Honestly, if you’re visiting Ireland, try your best to drive it. I know (for most of us) the drive will be on the opposite side of the road and sometimes the roads look too narrow to be a one-way let alone a two-way, but that’s a huge part of the fun and experience of Irish road trips. You can find little hidden gems, stop for Irish snacks, admire the beauty of the land at your own pace…….simply explore.
Ireland was not my first “leftie” (left side of the road driving). I’ve driven in Thailand & Malaysia but those were both by scooter, NOT a full-sized, standard vehicle. My best advice when you’re driving in Ireland is to THINK LEFT. Think left always and soon it will become second nature.
Left. Left. Left. Left. Right. Opp no, left. Left. Left. Left.
My sister and I flew into Dublin Airport and headed straight for the rental car area which is a quick 5 minute walk from arrivals. After researching the overall costs at a number of agencies, we decided to book a car online beforehand with Budget. Budget was simply the cheaper option, that offered similar perks to other agencies.
The car was an itsy-bitsy Kia Picanto (which came in handy on some of those tight Irish roads). That just fit us with our two pieces of luggage. ‘Quaint’ would be the word I’d choose to describe this car.
The basic quote for the rental included a Dublin Airport Surcharge, VAT (Sales Tax), Unlimited Milage, Collision Damage Waiver, Theft Protection & a Third Party Waiver.
We decided to pay extra for something called Excess Reduction, which essentially took our deductible from €1500 to €0.
The car had a manual transmission (more numerous & cheaper than the automatics) and Skye (my sister) & I decided to have 1 single driver (not only did we save money by not adding another driver, but Skye’s standard skills are novice at best……although admittedly, I did stall twice on the first day – panic and confusion, ensued after a blip in my LEFTist thought).
Slow down, turning left. Left. Left. Left. Right. Opp sh*t no, stalls. Left. Left. Left. Left.
Anyways, here are 4 of my favourite places in the south of Ireland to drive.
A Road Trip Guide – 4 Must Do Irish Drives
1. Bernies Cuppan Tae Sheeps Head to Kilgarvan
First you’ll have to get out to Bernie’s Cupan Tea, which is a wonderful place to grab a snack and a cup of tea. Towards the final stretch of getting to Bernie’s, the road turns into a single lane, but don’t be put off as the views are amazing and there’s a hike you can undertake to a lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula.
From Bernies take the same road back, which runs along the coast, to Ballylickey. From there turn right onto the main road you see in the map above. I actually can’t find a name for this road, but if you put Ballylicky – Kilgarvan in your Google Maps, it will select this route.
Prepare yourself for a single lane after Ballylicky, if someone’s coming from the opposite direction one of you may have to back up. Also prepare for stunning views. Watch out for sheep on the road.
2. Conor Pass – Dingle Peninsula
From the city of Tralee, hop on the N86 towards Derrymore, turn right onto the R560 which you can take to Ballycurrane – lovely beaches and stunning views of the ocean. Then take the route towards Conor Pass and onto Dingle – this is not something you want to miss out on. Large trucks and trailers can’t make it through the pass. There is a spot where the road cuts down to a single lane, so you’ll have to share the road with those coming towards you, but the spectacular views are well worth it. Plus there is a gorgeous little waterfall set among dark rocks where you can park and “soak”-in the view.
3. Galway – Maum – Clifden
The second photo above is the dotted box on the first – be sure to follow this route (especially the red) to find some hidden gems and stunning views.
Make sure to stop in Maum for a pint and a bite on the way up.
4. Ring of Kerry
No list of Best Irish Road Trips is complete without a mention of the Ring of Kerry. And it really needs no explanation as this is one of the most popular drives in Ireland. My favourite parts were the first two sections (first two arrows). But I’ll let you be the judge.
*The top image on this page is of Lady’s View (a major viewpoint along the drive).