3 Weeks in Ireland and Northern Ireland Itinerary

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In just 20 days, a journey through Ireland and Northern Ireland offers rich history, culture, and nature’s grandeur. From the incredible Giant’s Causeway volcanic fury to the scenic Wild Atlantic Way, there’s an undeniable magic that Ireland carries uniquely.

Dublin and Belfast are the two most popular cities across these two destinations, both offering unique activities and exciting adventures. But on this 3 weeks in Ireland and Northern Ireland itinerary, you will visit more than just the capitals.


4 images - top right is the lush green Cliff's of Moher along Ireland coast life, top right is a cobbled street in Dublin, bottom right are the rocks on Giant Causeway overlooking the water, bottom left is the landscape and mountains in Killarney National Park - 3 Weeks in Ireland and Northern Ireland Itinerary

Before you start drawing up your itinerary for your 20-day trip, you must get yourself familiar with some of the information below.

These tips will help you plan when to go, what to pack, transportation, cost, and more. And if this is your first time coming, remember these 5 don’ts when you visit Ireland for the first time.

Ireland vs Northern Ireland

Ireland is a republic with its own government. While Northern Ireland is part of the UK, it also has its own government but widely follows the nationwide policies of the UK.

This means that if you’re visiting Ireland and Northern Ireland, you will cross a border. The border is not strictly implemented, and there’s no immigration office you have to go through. But this is important to know when it comes to visa policy, which I will discuss later.

Another thing you need to remember is the history of these two countries. Saying that Ireland and Northern Ireland are the same could get you in trouble in a pub, so get educated about the history between these two to ensure you do not get yourself into issues during your visit.

When is the best time to go

The best time to visit Ireland and Northern Ireland largely depends on your preferences.

  • Peak Season (June to August): These summer months see the most tourists due to warmer temperatures, longer daylight hours, and numerous festivals. However, it’s also when accommodations and attractions may be busiest and pricier.
  • Shoulder Season (April, May, September, October): These months offer a blend of reasonably good weather, fewer tourists, and slightly lower prices. April to October is the best time to travel to Ireland and Northern Ireland.
  • Rainy Season: Truth be told, Ireland is known for its unpredictable and often wet climate, so rain is possible any time of the year. That said, the wettest months tend to be December and January.

Regardless of the season, always pack a good raincoat and be prepared for sudden weather changes. The unpredictable climate adds to the charm and lushness of the Emerald Isle.

Read this guide for a more in-depth discussion on when to visit Ireland and ideas on the prices according to the season of the year.

Are 3 weeks enough for Ireland and Northern Ireland

What to pack

Ireland and Northern Ireland have stereotype that the weather is often rainy and wet, even during the summer season. While it’s really hard to predict what the weather will be like during your trip, one thing for sure you must pack – a raincoat and an umbrella.

Apart from that, pack what you usually bring in a 3-week trip. If you’re visiting in the summer, winter, spring, or autumn seasons – we also have a packing list for those.

How to get around

For those who cherish spontaneity and off-the-beaten-path detours, renting a car is golden. It’s freedom on four wheels, allowing for impromptu stops at roadside stalls, picturesque villages, or that inviting Irish pub. But remember that Ireland and Northern Ireland drive on the left side of the road.

Buses are a wallet-friendly choice. With extensive networks like Bus Éireann and Translink, city-hopping is a breeze. And don’t overlook Irish Rail’s routes connecting major towns for scenic, hassle-free commutes.

The bottom line? If you’re balancing cost and experience, consider blending modes: rent a car for the countryside’s allure and lean on public transport in bustling hubs.

2 images - the building of Gaol Cork surrounded by green lush garden. on the right is the Kylemore Abbey with a lake in front of it

Language and currency

English is the dominant language, widely spoken and understood in both Ireland and Northern Ireland. Though Ireland also cherishes Irish (Gaeilge) as a national language, especially in certain regions known as the Gaeltacht, tourists will have no issues navigating, communicating, or accessing English services.

Ireland uses the Euro (€) as its official currency. Northern Ireland, part of the UK, uses the Pound Sterling (£). While some tourist-centric places might accept USD, it’s not common, and the exchange rate might not be favourable.

