it out.
A screenshot from the movie "Brooklyn"
- Avondale Forest Park
- Powerscourt Waterfall
Heading towards Dublin with two stops in the nature. First stop: Avondale Forest Park. Come here for a nice walk and a slide from the top of the constructed building! 2 euros for each ride. Apart from that you pay for the entrance.
Our next destination was Powerscourt Waterfall. The weather was just perfect that day. Even too hot. Because of that many families came to the park to enjoy the time. You pay for the entrance for a car and then just drive inside and enjoy the place.
Morning spent here with a slide from the tree top:) Avondale Forest Park
A park with Powerscourt Waterfall where we had our lunch before setting off to Dublin. We had to give our car at 4 pm
The next few days we spent in Dublin. Dublin was very welcome and nice. I cannot say that the place we stayed in was perfect but the location was close to the downtown so we could just walk with kids everyday. We stayed in Griffinth Halls of Residence. Everyone told us that the prices went up so much so it's always better to book places much in advance! Especially, in Dublin.
The weather was nice and there were many places we went to.
There are few places I would recommend for sure:
- Riverdance show
- Viking Splash tour
- National Gallery of Ireland
- National Museum of Ireland - Natural History
- The Little Museum of Dublin
- The Ark (for kids)
Riverdance show (In Dublin till September). Be sure to book in advance. I thought we wouldn’t get there because there were no tickets online. But we went to a ticket office and got lucky! Four seats in a row for us. The show was just incredible. The girls enjoyed the show so much.
Viking Splash tour. The finniest driver carries you in a car-boat vehicle through the downtown of Dublin and you roars at pedestrians along with stories about Dublin. Book online in advance. We also got lucky to have tickets.
The girls enjoyed the evening performace of Riverdance very much.
Let's go on a Viking tour!
We went to the National Gallery of Ireland but it was a short visit🤣
Another must visit place is The Little Museum of Dublin. No booking is required but come before 4 pm. There is an entertaining tour about Dublin and people who lived there.
Last minute I found that there was an exhibition for kids in the Ark space and we all enjoyed the time there. The entrance was free.
That day we watched the cartoon "Wolfwalkers" all together.
Amelia tried very hard to draw something from the cartoon:)
Places we ate in Dublin
27.07 - 02.08 - at our friends near Westport in Mayo
02.08 - 03.08 - Connemara - B&B on the Wild Atlantic Way
03.08 - 05.08 - not far from Limerick - Rual irish charm
05.08 - 06.08 - South of Ireland - in a van somewhere here ( I couldn't find it on Airbnb though)
06.08 - 08.08 - Ballymacoda - Charming Coastal Cottage in Ballymacoda
08.08 - 09.08 - Kiltegan - Ballymaconey House
09.08 - 12.08 - Dublin - Griffinth Halls of Residence
B&B on the Wild Atlantic Way. A room with three beds and a breakfast included. Connemara, Ireland
A very cosy house. A host is a lady who has two horses and two adorable dogs:) We had our own entrance. The house is not far from Limerick
A Charming Coastal Cottage in Ballymacoda. We stayed here 2 days. far away from everything. A short walk to the beach.
A dream camper van. I didn't like this idea to stay in a camper van but how wrong I was! We loved it.
One night near Kiltegan - Ballymaconey House. The host served us tea and cookies in the evening and we had breakfast in the morning.
Just wanted to warn you to be cautious and check your kids and yourself after nature walks in the evening.
One morning we found 6 ticks on Amelia! I have no idea where she got them but definitely in one place. Everything is ok but we were all very stressed in the beginning because we didn't expect to find them in Ireland. So naive.