Ireland Itinerary: Spreading Love for the Sunny South East


Last December we began planning our 2014 trip to Ireland. We intended to plan and reserve everything well in advance like we usually do but then life happened. And, well, you know how that story goes. :-) So, I wanted to give you an update on how our planning process evolved and to share our actual itinerary for the Sunny South East.

Deciding our Ireland Itinerary

We used our pillar places method to decide which regions in Ireland we wanted to see the most. By placing tiny sticky notes on a map of attractions that were most interesting, we could visually see areas with the most to do, making note of the ones that were the most important to us. The 2014 attractions that rose to the top for us were:

  • Glendalough
  • Kilkenny
  • Great Saltee
  • Ardmore Cliff Walk
  • Knockanaffrin
  • Giant’s Causeway
  • Dingle (Mount Brandon)
Grave stones in Glendalough, Co. Wicklow
Haunting and beautiful, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow


If you know a little about the geography of Ireland, you’ll notice a couple of outliers. :-)

We have yet to do any real exploring in Northern Ireland and are itching to get up there soon. Also Joe really, really wants to get back to Dingle to climb Mount Brandon again. I am sure this has nothing to do with me leaving our camera at the shrine at the beginning of the hike (oops!).

While not impossible to do the south east, Dingle and the Giant’s Causeway, we would never recommend it in one trip. Getting from one end to the other would take too many travel days out of our precious two weeks. Unfortunately that meant Giant’s Causeway and Dingle were out. I wasn’t sad because our list of things to see in the south east was surprisingly big.

Next, we had to figure out how long to stay. The more we want to see in an area, the longer we stay with (usually) a two night minimum. Categorizing our long list of activities by smaller regions, we book B&B’s accordingly.  Wicklow, Kilkenny, and Waterford had the most we wanted to see and so we concentrated our B&B search there.

Staying Organized and Making a Daily Plan

Just before we left, I put together what I call my Sparkling Binder of Ireland Travel Goodness. While this binder houses our reservations, driving directions, addresses, travel tips and a place to keep notes, I think the most important section is the spreadsheet with things to do, cost projections, expenses and brief notes. I had gathered this info from our initial planning sessions, tips I received from fellow travelers, and recommendations from Infinite Ireland readers (thanks guys!).

See below for an example:

Things to do in Kilkenny

It is important to note that we didn’t plan on doing all of these things. After creating several Ireland itineraries, I now know that you can never do everything on your list. However having a solid idea of activities that are possible in the vicinity of each B&B helps us be more organized when we arrive.

Once we arrived in Ireland things changed, as they inevitably do. We chose to do some things on our list and left out others. We also added a few things that weren’t even on our list. The empty spaces on the spreadsheet allow me to fill in new activities when we get there. All in all, here is how it all shaped up!

Ireland Itinerary 2014

 Day 1 (overnight in Laragh, Co. Wicklow):

  • Bray
  • Powerscourt House and Gardens
  • Powerscourt Waterfall
  • Glencree
  • Sally Gap
  • Glenmacnass Waterfall
Powerscourt Waterfall, Co. Wicklow
Powerscourt Waterfall, Co. Wicklow

Day 2 (overnight in Laragh, Co. Wicklow):

  • Glendalough
  • Lough Tay/JB Malone Memorial Walk
  • Roundwood
Lough Tay Co. Wicklow
The stunning view from above Lough Tay, Co. Wicklow

Day 3 (overnight in Laragh, Co. Wicklow):

  • Devil’s Glen Walk Waterfall
  • Wicklow Town
  • Wicklow Head/Black Castle
  • Mount Usher Gardens
Devil's Glen Walking Path
Walking along Devil’s Glen, Co. Wicklow

Day 4 (overnight in Kilkenny):

  • Vale of Clara
  • Meeting of the Waters
  • Vale of Avoca/Avoca Town (Ballykissangel)
  • Altamont Gardens
Joe and Stephanie Chastain Garden
The most romantic gardens in Ireland. Altamont Gardens, Co. Carlow

Day 5 (overnight in Thomastown):

  • Kilkenny Castle
  • Black Abbey
  • St. Canice’s Cathedral
  • Butter Slip
  • Shee Alms House-tourist info
  • Kilkenny Design Center/National Craft Gallery
  • Kells Priory
  • Kilree Roundtower and High Cross
Kilkenny Castle, Co. Kilkenny
Kilkenny Castle, Co. Kilkenny

