With a history that ranges from ancient to modern, Dublin has a lot to keep travelers intrigued, but instead of spending your entire vacation in one spot, why not go on a road trip and see more of what this beautiful, green country has to offer? In just three days, you can complete a road trip that spans six of Ireland's counties and view the lush green countryside from the seat of your Ireland rental car along the way, driving only two to three hours per day. Our Dublin's Doorstep itinerary takes you from Dublin City south to Avoca, then northwest to Tullamore, and finally back home to Dublin, with plenty of memorable and scenic stops along the way. Quaint villages, scenic lakes and hills, and historic edifices come to life as you wind your way through the Irish countryside.
Read on to Drive to Discover the adventures that await you in Ireland!
The route we've chosen has no tolls, though it is always a good idea to bring cash wherever you go in Ireland. Exercise caution when driving in inclement weather, especially on the narrow roads that are common on the island. Our Dublin's Doorstep road trip follows both country roads and major highways, so you can usually follow signs to your next destination. If you have a GPS device or a map application on your phone, make sure it is in proper working order before setting out, because it will come in handy should you get lost. We always recommend that travelers have all the travel information that they need prior to beginning a journey. It is also important to have plenty of supplies, such as warm clothes and extra food, in case of emergency. Expect the unexpected, enjoy the ride, and don't forget to drive on the left!
Begin your journey with a car rental in Dublin and head south on R115 toward Glendalough. This route takes you through the rolling landscape and low-hanging skies of the Wicklow Mountains National Park. On this part of the trip, the hills seem to close in on both sides as if you had found your way inside a snow globe, but once you reach and take a left on R759, the view opens onto Sally Gap, a popular location for Hollywood filmmakers (think Braveheart).
As you follow the road up into the hills along some more rocky terrain, prepare for a stunning bird's-eye view of Lough Tay's dark water on your right. Stop off here to take in the scenery or continue south on your journey toward Glendalough via R755. Glendalough (which in Irish means "Valley of Two Lakes") offers a nice resting point before making your way farther south toward Avoca. Just take a quick jaunt to the right on R756 for a few miles. There is a parking area where you can leave your car as you go for a walk through a small wooded area that opens up onto a white beach where the lake cleaves the hills in two. Be sure to check out the 6th-century Round Tower at Glendalough, too. You are sure to get some great pictures to send home.
Once you are back on the road, continue south on R755 until you pass through Rathdrum. R755 will end and you will take a right on R752 which will take you all the way to your final destination for the day, the picturesque town of Avoca, where you can grab a pint and mingle with the locals before nodding off.
With Avoca in your rearview, continue on R752 until you reach R747 and make a right turn. This leg of the drive is the longest on the journey, but it passes through some of the most idyllic and splendid scenery of the trip, so you won't even notice how long you've been driving. Most of the route runs parallel to the Rivers Aughrim and Derry, so be sure to have your camera ready to capture some really beautiful countryside. Be sure to stop in some of the small villages that are along the way for something to eat or even just to stretch your legs.
Follow R727 and R726 toward Carlow, and if you have time, take the small jaunt up to Duckett's Grove where you can see a 19th-century Gothic revival ruin. From Carlow, travel to Abbeyleix via R430 and see along the way the green flatland pastures and country farms of County Laios. The Slieve Bloom Mountains are just past Abbeyleix and are a wonder to see as you make your way up R440 and R421 to Tullamore. You can tour the Tullamore D.E.W. Visitor Centre and the Kilbeggan Distillery and learn a bit about the history of these historic brands of Irish whiskey.
As you say goodbye to Tullamore whiskey country and begin the final day's journey back to Dublin along R420, get ready for open skies and wide horizons. Be sure to stop to see the exquisite Japanese Gardens at the National Stud near Kildare, where you can view one of the finest Japanese-style gardens in all of Europe. At the National Stud, you also have the opportunity to take a guided tour of the grounds and see the thoroughbred horses and the museum commemorating their history. Kildare also has on offer the Curragh Military Museum on offer for travelers interested in Irish military history.
From Kildare, you can travel to Ballymore Eustace on L6080, R448, and R413 where you can see the River Liffey before it flows into Dublin. If you want to get a bite to eat before returning to Dublin City, do visit the Ballymore Inn. There you will be treated to some of the best food that Ireland has to offer. After lunch, you can take L6048, connect with N81 towards Dublin, and drive until you hit R137, which will take you the rest of the way. Finally, finish your day with a pint of Guinness at Temple Bar and start thinking of where your next adventure will take you.
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