By Jessica Russo
In North America, the term "cross-country" means a daunting 3,000 mile, week-long trek from New York to Califronia. In Ireland, however, driving across the country means a quick 2 1/2 hour jaunt from Dublin to Galway! In a little country packed with so many natural wonders, vibrant cities, and charming villages to see, day trips are a must. Start your engines and get ready for a magical adventure around the Emerald Isle.
Glendalough/Wicklow Mountains, County Wicklow
Driving time: 1h 25m
Stone ruins, sparkling lakes, trickling streams, all throughout 50,000 acres of mountainous greenery - welcome to Wicklow Mountains National Park. Lace up your hiking shoes and take a quick, scenic drive south. Be sure to check out Glendalough Monastic Site, stone ruins of a 6th century settlement, and 398-foot Powerscourt Waterfall! If you're feelin' fancy, visit nearby Powerscourt Estate, a beautiful structure known for its perfectly-manicured gardens.
Galway City, County Galway
Driving time: 2h 30m
You know when you close your eyes and picture the Ireland that you've seen in postcards and movies? Galway is your Irish dream come true. Stroll down colorful, cobblestone High Street and hear the spirited sounds of trad music pouring out of pubs! Hang out near Eyre Square, then watch the sunset over the harbor before heading back to Dublin. Known as Ireland's "most Irish" city, Galway is a must-visit.
Trim, County Meath
Driving time: 1h 5m
Nestled right on the glistening River Boyne, this adorable town is home to Ireland's largest Anglo-Norman castle! Explore Trim Castle, then unwind with a pint at a traditional pub in town. Take a stroll near the river and immerse yourself in the culture of this historical area.
Cliffs of Moher, County Clare
Driving time: 3h 25m
Okay, so County Clare isn't exactly around the corner from Dublin, but the Cliffs of Moher are worth the ride. This is Ireland's most-visited natural tourist attraction, and rightfully so! Gaze out at the majestic never-ending cliffs, which will make you feel tiny in comparison. Take in the beauty of the bright blue coast and breathe in the salty sea air.
Kilkenny, County Kilkenny
Driving time: 1h 55m
This medieval town will transport you back in time! Explore 12th-century Kilkenny Castle, 9th-century St. Canice's Cathedral, and old-world abbeys and monasteries. Meander through winding streets lined with pottery shops, art galleries, and vibrant pubs and restaurants. Looking for the perfect blend of fascinating history and main street cuteness? Head to Kilkenny!
Howth, County Dublin
Driving time: 45m
Ahh, a picturesque Irish village on a breathtaking peninsula. Located just 12 miles from Dublin, Howth (pronounced "hoe-th") offers sweeping sea views, colorful gardens, and medieval abbey ruins. Explore Howth Castle, then take an unforgettable stroll on the Cliff Walk trail! Spot the lighthouse at the end of the peninsula and treat yourself to a yummy meal at any of Howth's popular eateries in the main part of town.