IRELAND ITINERARY

It’s that time of the year again- time to satisfy our wanderlust needs 😉 Life is short, time is valuable so go ahead and BOOK THAT TRIP! We were craving NATURE and thought what is the one place in the world that’s lush and green? IRELAND! It’s known as the Emerald Isle-from rolling hills, resplendent greenery and rich landscape, it is the most healing and unparalleled scenery.

This itinerary is specifically for those looking for a relaxing, small town vibe getaway. Personally, we are not city people- cars with smog, tall skyscrapers, hustle and bustle= no thank you! We needed to immerse ourselves in nature to recharge so if that is the kind of vacation you are looking for, this is the itinerary for you! Special shoutout to my childhood friend, Ruby, for providing soooo many authentic recommendations

Here’s Some Advice…

LET’S GET STARTED WITH THE ITINERARY!

This is the exact loop we did. Keep on reading below to find the exact spots we visited.

DAY 1

Land in Dublin bright and early! Arriving early to a country is such a plus- TSA security, car rentals, money exchange will not be crowded and you can breeze through the process! I urge everyone to rent their own vehicle for convenience & I’ve listed the rental options above. From the airport, grab your first authentic Irish breakfast in Dublin at Lemon Jelly Cafe to fuel up for your first day road tripping. 

Now that your belly is full, make your way through Wicklow National Park to get to Glendalough. Throughout the national park, you will find your first sheep spotting! They’re happily grazing on grass and roaming wildly free so be mindful of the road and give them the right of way when you see them crossing. The Wicklow mountains is an impressive 54,000 acres and offers plenty of attractions along the scenic drive. From nature walks to epic waterfalls to ancient ruins, there is an activity for everyone. P.S the weather here is changeable so plan and dress accordingly- it can get pretty windy!

GLENDALOUGH

You will only need 1-3 hours to stroll through this town. That will give you plenty of time to explore the iconic roundtower, church ruins and visitor center. There are a ton of walking trails to choose from- Glendalough Spinc Walk, Upper/Lower Lake Circular, The Woodland Road and The Derrybawn Woodland Trail. St. Kevin’s Kitchen is a snack truck parked right outside Glendalough Cathedral’s entrance and there’s outdoor seating along the river- it’s a lovely spot to drink some coffee & rest! Once you’re done exploring Glendalough, make your way to Kilkenny!

KILKENNY

Head over to Kilkenny in the early afternoon to give yourself plenty of time to check in and explore the town because there is plenty to do here. We stayed at the Kilkenny Rivercourt Hotel. They surprised us with a complimentary upgrade to a castle view room & I couldn’t be more grateful because I honestly couldn’t stop staring at the insane view! The downside to this hotel is the bathroom and carpet. For a 4 star hotel, I don’t think it’s up to its standards and could use some remodeling/deep cleaning, but maybe I’m just being too nit-picky. There are plenty of accommodations to choose from in Kilkenny, but I can promise you, none of them will beat this balcony view!

Kilkenny is the former medieval capital of Ireland. This town dates back to the 6th century. Spend your day strolling through the city center. Walk through The Butter Slip Alley– a quirky little alley built in 1616. This alley was used by butter merchants to sell their products because the space was so small it kept a low temperature. There is also a store called Butterslip with locally made products where you can buy gifts. Didn’t pack enough clothes? Visit Market Cross Shopping Center. There’s reasonably priced shops or stop by Penneys- it’s got everything you need at an extremely affordable price.

As for food, you’re in luck! Kilkenny has a ton of options! Grab dinner at Campagne / FoodWorks / Lady Helen for luxurious Michelin star meals, Petronella Cafe for a delicious, moderately priced meal (amazing & extensive vegan/ vegetarian options) or The Fig Tree for a casual cafe vibe with traditional Irish dishes. Craving a pint? How could you not in Ireland? Grab a pint at Kytler’s Inn. It was established in 1324 & this pub is filled with history and charm! You must grab dessert at Cakeface Patisserie– this little shop has homemade soup, bread, and best of all, fancy cakes that are works of art. The dessert presentation and flavor deserves a Michelin star! I recommended the Passionfruit Nut and Miss Lemony Rose- I wish I ordered one of everything.

DAY 2

Jetlag can be a bitch, but I’m telling you it is worth waking up early to get your day started here in Kilkenny!  The good thing about traveling during Fall/Winter is that sunrise is much later in the day and that will give you time to sleep in (just a little bit). Our hotel accommodation came with complimentary breakfast with a view of the castle. It did not feel real to eat and stare out at that view and you guessed it, I indulged in another full Irish breakfast!

