In May 2015, we took our first international trip as a couple (minus a brief stop in Canada for our honeymoon). Our first destination: Ireland. We wanted to go somewhere where we could explore history and nature, city and wilderness and somewhere we’d feel comfortable renting a car and navigating the roads on our own. To put it lightly, Ireland was the best vacation we’ve ever had.
We started our Irish adventure in Dublin but then traveled by train to County Kerry where we remained for five days before heading back to the states. In Dublin, we spent one day in the city seeing all of the big landmarks and the next day took a day trip to Kilkenny by way of the Wicklow Mountains. We chose Killarney as our base in County Kerry because it was central to a lot of great towns where we could take day trips, as well as the ring of Kerry. Killarney is home to a national park and some breathtaking lakes. This was the view from breakfast each morning:
Ireland was full of surprises. Every hill we drove over, ever turn we made, we found something new and enchanting about this gorgeous country. We definitely didn’t have enough time to see everything we wanted to, including some of the islands that required chartered boats. Below is a map of the ground we made in County Kerry. Don’t be scared by that 8 hour route – this was covered over 5 glorious days and we never spent more than a few hours of our day driving. We only covered a small part of Ireland, but five days still wasn’t enough time for this little area!
Along the way we saw rolling green hills, dramatic coastlines, and hundreds of sheep.
Seriously, the sheep were the best. They didn’t care for humans and every time I stopped at a field to snap their picture, they went running and baaing in the opposite direction. This guy was one of the only ones that didn’t run away when we got close (and by close, I mean we were still about 30 feet away). He was munching on some pretty tasty looking grass (if you’re into that sort of thing) and didn’t really pay us any attention.
If I had to do Ireland over again, there isn’t a thing I would change. While a lot of people on the web would recommend that you drive the country and see all the big sites, there was something absolutely special about staying put in a location and seeing all it had to offer. The truth of the matter is, Ireland is so beautiful that it doesn’t matter where you go, it will be amazing. I don’t feel like I lost anything by not seeing the Cliffs of Moher or the Giants Causeway. My idea of a perfect Irish vacation? Pick a county and stay there. See all it has to offer. Explore the walking paths, hollowed out castles, coastline, and fields of sheep. Because I guarantee your trip will be more enriching, relaxing, and adventurous than chasing the next big site on a country-wide road trip.