From city to country, read through our five-day adventure through South of Ireland.
Our first day in Ireland was spent in Cork. I recently learned my great, great-grandfather lived here and decided to make this a stop on our five-day trip in Ireland. Because Cork is largely made up of many cities, we decided to pick one or two our favourites to visit.
We checked into the Ambassador Hotel, which was placed closer to the top of the mountain overlooking the colourful homes below. From there, we walked to The Fish & Wife for some delicious fish and chips.
After lunch, we drove to Cobh. This is the famous port where Titanic made its last pick up of passengers before its sinking. Here coloured pastel homes layered the steep hills while the charming shops lined the port. We wandered through the town, grabbing ice cream along the way while admiring this charismatic town.
We then got in our car and drove to Black Rock Castle. We were a little disappointed since this castle was a lot smaller than most we’ve seen and was also closed for the day, either way, it was in a lovely suburban town with charming homes.
From Black Rock, we drove to St. Patrick St., a busy downtown area in Cork, bustling with people and a wide variety of shops and pubs along the streets. Wandering up and down, we chuckled at some of the street names like Sober Lane – a street dedicated entirely to outdoor pubs where people would watch football, and well, drink.
We settled on one place for dinner, Coqbull. A pub-style joint that serves up barbeque fare. We ordered roast chicken and burgers. After dinner, we grabbed a bottle of red wine and a few snacks before heading back to our beautiful hotel to relax for the night.
Waking up to birds chirping, we ate our breakfast in the hotel at what was once a library turned into a restaurant. I do want to add, the entire hotel was stunning– the décor was gorgeous and located in beautiful area of Cork.
After settling up breakfast, we gathered our items and hit the road towards Killarney, just an hour beyond Cork.
We arrived in Killarney, checked in and quickly made our way to Muckross House.
A gorgeous chateau situated on acres and acres of perfectly manicured greens and thick forest. We walked the gardens and ventured through the woods to a beautiful waterfall. There were horse rides to take you to the falls or other parts of the property but we preferred to walk. Everything was perfectly peaceful here, the views of the mountains, the deer running through the fields and mossy trees everywhere. You had to be there to truly grasp the beauty that surrounded this place.
From all that walking, we felt lunch was in place. We ventured to Main St. (the main part of town) and stopped in a little pub for some beer and lamb burgers. We walked around the city some more and went back to our hotel for a quick nap before venturing out again.
That evening we set out to the Gap of Dunloe – a winding street nestled in between two mountains that took you up and over creeks. Along the way, a herd of sheep were being chased by a sheepdog with the farmer way back in the distance. Every time the farmer would whistle, the dog would change direction guiding the sheep over the street to safer pastures for the night. It was an amazing experience we will never forget.
On the way back down the road, we stopped to pet a few friendly horses that were tied up on the side of road. It was so peaceful and quiet, all you could hear was the river flowing and birds chirping. At that moment, while the sun was just setting behind the mountains, it was one of the most beautiful landscapes we had ever seen.
For dinner, we ate at another local pub (surprise, surprise). I tried the cottage pie… not to be confused with shepherd’s pie, this local dish had ground beef instead of lamb. After dinner, we wandered around the town, stopped in the Olde Candy Shoppe for some sweets and watched the sun go down.
The next morning, we began our road trip around the Ring of Kerry – a scenic circular drive that takes you through rugged, coastal landscapes, seaside villages and beautiful sights.
Our first stop was Inch Beach. A stunning, wide-open beach with mountains in the background. Because it was still early, there were no crowds and barely any people below. After we had enough fun in the sand, we made our way on the narrow road with nothing but a wooden fence separating us from cliffs and our car.
Our next stop on this mini road trip was to the Famine Cottages. These were the homes of farmers and their familes in the 1850’s. During the Great Famine (also called Irish Potato Famine), over 1 million people died because of the late blight, a disease that destroyed the crops. This led to massive starvation, disease, and emigration to other countries. We walked through these cottages to get an idea of just how tiny these homes were. On the way up to see the cottages, we were greeted by friendly animals like sheep, goats and horses.
Our next stop after the cottages was the beautiful Dun Chaoin Pier. The beauty overlooking the crashing waves, the beach and the rolling hills was something out of a painting. We decided to go down to the beach area first and see the waves roll in.
We walked up and up to this magnificent hill all the way to the top. It was so windy but so worth that big hike. From up top, we could see everything, the little cottage homes, the beaches, the mountains and the sheep that decorated the hills. It was a beautiful sight and so worth me almost falling to my death a few times to experience.
We drove on to the Main Street in Dingle completing our Ring of Kerry road trip and ate at this little fish and chips spot right in front of the water. We wandered through the town and picked up a few things in the shops. We knew it was time to head back to Killarney so we finished our day there walking through the main town and soaking in our last night in this beautiful city.
