Ireland Itinerary Kylemore Abbey

25 Epic Weekend Breaks in Ireland

Embark on one of the best weekend breaks in Ireland from the vibrant streets of Dublin to the enchanting landscapes of the Emerald Isle.

Whether you’re seeking the bustling energy of Ireland city breaks, romantic breaks in Ireland with fun activities for couples, or the tranquility of short breaks in Ireland that are more remote, you’ll find ideas for every kind of trip here.

Everything you need for great weekend in Ireland including the top hotels, what to see and do, where to eat, and the best places to get a pint are all included. And don’t worry, we’ve got Irish mini breaks in Northern Ireland too.

Best Weekend Breaks in Ireland

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The Best Weekend Breaks in Ireland

Ireland Itinerary Trinity Library
Dublin’s Trinity Hall Library is a must-see on a weekend in Ireland.

1. Dublin (County Dublin) is the Best of City Breaks in Ireland

Dublin is Ireland’s most famous and popular city to visit for a weekend break in Ireland. Dublin is home to icons like Trinity College, the Guinness Storehouse, and the Temple Bar Pub, but it’s so much more.

You’ll find so many interesting things to do that reflect Ireland’s history, plus the best food from a wide variety of cultures!

Start your visit to Dublin with a walking tour of the city. Be sure to see the Ha’penny Bridge, which used to cost a ha’penny (half pence) toll to cross. Check out the statue of Molly Malone and learn her somber tale.

Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre is a truly stunning architectural wonder, and the Temple Bar District is full of gorgeous and colorful buildings. 

Don’t miss Trinity College’s Old Library to see the Book of Kells, a gospel manuscript written in the 9th century! The library itself is absolutely breathtaking and worth the trip to Dublin alone.

If your Dublin weekend itinerary needs a shake-up, consider a day trip from Dublin to Trim Castle, located about an hour northwest of the city. It’s a great way to see the Irish countryside and learn about medieval history.

Finally, enjoy traditional Irish music at The Cobblestone in the Smithfield neighborhood. They have some great drinks, too, like Irish or Bailey’s coffee. Dublin is the top city break in Ireland and a perfect starting point for a longer Ireland itinerary.

Where to Stay in Dublin: The Merrion Hotel (9.3) or The Wilder (9)

Recommended by Alanna from Periodic Adventures

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Cobh Ireland Weekend Breaks
The Cobh “Deck of Cards” houses in front of St Colman’s Cathedral.

2. Cork (County Cork)

For a southern Ireland weekend break, there’s one city you definitely don’t want to miss: Cork. 

Cork is the second-largest Irish city, also regarded as Ireland’s foodie capital. The city center sits on an island in the middle of the River Lee, making for a really unique setting, too.

Visit the famous English Market, which dates back to 1788. Inside, 50+ food stalls sell all sorts of traditional Irish fare. 

Take a tour of Cork City Gaol (a castle-like former prison), see St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, and visit St. Anne’s Church, where you can climb the 132 steps to the top of the bell tower for fantastic views over Cork.

Don’t forget to stop at the eight Shandon Bells on the first floor, where you can ring them yourself and even follow instructions to play songs! 

There are several day trips you can take from Cork, including a County Cork Highlights Tour to Blarney Castle, Kinsale, and the nearby port town of Cobh. 

Cobh (pronounced like “Cove”) is a beautiful little town most famous for being the final port the Titanic stopped in before making its fateful way across the Atlantic.

The top things to do in Cobh include visiting the impressive neo-Gothic St. Colman’s Cathedral and going to the small Titanic Experience museum (housed in the former White Star Line Ticket Office). 

The museum tells the story of the Titanic and the 123 passengers who boarded the ship in Cobh. You might love Cobh even more than Cork!

Where to Stay in Cork: The Montenotte Hotel (8.9) or The Dean Cork (8.6)

Recommended by Amanda from A Dangerous Business Travel Blog

City Breaks in Ireland Galway Cathedral
The Galway Cathedral on the River Corrib bank.

3. Galway (County Galway)

Located on the West coast of Ireland, Galway is often referred to as the “City of Tribes” and is truly a unique destination for visitors.

It is known for its stunning scenery of rugged coastlines, stone-walled fields, tall mountains, and vast boglands, making it one of the most beautiful parts of Ireland to explore, and one of the best places to visit in Ireland. 

Whether you’re visiting for a short Ireland weekend break or longer, there is so much to enjoy in this vibrant city.

Start by visiting Galway City Museum, which houses a collection of exhibits from other galleries and museums showcasing the maritime heritage and medieval artifacts. 

Admire one of the impressive cultural landmarks, the Galway Cathedral. This church, the last major stone cathedral built in Europe, showcases a remarkable array of artwork, statues, and mosaics. 

Wander through the charming streets of Galway City, and explore its historic sites, colorful shops, and lively pubs. Don’t miss landmarks like Eyre Square, the Spanish Arch, and Lynch’s Castle. These are just a few of the best things to do in Galway. 

