Complete 10 day Ireland itinerary without renting a car

Complete 10 day Ireland itinerary without renting a car

Last year, I made a ‘road trip’ by public transport in Scotland. In Scotland, I had been traveling solo. This summer, I wanted to make a similar trip to a different country. I didn’t need to think long: I knew I wanted to go to Ireland. However, this time I was not travelling solo but with my boyfriend. We didn’t rent a car, but travelled by mainly by bus. Since we’re both students on a small budget, we slept in affordable airbnbs and hostels. We booked a cheap flight from Amsterdam to Dublin with Ryanair and started our adventure this July. In this post, I will summarise our 10 day Ireland itinerary without renting a car. We managed to see quite a lot in Ireland in 10 days.

10 day Ireland itinerary

Day 1: Dublin

Since we had booked an early flight, we were in the city centre of Dublin by noon. The first stop on our 10 day Ireland itinerary was Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland. After lunch, we headed to Temple Bar first, a very lively neighbourhood in Dublin with lots of pubs. Next, we went to Christ Church Cathedral, which had been a filming location for the TV-series the Tudors. After that, we stumbled upon Dublin Castle, which seemed to be a strange mix of different colours and architectural styles. After that, we explored some of Literary Dublin: the Book of Kells and the Old Library of Trinity College Dublin, the highlight of our day. The exhibition and the Book of Kells were very interesting, but the Long Room of the library was most impressive. It was stunning and one of the most beautiful libraries in the world I’ve ever seen. It’s one of the must-see attractions of a Dublin itinerary.

Accommodation: we stayed 1 night in the Oliver St. John Gogarty Hostel in Dublin.

Looking for the best food in Dublin? Read more about this Dublin Food Tour.
The Long Room of Trinity College Dublin
The Long Room of Trinity College Dublin

Day 2: Galway

The second stop on our 10 day Ireland itinerary without renting a car was Galway. After breakfast at the hostel, we took the Citylink bus to Galway (a single ticket booked online is 13 euros for an adult). Around lunch time we arrived in Galway. Quickly, we set about exploring the city. The city centre of Galway is very lively with lovely coloured houses and lots of pubs. We visited the Spanish Arch, part of the old city wall, and saw a seal! We also visited the St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church. The inside of this church isn’t very pretty, but it’s an important church, because it was visited by Christopher Columbus before he sailed to America.

Accommodation: we stayed 2 nights in this lovely Airbnb in Galway. If you don’t have an Airbnb account yet, click here to sign up and get 25 euros discount on your first booking. 

Galway, the second stop on our 10 day Ireland itinerary
Galway

Day 3: The Aran Islands

Initially, we had wanted to visit the Skellig Islands. However, it was not possible to get there using public transport. I started looking for other islands in Ireland that were worth a visit and found the Aran Islands. We booked our ferry with Aran Island Ferries from Ros a’Mhil to Inis Mor. We also booked the shuttle bus from Galway to Ros a’Mhil they offered. The Aran Islands ended up to be one of our favourite activities in Ireland on our 10 day Ireland itinerary! On the island, we decided to rent a bike so we could explore the small island at our own pace. Our day included a seal colony, ruins of churches, and Dun Aengus, a prehistoric hill fort built on a very high cliffs. From this fort, you can see the Cliffs of Moher as well! Moreover, the weather was great.

Note: you can also sail to Inis Mor from Doolin. Click here for more information.

Exploring the Aran Islands by bike
Exploring the Aran Islands by bike

Day 4: The Burren and Cliffs of Moher

Very early in the morning we took the Bus Éireann to the Burren. We could see Dunguaire Castle from the bus, but didn’t visit the castle, because it was still closed. The journey from Galway to the Burren took around 1.5 hours. We got off the bus near Blackhead Lighthouse and walked alongside the coast. The Burren is a National Park. It’s a very rocky, but impressive landscape. Next, we took the bus to Doolin, a small but lovely village were we had lunch. From Doolin we embarked on the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk, which took around 3 hours. The nearer we came to the Cliffs of Moher, the higher the cliffs became. The views were stunning and the Cliffs of Moher were very impressive. The Cliffs of Moher are a must-see in Ireland. From the Cliffs of Moher, we took a bus to Ennis, where we stayed the night.

