Compass & Quill
Travel Guide: 4 Days in Ireland
Travel Stories from Compass & Quill
When considering my second trip to Europe, I was looking for a slower pace of life. After exploring the wonderful cities of Paris and Rome nearly a year before, I felt myself gravitating toward charming towns and breathtaking landscapes. Naturally, Ireland came to mind.
In August 2015, I landed in The Emerald Isle. As we drove through, it took me a bit to process how such an old country had so much open space once you got out of the hustle and bustle of the city limits. The endless vibrant green hills spanned as far as the eye could see. It wasn’t hard to get lulled into a nap as our driver navigated the soothing, empty roads from town to town.
Ireland is the perfect trip if you want a bit of everything. Cities. Small towns. Friendly people. Delicious food and drink. Festive music. And landscapes that can change your life. What’s more, these areas are a quick drive from one another, allowing you to explore a lot all in one short trip.
First, a few quick tips.
Consider scheduling the Silverbus if you don’t feel like dealing with other modes of transportation. It was easy to schedule, and the private car picked you up and dropped you off, door-to-door. Personally, I thought it was totally worth it.
Get your tickets to things ahead of time. I ordered most of my stuff on Viator. This was especially beneficial for places like the Guinness Storehouse because it allowed me to secure my spot without having to wait or miss out on the limited days I was in Dublin.
4-Day Guide to Ireland
Get your bearings in Dublin.
Get settled into your hotel. I chose the Shelbourne because I was feeling *fancy,* but really, it was within easy walking distance to most places I wanted to go in Dublin.
Get book smart. Stop at Trinity College and feel scholarly. More importantly, pop by the library to see the Book of Kells. As an avid reader and writer, seeing this massive library was like a wet dream. I think I have more pictures of the library around my house than I do of loved ones.
Wet your whistle with quality uisce beatha. Love yourself some whiskey? Right across from the college is the Irish Whiskey Museum. After an entertaining lesson on the history of whiskey, you’ll end the tour in the tasting room. Bottom’s up!
Soak up the booze at The Bank. A couple doors down is The Bank on College Green. What I loved about this place was the architecture. The stained glass ceiling was breathtaking. Pair it with the pianist playing modern songs, and it was an amazing experience. Personally, I loved the seafood chowder.
Feel royal at the Dublin Castle. Although there are plenty of castles to explore throughout Ireland, this is a good one to get your feet wet. Erected in the thirteenth century and only a few minutes walk from The Bank, it’s a nice place to take in the amazing architecture and get a sense of really how old this country is.
Throw back a pint in Temple Bar. After a long day, it’s time to kick back and relax in this busy riverside neighborhood. If you’re looking for boutiques, galleries, delicious food, cocktails, and beer, you’ll find it all right here.
Appreciate the landscapes and castles.
Wander around St. Stephen’s Green. After a busy first day, take a relaxing moment to appreciate nature. This public park is in the center of Dublin (right across from the Shelbourne) and is full of green space, ponds, and general peace and quiet.
Did you even go to Dublin without visiting Guinness? At the Guinness Storehouse, you learn all about the history of making their beer. And if you’re feeling wild, you can learn the “proper” way to pour a Guinness. My favorite part was the Gravity Bar, which gives you a bird’s-eye view looking over the city.
Marvel over the wonders of the Cliffs of Moher. Time to transition from city to rural areas of Ireland. On your way to the second stop of your trip, visit this insane natural landscape. I couldn’t even fathom how massive this was until I was standing there. If you’re lucky, you might see a puffin or two. (Note: be careful! Unexpected wind has knocked people off the side, so be vigilant).
Get a taste of monarchy life at Dromoland Castle. Stay a night or two at this gorgeous castle with its endless green landscapes. Upon checking in, consider all the excursions you’d like to do the following day. If you’ve got time, maybe treat yourself to some spa treatments that evening. (Note: I had the best nap of my life while staying here).
Try something new at Dromoland Castle.
Book your excursions. There are endless possibilities at Dromoland. Some activities include archery, fishing, falconry, clay shooting, pony and trap rides, walks around the estate, and more. All is a guaranteed good time. I definitely felt like Merida when shooting archery for the first time.
Feel fancy with afternoon tea. True story: this was the first time I ever had afternoon tea, and I’ve been obsessed ever since. As someone who likes to try everything, having a variety of sandwiches, scones, and desserts was like a dream come true. If you want to get a little loose, you can even opt to add champagne, wine, or a cocktail alongside your tea.
Grab a whiskey and listen to live music at the cocktail bar. Between the large selection of whiskey, fancy cocktails, and the roaring fire that always smells like the perfect fall scent, this is a great place to unwind, listen to music, and maybe even meet some new traveling friends.
Explore the quaint town of Killarney.
Get a lay of the land with a carriage ride. After driving the two hours from Dromoland
Castle, get yourself settled in Killarney. Right in the center of town are plenty of horse-drawn carriage rides to choose from. Use this time to explore the downtown area, the surrounding parks and forests, and even stop at castles from the 15th century. (Note: We stayed at The Ross, which was just across the street from the carriage tours and an easy walk to many of Killarney’s main attractions).
Explore Muckross House. Step back in time and get a taste for high-society by visiting this furnished nineteenth-century mansion. After exploring the rooms and hearing the history, take a moment to grab a bite at the cafe and explore the manicured gardens.
Get in touch with nature. Take a tranquil hike through Killarney National Park and appreciate the lush forest, watch the sunset on the lakeshores, or explore the waterfalls cascading from the nearby mountains.
Wander through the shops. With colorful shops and hidden alleys, downtown Killarney is a wonderful place to explore. While visiting, you can find both local and high-end shopping, great food, pubs, and live music. Don’t forget to grab yourself a genuine Irish wool sweater!
Listen to the fiddlers. After a long day exploring, grab a pint at The Grand. Here, you’ll be rewarded with a traditional Irish experience as local fiddlers and accordionists play upbeat music. This is by far my favorite experience and probably what I expected when I landed in this cute Irish town.
There’s so much to love about Ireland. I have a dream one day to live and work there for a few months, selecting a little cottage in one of the many quaint towns like Killarney. I can just picture finishing a day at work and wandering down to the town pub to listen to music, mingle with townsfolk, and feel like one of the locals. Maybe one day!
About Compass & Quill:
Travel inspires many of my stories, opening me up to a world of new possibilities and perspectives. So, I'm sharing my travel stories here.
Travel is an opportunity to think bigger and find our place in the world. This blog is meant to inspire you to look beyond beautiful photos that make your heart race and consider what your story will be once you arrive.
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