Another way to get to know the city is on a Galway walking tour with a knowledgeable guide who will lead you through the city’s streets, sharing Galway’s fascinating history, culture, and attractions. 

Galway has a terrific food scene. Try the tasting menu at Michelin-starred Aniar, a meal with a view at Rúibín, or a fun Galway food tour for lunch on one of the days of your trip.

Where to Stay in Galway: Glenlo Abbey Hotel  (9.2) or Sea Breeze Lodge (9.6)

Recommended by Imee Magbag from Ireland Travel Guides

City Breaks in Ireland Limerick
Historic buildings of Limerick overlooking the River Shannon.

4. Limerick (County Limerick)

Limerick is the 3rd largest city in Ireland, and also one of the oldest cities in the country; having been founded by the Vikings in 812. There are medieval buildings that date back to the 1100 and 1200s, a walkable old town, and great places to eat.

One of the main things to do in Limerick is a tour of King John Castle, which looks like it’s from a medieval fairy tale. There are both guided and self-guided tours. Give yourself at least 2 hours to explore the interior and exterior of this castle, which dates back to the 1200s.

Browse The Milk Market, a food market running downtown since the mid-1800s. It’s a quick 5-minute walk from the city center and happens on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

If you enjoy literature, do an Angela’s Ashes walking tour to learn more about author Frank McCourt and his life in his hometown of Limerick.

You will learn about Limerick’s history as a Viking settlement and life in the Middle Ages to the present day.

Or, get out on the River Shannon for Kayaking & Canoeing in Limerick City to see the city from a different perspective, learn some historical fun facts, and see wildlife.

Grab a take-out meal from Donkey Fords, serving the best fish and chips for 70 years. If you’re looking for something more upscale, then head to Freddy’s Restaurant downtown.

Where to Stay in Limerick: The Bedford Townhouse (9.2) or No.1 Pery Square Hotel & Spa (9.3)

Lismore Castle Waterford Ireland City Breaks
Photo: Mike Searle / Castles of Munster: Lismore, Waterford (2)

5. Waterford (County Waterford)

Waterford is home to Ireland’s oldest city, founded in 914 A.D by the Vikings. While most people know of Waterford because of Waterford Crystal, this city offers so much more.

One of the best things to do in Waterford is a tour of the Waterford Viking Triangle, where you’ll find iconic sites such as Reginald’s Tower, the Waterford Treasures Medieval Museum, and the Bishop’s Palace. 

History buffs can see what it’s like to be immersed in the life of a Viking with the help of a VR headset at the King of the Vikings Virtual Reality Experience

Take the Waterford Crystal Factory Tour to see master craftsmen create exquisite pieces using molds as they shape hot glass, and then cut intricate patterns into the crystal.

Don’t miss the opportunity to wander through the historic Lismore Castle. Take a guided tour of its grand halls and manicured gardens. There are beautiful views of the Blackwater River and the Knockmealdown Mountains.

On a nice day, head to the Waterford Greenway, a 46km (28 miles) off-road cycling and walking trail. From Waterford to Dungarvan, you’ll see wildlife, gardens, and architectural gems from Ireland’s Ancient East.

To savor the local culinary delights, indulge in a delightful meal at Everett’s, where a table in the cellar adds to the atmospheric charm, or unwind at the Old Couch Cafe, offering a cozy setting for a leisurely dining experience. 

Where to Stay in Waterford: Faithlegg House Hotel (9) or Granville Hotel (8.8)

Recommended by Alexa Meisler of 52 Perfect Days


Romantic Getaways in Ireland

East Ireland Itinerary Powerscourt
Powerscourt House and Gardens in Enniskerry, County Wicklow.

6. Wicklow Mountains (County Wicklow)

County Wicklow is one of the best Ireland trips for couples. This stunning region, where mountains and sprawling green fields stretch as far as the eye can see, is the perfect backdrop for leisurely hikes and romantic picnics.

Start by booking a stay at the luxurious 5-star Powerscourt Hotel, a personal favorite that unquestionably justifies the splurge. The spacious suites and delectable dining, make it a perfect backdrop for romance.

The hotel is set in the charming town of Enniskerry, near Powerscourt House, a Palladian mansion surrounded by 47 acres of stunning gardens with ornamental lakes, garden pavilions, terraces, and walled gardens.

Just a short 3-mile journey from the estate lies Powerscourt Waterfall, Ireland’s tallest waterfall, surrounded by lovely park grounds. Bring a picnic or you can also enjoy a coffee at the on-site cafe.

Other things to do on a weekend in the Wicklow Mountains include hiking, and visiting the historic Glendalough Monastery, picturesque Upper Lake, and Poulanass Waterfall.

If you are feeling adventurous, hike the very steep Spinc Loop. The short Blue Route is 5.5 km (3.4 miles) and the longer White Route is 9.5km (5.6 miles). You’ll be glad you did it when you see the views!

Finally, make sure to do a scenic drive or cycle through the Sally Gap, a mountain pass with panoramic views. The viewpoints at Lough Tay, also called Guinness Lake due to its dark color with white sand at the top, are also worth a stop.