Spend the early morning at Kilkenny Castle to avoid the crowds. The current admission price is €8 adults / €4 child (both are for self guided visits) Check this website for admission updates. If you’re not keen on spending money to enter the castle, you can opt to stroll the exterior for free! Kilkenny Castle dates all the back to 1172 AD. There is plenty of space on the grounds for families with kids to play and run around. We had a lovely time sitting on the benches admiring the architecture. For history lovers, head across the road to Kilkenny Medieval Mile Museum located inside St. Mary’s Church to dig deeper into the history. The museum is quite small, however there are original artifacts, renaissance tombs and medieval sculptures inside. You can opt for expert tour guides or do your own interactive audio tour. The entrance fee is extremely affordable- 5€ per adult, 2€ Child. Visit St. Canice Cathedral to see the gothic 13th century cathedral. It is the oldest standing structure in Kilkenny and you can actually climb the round tower.

Rock of Cashel 

Once you’ve fully explored Kilkenny, hop back on the road to your new destination! As you make your way to a new town, stop by Rock of Cashel- do not skip it!! It’s worth the pitstop. Rock of Cashel admission is free, however you will need an online reservation. There is free street parking right below the uphill climb to the site. It’s a magnificent site & I HIGHLY recommend this attraction. Fun fact: Two of the most famous people of Irish legend and history are associated with the Rock of Cashel. They are St. Patrick whom according to legend, arrived in Cashel in AD 432 and baptized King Aengus who became Ireland’s first Christian ruler.

Cork

From Rock of Cashel, we quickly drove through Cork- you can even opt to stay the night here because Cork is the second largest city in Ireland and there’s so much to explore here. We were short on time and could only pick one attraction and ended up choosing Black Rock Castle Observatory (photo above) It’s a great place to bring lunch and admire the scenery from a picnic bench. Here are some top attractions in Cork that were on the top of my list: Blarney Castle , The English Market, Gleview Garden & Fairy Trail and St. Fin Barre Cathedral

Killarney

Killarney is the next town we stayed overnight. It is a long trek from Kilkenny so you will most likely arrive late afternoon/night. We checked into a quaint airbnb listing and was greeted by a very warm host! The location of the home is a short 10 minute drive to town center and the host even provides a lovely breakfast. Take the night to explore Killarney town center, shop for goodies (there is a Primark/ Penneys), feast on fresh seafood and grab ice cream at Murphy’s . This ice cream company uses all real, fresh ingredients straight from the farm, free range eggs, and organic sugar! Our favorite flavors were gin and soda bread. Killarney is a town on the shores so I highly recommended choosing a seafood spot. We went with our host’s recommendation and had dinner at Kitty O’Se’s Seafood and Grill

We spontaneously decided to visit Ross Castle VERY late at night… Ross Castle is open to the public, free of admission. It 100% feels like you’re in a horror film at night… don’t go alone and be cautious of your surroundings if you do decide to visit at night.

P.S While you’re in Killarney, give Murphy’s Irish Stout a try! It was our very first time trying it and oh my, it is the best beer I’ve ever tasted! & I am NOT a fan of any kind of beer- it truly reminds me of fraternity houses, but Murphy’s Irish Stout was so well made and the flavor was delicious.

DAY 3

Killarney National Park

Top of the morning to ya! Killarney is known for their beautifully lush national park so start your day off in nature! I highly recommend visiting Torc waterfall. There are 2 ways to reach it- the easy way & not so easy way… for Torc Waterfall, park at the lower lot (Ring of Kerry Rd / N71) for a short 5 min stroll to the waterfall or park at the upper lot for the trail we went on! The upper car park can be accessed by leaving the N71 about 1km earlier and following the road as it steadily ascends through the woods. Google maps brought us to this parking lot so we ended up having to hike 1.5 hours each way to reach this waterfall! The trail is long and strenuous, but extremely rewarding so if you’re up for a medium-strenuous hike, this is for you! FYI the lower car park is quite small and gets filled up quickly- I recommend going early in the morning.

Storytime… I was told this was a 5 minute stroll so I got dressed up in a cashmere sweater + tulle maxi skirt with a huge peacoat to get some cute content. However, we ended up parking at the wrong lot and was stuck doing a 4 hour hike. By the time we reached the waterfall, I was a sweaty mess and had no desire to get the instagrammable shot, ha!