Payment by card is widely accepted and often more convenient than cash, especially with contactless options. However, it’s advisable to carry some local currency, especially for smaller purchases or off-the-beaten-path locales.

Average travel cost for 3 weeks in Ireland and Northern Ireland

On average, a budget of €2,000-€3,000 for 20 days in Ireland and Northern Ireland is a decent range. The cost of a 3-week vacation in Ireland and Northern Ireland can vary widely based on your travel style:

  • Affordable: If you’re backpacking or on a tight budget, expect to spend around €50-€100 per day. This includes staying in hostels, eating at cheaper eateries, and using public transportation.
    • Total: €1,050-€2,100 for 3 weeks.
  • Mid-range: For a more comfortable experience, factor in about €100-€250 per day. This can get you a nice B&B, dining in mid-tier restaurants, some guided tours, and occasional car rentals.
    • Total: €2,100-€5,250 for 20 days.
  • Luxury: If luxury is your style, anticipate €250-€600+ per day. Luxury hotels, gourmet meals, private tours, and top-tier entertainment are all within reach.
    • Total: €5,250-€12,600+ for 3 weeks.

Remember, these are ballpark figures. Actual expenses can fluctuate based on activities, unplanned indulgences, major travel flights, and travel insurance.


Other travel tips


Click the enlarge button on the top right corner. Credit: map data: Google


These two destinations are amazing places to discover. Renting a car is a great idea to maximise your time. Although a small island, the difference in each city from accents to culture, it’s a rather memorable experience.

Dublin and Southeast for 5 days

Dublin, Ireland’s lively capital, features centuries-old history with charm. It’s a city where literary legends can be felt through the cobblestoned lanes, traditional pubs pulse with live folk music, and the storied doors of Georgian houses tell tales of yore.

You can walk through ancient streets, check out the famous Trinity College, and even see the Book of Kells. It’s also super friendly and has lots of places to grab a bite or listen to live music.

But what’s awesome is you’re never far from nature. Just outside the city, you can hike in the Wicklow Mountains, and see gorgeous views. So, if you dig exploring city life and getting a taste of the great outdoors, Dublin’s the place to be.

For those fans of Guinness, the oldest and still operating Guinness factory is located in Dublin. If you enjoy museums, don’t forget visit to EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum.

From the Book of Kells housed in Trinity College to the bustling atmosphere of Temple Bar, Dublin offers a rich cultural experiences, making it an unmissable destination on any traveller’s list.

Since you’ll have plenty of time in Dublin, I recommend you also explore the Southeast region of Ireland. The coastal cities of Wexford, Waterford, and Arklow are charming places if you want to get out of crowded and touristy areas.

Things to do in Dublin and Southeast

Accommodations in Dublin

  • Affordable:
  • Mid-range:
  • Luxury:
2 images - on the right is the lush green Cliff's of Moher along the coastline in Ireland. On the left is the colourful cobbled stone on the street in Dublin

Belfast and Derry for 4 days

Belfast and Derry, rich in history and resilience, offer profound insights into Northern Ireland’s complex past. With its Titanic legacy and charming waterfront, Belfast showcases a city reborn from dark history.

Derry’s ancient walls are a must-see, and its vibrant murals capture unforgettable moments of recent history. Both cities balance their rich heritage with an interesting arts scene, lively pubs, and warm hospitality.

I recommend you choose one base; either Belfast or Derry, which will save you time. Staying in Derry might be better, especially if your next destination is Galway.

On the other hand, the famous Giant Causeway can be visited either from Belfast or Derry, a vital site during your 3 weeks in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The drive between these two cities is around 1 hr and 30 minutes, so it’s not insane to plan a day trip instead of changing hotels every other day.

The drive from Dublin to Belfast is around 2 hours; the bus ride is 2 hr and 30 minutes. From Dublin to Derry is 3 hr and 20 minutes, and the bus is around 5 hours.