You can see many of the best sights on a Small-Group Wicklow and Glendalough day trip from Dublin.

Where to Stay in County Wicklow: Powerscourt Hotel (8.9) or Powerscourt Springs Health Farm (8)

Recommended by Jenifer of The Evolista

Romantic Weekend Break in Ireland at Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle is the most famous castle hotel in Ireland.

7. Ashford Castle (County Mayo)

When planning a visit to Ireland, consider carving out time and budget to include a night or two stay at the majestic and historic Ashford Castle, one of the most romantic hotels in Ireland.

On the northern shore of the serene waters of Lough Corrib and less than two kilometers from the village of Cong, a stay here or even a day visit to this castle, formerly owned by the Guinness family, will fulfill even the wildest fairytale fantasies. 

About a 40-minute drive from Galway, this Ireland castle hotel was built in the 13th century and expanded since.

Now, it is an 83-room luxury hotel on a stunning 350-acre estate offering varied activities to guests and visitors like falconry, high tea, horseback riding, lake cruising, and for relaxation—an in-house spa.  

Since the nightly rate, especially during the summer high season, can be pricey, consider still gaining access to the best of the castle grounds and amenities by booking your lodging at its more affordable and next-door sister property, the Lodge at Ashford Castle, which offers country-house charm at what was formerly the estate manager’s home.

Or if you choose to make your visit to Ashford Castle a day trip, know you can still visit the castle grounds and stroll the estate gardens if you book an activity. Though— be sure to book early.

Many of the more popular things to do, like falconry at the Ireland School of Falconry, can fill several months in advance, particularly during high season. 

Recommend by Janice Moskoff at Gatherandgotravel.com


Best Weekend Breaks in Ireland – Charming Towns

Short Weekend Breaks in Ireland Kinsale
Colorful Kinsale Old Town

8. Kinsale (County Cork)

One of the most unique short breaks in Ireland, Kinsale has colorful streets, a rich history, and great food. This coastal town, the starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way, offers incredible views and a vibrant personality. 

A weekend in Kinsale will begin with a stroll around Kinsale’s Historic Town Center, where tourists can discover charming alleyways, breathe in the fresh sea, and explore the top attractions. 

Some of the best streets to wander down include Main Street, Market Street, and Market Quay. While meandering through town, you will find colorful buildings, nice boutiques for shopping, and lovely cafes.

The Kinsale Museum is a great way to learn more about this historic town.

Visitors should also head to Charles or James Fort. Families tend to love it here, and they are considered some of the best things to do in Kinsale. Both fortresses offer lovely views of the water.

Plenty of active options are available like kayaking and surfing. Surfing gear can be hired at various areas around Kinsale. 

During the evenings, try the many incredible restaurants or head to the harbor with a bag of fish and chips (fries!). Foodies will love a Kinsale Culinary Tour, where you will sample traditional dishes and learn how to make Irish coffee.

Also, Kinsale is just under an hour from Cork, Cobh, and the Blarney Store, which are all very popular day trips. 

Where to Stay in Kinsale: Perryville House (9.5) or Trident Hotel Kinsale (8.7)

Recommended by Samantha from Find Love and Travel 

Short Breaks in Ireland Ross Castle
15th Century Ross Castle is a highlight in Killarney National Park.

9. Killarney (County Kerry)

Killarney is a popular town in southwest Ireland. Most visitors come to the area for Killarney National Park, but there are a ton of great things to do here on an Irish weekend break, or you could choose to visit for even longer if you’re able. 

One of the most popular things to do in the area is visit Muckross House, Muckross Gardens, and Muckross Abbey.

You can pay a small fee for a self-guided audio tour of the house and gardens, and afterward, head over to Muckross Abbey, a beautiful 600-year-old monastery! 

There is no fee to visit Muckross Abbey, and you can explore the grounds, including multiple stories in the abbey itself.

The most famous feature of this abbey is the ancient Yew tree growing in the center of the courtyard, making this one of the most Instagrammable spots in Ireland!

Other popular things to do in the area include hiking to Torc Waterfall, taking a tour of Ross Castle, and driving the famous Ring of Kerry.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, consider hiring a jaunting car to take you through the Gap of Dunloe

In the evenings, Killarney is bustling with activity. You can catch a live performance of Irish music on the streets or dive into a pub for a delicious meal. Murphys Bar & Restaurant is highly recommended! 

Where to Stay in Killarney: The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens (9.1) or The Victoria (9.3)

Recommended by Janae from Adventures With TuckNae

Slea Head Drive Dingle Peninsula Weekend in Ireland
Coumeenoole Beach is one of the best stops along the Slea Head Drive.

10. Dingle (County Kerry)

Dingle is a charming town in Ireland, known for its colorful shops, Dingle Gin, and captivating scenery along the Dingle Peninsula.

Spend hours strolling through the lively streets of downtown Dingle. Visit Murphy’s Ice Cream for some handmade treats, the Dingle Pub for a pint and live music (it happens twice a day!), and pick up a knit souvenir from The Dingle Woollen Company. 

