When I first started planning my 3-day Ireland itinerary, I had two primary bucket list goals: see the Cliffs of Moher and visit the Guinness Factory. Now that I’ve successfully completed my trip, I am confident that everything on my itinerary is worth its own bucket list checkbox! From exploring the city of Cork to crossing the Shannon Estuary via car ferry, Ireland offers many unique experiences outside of the more popular attractions.
Are you planning a trip to Ireland? Here is my 3-day Ireland itinerary that I highly recommend as a guide to planning your trip, especially if it is your first time visiting!
3-Day Ireland Itinerary: FLIGHT
This 3-day Ireland itinerary starts off in Dublin (and eventually makes its way back to Dublin). I booked a nonstop roundtrip flight from Providence, Rhode Island to Dublin, Ireland via Norwegian Air. As a low-cost carrier, Norwegian Air has helped me out a number of times by offering affordable flights to my bucket list destinations (including northern Finland!).
Norwegian Air: Flight to Dublin, Ireland
95% of eastbound transatlantic flights are overnight, which means I left Providence airport (PVD) at 8pm on a Thursday night. I arrived in Dublin at 7:55am on Friday.
3-DAY IRELAND ITINERARY: CAR RENTAL IN DUBLIN
It might be possible to book a trip to Ireland and not rent a car, but it seems incredibly difficult. I initially tried to look up public transportation options given the Irish drive on the opposite side of the road from how we drive in the United States. I quickly learned, however, that with public transportation it is nearly impossible to get the timing right or make stops in all the recommended places. That said, I decided to rent a car.
I had success booking an Avis car through Priceline (usually great deals!) to pick up at the Old Kilmainham location in Dublin.
3-Day Ireland Itinerary: Day 1
Upon landing in Dublin at 7:55am, head straight to the car rental place via taxi (there are public busses if you are on a budget, but I was with a small group willing to split the fare).
If you have read my other itineraries, such as my Thailand or Iceland ones, you’ll know that I always make sure to include great places to stop for coffee. Right down the street from the car rental place is a beautiful café called Union8.
I honestly couldn’t have planned a better place to accidentally stumble upon for coffee and breakfast. The interior is stunning and very Instagram-worthy. The service, lattes, and food are all excellent, as well.
Rock of Cashel
After renting a car and getting your daily coffee fix, drive to the Rock of Cashel, a historic archaeological site. This drive is approximately 1 hour and 46 minutes.
From the Rock of Cashel, head to the famous Blarney Castle. Blarney Castle is about 1 hour and 14 minutes from the Rock of Cashel. This will be the last long stretch of driving on Day 1.
Blarney Castle is famously known as the home of the Blarney Stone. Thousands of visitors travel to the medieval fortress in order to kiss the Blarney Stone. Supposedly, if you kiss the stone while upside down then you obtain the “gift of eloquence”. Even if you don’t want to kiss the stone, Blarney Castle is well worth the visit.
After visiting Blarney Castle, drive a short 15 minutes to the city of Cork. Located in the southwest of Ireland, Cork is the country’s second-largest city behind Dublin. Spend the late afternoon and evening exploring Cork. If you are looking to grab a pint, check out The Oliver Plunkett and An Brog, both within walking distance of the hotel.
The Best Place to Stay in Cork, Ireland: Hotel Isaac Cork
3-Day Ireland Itinerary: Day 2
Day two in this Ireland itinerary takes you to the famous town of Killarney. Before my trip, I was hesitant to put Killarney on my list of stops as I had heard it is extremely touristy and I was more interested in an authentic Irish experience. Nevertheless, I decided to check it out and can now verify that yes, Killarney is worth visiting!
Drive about 1 hour and 25 minutes from Hotel Isaac Cork to the town of Killarney. Parking was not as bad as anticipated and there is street parking, which is super convenient. Spend time exploring the shops and cafés. There are also a lot of restaurants if you are interested in grabbing a more substantial bite to eat. While the town is certainly touristy, it was not totally overwhelming.
