Dreaming of Travel: Ireland

Published on August 25, 2022 - Updated on August 26, 2022

The Emerald Isle – the name only starts to contribute to the true beauty of this country! The land of rolling green hills, lively pubs and Celtic music, and the most charming people you will ever meet. Ireland is an island worth visiting at least once; and if lucky, again and again!

How to Get to and Around Ireland


It shouldn’t be hard to find a flight to Ireland, the question is what is it going to cost? Your most affordable option may be having to opt for a layover (or two). We spent ours with one layover in New York City with a long enough stop to leave the airport and visit the Big Apple, which allowed for plenty of time to exhaust the kids before the overnight flight. If you’re lucky enough to fly direct, make sure to work in time for sleep and account for the time change because you will hit the ground running!

Once you’re there, you can opt to use public transportation to get from Dublin International Airport to the city center, and then rely on train schedules to get around. If it's in your budget, renting a car is the ideal way to visit! You’ll have full flexibility to create your own schedule, travel the roads less taken, and also visit some hidden gems that you wouldn’t get to discover otherwise.

Renting a car in Ireland is a fairly simple process – a valid US driver’s license and insurance coverage for your rental will need to be provided. You can opt to add insurance coverage through your rental company; if you don’t, a hold of roughly 5,000 Euros will be placed on your card until the return of your car. The majority of cars available for rent are manual, so unless you’re familiar and comfortable with maneuvering a stick, the additional cost for the automatic is worth it. Also, be prepared to sit on the right and drive on the right side of the road-- you are in for your fair share of a learning experience and white-knuckle driving as you get used to being on the road!

What to Do in Ireland


You’ve landed in Ireland and now what do you do? Hopefully you’ve come with a plan and made room for some flexibility. For starters, you wouldn’t be doing the country justice by just visiting Dublin. The city is great and full of culture and things to explore, but if you want a true feel of Ireland, get out of the city and see the whole country, which is roughly the size of the state of Indiana.

Below are suggested stops for a week-long visit in Ireland, which will even leave you crossing over into Northern Ireland.


Where to Stay

We chose to stay at the Hyatt Centric The Liberties Dublin for its location in between many spots we wanted to visit, but without being in the middle of it all. You are only a 2-minute walk from St. Patrick Cathedral, but also a manageable walk from many other areas you’re likely to visit-- St. Stephen’s Green (10 minutes), Guinness Storehouse (15 minutes), and Trinity College or Temple Bar area (15 minutes).

What to Eat

With no shortage of places to eat, we recommend visiting The Hairy Lemon for a great meal and entertainment right in central Dublin!

What to Do

St. Stephen’s Green – Dublin’s garden park with a great playground that stays open until 8 pm!

Stephens Green.jpg

Guinness Storehouse – The birthplace of the famous brew and floors of tours, along with eateries and stunning views of Dublin!

Guinness Storehouse

National Leprechaun Museum – A kid-friendly interactive tour to learn about the legends that have come from Ireland!

National Leprechaun Museum

Trinity College – The Long Room and the Book of Kells – This historic tour spot also provides children’s activities as they tour both spots, making it enjoyable for all to discover and learn!

Trinity College

Northern Ireland

From Dublin, you can easily take a short ride over to Northern Ireland. If your rental car company hasn’t warned you, a small fee will be charged to your final bill for crossing over the UK side of the island. Also, come prepared to see an exchange rate to change from Euros to Pounds. It's nonetheless worth the visit if you want to see this unique part of the island that has an identity all its own.

Where to Stay

We wanted to stay outside of the city and be accessible enough to Belfast so we chose Hilton Belfast Templepatrick Golf and Country Club. The location makes for an easy drive into the city and also out to explore the countryside. Plus, if you were hoping to get in a game of golf while here, check out the on-site course!

What to Eat

Our recommendation comes right outside of Giant’s Cause at The Smugglers Inn. The Girona Restaurant fits the pirate theme, with great seafood meals and superb service!

What to Do

Giants Causeway – The World Heritage site that will take your breath away! Only a little over an hour drive from the Belfast area, this site is a great stop, especially later in the day. The central car park closes at 5 pm, but in summer months and late sunsets, you can use a very close accessible lot and visit the shore with fewer crowds!

Giants Causeway

If you’re looking to visit central Belfast, make your way over to discover the Titanic Belfast, at the site the infamous ship was built!


Northern Ireland to the west coast is going to be your longest drive, but take the time to appreciate the changing landscape and a bit of the interior that you didn’t get to explore. If time is on your side, use it to find stops along the way to explore even more of this country!

Where to Stay

Located right on the docks and very close to the city center, Harbour Hotel provided us with a wonderful retreat while visiting Galway. They offer a family rate that includes breakfast.

What to Eat

If you’re looking for something a little different from the pub scene you’ll find everywhere, check out Oscars Seafood Bistro. Finish dinner off with dessert at Murphy’s Ice Cream for ice cream that rivals the service from the staff – both were great! Don’t worry, if you love it as much as we did, you’ll find more of it around the island!

What to Do

Latin Quarter – Walk the lively streets of Galway, full of street performers, music ringing from the pubs, shops to explore, and history around each corner!