Ireland’s most beautiful scenery is found along the Dingle Peninsula on the Slea Head Drive. The 30-mile route starts near the Dingle Distillery and can be done clockwise or counterclockwise. 

Although the drive can be completed in an hour, allot 3-4 hours to enjoy and admire the vast countryside. If you don’t have a rental car, take a Slea Head Drive tour or explore the coastline and Blasket Island on a Dingle Sea Safari in an inflatable RIB boat.

Another amazing way to see Dingle is through horseback riding. Dingle Horse Riding offers beginner to advanced horseback riding tours through the hills of Dingle that overlook the Atlantic Ocean for fantastic 360-degree views.

If you’re lucky, sheep will join you along for the trek!

Dingle is an essential on any Ireland itinerary. Its rich culture, warm and friendly hospitality, and breathtaking views will have you coming back for more.

Where to Stay in Dingle: Heatons Guesthouse (9.6) or Dingle Skellig Hotel (8.2)

Recommended by Joanna of Plan Before Land

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Weekend in Ireland Kilkenny Castle
Kilkenny Castle is one of the longest inhabited buildings in Ireland.

11. Kilkenny (County Kilkenny)

Kilkenny, known as “Ireland’s Medieval Mile” is one of the best places to visit in Ireland, especially for history buffs.

Plan to stay for a weekend to see all of Kilkenny’s medieval attractions and also have time to stroll along the River Nore and browse local shops for unique gifts.

The best thing to do in Kilkenny is to visit Kilkenny Castle, which dates from the 12th century. Take a tour of the castle and admire the period décor and the magnificent picture gallery. Or just enjoy a stroll through the castle’s grounds and gardens.

Be sure to visit St. Canice’s Cathedral. It’s the second-longest cathedral in Ireland and contains St. Kieran’s Chair. 

Right next to the cathedral is the 9th-century Round Tower. Climb the tower via a series of ladders to enjoy panoramic views of the Irish countryside!

Kilkenny is also famous for the Smithwick’s Brewery, dating from 1710. In the Smithwick’s Experience tour, learn about beer-making and perhaps indulge in a pint of the local favorite, Smithwick’s Red Ale.

Enjoy traditional Irish fare, live music, and an all-around good time at Matt the Millers. Or enjoy patio dining with a fabulous view of Kilkenny Castle from the Riverview Bar and Bistro at the Kilkenny River Court Hotel.

Looking for some excitement?  Take a day trip to the nearby Castlecomer Discovery Park, home to Ireland’s longest zip line!   It’s only a 20-minute drive from Kilkenny, and it’s perfect for a family outing.

Where to Stay in Kilkenny: Lyrath Estate (8.7) or Zuni Restaurant & Boutique Hotel (8.8)

Recommended by Lisa Garrett from Waves and Cobblestones

Weekend Breaks in Ireland - Bundoran - Tullan Strand Surfing
Surfers flock to Bundoran for the best waves in Ireland.

12. Bundoran (County Donegal)

Bundoran is a vibrant coastal town in County Donegal, better known for its unparalleled surf breaks in Ireland. It’s no wonder the town has earned its reputation as the surf capital of Ireland.

Both enthusiasts and novices flock to the beaches of Bundoran to experience the great surf offered by the Atlantic waves.

If you’re a beginner, local surf schools provide lessons and board rental all year long. However, this unique aspect is one of the many reasons it’s considered a must-visit locale for a short break in Ireland.

Bundoran’s prime location makes it a unique place for hikers, sea swimmers, or horse riders.

The Rougey Cliff Walk is a 3.1 mile trail that’s mostly flat with stunning views along the way. Stop at the Fairy Bridges and Wishing Chair, two natural rock formations with blow holes surrounded by legend and Irish folklore.

The Donegal Equestrian Center offers beach rides down Tullan Strand along the Atlantic Ocean that are perfect for novice riders. There is also a beginner sand dune trail.

Families will love Bundoran Adventure Park and Waterworld Bundoran’s indoor aqua adventures, making it a perfect rainy day activity.

At night, Bundoran remains alive with pubs and restaurants such as Maddens Bridge or the Fox’s Lair for a delicious meal.

Where to Stay in Bundoran: Allingham Arms Hotel (8.7) or Portbeg Holiday Homes (8.8)

Recommended by Jen from Travel Ireland Today.

Great Western Greenway Wesport Ireland Weekend Getaways
Views of farmland and a rock and stone bridge from the Great Western Greenway.

13. Westport (County Mayo)

Westport, a gorgeous town on the west coast, is one of the best places in Ireland to spend a weekend. The town is known for its Georgian architecture and tree-lined promenades along the Carrow Beg River.

In the village, there are many locally owned boutique shops. After a stroll through the picturesque town, stop at Krem Gelataria for heavenly gelato. Or visit Matt Molloy’s pub for a traditional Irish music session.

The Westport area is also known for its scenic natural beauty and outdoor activities. The Great Western Greenway is a 42-kilometer cycling and walking path that runs from Westport to Achill Island.