Killarney National Park
Located down the street from the town of Killarney is the gorgeous Killarney National Park. A few of the worthy sites include Ross Castle, Muckross House, and Torc Waterfall. Adjust your visit to Killarney National Park according to your interests and leftover time available after visiting the town of Killarney. If simply looking for a quick stop before driving to the next stop in the itinerary, Ross Castle is an easy destination. You are free to wander the grounds of the ancient tower fortress while admiring the beauty of the lake adjacent to the castle.
Next, drive to the Tarbert Ferry terminal where you will drive straight onto a car ferry that will transport you across the Shannon Estuary (where the River Shannon flows into the Atlantic Ocean). There is no need to book a reservation in advance, but check out the available ferry times to schedule your late afternoon accordingly.
The ferry leaves from the Tarbert terminal and arrives at the Killimer Ferry terminal. An easy 30-minute trip, the ferry was one of the unexpected highlights of this itinerary for me.
After disembarking the ferry, drive about 10 minutes to the Airbnb to check in. Kilrush is a rather small coastal town in County Clare, Ireland, but it is remarkably quaint. Get a drink and dinner at the local Crotty’s Pub before settling in for the night.
Where to Stay in Kilrush:
3-Day Ireland Itinerary: Day 3
If following this itinerary exactly, getting an early start is key to a successful third day in Ireland. Today is the day to check off two of the more famous bucket list things to do in Ireland!
Cliffs of Moher
Drive just under 1 hour to the Cliffs of Moher, a stunning array of sea cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. When I visited the Cliffs of Moher, there was a dense fog passing through. Some people might be disappointed if there is fog, but I can assure you that it was still just as spectacular of a viewing experience even with fog. I personally really enjoyed watching the wind carry the fog over the Cliffs. Spend some time walking along the cliffs and checking out the visitor’s center (where there is coffee!).
From the Cliffs of Moher, head eastbound towards Dublin to drop off the car at the same location where you picked it up a couple of days earlier. This drive is about 3 hours. After dropping the car off, and maybe grabbing food and coffee at Union8, take a taxi into the center of Dublin to check-in at the Airbnb (or hotel).
The Guinness Factory (Storehouse)
While I always referred to it as The Guinness Factory, the correct name is The Guinness Storehouse. Make sure to book your timed tickets in advance! If following this 3-Day Ireland Itinerary, I recommend booking a 16:00 time. From the Airbnb or hotel, simply walk to the Storehouse.
The Guinness Storehouse truly exceeded all my expectations. I have done a number of brewery tours in my travels, but I was so impressed that, even with my high expectations, the Guinness Storehouse lives up to all the hype. Be sure to check out the Gravity Bar to enjoy a pint along with breathtaking views of Dublin.
Once you have had your fill of Guinness, spend the rest of the evening walking around, checking out the restaurant and bar scene. NoLIta Dublin is a beautiful Italian restaurant with a “New York-style”. The atmosphere, especially on the upper level, is exceptionally beautiful. At the very least, try to stop in for a cocktail before checking out other bars, like the famous Temple Bar. Some bars play live music so be on the lookout for those!
After bar-hopping, settle in at the Airbnb or hotel to get a good night’s sleep before departing from Dublin the next morning.
Where to Stay in Dublin:
- Airbnb (get $50 off your first booking!)
- The Merrion Hotel (If I go back to Dublin, this is where I plan to stay next! It is one of the top-rated hotels in the entire city)
3-DAY IRELAND ITINERARY: WHERE TO STAY (RECAP)
WHERE TO STAY IN CORK
WHERE TO STAY IN KILRUSH
- Airbnb (I stayed at this particular one – I recommend staying here if it’s available!)
- Zoe Bistro & Accommodation
Where to Stay in Dublin
3-DAY IRELAND ITINERARY: FINAL THOUGHTS
I loved my trip to Ireland and wouldn’t change a thing about my itinerary – other than add more days and keep my trip going, of course! Ireland is one of those places I will absolutely be heading back to. It is so accessible from the eastern United States, plus there is quite a bit more I hope to explore. While Northern Ireland is technically not part of Ireland and is part of the United Kingdom, I look forward to making my way up there as well.
Have you been to Ireland? Any places I should make sure not to miss on my next trip across the pond? Comment below or send me a message – I would love to hear from you!
Disclosure: I may receive a small commission should you decide to book directly through my links. Every dollar goes directly back to support Wanderlight Moments & Usher syndrome awareness.