Accommodation: we stayed in a small airbnb in Ennis for one night.

The Cliffs of Moher, a must-see on our 10 day Ireland itinerary
The Cliffs of Moher

Day 5: Ennis and Limerick

During a 10 day Ireland itinerary without renting a car, you’re bound to have a day when you’re a long time in a bus, because you need to cover some distance. This was the case for our fifth day. We started our day with an Irish breakfast at Cairde Cafe, which was very good. We strolled around Ennis for a bit afterwards. Then, we took the bus to Limerick, one of the larger cities in Ireland. Limerick’s main attraction is the formidable King John’s Castle, built in the 13th century. However, Limerick wasn’t our end destination of this day. We had to take another bus to Killarney. At the end of the afternoon, we arrived in Killarney. After dinner, we decided to walk around 20 minutes to Ross Castle, a 15th century tower house and keep on the edge of Killarney National Park.

Accommodation: we stayed in the Killarney Railway Hostel in Killarney for 2 nights.

King John's Castle in Limerick
King John’s Castle in Limerick

Day 6: Ring of Kerry

Originally, our plan for day 6 was to explore Killarney National Park. However, the weather forecast said it was going to rain a lot. Therefore, we made a last minute change of plans and booked a day tour to the Ring of Kerry with Wild Kerry Day Tours. We were very happy we decided to book this tour, since it was almost impossible to see the Ring of Kerry relying on public transport alone. The Ring of Kerry is absolutely worth a visit and one of the unique things to do in Ireland.

Although the weather was dreary, the views were stunning. We could even make out the Skellig Islands in the distance (at least, we thought it were the Skellig islands). At the end of the day, we stopped at Ladies View, which was one of the most beautiful viewpoints I’ve seen in Ireland, even in bad weather. After roughly 6.5 hours we returned to Killarney.

The Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry

Day 7: Killarney National Park and Cork

Because of our change of plans on the previous day, we still hadn’t visited Killarney National Park properly. Therefore, we hopped on the Killarney Shuttle Bus to Muckross House, a mansion from the 19th century overlooking Muckross Lake. A short walk takes you the Muckross Abbey, founded in 1448. It is currently in ruins. However, you can enter the abbey (free of charge) and explore almost any room that’s still accessible. We’d wanted to visit the Torc Waterfall as well. However, since we spend longer than we’d planned at Muckross Abbey, we didn’t have enough time left. Therefore, we took the shuttle bus back to Killarney just in time to catch our bus to Cork, the next destination of our 10 day Ireland itinerary without renting a car. In Cork, we visited the English Market, did the ‘South Parish’ walk and explored the Shandon district.

Accommodation: we stayed 2 nights in this amazing Airbnb in Cork (highly recommended!).

Muckross House in Killarney National Park
Muckross House in Killarney National Park

Day 8: Blarney Castle and Kinsale

Near Cork, you can find Blarney Castle. This castle is famous for the Blarney Stone. The story goes that if you kiss this stone, you’ll gain the skill of eloquence. (I kissed the stone, but I’m still not sure whether it worked or not.) Blarney Castle dates from 1446. It’s very touristy and most people are only interested in kissing the stone, but make sure to visit the rooms in the castle as well! We were very early at the castle, so the line was not very long. However, it’s possible that you have to wait for up to 2 hours to enter the castle and kiss the stone. The gardens of the castle are lovely as well and certainly worth a visit if you’ve time left.

After we’d explored the castle and gardens, we took the bus back to Cork and changed for a bus to Kinsale. Kinsale is a lovely town south of Cork with colourful houses. We also did the Scilly walk to Charles Fort. This walk offers nice views of Kinsale, the River Brandon and the ocean. Late in the afternoon, we returned to Cork.

Blarney Castle, famous for Blarney Stone
Blarney Castle

Day 9: Cork and Rock of Cashel

Our Airbnb was close to University College Cork. Therefore, we decided to visit the university. The quadrangle has beautiful architecture and is definitely worth a visit. After that, we walked to the bus station of Cork and took a bus to Cashel, located in County Tipperary. Cashel is known for the Rock of Cashel. On this rock ruins of important ecclesiastical buildings can be found. First, we joined a guided tour that took us into Cormac’s chapel, a very fine example of a romanesque chapel in Ireland.