You can rent bikes in Westport for a ride on the bike path, with old ruins and ancient churches to explore along the Greenway.

Croagh Patrick Mountain is just outside Westport. This important pilgrimage destination for Irish hikers to honor St. Patrick is the most climbed mountain in Ireland.

The islands of Clew Bay are a stunning panorama from the Greenway. The bay is said to have 365 islands, one for each day of the year.

History buffs will enjoy a tour of the Westport House, a 300-year-old house with architectural significance. The huge estate has lush gardens, lakes, and walking paths. Make time to enjoy the picturesque setting of the house overlooking Clew Bay.

Where to Stay in Westport: The Mariner, Westport (9) or Knockranny House Hotel & Spa (8.6)

Recommended by Karen of Outdoor Adventure Sampler

Howth Ireland Weekend Break
Views of the Bailey Lighthouse from the Howth Cliff Walk.

14. Howth

Howth is a picturesque coastal village and suburb of Dublin located on the Howth Peninsula. It is known for its stunning scenery, rugged cliffs, and lively harbor with great restaurants and pubs.

One of the top things to do is the Howth Cliff Walk. There are multiple trails, the easiest being the Howth Head Walk, which takes about 1.5 hours, or a Guided Hiking Tour. If you want more of a challenge, the Bog of Frogs Loop is 12 km (7.5 miles).

Another popular stop in Howth is Bailey Lighthouse, which has guided ships entering Dublin Bay for over 200 years. The views from this vantage point are spectacular, especially at sunset. 

Grab a meal with a view at the King Sitric or visit one of the yummy places to eat at Howth Market. You’ll also find produce, clothing, and other shops in the market.

For a fun time plus a great meal, the Craft Beer and Seafood Trail will take you to the town’s best restaurants, and you’ll be able to sample the local brews.

The village offers some cool historic landmarks. Howth Castle dates back to the 12th century but it is currently closed after being sold. You can still try to catch a glimpse from the outside.

Time permitting, take a ferry from Howth Harbor to see the seabird colonies on Ireland’s Eye, a small uninhabited island just off the coast, or go fishing for mackerel or cod in the Irish Sea.

You can stay overnight in Howth, but this is a better day trip on an Ireland city break to Dublin with it’s close proximity.

Recommended by Daria from Explore Baja California 


Short Breaks in Ireland for Nature Lovers

Renvyle Beach Connemara Ireland Weekend Breaks
The white sands of Renvyle Beach, a hidden gem in Connemara.

15. Connemara (County Galway)

Oscar Wilde described Connemara as a “wild mountainous country, in every way magnificent.” This region of Western Ireland is about as beautiful and authentic as you’ll experience on the Emerald Isle.

The charming town of Clifden provides an excellent base to explore some of Connemara’s most iconic landscapes. It also offers a good variety of accommodation and some cracking restaurants and pubs.

Pay a visit to Connemara National Park and hike Diamond Hill, a moderate trek with wonderful views of the 12 Bens mountains and the intricate Atlantic coastline. 

I highly recommend taking this hike in the morning, followed by a visit to nearby Kylemore Abbey, a 19th-century lakeside castle surrounded by lush, green mountains. Often labeled as Ireland’s most beautiful house, a tour of the building and its adjoining Victorian gardens is a must on your trip to Connemara.

On a fine day, don’t miss out on visiting one of Ireland’s most idyllic beaches, Dog’s Bay, where the turquoise waters and white sands will make you question if you are in Ireland at all.

To truly explore the wild beauty of Connemara, we highly recommend renting a car and taking a self-guided tour at your own pace.

Unmissable locations include The Sky Road, Lough Inagh Valley, The Connemara Loop, home to Renvyle Beach as seen in photo, and Ireland’s only true glacial fjord, the spectacular Killary Harbour.

After a busy day exploring, drop into Mitchell’s restaurant in Clifden and sample some of the freshest and finest seafood, followed by an hour or two in Lowry’s traditional pub. Cap off the day with a pint of Guinness while listening to the magical melodies of traditional Irish music.

Where to Stay in Connemara: Ballynahinch Castle Hotel (9.3) or Connemara Sands Hotel & Spa (8.9)

Recommended by Niall from Sweet Isle of Mine

7 Days in Ireland Itinerary Cliffs of Moher
The famous Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.

16. County Clare

One place that should be at the top of everyone’s list of Ireland weekend getaways is County Clare. Known for its windswept beaches and rugged coastline, many travelers visit Clare on a Cliffs of Moher Day Trip

County Clare offers a plethora of opportunities to hike, listen to live music and visit small local craft businesses. The region deserves at least two days on your Ireland itinerary to explore fully.

In addition to the well-known Cliffs of Moher, visitors should drive to the peninsula’s southernmost point to see the less-touristed Kilkee Cliffs. There are fewer people and the lack of barriers provides visitors with direct access to the bluffs.

Another County Clare must-see is the Burren, a beautiful and vast landscape of naturally formed limestone hills and pavement, home to various flora. 