Although we went on the wrong trail, I have no regrets because I discovered so many cool gems throughout the hike. Hikes in LA are SO bland, but this hike was filled up with abundance! The trees here are mossy, there’s a variety of cool looking mushrooms and every tree root, branch all holds a unique story. I couldn’t get enough of Mother Nature!

After all the huffin and puffin, you’ll want to fuel up so head back to Killarney town center for some food. I tasted the most decadent & scrumptious shepard’s pie from The Laurel’s Pub

For those spending more time in Killarney, the Ring of Kerry is a beautiful coastal loop that you can do in one afternoon. I recommend this guide here to plan out your Ring of Kerry adventures! From here, go along the Wild Atlantic Way up to your next iconic destination, Cliffs of Moher.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher attract more than 1 million tourists each year. It is located right off the R478 & free to enter! But, parking is $10€ per person, NOT per vehicle so it’s basically your entrance fee because there’s no where else to park there. These cliffs are estimated to have formed 320 million years ago- mindblown! We went for sunset on a very gloomy day, which kinda added to the whole Irelend mood. It gets extremely windy so bring a large coat when you visit! The photos above sums up our visit- those are the only photos we got because everything was getting blown over!

Fun fact: The makers of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince used Cliffs of Moher as inspiration for the scene where Dumbledore and Harry are off to find one of the Horocrux in the cave.

Right after sunset, we headed to the town of Doolin to get our grub on at Gus O’Connor’s Pub! It was a delicious 5 star meal-ordered the fresh Atlantic Mussels soaked in white wine & cream sauce, prime Hereford Sirloin steak with peppercorn sauce and a classic Guinness.

DAY 4

DOOLIN

Doolin is the perfect town to stop at after you visit Cliffs of Moher (only 12 minutes away) We stayed the night in a lovely airbnb linked HERE.  Doolin itself is a quaint little village, extremely small & you only really need 15 minutes to stroll through or even just do a quick drive by so I suggest grabbing a cup of coffee here in the morning and head out early for a fun filled day.

Poulnabrone Dolmen

Poulnabrone Dolmen is one of the most famous portal tombs in Ireland! This archeological site is a relic of the Neolithic Age. “Neolithic” means “New Stone Age,” when agriculture emerged in Ireland. It’s also the period of the megaliths, the great stone monuments that dot the landscape of Western Europe. The dolmen itself is made of limestone slabs. A pair of portal stones– the large upright stones at the dolmen’s entrance and two smaller standing stones support the capstone, which slants downward from the front to the rear to create a chamber. We know the dolmen was a tomb, because archaeological excavations have uncovered the remains of at least thirty individuals and from the bone fragments we can tell that the dead bodies were already decomposed when they were moved into the chamber around 3000 BC.

There is a spacious parking lot for visitors and only requires a short 5 minute stroll to this site. There is a rope barrier that prevents anyone from getting too close to the monument. Please be respectful and stay behind it. I recommend wearing hiking shoes with good traction when visiting- the limestone rocks jut out the ground and the terrain is very rugged.

Galway

Spend the afternoon in Galway! Galway is a bustling Irish city filled with so much to do- it’s the place to be! First stop is the Latin Quarter– the lively city center is packed with quirky shops, cobblestone roads, traditional pubs and street performers- you can really feel the Irish spirit here. Grab breakfast or mid afternoon tea at Cupan Tae or Coffeewerk + Press. Looking to eat at a Traveler’s Choice Award? Eat at Ard Bia at Nimmo’s. For a more down to earth family owned restaurant, check out McCambridge’s. For authentic pubs, hit up Tigh Neachtain or Tig Coili.

Salthill Promenade is a short drive outside the city center and here you will discover the beautiful seaside. It is the perfect place to take a stroll beside the ocean, stop by the amusement park for some thrill or take a dip in the ocean.

If you have time to explore the surrounding area, visit or stay the night at Ballynahinch Castle– super dreamy, luxurious setting with a lake. Another destination nearby is Dog’s Lake which is known as the most beautiful beach in Ireland There are amazing shades of blue (only when the sun is shining brightly) so if you’re looking to take a dip in the ocean this is where you should go!

CLIFDEN RUINS

We headed to Clifden Ruins for a scenic sunset walk and this was by far my FAVORITE activity in Ireland! Make sure to park out on Sky Road located right before the castle’s entrance gate. You will need proper footwear for this trail as it gets extremely muddy when it rains.