After that, we joined the general tour of the Rock of Cashel. This tour is definitely worth it (and included in your entry fee). You’ll learn a lot about the Rock of Cashel. When the tour had finished, we explored the Rock a little more. Then, we set out to go to Hore Abbey, a 10-15 minute walk from the Rock. We took the bus to Dublin, where we stayed during our last night.

Accommodation: like the first night, we stayed 1 night in the Oliver St. John Gogarty Hostel in Dublin.

The Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel

Day 10: Dublin and Malahide

Day 10 was the last day of our 10 day Ireland itinerary without renting a car. Full circle we had returned to Dublin, where we’d begun our Ireland adventure. Early in the morning, we visited Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. This church was probably the most beautiful church we’ve visited in Dublin. After that, we visited the National Museum of Ireland (Archaeology). This museum wasn’t very large but had some beautiful Irish treasures.

After buying a packed lunch, we hopped on a train to Malahide. You can find this town 17 kilometers north of Dublin. Malahide has a very fine castle. We didn’t go inside the castle but relaxed in the park surrounding the castle. When it was time to go to the airport, we took a final bus and said goodbye to Ireland.

Malahide Castle
Malahide Castle

In conclusion, our 10 day Ireland itinerary was very diverse. We used bus, train, ferry, bike, our own feet and also did a day tour. We saw cliffs, prehistoric fort, pubs, and castles. Share this itinerary on social media if you liked it!

Tips for a 10 day Ireland itinerary without renting a car

  • Download timetables of buses on your phone. Some buses depart very often, some only 4-5 times a day. You don’t need to plan all your buses in advance, but it’s important to know when there are only few buses a day.
  • If you travel frequent or far distances by bus, you might consider buying the open road travel pass from Bus Eireann. We bought a pas that allowed 5 days of unlimited travel in 10 days.
  • Research day tours for places you cannot (easily) visit by public transport (such as the Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula or the Connemara region).
  • Book your accommodation in advance if you’re travelling during the summer. Ireland is popular by tourists, so hostels and B&Bs can get fully booked. It’s especially important if you’re travelling by public transport, since you don’t always have the opportunity to take a bus to the next town to see if there’s a place to stay.
  • Don’t take a suitcase with you if you’re doing a road trip by public transport. Sometimes, you’ll have to walk some distance to get to your destination. I would recommend taking a backpack with you. My backpack (not available on Amazon, I bought it in the Netherlands) is very similar to this backpack. It’s not a very large backpack, since I always try to pack as little as possible to ease my back.
  • Related to the previous tip: since you’re likely going to walk some distances, I would recommend wearing hiking boots when you’re embarking on a 10 day Ireland itinerary without renting a car.
  • While we were in Ireland, we only had one rainy day. However, we were extremely lucky. Be prepared for lots of rain with a backpack that’s waterproof and a raincoat or poncho.

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10 day Ireland itinerary without renting a car. We discovered Dublin, Galway, the Aran Islands, the Cliffs of Moher, Killarney, the Ring of Kerry, Blarney Stone, and more. Everything without renting a car and in 10 days!10 day Ireland itinerary without renting a car. We discovered Dublin, Galway, the Aran Islands, the Cliffs of Moher, Killarney, the Ring of Kerry, Blarney Stone, and more. Everything without renting a car and in 10 days!

6 Replies to “Complete 10 day Ireland itinerary without renting a car”

  1. Wow! You are a living proof that you can explore a county without breaking the bank, Sanne. I found your post so enlighting and helpful. So, it’s definitely possible to explore Ireland without renting a car. You’ve done a great job and had awesome 10 days!

  2. Ireland was and still is a dream destination for me and my husband. We have always believed that visiting it without a car was not possible, but you proved us wrong. Can’t wait to start planning!

  3. You managed to do so much in just 10 days, I’m thoroughly impressed. I appreciate the bus tip—I’m such a bad planner when it comes to transport!

  4. I recently published an Ireland road trip itinerary, so I love that you did this without renting a car! One of the reasons Ireland is such a great destination – it’s perfect for just about any type of trip!

  5. Wow I am impressed you were able to do all this without renting a car. Ireland is one of my favorite countries, there is so much to see. I am lucky my husband is British and used to driving on the wrong side of the road. If I didn’t have him to drive me, I would be uncomfortable to drive myself.

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