Castletown House
Castletown House in County Kildare. Photo: Macmillan Media, Tourism Ireland.

Dublin to Galway in Three Days: 8 Attractions You’ll Love

Updated May 2024–Have you ever driven from Dublin to Galway in three days?

irelandonabudget.comThis post contains affiliate links, and I may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.

The journey, if done in one day, would typically take about 2 hours and 45 minutes.

But this one is intended to take much longer, allowing you to stop off at places along the way, most of them in a region of Ireland known as The Midlands.

To complete this journey, you'll need a rental car.

Most tourists to Ireland rent a car at either Dublin Airport or Shannon Airport.

DAY #1:
Tourist Attraction: Irish National Stud and Gardens

Leave Dublin early in the morning to get a head start on your Dublin to Galway in three days adventure.

The first stop is about a 45-minute drive from Dublin.

The Irish National Stud & Gardens in County Kildare. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

Located in the heart of what is known as the “Thoroughbred County, the Irish National Stud and Gardens in Kildare is a popular attraction for both tourists and the Irish themselves, and indeed for anyone interested in learning more about Ireland’s reputation for breeding some of the world’s finest horse breeds.

In fact, the Irish National Stud & Gardens is home to a select group of stallions, who have each won some of the world’s most prestigious races.

A free guided tour is available when you purchase a ticket, although private tours are also available.

Foals at the National Stud & Gardens in Kildare. Photo: Copyright Caroline Norris for Failte Ireland.

Many people coincide their visit to the attraction between February and May when over 300 foals take their first steps each year.

You may be lucky to see the newborn foals with their mothers, a magical experience.

The Irish Racehorse Experience is a relatively new attraction located on the stud farm.

The beautiful Japanese gardens, created between 1906 and 1910, are an equally sought-after site to visit in this part of Ireland.

St. Fiachra’s Garden is part of that and was designed to pay tribute to Ireland’s rich monastic heritage. It is named after St. Fiachra, the patron saint of gardens.


Booking.com

Lunch: Hartes of Kildare

Expect hearty, well-prepared dishes made from sustainable, traceable ingredients at this award-winning gastropub in the town of Kildare. The lunch menu is vegetarian friendly and also contains several vegan and gluten-free options.

Tourist Attraction: Newbridge Silverware Visitor Centre, Newbridge, Co. Kildare

No visit to County Kildare is complete without a visit to the beautiful Newbridge Silverware Visitor Centre.

irelandonabudget.com
The Newbridge Visitor Centre. Photo: Newbridge Silverware Facebook.

The center is a 30-minute drive south on the N7 from the Castletown Inn.

Before you feast your eyes on the beautiful gifts, including the exquisite Newbridge jewelry, be sure to see the Museum of Style Icons, which is housed within the center.

This is a treasure trove of beautiful garments and accessories worn by some of the world’s best-known celebrities.

The collection was started by the company’s CEO and it has grown since it was established in 2006.

irelandonabudget.com
Celebrity clothing on display at the Newbridge Silverware Museum of Style Icons. Photo courtesy of Tourism Ireland.

Some of the items you’ll see on display include a Givenchy-designed dress worn by the late Princess Grace on her visit to Ireland in 1961 and during her visit to the White House that same year; the world’s largest collection of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe memorabilia; a satin wedding dress worn by Judy Garland in the movie, “The Pirate;” as well as a blouse worn by the late Princess Diana of Wales for her engagement portrait.

Take a factory tour and then browse the collection of gift items available in the Newbridge Silverware shop.

You can also look for gifts and jewelry online.

Explore Castles & Countryside in Ireland in 2024 with Aer Lingus Vacations

Tourist Attraction: Croghan Hill, Co. Offaly

From Newbridge, take the R419 to Croghan Hill, which is about a 35-minute drive.

irelandonabudget.com
The view of the Bog of Allen from Croghan Hill in Co. Offaly where Old Croghan Man was discovered. Photo: Sarah777, Wikimedia Commons.