As you walk on the muddy trail, there are private farm lands all around you with sheep, cows, and horses! What made this trail so unique is the wildlife, view of the sea, and ancient castle all combined within a short distance. The ruin is worth a visit- the outside walls are still intact with vines taking over however, I’d say it is pretty unsafe to wander inside the ruin because it has been abandoned for so long. Be a daredevil and carefully roam inside or if you’re like me, just admire it from the exterior.

WESTPORT

Spent the night in Westport- a charming seaside town. In 1767 Westport became the first planned town in Ireland so you’ll find stone bridges, and tree-lined promenades on the banks of the Carrowbeg River. Many visit this town to do the Croagh Patrick trek. This is a pilgrimage for many- Croagh Patrick is considered to be Ireland’s holiest mountain, and renowned for its Patrician Pilgrimage in honor of Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron Saint. For those spending more time here, stop by the Westport House, which is a heritage home museum, amusement park, campground, and train ride rolled all into one. 

DAY 5

CABRA CASTLE

When in Ireland… You MUST stay overnight in a castle and live out your fairytale dreams. After a ton of research, we went with Cabra Castle and you can read more about our experience HERE! And yes, I packed a whole gown in my carry on luggage just so I can capture my princess moment.

DAY 6

DUBLIN

Our last stop, Dublin, the capital city bursting with awesome things to see and do. Go to Guinness Storehouse Factory to learn how to pour the perfect pint. Built in 1759, the Guinness Storehouse has been producing stout beer for its patrons. Step back in time at Dublin Castle. Dating back to the early 13th century, the Vikings established their headquarters in this medieval structure. Visit Trinity College Library– the largest library in all of Ireland. Its most famous section, known as The Long Room, has been known to resemble the Jedi Archives in Star Wars. See St. Patrick’s Cathedral, founded in 1191, it is known as the largest church in all of Ireland. Take a selfie at one of the easiest monuments to spot from afar, The Spire stands approximately 120 meters above ground. Walk across Ha’Penny Bridge, a cast iron bridge built in 1816 that carried a lot of history and people across Liffey River.

There are endless pubs and restaurants to choose from in Dublin. I recommend The Boxty House or Brother Hubbard– both featured on Netflix’s Somebody Feed Phil S2. E2. episode. Some local pub favorites are Kehoe’s Bar, The Palace Bar, and The Long Hall.

I hope you found this guide helpful and please let me know down below your favorite spots in Ireland!

XO, Soph

ANTWERP TRAVEL GUIDE

 When you hear the word Belgium, you think beer, waffles, chocolate, and frites? Well, Belgium is so much more than that. The country is filled with medieval historical sites, festive Christmas spirit, and a relaxed atmosphere in which to enjoy it all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still dreaming about the scrumptious Begian waffles and frites dipped in curry ketchup. Though the winter time can get pretty chilly (we went during Christmas time), it truly is the most festive and coziest time to visit. The whole country transforms into a real life Hallmark Christmas movie and it feels so surreal. All in all, we spent 5 nights in Belgium-4 nights in Brussels, 1 night in Bruges and we can’t wait for our next trip back to Belgium because there is still so much to see. I think it’s one of the most underrated countries in Europe and I have a feeling more and more people will begin to discover its beauty. I will break down each city so continue down below to dig deeper into Antwerp!

AIRBNB

Option 1 , Option 2, Option 3, Option 4, Option 5

SOLVANG GUIDE

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the Danish Capital of the USA…. California’s Little Denmark… SOLVANG!

I’ve been yearning for a little European love, but thankfully, this little European delight brought out all the feels for a perfect weekend getaway.

Solvang gives you enough of a taste of Denmark! You feel like you’re in a fairytale movie and that any second Snow White & the 7 dwarfs will start marching on by. It’s a popular tourist destination with over 1 million visitors a year! This quaint little town has architecture, food, and culture that reflects traditional Danish style.

I’ve included all the details that was on our itinerary. It is about a 2 hour drive from LA–>Solvang. You can take PCH to enjoy the scenery or the freeway for a faster drive.