Day 6 (overnight in Thomastown):

  • Jerpoint Glass
  • Jerpoint Abbey
  • Woodstock Gardens
  • Inistioge
Pillars of Jerpoint Abbey
Jerpoint Abbey, Co. Kilkenny

Day 7 (overnight in Thomastown):

  • Knockanaffrin
  • Clonmel
Knockanaffrin Hiking Trail
Joe beginning the climb to Knockanaffrin, Co. Wateford

Day 8 (overnight in Kilmore Quay):

  • Hook Head Lighthouse
  • Baginbun Bay
  • Tintern Abbey
  • Kilmore Quay
Hook Head Lighthouse Co. Wexford
Hook Head Lighthouse Co. Wexford

Day 9 (overnight in Kilmore Quay):

  • Saltee Island Boat Trip
  • Johnstown Castle & Museum
  • Wexford Town
A Great Black-Backed Gull
A Great Black-Backed Gull on Great Saltee Island, Co. Wexford

Day 10 (overnight in Ardmore):

  • Ballyhack Ferry
  • Christ Church Cathedral
  • Waterford Treasures Museum
  • Reginald’s Tower
Dressing up as a viking
Hey! Who posted this? :-) Stephanie playing the viking in Waterford City, Co. Waterford

Day 11  (overnight in Ardmore):

  • Ardmore Cliff Walk
  • Lismore Castle Gardens
  • Mount Melleray Abbey
  • Lismore Castle Gardens
  • Vee Gap Drive
Ardmore Cliff Walk Ruin Co. Waterford
Scene from the Ardmore Cliff Walk Co. Waterford

Day 12  (overnight in Ardmore):

  • Cork City
  • St. Finn Barr’s Cathedral
  • Butter Museum
  • Oliver Plunkett Street
  • English Market
  • Daly’s Bridge & Fitzgerald’s Park
St. Finbarre's Church Stained Glass  and Organ
The beauty of the church. St. Finbarre Cathedral, Cork City, Co. Cork

Day 13 (overnight in Adare)

  • Adare
Cathedral in Adare, Co. Limerick
Lovely Adare, Co. Limerick. Photo courtesy of Flikr user Organic Maven.

Day 14 (overnight in Bunratty):

  • Lough Gur
  • Lough Gur Stone Circle
  • St. John’s Castle Limerick
  • Bunratty Corn Barn Traditional Irish Night
Lough Gur Co. Limerick
Ending the trip in tranquility. Lough Gur Co. Limerick

The Verdict

I’d struggle to tell you what the best part of the trip was because each day we learned and experienced a new piece of Ireland that we loved. However, there were moments that certainly stand out: hiking Knockanaffrin and admiring its vast views along the ridgelines of the Comeragh mountains; pretending to be a Viking settler at Reginald’s Tower in Waterford; hearing about the history of the Lough Gur stone circle from the farmer who proudly owns the land; and walking hand in hand with Joe at some of the most romantic gardens in Ireland.

Looking back on our trip, there are only a few things I would change. We had some difficulty booking B&B’s over the June bank holiday weekend (this type A travelholic should have caught that!). Therefore, we didn’t give Kilkenny the time it deserved. I also would spend a couple of nights in or near Wicklow–what a great little city! And finally, a day in Cork wasn’t in our plans, but it fit our mood that day so we went for it and weren’t disappointed.

More Ireland Itinerary Ideas for the South East

With so many amazing sites we visited, one thing I do know is that the south east doesn’t get as much love as it certainly should. Most itineraries, if they even go to the south east, stop at Glendalough and Kilkenny and give the rest of the south east a pass. We spent two weeks trekking around this beautiful countryside and there are still so many things we would like to do. Take a look at the list of things that we didn’t get to:

  • Sugar Loaf/Lug/Wicklow Mountain Hikes
  • Duckett’s Glen
  • Browne’s Hill Dolmen
  • River Barrow Walk to/from Bagenalstown to Leighlinbridge
  • Old Leighlin Monastery
  • Kenny’s Well
  • Grace’s Castle
  • Wind Gap View Point
  • Capuchin Friary
  • Rothe House
  • Mullins Mill Museum
  • Nicholas Moose Pottery
  • Jerpoint Park
  • Church of St. Nicholas
  • Dunbrody Abbey
  • Dunbrody Famine Ship
  • Mahon Falls
  • Waterford Crystal
  • Bishop’s Palace
  • Coppercoast Geo Park -Bunmahon
  • Dungarvin/Waterford Museum
  • Cobh
  • Titanic Experience
  • Cobh Heritage Center
  • Youghal
  • Ballycotton
  • Barryscourt Castle
  • St. Colman’s
  • Jameson Midleton Distillery
  • Kilkenny Shops/Town
  • St. Patrick’s Well
  • Ahenny High Crosses
  • Copper Coast
  • Annestown Beach
  • Slievenamuck Walk
  • Desmond Castle
  • Bunratty Folk Park

We have lists like this for all of Ireland. When first-time visitors start planning their itinerary, I can completely sympathize with being overwhelmed with too many things to do. I don’t think we will ever run out of new things to discover. :-)

Are you planning a trip to the south east? What’s on your must-see list?

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  1. Thanks so much for this site! I used it to help plan my first trip to Ireland. I say first, because I will definitely be going back!!!! My daughter and I traveled to Dublin on August 8th. I had almost no expectations, since I had never thought of Ireland as a destination. Ireland chose us…………….. It was beautiful!!!

    I used the packing list (even though I thought I needed more and took it, even though I did not need it!!!) and suggestions for places to visit. Your advise was “right on”!!! I highly recommend your site and will definitely be using it on my return visits. I have already recommended it to friends who think they may want to visit.

    Next time, I want to rent a car. The day trips on the bus don’t leave you time to really explore the sites. There is so much to see and do, that I will definitely have to stay longer.

    Thanks so much for all your guidance and assistance!

    1. Hi Deborah! Thank you so much for the kind words and I really appreciate your recommending Infinite Ireland to your friends! That may be the highest compliment we can receive. :-) I am so excited that you plan on going back…Ireland tends to do that to people, speaking from personal experience! Enjoy the next trip and the planning!

  2. Well done and congratulations,, The South East is a poor relation in the eyes of many who come over here.. I have to confess it is the part of the Island I know least about (Kilkenny excepted).. Any publicity of the area is a good thing and the fact you had such a good time only adds weight to the argument that Ireland isn’t just about the usual tourist haunts,, Great Report.. Thanks.

    1. Thanks Tony. The South East really surprised us. We were expecting a good trip, well, because we’ve only had good trips to Ireland. :-) But we were really pleased with all the things to do. Already planning our return!

  3. I know I’m coming into the conversation late, but I am so glad to see that you have dedicated this post and your trip (mainly) to the Southeast. As Tony said, so much attention is given to the Southwest, but the Southeast has a lot to offer as well. We have heard that there is talk about developing something similar to the Wild Atlantic Way in the Southeast. I hope they are able to put that together.

    Also, I just want to say that you two seem to travel a lot like we do. I, too, have folders in a binder and plan each day and budget for costs by the day. Thank you for sharing your process. I know people will find it helpful to see that!

    Great site! Keep up the good work, and perhaps we’ll cross paths in Ireland (or Northern Ireland) one day… maybe while climbing Slieve Donard. :-)

    1. Oh thanks so much Kate! We had a wonderful time in the south east and I’d say it was among our best trips. Definitely pining to go back.

      Typically I plan quite a bit and that binder is always super helpful, especially if we are trying to keep our budget.

      Let’s be sure our paths cross sometime! Slieve Donard is certainly on our list and it would be fun do it with you two! :-)

  4. Love your blog, wonderful!

    When you are ready to visit Northern Ireland, give me a shout, and I’ll suggest places for you to visit.

    This is a beautiful part of the country, which has loads to see and do. Plenty of scenery, great food and culture. In a way, its a hidden part of Ireland that is less commercial and more authentic. You’ll love it.

    1. Thanks so much Maura! Joe and I are really looking forward to a trip up north.

      We both have family that originated in Northern Ireland (Belfast for me and Derry for Joe), so we want to make the trip for all sorts of reasons (including the scenery we’ve heard so much about!). I know we will love it.