The best way to experience this unique area is to enjoy one of the many hikes in the Burren National Park or take a self-driving tour of the L1014. Visitors can easily plan a circle route with a short hike and stops at the Burren Smokehouse and the Burren Perfumery.

Lastly, everyone should take a tour of Doolin Cave, an underground cavern with the world’s second-longest stalactite. The small town of Doolin also makes a great home base for the weekend, with easy access to both the cliffs and the Burren. 

The local eatery, Gus O’Connor’s Pub, has excellent food and offers live traditional music most evenings.

Where to Stay in County Clare: Fiddle + Bow Hotel (9.2) or Armada Hotel at Spanish Point (9.1)

Recommended by Marsha Scott from World in a Carry-On

Short Breaks in Ireland Sheep at Benbulben Sligo
Sheep grazing in front of Sligo’s table mountain of Ben Bulben.

17. Sligo (County Sligo)

Sligo is a true hidden gem on the Wild Atlantic Way in the least visited county in Ireland. There are many things to do in Sligonot the least of which is to visit the grave of William Butler Yeats under the shadow of Benbulben. 

Yeats called Sligo the Land of Heart’s Desire, and his poetry inspired travelers and adventurers to seek out the wilder, hidden parts of Sligo. 

Sligo is a county of deep bogs, valleys, mountains, and stunning beaches. The Irish for Sligo is Sligeach, a shelly river (slig = a shell), and Sligo town sits on the Garavogue River. 

One of the most famous events off the coastline of Sligo occurred in 1588 when three ships of the Spanish Armada, fleeing from a failed invasion of England, were wrecked at Streedagh Strand, near Grange. 

Sligo has some of the greatest stretches of pristine white sandy beaches, perfect for a relaxing weekend in Ireland. Enjoy long walks picking up shells and beach glass.

With its proximity to the sea, you can enjoy a seaweed bath at Voya on Streedagh Beach, hike up to Queen Maeve’s Cairn on Knocknarea, or go surfing at Strandhill Beach.

For the foodie traveler head to Sligo Town and have the best seafood of your life at Hooked. Or perhaps you would prefer some great steaks and lamb at Eala Bhan located on the Garavouge River. For a relaxing weekend in Ireland, Sligo is a great choice.

Where to Stay in Sligo: Sligo Park Hotel (8.8) or The Driftwood (9.3)

Recommended by Faith Coates of XYU and Beyond

Slieve League Cliffs Donegal Weekend Breaks in Ireland
One of the highest sea cliffs in Europe, the Slieve League Cliffs offer stunning views.

18. County Donegal

Though the southwest of Ireland is undoubtedly one of the most popular areas to visit, spending a few days in County Donegal, in the Republic’s northwest, is an excellent way to see some wild natural beauty and get a bit off the tourist trail.

As the northernmost county in Ireland, Donegal is a true joy to explore – boasting incredible natural sites, convivial villages and exciting driving routes. 

Visitors can easily spend at least several days in the area, however, if short on time, plan for at least two. Spend the first day exploring the south. Start in Donegal Town before visiting the natural sites in the area.

Don’t miss the Slieve League Cliffs, some of the tallest sea cliffs in Europe, the beautiful Malin Beg Beach, the incredible Glengesh Drive, and the imposing Assaranca Waterfall

Those who want a truly unique experience should head to the gorgeous Maghera Beach, where, at low tide, you can walk out to explore some sea caves.

And if you’re looking for an idyllic village to grab a pint in, then make sure to venture over to the charming town of Ardara.

Spend the second day in the north of the county. Those who love scenic driving routes but want to avoid the crowds found in places like the Ring of Kerry will love the Inishowen 100.

Encircling the Inishowen Peninsula, this drive takes you around the northernmost point on the island of Ireland and past some spectacular natural scenery.

Lough Eske Castle (8.8) or Mill Park Hotel (9.5)

Recommended by Maggie Turansky from The World Was Here First

Clare Island Romantic Getaways in Ireland
Granuile’s Castle fortress on Clare Island.

19. Clare Island (County Mayo)

Four miles from the coast of County Mayo, Clare Island guards the entrance to Clew Bay and is the perfect place for a short break in Ireland.  

There’s only one way to access Clare Island, which you may have heard in the famous Sawdoctors song of the same name.  You’ll need to take the ferry from Roonagh Pier.  

As you arrive on the island be sure to check out Granuile’s Castle, it’s almost at the harbor entrance.  Stay the night at O’Grady’s and enjoy the island when the day trippers have gone home. It is glorious first thing in the morning. 

There are few cars on Clare Island and either hiking or biking is the order of the day, or days that you’ll spend here.  Hiking one of the trails here is highly recommended.

There are well-marked hiking loops, from a short 3-kilometer trail (mostly on tarmac roads), it’s suitable for all types of hikers as there’s just a small elevation gain of 90 meters over the entire 3 kilometers.  For a longer trail, there’s an 8-kilometer loop, which spends more time on grass tracks, although there is some on the road.  

Wildlife fans should head out to the seabird cliffs, where you’ll find stunning towering cliffs and the Signal Tower.  It’s always best to try and visit Clare Island in good weather, although, this is Ireland, so pack waterproofs, the weather comes in quickly especially here.

