The rolling green hills, the welcoming Irish and the stunning cliffs make Ireland a destination on many travellers dream lists. The island may look small on a map but the question when planning a trip to the green isle soon becomes where to visit in Ireland. In this two week hidden gem Ireland itinerary we share both well known Ireland destinations as well as lesser-known treasures uncovered while exploring this magical destination.

14 day hidden gem Ireland itinerary. A complete guide to Ireland travel including where to stay in Ireland, Irish food finds and tried and tested Ireland travel tips.

You will need to rent a car for this 14-day itinerary and we do not include Northern Ireland in this Irish travel plan. In deciding what to see in Ireland we came to realize that although we could tick off most of the popular Ireland destinations in 14 days, we would not have time to come to truly know Ireland and its people.

Map Ireland itinerary 14 days

Map for our 14-day hidden gem Ireland itinerary


Two Week Hidden Gem Ireland Itinerary

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Day 1 – Arrive Dublin

Arrive in Dublin and pick up your rental car at the airport. Have a relaxing afternoon and evening recovering from jet lag after checking into your accommodation. We chose a quiet bed and breakfast that provided parking. You won’t want to drive in Dublin. Lower your stress level by walking or using public transport, taxi or rideshare service.

Royal Canal Dublin

Royal Canal Dublin

We stayed at Arranmore House which is a comfortable and welcoming bed and breakfast.

Check for prices of accommodations in Dublin

Day 2 – Dublin – Guinness Storehouse, Book of Kells, Temple Bar

There may be no better way to begin Ireland sightseeing then visiting the most popular of all Ireland tourist attractions, the Guinness Storehouse. Arthur Guinness founded the brewery in 1759 and it has now grown to a seven-story historical beer showcase.

Arthur would likely need a pint of his beloved Guinness to settle his nerves should he see the thousands pouring into his brewery today.

Guinnness beer tour pouring

Visit the Book of Kells at the library of Dublin’s Trinity College. Containing the four gospels of the New Testament, created by Columban monks in 800 AD, the Book of Kells is a must-see in Ireland for those intrigued by religious history.

Book of Kells

Wander the Temple Bar area with its narrow lanes lined with boutiques, galleries and pubs. Have dinner in one of Dublin’s most popular areas for those seeking culture and nightlife. 

Day 3 – Dublin –  Secret Food Tour, Hop-On Hop-Off Bus 

One of the best things to do in Ireland is eating delicious comfort food. No need for breakfast this morning. Book with Secret Food Tour and devour your way through quaint and historic Dublin. While learning the history of the city, expect a traditional Irish breakfast, Irish cheese tastings, lunch at an authentic pub, Irish ice cream and of course some fish and chips or oysters.

Secret food tour Dublin

From there board a Hop-on Hop-off bus for a sightseeing tour of the city of Dublin. Stretch your legs at the stop for Phoenix Park. One of the largest enclosed recreational spaces within any European city. If you are lucky you may spot some wild fallow deer.

Phoenix Park Dublin

Phoenix Park Dublin

For dinner enjoy authentic Irish food with the locals at Fagan’s Pub146 Drumcondra Rd Lower, Drumcondra.

Day 4 – Dublin, Rock of Dunamase, Nenagh Castle, Newcastle West

Depart Dublin for Newcastle West which will be your home base for the next five nights. Watch the stone-bordered, green fields of County Limerick fly by like a vibrant Irish quilt.

Dunamase Castle

The Rock of Dunamse – Movie location and hidden gem of Ireland

Stop at a lesser-known gem of Ireland the Rock of Dunamase, located some 85 kilometres (53 miles) southwest of  Dublin. It sits quietly in a rural setting without kiosks, restaurants, toilets or organized tours. Best of all it is free.

Passing hands through battles from the 9th to 17th century, its current claim to fame is that it was featured in the 2010 movie Leap Year.

Nenagh Castle Ireland

Nenagh Castle Ireland – hidden gem

Stop for lunch in the town of Nenagh. On a sunny day grab a table outside Cafe Q on Pearse Street. Don’t leave without a scrumptious chocolate chip cookie.

Explore the hundred-foot high Nenagh Castle which is open April to October but closed on Sunday and Monday. Admission is free.

Pass through the popular tourist town of Adare known for its thatched roofs and being named one of Ireland’s prettiest towns by the Irish government.

Arrive to a little known secret escape in Ireland, the town of Newcastle West. The ancient castle walls of Desmond Hall shimmer against the Arra river as the local ducks and heron bid their greeting.

Newcatle West Ireland Arra river ducks

Town of Newcastle West – A true hidden gem of Ireland

We stayed in a historic row house where local artisans are diligently restoring the back buildings of the property. Thought to have been constructed in the 1600s, the stone structures are transforming to cozy rental apartments under their skilled hands.

Day 5 – New Castle West – Cliffs of Moher, Burren, Dan Cronin’s

Should you search the internet for the best places to visit in Ireland the Cliffs of Moher will be high on the list. Ireland’s top natural attraction draws thousands of visitors gazing at the vistas of cliffs plummeting 700 feet to the wild Atlantic ocean below.