Things to do in Belfast

Things to do in Derry

  • Derry City Walls
  • Guildhall
  • Tower Museum
  • Peace Bridge
  • St. Columb’s Cathedral
  • Free Derry Corner
  • The People’s Gallery
  • Museum of Free Derry
  • The Siege Museum
  • Ebrington Square
  • Foyle Bridge
  • Workhouse Museum
  • St. Augustine’s Church
  • Brooke Park
  • Discover the city via a private walking tour
  • Explore the Bogside Artists’ Murals – compare this tour and this one
  • Derry’s Girl Filming Location – listen to the behind-the-scenes stories through this guided tour
  • Enjoy a full-day trip into the world of ‘Game of Thrones’

Accommodations in Belfast

Accommodations in Derry

2 images - the rocks on the Giant Causeway overlooking the water. on the right is the tower at Blarney Castle

Galway and Northwest for 4 days

The northwest of Ireland is a bit off-the-beaten-path. This means it’s an incredible area to discover if you prefer to take a break from busy cities and explore unknown regions. There’s a town called Castlebar. Just outside it are glamping areas of buildings looking like Hobbit houses.

Galway, the ‘City of Tribes,’ dances to its own rhythm, blending traditional Irish culture and contemporary flair. With its remarkable medieval streets, lively arts scene, and proximity to the beauty of Connemara and the Cliffs of Moher, it’s a city that you must visit.

As the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way, Galway hosts world-famous festivals, inviting pubs, and a seaside charm that’s truly unforgettable.

The bus from Derry to Galway is 5 hr and 30 minutes. If you’re driving, it’s 4 hours. At the same time, a trip from Belfast to Galway is longer. The drive is 4 hours, and the bus is 5 hr and 30 minutes, which requires going through Dublin.

2 images - on the left is the landscape and mountain top in Killarney National Park. On the right the King John Castle

Things to do in Galway and Northwest

  • Eyre Square
  • Galway Cathedral
  • Galway City Museum
  • Lynch’s Castle
  • St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church
  • Galway Atlantaquaria
  • Galway Arts Centre
  • Kirwan’s Lane
  • Galway Bay
  • Day trip to Cliffs of Moher & The Burren
  • Day trip to Connemara National Park & Kylemore Abbey
  • Day trip to Inis Mór (largest of the Aran Islands)
  • Day trip to Lough Corrib
  • Day trip to The Wild Atlantic Way coastal route
  • Dunguaire Castle
  • Aran Islands – enjoy a cruise around the islands and Cliffs of Moher
  • Stroll down Quay Street
  • Enjoy a full-day tour to Connemara and Cong
  • Visit the Latin Quarter
  • Join a cruise trip across the River Corrib and onto Lough Corrib.
  • Walk along the Salthill Promenade
  • See the Spanish Arch
  • Discover the city while riding an eBike
  • Learn about local dishes and ingredients – join a food tour
  • Explore Galway Market

Accommodations in Galway

Limerick for 3 days

Limerick, located on the River Shannon, seamlessly mix its medieval past with urban charm. Home to the iconic King John’s Castle and the ancient Treaty Stone, the city is a place for history, nature, and culture.

The Hunt Museum offers wonderful art and antiquities if you’re looking, while the Milk Market is the place to go for local flavours. With its rich literary heritage and rugby (yep, the sport) passion, Limerick is a captivating crossroad of Irish culture and history.

From Galway to Limerick, it’s 1 hour and 20 minutes drive, 2 hours by bus covering 94.5 km. It’s a scenic drive, so start your road trip late in the morning to enjoy the view better.

Things to do in Limerick

  • The Hunt Museum
  • St. Mary’s Cathedral
  • Limerick City Gallery of Art
  • University of Limerick
  • Lough Gur
  • Frank McCourt Museum
  • People’s Park
  • Limerick Museum
  • Adare Village
  • The Crescent Shopping Centre
  • Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum
  • Visit King John’s Castle – Join a walking tour through the city
  • Book a guided tour to Cliffs of Moher
  • Explore The Hunt Museum – purchase the ticket beforehand
  • Shop at Limerick Milk Market
  • Explore the beauty of the Dingle Peninsula via a full-day tour
  • Walk along or enjoy kayaking at the River Shannon
  • Book a ticket to a Medieval Banquet at Bunratty Castle
  • Discover the Bunratty Castle and Folk Park – skip the line by booking a ticket
  • Tour Thomond Park

Accommodations in Limerick

Killarney and Cork for 4 days

Killarney and Cork, situated in Ireland’s scenic southwest, are gems waiting to be explored. Killarney, the gateway to the famed Ring of Kerry, is where you will find the Killarney National Park, filled with lakes, mountains, and ancient castles. For The Hobbit fans, don’t miss a chance to get an ale at The Shire Bar & Cafe.