The community center near the harbor is where you’ll find the social center of the island for meals and drinks on a night (they do a good pint of Guinness too).  If you’ve not brought your own food and drink then there’s a small shop that you’ll find on the road to the Signal Tower.

Where to Stay on Clare Island: O’Grady’s Guest Accommodation

Recommended by Sarah of ASocialNomad 


Northern Ireland Weekend Breaks

Best Boutique Hotels in Belfast Northern Ireland
Belfast City Hall is illuminated in different colors for various occasions throughout the year.

20. Belfast (County Antrim / Down)

Spending a weekend in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, is a chance to see the “no-go zone” due to the conflict between Ireland and Northern Ireland in the late 20th century.

Nowadays, though, tourism is booming in Belfast, and it’s one of the top places to learn about modern Irish history!

The best thing to do in Belfast is to visit the Falls Road and Shankill Road to see the Belfast Peace Walls. In this part of the city, you’ll find the bold, colorful, and polarising political murals, from both sides of The Troubles.

The best way to explore the area and check out the murals is with a Belfast Black Taxi tour. On the tour, you’ll join a taxi driver who lived in Belfast through the Troubles and explore the murals with them, learning about their experience and perspective.

Other things to do in Belfast include visiting the Titanic Belfast, a super-fascinating museum that documents the story of the ill-fated ship, including its ties to Belfast.

In addition to tons of information, there is an indoor ride, and the opportunity to look out at the dry dock where the Titanic was built, right here in Belfast.

Finally, it’d be crazy to talk about Belfast without mentioning a Game of Thrones tour, a must for any GOT fan in Belfast!. This series pulls in thousands of tourists since much of the series was filmed in Belfast and its surroundings.

Where to Stay in Belfast: room2 Belfast Hometel (9.3) or one of the Best Belfast Boutique Hotels

Recommended by Ella Moore from Many More Maps

READ NEXT: 12 BEST BOUTIQUE HOTELS IN BELFAST

City Breaks in Ireland Derry
Walking the city walls is one of the top things to do in Derry.

21. Derry (County Londonderry)

The Northern Irish city of Derry (or Londonderry) is full of history. By spending a weekend in Derry, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about this walled Medieval city and the events that have made Derry an important part of modern Ireland.

One of the best ways to learn about Derry’s modern history is by taking a Bogside neighborhood walking tour to learn about life in Derry during the tumultuous period known as The Troubles.

Your guide will take you to the site of the 1972 Bloody Sunday Massacre, where British soldiers shot 26 civilians during a protest march. 

To better understand Derry’s importance as a Medieval city, visit the Tower Museum. This museum covers the city’s early history from prehistoric times to the modern day, emphasizing the Medieval period.

There is also an excellent exhibit on the Spanish Armada and a famous shipwreck just off the coast.

Derry is one of the only completely walled cities remaining in Ireland. Walk the city walls for sweeping views of the city and surrounding countryside.

While there are interpretive signs, consider taking a guided tour of the city walls to learn more about Medieval Derry.

After a full day getting to know the city, unwind at Peadar O’Donnell’s, a traditional Irish pub known for its live music sessions and friendly atmosphere. 

Where to Stay in Derry: Bishop’s Gate Hotel (9.2) or Shipquay  Boutique Hotel (8.9)

Recommended by Tamar Marder of World byWeekend

Mourne Mountains Short Breaks in Ireland
The Mourne Mountains are the tallest peaks in Northern Ireland.

22. Mourne Mountains (County Down)

Most locals in Northern Ireland consider the Mourne Mountains to be as beautiful as the North Coast, where the Giant’s Causeway is very popular to visit. 

There are many things to do in and around the Mourne Mountains, the largest mountain range in Northern Ireland. Within the Mournes is Slieve Donard. One of the most challenging hikes is the summit. It’s only 850 meters (2,788 feet).

The hike is a moderate 10 km – though worth it for the views on a good day (albeit hard to come by in the Mournes!). You can also find a hidden waterfall, which is one of the best waterfalls in Northern Ireland.

If you want a relaxing retreat, stay in the Mournes, or you can stay in Newcastle if you want more things to do. It’s a seaside town with arcades, amusements, and delicious restaurants- Piccolo Kitchen does some really great pizzas!

You also have a beautiful beach with a stunning view of the Mournes. In the area, you also have the chance to walk alpacas or visit Silent Valley, a pretty reservoir in the Mournes.

The Mournes are often skipped by tourists. Don’t miss out on one of the most underrated parts of Northern Ireland!

Where to Stay Near the Mourne Mountains: Slieve Donard (8.4) or Hillyard House Hotel (9.2)

Recommended by Josh from A Backpacker’s World

Giant's Causeway
The basalt columns of Giant’s Causeway are a must-visit on the Antrim Coast.

23. Bushmills (County Antrim)

Bushmills is a charming town in County Antrim’s rocky shore in Northern Ireland with the world’s oldest licensed distillery. It’s a must-see for Emerald Isle visitors. 