Latin Quarter

Charles Byrne Bookshop – A well-loved stop with shelves of books and a chance to find something incredibly unique. Any bookworm should make a stop for a unique experience!

Charles Byrne Bookshop

Aran Islands – Famous for their wool, these islands are accessible by ferry and best done with a day to devote to visiting! You’re taken away to a pretty place of cottages, serene beauty, and a simple way of living!

Aran Islands

Cliffs of Moher – The experience to visit this city is one to do unrushed. Come with plenty of time to explore and even hike along the cliffs for as far as you dare. The site is truly remarkable!

Cliffs of Moher


Heading south from Galway, the next stop you will stumble on is a great spot to visit the Cliffs of Moher. The city of Killarney is also very keen on its ties to tourism, so it is very visitor-friendly. If you’re not looking for that, skip over to Dingle and base there to do some exploring of the peninsula. But Killarney is an easy middle ground to drive either the Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula!

Where to Stay

Right in the heart of tourist-friendly Killarney, you’ll find Scotts Hotel! Another spot that put us up in family-friendly accommodations along with breakfast included in the rate, making it easy to get up and go for our days of exploring. While we were there, we had a carnival set up next door to the hotel, and the big screen in the courtyard showed local soccer games – a win for everyone in the family!

What to Eat

Across the street from Scotts you will find Cronin’s Restaurant, a family-run business with traditional eats!

What to Do

Killarney National Park – The park, which lies right outside the city, is the start of the Ring of Kerry-- a great spot to take the scenic drive. We used it as a chance to explore the grounds and hike to Torc Waterfall.

Killarney National Park

Muckross Park – Home to Muckross House, Muckross Abbey & Muckross Traditional Farms. You'll find these spots on your guide to explore the Ring of Kerry. But with its accessibility to Killarney, you can easily just make a stop here to explore the beautiful grounds of each!

Muckross Park

Dingle Peninsula – We used this stop to take the drive through the peninsula, roughly 45 minutes to our first stop on the scenic drive!

Dingle Peninsula


We stayed in Killarney and drove the Peninsula for a day, but many recommend staying in the heart of Dingle, a charming coastal city.

What to Eat

Another solution to the pub scene is trying out The Fish Box for the freshest seafood!

What to Do

Inch Beach – Though you may not have considered a beach trip while in Ireland, this stop is great to stretch your legs before driving the peninsula. Stop by Sammy’s for some beach toys before heading out to extend your time here!

Inch Beach

Famine Cottages & Farm Visit – While on the Slea Head Drive, stop by to take in some history and also visit with the locals. Watch a sheepdog demonstration (they run at set times) and get a chance to feed the farm animals! Grab a to-go coffee next door at The Stonehouse Restaurant, or stay awhile to take in the coastal views.

Famine Cottages and Farm

Visit Dingle – The charming little city is everything you think of a fisherman’s village. Spend some time here exploring (if you’re not already staying here); this is everything you’ve looked for to escape from the rush of the bigger cities in Ireland!



Just east of Killarney, you’ll find the city of Cork. Famous for its local college and as a port city, it is also a great place to stop if you decide to spend a day at Blarney. Or if you want to slow down your pace even further, head south to Kinsale – a culinary capital of the country!

Where to Stay

Located in west Cork, The Kingsley was another spot that offered great family accommodations and breakfast included in the rate. About a mile outside the city center, we appreciated the proximity we had from the hustle and bustle of the city and the stunning views of the River Lee.

What to Eat

A lively restaurant that beckons visitors, The Oliver Plunkett offered some interesting takes on traditional meals!

What to Do

Blarney Castle & Gardens – Come to kiss the famous stone, and stay to explore the grounds! With so much to explore, from the castle to pathways that lead you to hidden grounds and fairy stories hidden in Rock Close, this is a place you could easily get immersed in for a day!

Blarney Castle

Old Cork Waterworks Experience – Visit the spot that takes you back in time to the history of Cork’s industrial area, set in the Victorian building which is now a visitor attraction in the city.

Old Cork Waterworks

English Market – If you’re in the city during bank hours, visit the food market with vendors displaying their goods within this historic confine.

English Market

All of this is only a taste of what you can experience visiting Ireland. There is a lot of ground you can cover in a week, but with flexibility and more time, you can visit even more hidden gems within this country. The only thing we advise is to take your time; do not rush through a visit and take it all in. The pace of this island is easy to get in step with, and the people here want you to enjoy their home!

Has your family been to Ireland? What did you think!? If you have any great photos of your family enjoying a day out here (or anywhere for that matter!), be sure to tag us on Instagram @gethappyly for a chance to be featured!

Looking for other fun family vacation ideas? Check out our Dreaming of Travel posts on Costa Rica, Virgin Islands National Park, Maui or Puglia, Italy for some inspiration!

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Thoughtfully captured by:
Priscilla Walker
Pri Walker is based out of Orlando, Florida, where she indulges in all the simple joys that life has to offer. She, her husband, and their two children are avid world travelers, fun seekers, and always yearning to learn through the experiences they share!
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