Chances are if you’re planning a trip to Ireland you’ll want to enjoy a pint or two of its world famous beer. In this round-trip Dublin Beer Tour itinerary we’ll highlight some of the best bars and breweries in Dublin, and take you on an epic round-trip Ireland beer tour which is sure to exceed your expectations.
The best Ireland tours aren’t those you have to pay elaborate fees to book in advance … they’re trips which allow room for you to explore new cities, towns and restaurants on any given day. On this route you’ll enjoy a pint at two of the oldest pubs in Ireland – truly historic landmarks. You’ll also enjoy a mandatory tour of the famous Guinness Brewery, and the less known (to travelers) White Gypsy Brewery.
As you drive to discover each iconic destination on this Irish beer tour, you’ll enjoy classic scenery between destinations, and enjoy a stay in some fabulous cities and villages off the beaten path. Sláinte – let’s get started!
Total Driving Time: ~8.5 hours
Total Distance Covered: ~399 miles
Total Beers Consumed: To Be Determined
Looking for other things to do in Ireland? Check out our other Drive to Discover guides where we explore the best road trips in Ireland including a guide to the Wild Atlantic Way, a guide to 7 historic places in Ireland that can’t be missed and a Ring of Kerry tour!
1. Arrive in Dublin, Head Straight to Guinness Brewery … Do Not Pass Go.
You know what’s great after a long flight? A pint of Guinness. A rich, heady pint of Ireland’s most famous brew is a great way to unwind and if you can time your arrival during the day you’ll be able to comfortably pick up your car rental at Dublin airport, drive to your hotel to check in and drop your luggage, and stretch your legs as you walk to Guinness Storehouse Brewery. Take a tour to learn the history of this iconic landmark, and cap off the day with a pint or two enjoyed at the Sky Bar – offering a lively atmosphere and amazing views of the Dublin skyline. When your head hits the pillow back at your hotel, jet lag will be the last thing on your mind.
Next stop: 1 hour & 23 minutes
2. Tour Dublin Then Drive to Ireland’s Oldest Pub in Athlone
The next step of our Dublin beer tour starts whenever you’d like it too! The great thing about enjoying a self-drive tour of Ireland is you can travel at your own pace. If you need to catch up on your sleep after a long day of traveling, sleep in, and then explore some popular sites and landmarks in downtown Dublin before hopping in your Dublin rental car and heading west sometime in the afternoon.
Your destination is about an hour and a half away: Sean’s Bar in County WestMeath. This is the oldest pub in Ireland (Guinness World Record has it as the oldest pub in all of Europe), and a must-visit destination for anyone serious about Irish beer. Check into a hotel in Athlone Ireland before walking to 13 Main Street in Athlone, located on the west bank of the River Shannon. Don’t just have a beer here – strike up a conversation with the bartender and a few of the locals to see if you can leave with a few stories of this unique pub’s long history.
Next stop: 2 hours & 4 minutes
3. It’s Off to County Tipperary and White Gypsy Brewery
After spending the night in Athlone, head south on a beautiful drive to the White Gypsy Brewery in County Tipperary – the largest landlocked county in Ireland. While the Cliffs of Mohrer are certainly worth visiting, central Ireland offers several mountain ranges and beautiful hills. The center of this county is known as “The Golden Vale” – a striking pastoral section of Ireland in the Suir basin. If you find you have some extra time, it’s not a bad idea to take some side-roads to extend this drive and explore central Ireland.
The White Gypsy Brewery’s website gets right to the point: “At the White Gypsy Brewery, we make good beer.” We think that’s a pretty good reason to include it on our Ireland beer tour. We really like the ethos of this small brewery – they attempt to draw all of their materials from local suppliers, and keep their beer customers local as well. It’s an excellent place to experience a different side of brewing in Ireland.
After your tour of the brewery, head to Larkins Music Pub – an excellent, lakeside eatery with terrific food, brew, and traditional Irish music and dancing. It’s a great way to cut loose at this point in the trip!
Next stop: 1 hour & 9 minutes
4. South to the Castle Café in Cork, Ireland
On the southern coast of Ireland, County Cork might be as close to heaven as you can get. Drive your rental car to Cork (it’s about an hour and a half by car) after enjoying breakfast in County Tipperary, and you can explore this historic city, eat lunch on the water, and comfortably make your evening reservations at The Castle Café in the evening. A break from the previous night’s atmosphere, The Castle Café offers slick, modern European dishes in a refined atmosphere that overlooks a stunning castle. It’s an impressive place to enjoy a high-end dinner and a beer (or perhaps take a break and enjoy a nice glass of wine in this stylish setting. You can always ask your waiter for their recommendation of a nearby pub to visit after dinner.
Next stop:1 hour & 48 minutes
5. All the Way to Waterford
Waterford awaits to the Northeast of Cork, and you’ll be treated to a stunning coastal route along the way. You might start your day with a tour of Waterford Crystal (perhaps picking up an elegant beer stein or two), For a change of pace from traditional Irish brewing, visit Metal Man Brewing Co. at 14 Tycor Business Centre. If you arrive on a Friday they offer afternoon tours of the Brewery, which are excellent.
For dinner in Waterford we recommend Oskars Bar and Restaurant. Not only do they offer all of Ireland’s mainstream beers on tap, they also have an excellent selection of craft beer, so you’re sure to find something which pairs perfectly with your delicious entrée.
Next stop:1 hour & 50 minutes
6. Back to Dublin for a Final Pint at The Brazen Head
After a scenic drive from Waterford (it will take just under 2 hours in your Ireland car rental), we recommend that you enjoy at least one final night in Ireland before your return flight. The best place to grab a pint and experience the historic pub scene in Dublin is at The Brazen Head, a pub which (like Sean’s Bar) claims to be the oldest pub in Ireland. Perhaps it’s best not to bring it up with ownership, and just enjoy a night of beer and pub food at one of Ireland’s iconic bars.
With famous patrons like James Joyce, Brendan Behan and Johnathan Swift having frequented The Brazen Head, you’ll enjoy a palpable sense of history here (along with excellent food and beer).
An Excellent Dublin Beer Tour: One of the Best Ireland Tours Available
After around 400 miles in your car rental, you’ll have experienced a great deal of Irish pub and brewing culture on this Ireland beer tour, and we think you’ll enjoy the leisurely pace and room for exploration which driving in Ireland allows.
Pin this itinerary and start planning!
When you’re ready to discuss booking a car for your Ireland beer-lover’s trip, call Auto Europe at 1-888-223-5555 or get a quote online in minutes. If you have questions about rental car insurance coverage or local car rental fees in Ireland, or simply want to learn more about the reputation of local rental car agencies, our experienced team is ready to assist you in planning one of the best Ireland tours of your life.