However, it goes beyond the bottle. Culture, history, and natural beauty can all be found in Bushmills on this weekend break in Northern Ireland. 

Giant’s Causeway, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a short walk from the city center. The extraordinary basalt columns that form this natural attraction have been at the center of many tales and documented by many amazing photographers. 

If one wishes to learn more about whiskey, the Bushmills Distillery has tours demonstrating the intricate steps used to make its famous blends and single malts.

This instructive tasting showcases the distillery’s outstanding goods and is fun to smell and taste.

Walk along the shore to Dunluce Castle’s decaying ruins, poised dangerously on an edge. Dramatic history and breathtaking vistas make the castle a must-see, especially with wildflowers in Ireland in spring.

The cozy pubs in the village have live traditional music, rich Irish food, and, of course, the chance to sip a drink of smooth Bushmills whiskey. 

With its peat fireplaces and oak beams, the Bushmills Inn is famous for its dining room atmosphere and wide range of local foods that will please any taste.

Where to Stay in Bushmills: Bushmills Inn Hotel (9.1) or Bayview Hotel (9.1)

Recommended by Lavina D’Souza of Continent Hop 

READ NEXT: 20 EPIC TRIPS FOR YOUR ADVENTURE BUCKET LIST

Northern Ireland Weekend Breaks Rathlin Island
Rathlin Island is a great place to see puffins.

24. Rathlin Island

For a little-known weekend break in Ireland, head to Rathlin Island — Northern Ireland’s northernmost point and only inhabited island.

Most famously, perhaps, Rathlin Island is home to the West Light Seabird Centre, where thousands of puffins (and other seabirds) flock every spring and summer for mating season.

Not only is it a unique opportunity to see loads of seabirds in their natural habitat, but the Seabird Centre also has an unusual “upside-down” lighthouse that’s not to be missed.

Most people visit Rathlin Island for a day trip to see the puffins since it’s a quick and easy ferry ride from Ballycastle. But if you are looking to get off the grid, relax, and embrace nature, you can spend a weekend here.

Rent a bike to zip around the island and explore the picturesque lighthouses. The west lighthouse isn’t the only one on Rathlin Island, the East Lighthouse and Rue Point Lighthouse (on the southern point of the island) are also well worth a visit.

Rathlin Island is also heaven for hikers and walkers, who will love exploring the many quiet walking trails. Any road or trail on the island is worth a wander, but the coastal walking trail toward Rue Point Lighthouse is especially gorgeous.

If you have so much time on Rathlin Island that you run out of things to do on the island itself, it’s easy to pop over to the mainland and explore Northern Ireland’s fabulous Causeway Coastal Route — home to several famous sites, including the unmissable Giant’s Causeway and Dunluce Castle.

Where to Stay in Rathlin Island: Manor House Rathlin or Rathlin Glamping Pods

Recommended by Karissa of In Old Cities

Weekend Breaks in Northern Ireland Bangor
The sea town of Bangor is great for a family friendly weekend break in Ireland.

25. Bangor (Bangor-by-the Sea)

Often referred to as Bangor-by-the-Sea, Bangor is a simple 20-minute train ride from Belfast, and it serves as a seaside alternative to the Northern Ireland capital. 

It is also the newest city in Northern Ireland after earning city status during Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee in 2022.

Arriving to Bangor, opposite the main bus and train station, is Bangor Castle and Castle Park with a museum, a Victorian Walled Garden (open seasonally), and the ancient Bangor Abbey (558AD), all offering free entry and free parking. 

Bangor is great for a family-friendly Ireland weekend break. The Pickle Fun Park, near the bustling Bangor Marina, has bumper boats, the Pickle Puffer train, flying rides, mini-golf, and refreshing splash pads for warm, sunny days.

The Bangor Aurora Aquatic & Leisure Complex is another fun spot for kids to swim and play on the waterslide. 

The seafront is the starting point for Northern Ireland’s North Down Coastal Path, a coastal walk connecting many beautiful spots, such as Strickland’s Glen, Crawfordsburn Country Park, and Helen’s Bay. 

This coastal path route is also connected by the Belfast-Bangor train line, making it simple to return by train instead of retracing the same stretch of coastal path. 

Many of the best guest houses, B&Bs, and restaurants with sea views are found along Seacliff Road, including the Jamaica Inn, which is great for a night out. 

Where to Stay in Bangor: Clandeboye Lodge Hotel (9.1) or Cairn Bay Lodge (9.4)

Recommended by Allan Wilson of Sunny Bangor


Best Weekend Breaks in Ireland Map


Final Thoughts About the Best Ireland Weekend Getaways

No matter which of these weekend breaks in Ireland you choose, you are guaranteed movie-worthy landscapes, historic castles, lively pubs, and warm Irish hospitality,

From the vibrant streets of Dublin to the wild beauty of the Cliffs of Moher, or off-the-beaten-path destinations that let you get to know the real Ireland, each one of these trips to Ireland will make you fall in love with the Emerald Isle.

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Best Ireland Weekend Breaks

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