We stumbled across a great deal from Air Lingus, Ireland’s national airline- A return ticket from Amsterdam to Dublin including a Sixt rental car . It was such a low fare that we could not resist booking it, although it was in March and we knew we took a gamble with the weather. We had 4 days and 3 nights in Ireland and wanted to see as much as we could of the island. So we decided to travel from coast-to-coast.
The Emerald Island from Coast-to-Coast in 4 days With a Toddler
Dublin, castles, old monastaries, country side pubs, green rolling hills, diverse landscapes, sheep, live music, churches and …rain. Out of the 4 days we were there it rained for 2 and we had beautiful clear sunny weather on the other 2.
There is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing!
A word on Irish country roads & FooD
Driving in Ireland, once you leave the highways, is not for fearful drivers. While the Irish are generally safe and considerate drivers, the small little country roads, with their twist and turns, occassional sheep crossings and low stone hedges will get your heart pumping. The lovely lady at our B&B in Doolin put it like this: If google maps says it will be a 2 hour drive, plan for it to take 4 hours and you will probably get there in 3.5 hours.
On this trip we did not get a rental car with a navigation system which meant we used a good old-fashioned map to guide us. It was at times a little tense, but I can proudly say that we are still together and that navigating Ireland with a free map from Sixt did not leave us with any traumas.
With regards to the Irish food, which is very similar to British cuisine, it was surprisingly hard for us to find healthy food options for our little one. There is a lot of fast food being consumed and many things are fried or drowned in sauce. We had some great Fish & Chips, Guiness stews and pies. Most restaurants served very heavy hearty meals. When we asked for toddler friendly fare, they often offered typical pub cuisine, such as crisps, fries, jacket potatoes and pasta dishes, but no fruit or veggies.
Our 4 Day Coast-to-Coast Ireland itinerary
Day 1: DUBLIN AIRPORT → DOOLIN
We arrived in Dublin, picked up the rental car and drove to our first stop in Doolin. A cute little village on the West coast. Doolin is a vibrant community, with plenty of pubs surrounded by green fields and close to the coast. It is a great location for seeing the famous Cliffs of Moher, visiting the Aran Islands or exploring county Clare. The Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most visited natural tourist attraction. We walked along the country roads in Doolin and enjoyed some traditional live music in a local pub and good traditional food.
As you can see on the picture of the Doolin Tourism website, it is a colourful little village…it was so foggy when we visited, that we took no pictures…welcome to Ireland in March…
Day 2: DOOLIN ( Wild Atlantic Way) →GALWAY →CLONMACNOISE MONASTRY →DUBLIN
We got up early excited to see the Cliffs of Moher. But when we opened the curtains of our B&B, we could not even see the car in the carpark infront of the house, due to heavy rain and fog. We drove towards a view point from where we should have a great view of the Cliffs, but it was impossible to see them. So while we can say we have been to the Cliffs, we did not actually see them.
It was a little disappointing, so instead we visited Doolin cave, to see the largest stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere before we headed North towards Galway.
The drive to Galway was breathtaking we followed the scenic coastal road called Wild Atlantic Route. It is rightfully often described as Ireland’s most spectacular coastal road. Even on a rainy, windy, foggy day it was breathtaking! It leads you through the surreal Burren limestone landscape, which is a sight to behold, along some hidden beaches, beautiful rugged bays, green fields, castles and through some quintessential Irish villages.
We shortly stopped at Dunguaire Castle , before we headed back to Dublin on the highway. On the way there we admired the Clonmacnoise monastry. The monastry is right next to the Shannon river, set in rolling green hills in the middle of the country and has a little lunchroom.
Day 3: DUBLIN
Today was all about exploring the Irish capital- Guiness factory, St Stephen’s Green Park ( has a great playground), the 160 year old Temple Bar pub for live music, took a walk along the banks of the Liffey river to look at all the colourful bridges… we had a full program. At the Temple Bar pub our little one was invited to take a look behind the bar, which was quiet fun. Many people played along and tried to order something from him and wanted pictures with the young barman… he loved all the attention.
Like most visitors we wanted to see the famous Book of Kells, but we did not get to see it. A hangry toddler and long queues were not a great combination. Dublin is fairly small, so it was easy to explore it on foot.
HOTEL RECOMMENDATION DUBLIN: It is a magnificent castle hotel in the suburbs of Dublin ( less than 10 min by DART metro train and about 15 min by bus to the city centre) with great customer service, a nice restaurant, great breakfast buffet, medieval decoration and modern good sized rooms. Clontarf Castle Dublin Hotel
Day 4: DUBLIN→HOWTH→ BALBRIGGAN → DUBLIN AIRPORT
Howth is a lively harbour town at the North end of the Dublin bay, where you can find some great fish restaurants there and scenic coastal walks. We took the DART train from Dublin city centre to Howth, which took +/- 30 minutes. From Howth Head and Hill you can overlook all of Dublin Bay and the coastline.
After our stop in picturesque Howth, we drove up North along the coast to Ardgillan Castle. It is actually an impressive manor which has loads of child centred activites and a big well maintained park and playground overlooking the Irish Sea. It is a popular destination for local Dublin moms!
After a lot of time in the fresh Irish weather, our little one was knocked out on the drive to the airport ( 25 min) and only woke up when we needed to wake him up to get through security at the airport.
We really enjoyed our long weekend in Ireland and would like to visit Ireland again soon, this time to explore the South of the island -Dingle, the Ring of Kerry and Cork.
Have you visited Ireland- what should we see when we visit next time?
Want to read more of our travel stories, visit our ‘where we have been’ page to see all of the travel adventures we blogged about.
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