Cliffs of Moher Ireland

Cliffs of Moher Ireland

Leaving the Cliffs of Moher to settle in for lunch at Danny Mac’s on Main Street in the small town of Lahinch. A favourite with locals and tourists everything is delicious including the fresh bread. Browse Kenny Woolen Mills on Main Street for authentic Irish crafts or walk along the scenic waterfront.

On the drive back to Newcastle West stop at Burren where extensive rock fields of karst dominate the Irish landscape.

Dan Cronin's Bar exterior Newcastle West

Dinner tonight at Dan Cronin’s Bar and Bistro, which we attest serves up the best Shepherd’s Pie on the planet. The multi-generation family-run mainstay in Newcastle West became one of our top Irish gems discovered.

Day 6 – Newcastle West – Marguerite’s Bakery, Foynes Aviation Museum, Barnagh Tunnel, Glenquin Castle, Cleary’s Pub

Marguerite's Newcastle West

Marguerite’s Newcastle West – Ireland hidden gem

The tantalizing aroma of rich coffee and fresh baking will lure you to Marguerite’s Bakery. With scrumptious cakes and pastries competing with warm scones and fresh jam, breakfast may be the biggest decision of the day.

Drive from Newcastle West to the village of Foynes. Lunch today is at the birthplace of Irish coffee at the Foynes Flying Boat Museum. We recommend the chowder and of course the Irish coffee.

Barnagh tunnel Newcastle West

Barnagh Tunnel Newcastle West – Hidden Gem

Return to Newcastle West to explore Barnagh Tunnel. The relatively undisturbed former Limerick Tralee rail tunnel is now safe haven for an extraordinary array of flora and fauna.

Glenquin Castle Newcastle West Ireland

Glenquin Castle Newcastle West Ireland – Hidden Gem

Minutes from Newcastle West stands Glenquin Castle, one of the finest 16th-century tower houses to survive in Ireland. The six-story tower comes complete with a steep, narrow spiral staircase leading to an eye-popping view. Open May to September a local number invites visitors to call for access.

Several doors down from our accommodation in Newcastle West the purple exterior of Cleary’s Bar the sound of live music beckons. You’ll soon feel like a long lost friend in this local Irish gem.

Cleary Pub Newcastle West Ireland

Music and Irish welcome at Cleary’s Bar Newcastle West – Hidden Gem Ireland

Day 7 – Newcastle West – Newcastle West Golf Club, the Great Southern Trail or Boutique Shopping

Time for a day of exploring close to your Irish home away from home. Our hidden gem Ireland itinerary provides three choices for the day.

Arra River Newcastle West Ireland

Morning in Newcastle West

Option 1 Voted friendliest in the province of Munster, Newcastle West Golf Club should be on any golfer’s list of places to visit in Ireland. An excellent course with good challenges at a reasonable rate, my brother-in-law reports, after completing a round partnered with a welcoming local.

Book dinner tonight at the club’s Stables Bar and Restaurant.

Newcastle West Golf Club

Newcastle West Golf Club – Hidden Gem

 Option 2 – Formerly the route of the Tralee rail line dating back to 1867, the Great Southern Trail now serves as a hiking and cycling trail. The outdoor equipment store in Newcastle West rents bicycles with advance notice. 

Great Southern Trail - Ireland Hidden gem

Great Southern Trail – Ireland hidden gem

Option 3 – Shop the extensive boutique stores of Newcastle West.

Day 8 – Newcastle West – Blarney Castle, Cork, Titanic Exhibit Cobh

The Blarney Castle and its famous kissing stone near Cork is one of the best known Ireland points of interest. With over sixty acres of gardens, streams and waterfalls the non-kissers can meander about the beautiful grounds.

The outdoor tables at the Stable Yard Cafe provide a stunning view of the castle and a good spot for a coffee break.

Blarney Stone kissing

Blarney Castle – Things to do in Cork Ireland

Drive to Cobh and have lunch at Leonardo Cafe Kimbo at 5 West Beach, Kilgarvan. All day breakfast and sandwiches at reasonable prices and this wee find also serves gluten free options.

On the waterfront take in the Titanic Experience. At this location, the final passengers boarded the Titanic before the fateful voyage began.

Cobh Ireland

Cobh Ireland – Home to Titanic Exhibit

Dinner in Newcastle West at The Silver Room in Market Yard. Likely the most upscale restaurant in town but not so much so that you can’t wear hiking clothes. We did.

Day 9 – Ring of Kerry, Portamagee, Stone Forts, Killarney

Farewell to Newcastle West. Today is a big driving day ending in Killarney.

The Ring of Kerry and Skellig Ring comprise a circular route in southwestern part of the island with some of the most spectacular views in Ireland. Get an early start with a first stop at Kenmare at the artisan bakery Maison Gourmet located at the top of Henry Street for delicious pastries and coffee.

Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry

Drive the route in a clockwise direction as the tour buses will be driving counter clockwise. This will decrease the likelihood of you dealing with busloads of fellow tourists on your Ireland sightseeing expedition.

