Ultimate Girl’s Guide to Ireland Travel

Ireland is a place that captures the imagination: idyllic green pastures lead down to dramatic, rocky coastlines ~ & friendly locals offer a hearty welcome to travelers in bustling local pubs.  “Pub culture” really originated here, & whether you’re traveling solo, with family, or on an epic girl’s trip: Ireland is a very welcoming place.  If you like castles, pubs, gorgeous coastlines, road trips, Guiness, & Irish accents: then this is most definitely the country for you.  In this “Ultimate Girl’s Guide to Ireland Travel,” I’ll provide plenty of amazing ideas to create an amazing Irish itinerary.

Donegal, Ireland, Ultimate Girl's Guide to Ireland Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

Donegal is a beautiful town located on the northwestern coast of Ireland…& it’s one of countless photogenic spots in this green, green country.

Did you know that Ireland is the #3 safest country in the world, as of 2022??  This is according to the Global Peace Index, which tracks all kinds of crime stats for pretty much every country in the world.  The only two countries safer than Ireland are: Iceland & New Zealand.

 

And where does the United States rank? At a rather alarming #129; while Afghanistan sits at #163, as the least safe country in the world.  

Map of Ireland + Renting a Car

On the map below, you’ll find many of Ireland’s top sights & great places to visit.  And even though you’ll need to get comfortable driving on the left side of the road: renting a car is one of the best things you can do here.  The country is relatively small, & having a car is the best way to get around.  If you want to visit places like the Blarney Stone, Cork, the Ring of Kerry & Cliffs of Moher, Galway, & some of Ireland’s most famous castles ~ then renting a car is really the way to go. 

If you’re uncomfortable driving a stick shift, be sure to reserve in advance & specify that you need an automatic.  

Dublin

Galway

Cliffs of Moher

Cobh

Ring of Kerry

Ashford Castle

The Dark Hedges

Donegal

Kylemore Abbey

Ireland Travel Overview

  • Safety = #10 Safest Country in the World! Very Safe. 96% 96%
  • Cost = Cheaper than England, but average relative to rest of Europe. 60% 60%
  • Driving = LEFT SIDE of the road!!! 100% 100%
  • How Safe I Felt as a Female Traveler = Very Safe 98% 98%

Nikon Camera

Guide Book

Rain Jacket

Ireland Travel Quick Facts

  • Ireland in One Word = Green.
  • Ireland in One More Word = Guiness. 
  • Wi-Fi = Wi-Fi is readily available throughout most of Ireland, except in desolate country areas.
  • Global Peace Ranking = #3 out of 163 countries (U.S. is #129); Ireland is literally & statistically one of the safest countries in the world.
  • Hotels = Castle stays such as Ashford Castle & Adare Manor are pricey, but B&B’s are a great value for your money ~ you’ll find them ALL over the country, & they’re typically run by friendly locals who will gladly point you towards the best bars, restaurants, & local area sights.
  • Must-Do’s = Try out as many pubs in Dublin as your liver can handle, with the Temple Bar being a great place to start.  Visit the Book of Kells at Trinity College in Dublin.  Drink Guiness.  Travel the Ring Road in Kerry….or the lesser-known nearby Dingle Peninsula.  Pick up Christmas presents for Mom at the Waterford Crystal factory.  Kiss the Blarney Stone!  Stand on the edge of the Cliffs of Moher at sunset.  Visit beautiful Kylemore Abbey, north of Galway.  And if you’re a “Game of Thrones” fan, head to Northern Ireland ~ to places like the Dark Hedges…where you can get moody Winterfell-esque photos.    
  • Is Ireland Good for Solo Travelers = YES.  Ireland is one of my top choices for solo travelers & female travelers ~ & in fact, I’d feel more comfortable recommending it to a solo traveler than Iceland, as Iceland can feel very desolate in spots.  Ireland has a friendlier, more approachable feel, & there’s no language barrier (if you’re English-speaking).  The only real issue is driving on the left side of the road, if you decide to rent a car.  It’s weird at first, but you get the hang of it! 
  • How Hard is it to Drive on the Left Side of the Road?  I hit a lot of curbs in the beginning (oops), as the spatial awareness & feeling of driving on the left was just SO weird to me.  Be careful turning, as you may want to veer to the right (as you always do at home); you really need to be conscious & aware.  My friend was more adept at driving on the left ~ she somehow never hit a curb!  I think some people just adapt quicker & more easily.  NEVER drink & drive!!!  You’re already a bit handicapped by the whole driving on the left thing…don’t add intoxication to the mix.  Choose inns & hotels that are close to town, where you can either walk or taxi home.
  • What to Expect as a Female Traveler = Expect to meet lots of friendly locals at pubs.  The only place you *may* get hassled a bit is if you’re out late on the rowdy streets of Dublin…some college-type boys may try to hit on you or some such thing.  But in all the little towns around the country: this shouldn’t be an issue at ALL.  Our inn owners were always the epitome of hospitality, & eager to share knowledge & be of service.  If staying at hostels or B&B’s, even lucury hotels: you’ll never feel alone.   
  • Would I Go Back = YES!!! And I definitely want to go to nearby Scotland too….

Photos of Great Ireland Destinations: Dublin

Almost every international visitor travels in through Dublin’s International Airport, & it’s well-worth spending at least 2-3 days in Dublin.  If you’re a city-lover: budget more time here, to visit sights such as the Book of Kells in Trinity College, the rollicking Temple Bar, or the Guiness Factory.  There’s no need to rent a car for your time in Dublin, as the city is quite walkable ~ unless you plan on visiting nearby sights such as Wicklow & its gorgeous surrounding area, which has beautiful lakes & hiking.

Dublin, Ultimate Girl's Guide to Ireland Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

Pretty Anne Street in downtown Dublin.