Meanwhile, Cork, the country’s foodie capital, delights with its English Market and spirited local festivals. Walk around the waterways and bridges, and discover the history of the legendary Blarney Stone.

This is a perfect area to finish your 3 weeks in Ireland and Northern Ireland since this part is less touristy, giving you some peace and quiet. Go for a drive along the coast or plan a sunrise hike – the best way to wrap up your vacation in this part of Europe.

Things to do in Killarney

Things to do in Cork

  • University College Cork (UCC)
  • Fitzgerald Park
  • Blackrock Castle Observatory
  • Elizabeth Fort
  • Cork Opera House
  • Red Abbey Tower
  • Shandon Bells & Tower
  • Fota Wildlife Park
  • Nano Nagle Place
  • The Butter Museum
  • Lewis Glucksman Gallery
  • Discover the city through this guided tour
  • Join a day tour to Ring of Kerry and Killarney National Park
  • The English Market
  • Enjoy the developing culinary scene in the city – book a culinary tour
  • Book a ticket to Jameson Distillery and enjoy the whiskey tasting
  • Kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle
  • Cork City Gaol – check ticket availability
  • Visit St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral
  • Enjoy a full-day trip from Cork to the majestic Cliffs of Moher and the Burren
  • Join a shore excursion to Blarney Castle and Kinsale
  • Walk along the River Lee
  • Experience a Dinner Theatre Show in the city

Accommodations in Killarney

Accommodations in Cork


3 images - on the left is boxty, in the middle is Irish stew, on the right is Irish coffee - 3 Weeks in Ireland and Northern Ireland Itinerary

Irish cuisine might not be the most remarkable, but some dishes are worth a try! Try the Irish stew or the tasty boxty, and see which one is better. Don’t forget a pint of Guinness or punchy Irish coffee if you drink.

  • Irish Stew: A hearty dish made with lamb or mutton, potatoes, carrots, onions, and sometimes parsnips.
  • Ulster Fry: A substantial breakfast featuring sausages, bacon, eggs, black and white pudding, and potato farls.
  • Boxty: A traditional potato pancake, sometimes described as a mix between hash browns and pancakes.
  • Coddle: A Dublin favourite, made with sausages, rashers (bacon), onions, and potatoes.
  • Colcannon: Creamy mashed potatoes mixed with kale or cabbage.
  • Champ: Mashed potatoes with spring onions, butter, cheese, and sometimes ham.
  • Barmbrack: A sweet bread filled with raisins and sultanas, traditionally eaten around Halloween.
  • Fifteens: A Northern Irish treat made from marshmallows, biscuits, and cherries.
  • Irish Apple Tart: A classic pie with a rich, buttery crust and a tangy apple filling.
  • Carrageen Moss Pudding: A delicate dessert made from seaweed, milk, and sweetening agents.
  • Irish Coffee: A mix of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, and sugar, topped with cream.
  • Guinness: A world-famous Irish stout beer originating from Dublin.


As the final touches to your Irish escapade come together; remember: Ireland and Northern Ireland offer more than just picturesque landscapes; the locals are friendly and all quite a character.

Don’t rush – since it’s a smaller region, you can really take your time and travel or drive around slower and take as many stops along the way. Ireland is not a super busy destination, which means it’s a great place to simply enjoy the nature, history, and food.

I hope that the itinerary for 3 weeks in Ireland and Northern Ireland has helped plan and create your own trip.


Discover Ireland affordably in 3 weeks! Explore Dublin's vibrant culture, marvel at the Cliffs of Moher, visit historic castles in County Kerry, and indulge in traditional Irish cuisine. Opt for budget accommodations like hostels or guesthouses. via @threeweektraveller