DAY FOUR & FIVE
Our final two days were spent in Dublin. From Killarney, we made our way to Dublin City. I’ve always been curious as to why so many people make their return to this city and now I understand.
The shops, pubs, restaurants, people and even the atmosphere was contagious. We wandered in and out of the streets for a bit taking in all the sights and getting an idea of where everything was.
It was the first day it actually poured during our stay, so we were ducking in and out of places trying to stay dry. We ran into Dublin Castle to tour around. Each room of the castle was impeccably decorated with gold trimmings, expensive fabrics and detailed carvings from the doors right up to the ceilings. It was a beautiful break from the rain and we were able to dry ourselves off a little.
Before our tour at Guinness started, we felt that lunch was in order. We visited one of the oldest claimed pubs in Ireland, dating back to 1198, The Brazen Head. Finishing our lunch and watching the tourists pile in, we ducked out just in time for our scheduled tour at Guinness Distillery. We wandered through several floors of how the company brews its beer, its history and famous marketing campaigns over the years. At the end of the tour, we grabbed a pint of Guinness and enjoyed the 360 view of Dublin City.
Thankfully, the rain let up so we walked up Grafton Street and popped in and out of some shops, we stopped in at the cutest coffee cafe called Queen Of Hearts. This charming French bake shop was equipped with yummy scones, muffins, and other baked goods along with delicious lattes we filled our bellies with.
We then wandered down the Templebar stopping in at a pub for some dinner. After we finished, we wandered down the same streets getting a feel of what the city turned into at night. It was such a fun and happy vibe, people cheering in the streets, holding each other up while they stumbled into the next pub.
Our final morning in the city was a sad one. We weren’t ready to head back home but since reality was setting in we thought we’d make the most of our last day and get an early start in the city once more. Our first stop was at a breakfast spot called The Bakehouse. This cute little brunch spot had delicious eggs benny served on mix-matching plates. The décor was cute, lined with subway tiles and a hot pink sign that was displayed on the back wall that said “Food From the Heart of Dublin”.
After breakfast, we decided to do a little shopping on Grafton Street and pick up a few items for family members. One shop in particular I loved was Avoca. This Anthropologie-like store had everything in home décor from tea towels to their own special coffee blend.
Another coffee and a treat or two were a must at Laduree. We grabbed a latte, a few macarons and continued on, walking beyond Grafton around posh neighbourhoods with beautiful front entrances.
Pink, blue and yellow doors lined the streets with perfectly manicured shrubs. We wandered for hours and grabbed beers in several pubs and admired the winding cobblestone streets taking in the sights.
Since we had no plans in the afternoon and left it up to exploring, we wandered right over to Jameson Distillery. We had a few of their signature drinks, I had the strawberry whiskey sour and Kev just had a regular whiskey sour.
After touring around some more and wandering down random roads, our dinner reservation at The Bank was ready for us.
This restaurant was literally an old bank equipped with marble flooring, massive ceilings with intricate detailing around the crown moulding and a Juliette balcony overlooking the bar and entire ground floor. This restaurant was stunning. I was hoping we would be seated on the balcony and we were! This made for a special last night so we decided to go all out and order the lamb platter for two complete with shepherds pie, lamb pops and lamb legs displayed perfectly on a platter with gravy and veggies. It was such a beautiful night and the perfect way to end one of the best vacations we’ve ever taken together.
After dinner, we wandered the streets towards TempleBar one last time before we ventured back to our hotel to pack.
It was a trip we’d never forget. To be honest, my entire outlook on Ireland changed completely. These two beautiful countries have so much character, colour, and friendly faces. I loved that there was tradition yet they embraced change and you could see that by the way the locals welcomed us in and wanted to know so much about us. I fell in love the minute we arrived and I can’t wait to plan our return.
Cork – Ambassador Hotel
Cork – The Fish Wife Takeaway Fish and Chips (45 MacCurtain Street, Montenotte, Cork, Ireland)
Cork – Coqbul
Dublin – The Bakehouse
Dublin – Queen of Tarts
Dublin – Bank Bar
Dublin – Laduree
Dublin – Brazen Head
- City of Cobh (colourful pastel homes fill the hills)
- Wander St. Patrick St. (great street art and wall murals)
- Have a beer in one of the pubs on Sober Lane
- Walk along Lee River
- Visit Muckross House
- Walk along Main Street and have dinner in a pub
- Gap of Dunloe
- Ring of Kerry (Stop at Inch Beach, Famine Cottages, Dun Chaoin Pier, Dingle)
- Dublin Castle
- Shop along Grafton Street (visit Avoca)
- Guinness Distillery
- Jameson Distillery
- Grab a drink (or two) at the Templebar