Today I want to tell you about our road trip through Ireland that we combined with the renewal of the wedding vows ceremony that I told you about in my last blog post.
From the beginning of our planning phase, we knew we would combine our wedding with a vacation (I guess you could say our honeymoon) driving and staying at different places around Ireland.
We had stayed in Dublin the first time we visited Ireland together in 2008, so we knew we would not include Dublin for this itinerary, but see more of the beautiful countryside Ireland has to offer.
The Cliffs of Moher
To make our wedding work, but also to see the Cliffs of Moher, that are only a 15-minute drive from Doolin, we initially stayed in Doolin for three nights.
Besides the wedding, we only had one more whole day in Doolin, which was used to prep for the big day, explore Doolin itself, and visiting the Cliffs of Moher. Visiting the Cliffs of Moher was stunning, and we would have seen this area anyhow.
The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most visited tourist attractions in Ireland, and for me, I remember most of all how happy I was visiting these beautiful sea cliffs.
It felt just like you would always imagine visiting Ireland. Hearing the waves crash against the cliffs, listening to the seagulls and puffins, and feeling the Irish winds all over your body.
The Cliffs of Moher run about 14km (9 miles) long. In the south, their highest point is Hag’s Head, which is 120 meters (390 feet) above the Atlantic Ocean, and in the north, their highest point is 214 meters (702 feet), just north of Brien’s Tower, a round stone tower in the middle of the cliffs.
If you are up for a nice long hike, you can even walk the 18km of the official Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk that runs from Doolin to Hag’s Head with beautiful views.
We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast called The Stop B and B. The Stop B and B was a small Bed and Breakfast with a modern but traditional and homey feel. Breakfast was also precisely what you are hoping to get for a traditional Irish breakfast. I remember their coffee was excellent.
I am usually responsible for booking hotels, itineraries, looking up great restaurants, and so on when traveling, and honestly, it is one of my most favorite things to do in the world. Give me a country, and I plan away. I love it!
When staying in smaller cities like Galway, my most important goal is being within walking distance to the center. That way, you can enjoy all the amenities of downtown, and of course part taking in local restaurants and pubs, and being in close proximity to your room.
After settling in, we walked for like five minutes before finding a cute little café on the side of the road to have lunch. Galway is very busy with tourists, but take a five or ten-minute walk down one of the side-streets, and you can find all kinds of restaurants and pubs that are not only frequented by tourists but locals.
The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring downtown Galway and hanging out by the waterfront. A very low-key day and a perfect calm me down from having our wedding ceremony the day before.
The Aran Islands
The next day, we had big plans, meaning we headed to the Aran Islands. Visiting the Aran islands was another highlight during our time in Ireland.
I feel like the whole ten-day vacation was packed full of highlight after highlight, at least for my taste.
The Aran Islands consist of three islands: Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer. Our ferry docked at the biggest island, Inishmore. But I am sure you can also visit the other islands.
Inishmore has about 1200 inhabitants, with most of them speaking the traditional Irish language. Of course, the bulk of the residents also speak English.
Inishmore is a very flat island, and most visitors opt for exploring it by bicycle. You can stop anywhere you want to, and take in the fantastic views and countryside, making your way around the island on your own time.
Duan Aonghasa, a Bronze and Iron age fort, is reachable in about 30 minutes by bike and is one of the most popular attractions on Inishmore. The fort consists of concentric circular walls and sits on a cliff (100 meters, or 330 ft) with fantastic views of the Atlantic Ocean.
There is an excellent lunch spot on the bottom of the hill, where you can also leave your bikes. Also, a local basket-maker was selling his products on the side of the road. It is worth making your way up there for sure.
On the way back, we stopped at different places along the coastline to watch seals sunbathing close to the shore.
Before making our way back on the ferry, we stopped at one of the restaurants to enjoy a fresh beer from the tap.
The Crane Bar, Galway
We made it back to Galway around 16.00 and spent our last night in Galway having dinner in one of the many Irish pubs, and later finishing the night at The Crane Bar.
Looking back, The Crane Bar was my most favorite Irish pub experience while in Ireland. The atmosphere was beautiful. Precisely what I want when visiting an Irish Pub in Ireland. The best live music hands down, and the bartenders made you feel right at home! No. 1 recommendation while being in Galway.
The Rock of Cashel
The next morning, it was time for our next adventure. One night in Cashel; visiting the Rock of Cashel.
We stayed at the Baileys Hotel Cashel, which was a fantastic place to stay for one night. Cashel itself is a small village, and I would say that the Rock Cashel is why tourists visit this specific area.
The Rock of Cashel is famous for its legend, which says that the Rock of Cashel originated in the Devil’s Bit, a mountain, 20 miles away. It says that St. Patrick banished the devil from a cave high on that mountain that can be seen when standing at the Rock of Cashel today. The devil then took a bite out of that hill, broke off his tooth, and then spat the rock out again. It landed on the other side of the valley and created the Rock of Cashel.
Conor Pass, Ireland
The next morning, we packed up again and drove to our last stop on our Ireland trip. We made it to Dingle.
To get there, we took the Conor Pass. I highly recommend using this pass to get there. The Conor Pass is the highest mountain pass in Ireland at 1345 feet above sea level, and you must stop and take a break to indulge yourself in the experience altogether. When we stopped, it felt utterly surreal. Temperatures at the top were so much colder than what we were used to from other stops in Ireland, and the views were breathtaking.
The Conor Pass is a must-see experience in an Ireland itinerary.
We spent our last three nights at the Duinin House B&B in Dingle.
Our hosts welcomed us with freshly brewed tea and homemade Irish fruit soda bread and made us feel right at home.
The Duinin House was a short walk to the city center. Dingle is a unique little town with plenty to do. Small, unique shops, restaurants, and pubs can be found wherever you walk, and the Irish are the most friendly people to get to know. We made friends (or my extrovert husband) with locals every night out in town.
Slea Head Drive
I recommend doing the Slea Head Drive while visiting Dingle. The Slea Head Drive is 30 miles (47km) long and starts and ends in Dingle. It is a ring road with fantastic Irish scenery.
Plan on taking your time during this drive since you can stop at many different places to explore on your own.
Whale Watching Tour go Wrong
We had also booked a whale watching tour with Eco Marine Tours while in Dingle.
Unfortunately, we did not get to see any whales or dolphins that day. Also, I got seasick and felt like I was dying for three whole hours. The waters were choppy, and the winds high, so I am sure that was why I felt sick the entire time.
Being on that boat was the first time I ever got seasick, so when we tried again to see whales in Washington State in 2019, I felt a little anxious this would be happening again.
The tour itself (without being seasick) was beautiful, though, and I would do it again, but only on a calm day. We saw seals, puffins, the beautiful Irish coastline and waters.
Dingle is a beautiful place to explore, and although it is quite busy with tourists, I recommend visiting for its beautiful landscapes and unique shops downtown.
On our last day, we spent the morning doing some last-minute shopping and then heading back to Kerry Airport to return our rental car and fly back home to Germany.
Summary on our Irish Road Trip
This Ireland road trip is one of my most beloved memories we ever made. Ireland has always had a special place in my heart.
Every place we visited, starting from Doolin to Galway and the Aran Islands, Cashel and Dingle have an amazing story to tell. Each of these places holds a different, very special, and unique memory dear to my heart. And is not making memories the real reason to travel?
Topping it off with our Renewal of Vows Ceremony in Doolin, and then just enjoying the Irish way of life for another week has made me appreciate Ireland even more.
We are already planning on returning to Ireland, and wanting to explore Northern Ireland next time. I can not wait!