Dublin, Ultimate Girl's Guide to Ireland Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

My friend & I found ourselves at Dublin’s iconic Temple Bar on a rowdy Friday night before our flight home…

Dublin, Ultimate Girl's Guide to Ireland Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

Trinity College in Dublin holds one of the city’s biggest treasures, & a huge tourist draw: the Book of Kells.

Dublin, Ultimate Girl's Guide to Ireland Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

This street & lounge is located right around the corner from the Temple Bar…

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Ireland Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

One of Wicklow’s most beautiful spots: Glendalough Upper Lake, a popular area for hiking & exploring.

Photos of the Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher are an Ireland MUST.  This is truly one of the most glorious places in the country.  Whether you cut directly across from Dublin, or wind your way through southern Ireland before heading up to the Cliffs ~ they need to be on your itinerary.  You only need a day or two here…

Cliffs of Moher, Ultimate Girl's Guide to Ireland Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

The Cliffs of Moher are NOT to be missed: they’re truly one of Ireland top sights.

Cliffs of Moher, Ultimate Girl's Guide to Ireland Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

My friend & I managed to time our visit to be there at sunset, which is a magical time.

Cliffs of Moher, Girl Who Travels the World

Sheep at the Cliffs of Moher.

Cliffs of Moher, Ultimate Girl's Guide to Ireland Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

There’s a tower right at the top of the Cliffs, by the entrance, which makes for a lovely photo backdrop.

Two great places to stay by the Cliffs of Moher are Doolin Inn ($139+/night), a cozy B&B with free breakfast ~ & the Falls Hotel & Spa ($154+/night), a former 18th-century mansion with a pool & spa located in the town of Ennistymon.

Photos of Galway & Nearby Destinations

I liked Galway….but didn’t love it.  Not the way I fell in love with Ashford Castle, or the coast of Southern Ireland & its many darling villages.  But it is an easy drive from Galway to Dublin, cutting right across the center of the country.  If it were me, I’d only budget 1-2 nights for Galway, & use it as a base to explore the area’s many castles…

Photos of Galway, Girl Who Travels the World

Galway’s downtown may not be quite as charming as Dublin’s ~ but there’s still a ton of character, & a ton of great pubs & restaurants.

Galway Waterfront, Photos of Galway, Girl Who Travels the World

But the cool thing about Galway is, it sits on a protected bay in the North Atlantic Ocean, not far from the Aran Islands.

Galway, Photos of Galway, Girl Who Travels the World

There are many ruins & castles right around Galway: such as the Merlin Castle, the Hall of the Red Earl, & Oranmore Castle.

Photos of Ashford Castle & Kylemore Abbey

Two amazing destinations just north of Galway are both incredibly photogenic: Ashford Castle ($798+/night) & Kylemore Abbey.  To this day, Ashford Castle is still one of the top five hotels I’ve ever stayed in ~ & for someone who’s spent over 300+ nights in hotels, this is saying something!  You’ll feel like aristocracy here, as you sip Irish coffees in their fabulous downstairs parlor bar, looking out over spectacular sunsets on Lough Corrib…which is a massive & beautiful body of water. 

Or, head over to Kylemore Abbey, a beautiful Benedictine nunnery that is truly one of the most beautiful buildings in Ireland.  While you can’t stay here, you can visit their beautiful walled Victorian garden…

Ashford Castle, Ireland, Girl Who Travels the World

This was one of the first photos I took of Ashford Castle, the night we arrived…

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Ireland Travel, Girl Who Travels the World, Ashford Castle View

And this was one of the first sunset shots I took, looking out over Lough Corrib.

Photos of Ashford Castle, Girl Who Travels the World

Learning the ancient art of archery at the castle.

Kylemore Abbey, Girl Who Travels the World

If you have time, Kylemore Abbey is a must-visit.

Photos of Southern Ireland

If you rent a car & head south of Dublin, you’ll hit a veritable treasure trove of amazing sights & cities: such as the Blarney Stone, beautifully green County Cork, the popular Waterford Crystal factory, Killarney, the gorgeous coastal town of Cobh ~ & on the south-west coast, you’ve got popular circuits like the Ring of Kerry….& the lesser-known, but no less beautiful drive around the Dingle Peninsula.

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Southern Ireland, Girl Who Travels the World

Cork is what you think of when you think of Ireland: rolling green hills for miles & cloudy skies.

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Southern Ireland, Girl Who Travels the World

Cobh is a beautiful but lesser-known tourist destination located very close to Cork.

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Southern Ireland, Girl Who Travels the World

Brightly-colored homes in Cobh.

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Southern Ireland, Girl Who Travels the World

County Kerry is located on Ireland’s south-west coast, & it holds some of the country’s most beautiful sights: like Dingle, Killarney, & the Ring of Kerry.

Ring of Kerry, Girl Who Travels the World

View from the Ring of Kerry Lookout.

If you’re looking for a beautiful hotel stay near the Ring of Kerry, check out the Parknasilla Resort & Spa, a four-star hotel that sits right on Kenmare Bay, with antique-furnished rooms, a luxurious spa, 12-hole golf course, & fine dining restaurant.

Great Hotels by the Ring of Kerry, Ireland, Girl Who Travels the World

Parknasilla Resort & Spa, on the Ring of Kerry. Photo by Parknasilla Resort.

Ultimate Girl’s Guide to Ireland Travel

The Dark Hedges, Game of Thrones, Ireland

One final shot of Ireland: if you liked “Game of Thrones,” this shot should like very familiar…of the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland.

This article are meant to show you a lot of photos, & give you a lot of ideas about crafting your perfect Irish travel itinerary.  Feel free to ask me questions in the comments below!

xoxo Noelia

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