      Thanks for your offer of help! I will be sure to take you up on it when we start planing. :-)

  5. Wow! Thank you so very much for your site! My husband and I are planning our first trip to Ireland for the end of October and I’ve been anxious about the unknown (neither of us have ever traveled to Europe) until I found your site. I feel so much better about traveling to Ireland with your recommendations and advice. In this post you mentioned Northern Ireland, have you been to that area yet? My husband wants to do Northern Ireland because we are Game of Thrones fans and many scenes are filmed there. We are flying into Dublin and unsure what area we can cover in our 10 day stay.

    1. Hi Kelsey! Thanks so much for the kind words about the site! :-) Joe and I have been through Northern Ireland, but we haven’t stayed–so it is still on our bucket list. It is certainly worth checking out. There are some great Game of Tours that run from Belfast. Or you can take yourself around to many of the sites. Here are some links to get you started. If I were you I would spend my first couple of days in Dublin to get acclimated. Then rent a car from the airport and go north to Belfast for another day or two and then travel around the Causeway Coast–see all the GoT sites and of course Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills, Carrick-a-rede rope bridge and several others. On your way back down toward Dublin check out the Bru-na-Bonne area and/or Wicklow/Kilkenny. Sounds like you are in for a great trip! All the best!

      1. Thank you so much for your prompt and extremely helpful reply, Stephanie! I have researched all of your recommendations and am excited to say our trip is really coming together! I can see why you love Ireland so much, I haven’t stopped planning our trip since we booked it! Every chance I get I am reading about and looking at pictures of Ireland!

        A few things I thought of to ask you-

        Do you have any information on your site about ways to deal with the time change? We are about 6 hours behind here and I am worried we will lose a day of our precious trip due to sleep difficulties :(

        You mentioned in one of your posts that at a certain point in the fall the days get shorter. We are going the very last week in October and I am trying to plan out how much time we have during the daylight hours. I also cant find much about the weather at that time.

        I have so many questions! I see that you offer sessions (over the phone?) and I might be needing that!

        Thank you for taking time to read and answer my questions, it is very much appreciated!

        1. Hi Kelsey!

          That’s how it starts… Mega planner=repeat visitor. :-) Well at least that was the case for me and my first trip.

          Here is a couple of great resources for dealing with jet lag:

          We do our best to try eat and sleep like the locals as soon as we arrive. Often we will squeeze in a nap for about an hour to an hour and a half on the first day if we can’t quite make it, but no more than that. Most of the time adrenaline kicks in as soon as we land and lasts most of the day (there is so much to see!!).

          The last week of October will have about 10 hours of sunlight (7 AM-5 PM) and no matter what time of year, expect cooler weather and likely rain. Late October will probably be low 50’s. Layers are a good idea and so is an early evening spent in pub. :-)

          I’d love to chat if you have more questions. It is really the best way for me to get to know you and help you create a really customized itinerary to suit you and your hubby’s interests. Either way, it looks like you two are on track for a great trip!!

          1. Stephanie,

            Lol, yes, I think you may be right…Mega planner=repeat visitor.

            Thank you for the websites about jet lag. It seems like a really good idea to just try our best to get on the locals schedule right away. I could see the first night being difficult–mostly because we will be so excited! Sleep? Who has time for sleep when there is so much to see! ;)

            We are planning on maybe purchasing the same jackets you and your husband like… and maybe ordering a size up so we can wear layers underneath. Hopefully that will combat the chill and the rain.

            I will be in touch as we start making solid plans-right now we are just still figuring out where we want to stay, sites we want to see and how long we want to be in each location.

            Today is 12 weeks until our trip! I am counting down!

            Thanks so much, it’s been so nice connecting with you. Your enthusiasm for Ireland is great, it makes me even more excited! I visit your site almost daily to soak up all the information:)

            Take care,

          2. Hooray! I am so glad this site and I can get you excited! 12 weeks isn’t so long is it? It will be here before you know it. :-)

  6. Staying at Knocktopher Abbey in Kilkenny for 7 days in November. Any recommendations for scenic day trips? Also want to go to Cliffs of Moher. Will we have enough time considering the days are shorter?


  7. This is a fantastic itinerary, i am heading to Ireland in May and cannot wait! So at the minute I am trying to get as much info as possible from other peoples experiences. I am glad to have found this blog, great content really well done and thanks for sharing! I have planned so far to do a bus tour of Belfast with this company below. Time allowing I would also love to do a black taxi tour, any tips be great. and a black taxi tour

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