When our son was a two-year-old traveling toddler, we took an epic Ireland road trip along the southwestern Wild Atlantic Way, touring some of the most delightful sights in that part of the country. For the first time, today I’m compiling an itinerary of the whole trip so you can draw inspiration for your own Ireland travel planning!
The first half of this post has the Ireland road trip vacation plan in visual form, and the second displays all the details, typed out. Special thanks to Tourism Ireland for the destination ideas. Click any link here go through to my more detailed articles on each spot, and know that some hotel links go to affiliates. Enjoy!
Ireland Road Trip Itinerary
See some of the best sights in southwestern Ireland with this family-friendly Wild Atlantic Way Ireland road trip itinerary, including great hotels and food.
Buratty Folk Park and Castle is a perfect "easy win" for sightseeing joy on your first day of Ireland travel. It's right by Shannon Airport, and is filled with delights for all ages.
The Cliffs of Moher
You cannot miss touring the fantastic Cliffs of Moher when visiting Ireland! See tips on how to safely see this eye-popping sight here.
Wild Atlantic Way Rainbows
As you drive the Wild Atlantic Way on your Ireland road trip, it becomes clear quickly that this seaside road is one of the best places in the world to spot rainbows. Keep your eyes open!
The Burren, Ireland
These ancient portal stones date back to a time in the history of Ireland that feels magical... enhanced by the moon-like rock formations around this famous attraction.
The Twelve Hotel, Near Galway
See why The Twelve in County Galway is such a smart place to stay for families with kids (beyond the delicious food and foodie reputation).
Connemara Heritage Centre
Learn powerful Irish migration history at this working farm, with some of the kindest people you'll meet in Ireland.
One of the most photogenic spots in Ireland is this seeming-castle, though it's so much more than what meets the eye.
Abbeyglen Castle Hotel
I have never stayed in a hotel with as much character as Abbeyglen. This castle hotel in Clifden, Ireland will make you smile, and even laugh out loud. See why.
From Westport House to the bike trail, Westport in County Mayo has so much to offer families with kids traveling on an Ireland road trip.
Ireland's School of Falconry
Want giant birds of prey to (safely) land on your gloved hand to eat? You've come to the right place! And it's right by Ashford Castle in County Mayo, too.
The Lodge at Ashford Castle
Though it would be fun to stay inside Ashford Castle itself someday (the ultimate luxury Irish castle hotel), the nearby Lodge at Ashford Castle provided a phenomenal hotel experience, including wonderful food, including, of course, Irish breakfast.
We didn't expect how much we'd love Limerick, Ireland! Learn about the sights and recommended hotel in this lively Irish town: our last stop on this wonderful Irish road trip with family.
Details of the Ireland Road Trip Itinerary:
Day 1: Bunratty Castle
- Arrive at Shannon Airport and pick up rental car. (Ours came with a child car seat and GPS.)
- Visit Bunratty Folk Park and Bunratty Castle, which was built in 1425, and is the most complete and authentic medieval fortress in Ireland!
- Stay overnight at Bunratty Manor Hotel.
Day 2: Cliffs of Moher and Galway
- Depart for the Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s most iconic, must-see natural attractions. The cliffs stand at over 700 feet high, and stretch for 5 miles along the Clare Atlantic Coast.
- After ogling the ancient portal stones at The Burren, drive to Galway city, a bohemian, friendly small city.
- Stay outside Galway in the Twelve in Barna: a super foodie hotel.
Day 3: Connemara and Kylemore
- Visit Brigit’s Garden to see the four gardens representing the Celtic Cycle of the Seasons, then tour the Connemara Heritage Museum where you’ll learn Irish migration history, eat soda bread, and see turf cutting.
- Enjoy Kylemore Abbey, one of the most photographic abbeys in the world: now an international boarding school, but also a thriving tourism attraction with gardens, trails, and a lovely restaurant.
- Stay overnight at Abbeyglen Castle Hotel (so much character!) or Rosleague Manor in Clifden.
Day 4: Westport, County Mayo
- Explore Westport, Ireland, including Westport House, a very child-friendly historic house from the 18th century, and cycle part of the Greenway (bikes available with baby seats), an award winning cycle trail along a disused railway line from Westport to Achill.
- Stay overnight in Knockranny Hotel, Westport.
Day 5: Ashford Castle and Falconry
- Try your hand at Falconry in Ireland’s School of Falconry on the grounds of famed Ashford Castle.
- Overnight and dinner at the Lodge at Ashford Castle.
Day 6: Limerick, Ireland
- Visit King John’s Castle, in Limerick, Ireland (yes, the home of Limericks!) to learn about the history of the castle and the city of Limerick. The recently re-opened exhibition brings to life over 800 years of history. Visit the Hunt Museum, Ireland’s largest private collection of art and antiquities.
- Stay overnight at No. 1 Pery Square Hotel to catch the flight home at Shannon airport the next morning (Day 7)!
Thoughts on this Ireland Road Trip Plan?
So what do you think about this week-long Ireland road trip itinerary? If you’ve done some or all of the attractions, which did you love best? What’s missing from this list that you recommend? If you haven’t done this trip yet, does it appeal to you? Do share!
Into fashion? Click for more about the travel dresses I wore on this Ireland trip, and the Irish-weather-appropriate travel clothes for men that Colin sported.
The author, Lillie Marshall, is a 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!
2 Cups Of Travel
Tuesday 8th of February 2022
Nice post! We are looking to travel to Ireland later this year and I will check back on this post for future reference.
Tuesday 8th of February 2022
Have a delightful trip!