There are endless viewpoints and some of the most beautiful places in Ireland on this route. Our favourites include O’Carroll’s Cove, St Finian’s Bay and the delicious Skelligs Chocolate Factory

Kerry Cliffs

Kerry Cliffs

The Kerry Cliffs provide jaw-dropping views rivalling those of the Cliffs of Moher with far smaller crowds. Watch for signs for the best view in Kerry County. The charge is four euros for parking.

Move on to a late lunch in Portamagee which is the landing point for Skellig Michael tours. Due to the increased popularity of the stunning islands as a backdrop to Star Wars films, these tours book up 3-6 months in advance so will require planning ahead.

We recommend eating at the Bridge Bar on Main street which serves excellent pub food.

Continue driving to explore the stone ring forts at Leacanabuaile and Cahergall

Cahergall Ring Fort

Cahergall Ring Fort

 Check-in for two nights in Killarney. We stayed at The Gleneagle River Apartments which were spacious, clean with a full kitchen. The location is quiet but does require a walk or taxi ride into town.

 Compare prices for accommodations in Killarney

We suggest dinner tonight on Main Street at The Laurels a traditional Irish pub run by the O’Leary family for almost a century.

Day 10 Killarney – Gap of Dunloe, The Coffee Pot, Celtic Steps

Dingle Distillery

The Gap of Dunloe and a painted Irish sheep

One of the most spectacular places in all of Ireland is the Gap of Dunloe.  An 11 km (7 miles) narrow winding gorge meanders through an exquisite valley.

Drive from Killarney and park at The Coffee Pot Cafe at the Gap, a warm and welcoming home-like restaurant open Monday to Sunday, March through April.

hidden gem Ireland

The Coffee Pot – Hidden Gem Ireland

In good weather try walking or cycling the path connecting five lakes via the River Loe. A horse-drawn cart can also be rented. Cars are discouraged strongly from using the road. Watch for the painted sheep meandering through the valley.

Returning to Killarney, take in a musical evening of Irish dance and music at Celtic Steps in Killarney. The show runs from April through October and pre-booking tickets is advised.

Day 11 – Dingle – Dolphin boat tour, Dingle Distillery

Depart Killarney and drive to Dingle in County Kerry. When one thinks Ireland can not possibly have any more beautiful places to visit the Dingle peninsula proves that to be untrue.

Dingle Ireland Dingle Dolphin tour

Dingle, Ireland

Charming, quaint and colourful the town of dingle is home to Fungie the dolphin who has called this bay home for decades. Take a boat tour with Dingle Dolphin Tours to watch for Fungie or to explore the astounding cliffs of the area.

We recommend the scrumptious fish and chips at the Boatyard Restaurant on the main street of Dingle. 

In the afternoon browse the quaint shops, pubs and restaurants with their vibrantly coloured walls beckoning visitors. For those looking to sample and learn more about Irish whiskey book, a tour at the Dingle Distillery launched in 2012.

Dingle Distillery

Dingle Distillery

Housed in a converted sawmill, a tour of this artisan Irish whiskey distillery, is a lesser-known distillery and one where you can get up close and personal with the process of whiskey production.

Stay one night in Dingle.

Compare prices on accommodations in Dingle

Day 12 – Galway, Old Town, Galway City Museum, Monroe’s

From Dingle head to Galway, where history and entertainment weave an Irish tapestry. Spend the afternoon walking around Old Town exploring restaurants, shops and pubs. 

If golfing is your game, as it is for my brother-in-law, Galway has no shortage of options. He recommends Galway Golf Club for its convenient location, friendly staff and a course with a mix of coastline holes providing an enjoyable and challenging round.

Galway Golf Club

Galway Golf Club

Galway City Museum is an excellent stop to take in the city’s history from 1800 to 1950. Have dinner tonight at Monroe’s at 14 Dominick Street Upper where you find friendly staff, live music and reasonable prices. If you have any energy left take an evening stroll along the sea wall.

Stay two nights in Galway.

Check here for best prices of accommodations in Galway

Day 13 – Galway – Aran Islands, Inishmore, DunAengus Fort, O’Reilly’s

Aran Islands

View from Aran Islands

Today escape to the quiet of the Aran Islands. Inishmore is the largest of the islands and has a population of 1000 residents scattered through 14 villages. Take the ferry from Rossevael (23 miles west of Galway city centre). Once on Inishmore, options for sightseeing include bus tours, vans, minivans, bicycling or horse and buggy.

The main attraction is the Dun Aengus Fort located on the edge of a 100-foot cliff.  An important archaeological site, the fort also offers spectacular views.

Dun Aegnus Fort Inishmore Island

Dun Aegnus Fort – Inishmore Island

Return to Galway for your final night in Ireland. We suggest a final Irish dining experience at O’Reilly’s Bar and Kitchen 232 Upper Salthill.

Day 14 – Galway to Dublin

Farewell to beautiful Ireland. With many hidden gems uncovered, there will be so many more places to see in Ireland on a return trip. Drive from Galway to Dublin approximately 2.5 hours on M6 and depart from the airport.

What would you like to see in Ireland?

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We were house guests of a friend in Newcastle West. All opinions are my own. If you would like to read more about the rental property click here.

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