Our first stop

SUMMERSET FARM

Pre-Covid19, our plan was to head to the south of France and roam the flower fields. Unfortunately, that had to be pushed back and I was about to find a farm with a bit of flowers. This little farm had sunflowers, lavender, pumpkins, etc. It was already past sunflower season so they were all super tall and wilted… But the lavender was still thriving! I even spotted a little weasel enjoying the scenery along with us haha! This is about 10 minutes away from Solvang so depending on when you visit, this is a great spot to enjoy some nature, smell the flowers, and take floral shots! If you do stop by, please purchase a product from the farm to support them! There is no entry fee so it’s always nice to support by buying their produce. We picked out some yummy homemade raspberry jam!

SOLVANG


WHERE TO EAT

FIRST AND OAK

This is a Michelin recognized restaurant located at Mirabelle Inn. It was our first meal out since MARCH… Can you believe it? 5 months of not dining out and it was DEFINITELY worth the wait. Go online, make a reservation, get dolled up and enjoy a fancy night out with your babe! I recommend ordering the Roasted Truffle Cauliflower- the flavors are exquisite. Every element of the dish was cooked to perfection and who doesn’t love truffle? For the main course, I thoroughly loved every bite of my scallops with black linguini & yuzu emulsion. Keep in mind the menu is seasonal! 

THE BREAD SHOP

Delicious freshly baked goods with a huge variety to choose from. Pastries are pricy, but it’s soooo worth it & why not support a small business! Plus, the entrance is extremely instagrammable!

COPENHAGEN SAUSAGE GARDEN

If you’re all about the sausages and beers, this is the place to check out! They have a whole range of options! It’s basically sausage heaven with killer sauces. It’s a very casual dining option if you need something quick. It does get pretty crowded- reminded me of a frat house HA!

MORTENSEN BAKERY

Fill your tummy up with some good ol’ Danish pastries! They’ve got bear claws, streudals, kringles, and all the the sweets! It’s flaky and buttery- my favs are the classic apple or cream cheese flavor. 

SUCCULENT CAFE

Head over here for a delightful charcuterie plate, cocktails, and relaxing outdoor seating. It’s a cute cafe on the main street and you can people watch while you eat. 

VIN AND MAD

Go for bites and drinks (aka happy hour) from 4-6pm! Order Duck Fat Fries, Ceviche, and a delicious cocktail! Withered Passion and Den-Mark My Words are the two drinks that stand out to me. 

WHAT TO SEE

WINDMILLS

There are a total of 6 windmills… question is, can you find them all? 😉

MISSION SANTA INEZ

Location: 1760 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93463

It’s a historic spanish mission founded by Father Estévan Tapís on 1804. Today, it serves as a museum and a church! Tip: If the town center is looking crowded, head here. There’s peaceful benches with beautiful scenery for you to take an hour or two break. 

LITTLE MERMAID FOUNTAIN

Location: 1693 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93463 Corner of Mission Drive & Alisal Road

It’s the replica from the original one in Coppenhagen. Based on Hans Christen Andersen, it’s the storyline of the mermaid giving up everything for hopeless love of a prince.

OSTRICHLAND USA

Ah I even feel guilty mentioning this… I’ve been here twice…. And this time, I did a bit more research and realized it was a meat farm. If you’re okay with supporting an organization then by all means. I personally didn’t feel comfortable 

SOLVANG FESTIVAL THEATER

When it’s not covid times, come here to watch a play!

WINE TASTING

If ya like wine, there’s plenty of vineyards here for you to get shwasted. Rusack Vineyard, Rideau Vineyard, Los Olivos Wine Tasting, Sanger Family of Wines, etc.

Grape Stomp (Annual)

Only in October, you can join the harvest celebration by stomping and making your own wine 

Julefest (Annual)

This happens in December and it’s a cozy month of lights, celebration and holiday cheer! There’s Santa’s Village, Tree Lighting, parades, Christmas Light Shows, and many more! 

WHERE TO STAY

THE LANDSBY

A modern, contemporary, luxury hotel. Located smackdab right in the center of town, we had the most lovely stay here. Service was impeccable, bed was comfortable, shower was clean, and everything was tidy! We stayed in the Luxury King that was a corner room so it had allllll the windows for perfect lighting! We had a separate staircase for entry/exit and the windows looked out onto the main street. I loved people watching from the comfort of my room (cuz covid) and at night, the twinkle lights shine through making it feel like Christmas. It was such a cozy and fabulous stay and I would definitely book another stay here for another getaway.

I’d love to hear about your thoughts on Solvang and if there are any places I missed! You can find my daily updates on my Instagram!

Xo,

Soph