Croghan Hill is basically the remains of an extinct volcano that rose from the Bog of Allen about 60 million years ago.

The real treat, however, is the commanding view of the surrounding countryside that you will get from the top.

While Ireland is not known for volcanic activity, there are several sites of interest that show the remains of such.

irelandonabudget.com
The rugged landscape of Slieve Gullion in County Armagh. Photo: Ron Murray, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11287006

They include Slieve Gullion in County Armagh, Mount Slemish in County Antrim, Lambay Island off the coast of Dublin, and Loch na Fooey located in both Counties Mayo and Galway.

The mound at the summit of Croghan Hill is considered the remains of a Bronze Age burial place.

The area also has a strong association with both Saint Patrick (there’s a holy well to his name nearby that is signposted) and Saint Bridget, Ireland’s unofficial female patron saint as she was apparently born in the area.

The O’Connors of Offaly, the area’s local chieftains at one time, had a main residence here, and it was where their leaders were crowned.

the remains of a man Dublin to Galway in three days
“Old Croghan Man” was found near Croghan Hill in Co. Offaly. Photo courtesy of National Museum of Ireland.

This area is also where the perfectly preserved Iron Age body, “Old Croghan Man,” was found in 2003. Researchers believed he died between 362 BC and 175 BC.

You'll be fascinated to hear the whole story of Old Croghan Man on the Irish History Podcast.

Dinner: Sirroco’s Italian Restaurant, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

After a long day of touring, you deserve a top-class dining experience.

You’ll get that at the award-winning Sirroco's Italian restaurant in the heart of Tullamore, the most central of Ireland’s towns.

Tullamore is a 29-minute drive from Croghan Hill via the R420.

irelandonabudget.com
Photo courtesy of Sirrocco's Restaurant Facebook.

While Sirroco’s is Italian, it’s got a definite Irish flair to it. All of its food is locally sourced, including seafood from Co. Donegal and the best of Ireland’s beef.

Suggested Accommodation: Bridge House Hotel, Spa and Leisure Club, Tullamore.

DAY 2:
Tourist Attraction: Tullamore DEW Distillery, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Whiskey tourism has taken on a life of its own these days as distilleries pop up all over the country and attract more and more international visitors.

Among the popular distilleries to visit on your Dublin to Galway in three days trip is Tullamore DEW, which is the second-largest selling brand of Irish whiskey on the market.

irelandonabudget.com
Be sure to stop at The Tullamore Heritage Centre in Tullamore, Co. Offaly on your Dublin to Galway in three days tour. Photo courtesy of Tourism Ireland.

The distillery was established in 1829 by Michael Molloy.

It wasn’t until the early 1900s that Daniel E. Williams, who started his career as a stable boy in the 1870s and worked his way up to general manager, took over the running of the company.

irelandonabudget.com
A cask bearing the Tullamore Dew brand. Photo: By CherryX per Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26357080

It is where the acronym DEW, used in the whiskey’s brand name, comes from.

You can take guided tours of the distillery, where you will learn about the three-pronged process the distillery uses to create its unique flavors.

Tourist Attraction: Sean’s Bar, Main Street, Athlone

The 35-minute drive from Tullamore to Athone via the R420 and connecting to the M6 motorway will take you to Sean's Bar, the oldest pub in Ireland and indeed Europe, dating back to 900 AD.

irelandonabudget.com
Sean's Bar is the oldest pub in Europe. Photo: Melanie K. Reed Photography, https://www.flickr.com/photos/mlukesh/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Its age was verified in 1970 during an excavation that revealed walls made of ancient wattle and daub, dating back to at least the 9th century.

Once inside, grab a pint and take a look at the ancient artifacts on display in this hugely popular spot.

They include part of the original walls that were exposed during the excavation and others in a corner of the pub that also includes modern-day mementoes from visitors who have stopped by.

Coins were also discovered during that excavation but are now housed at the National Museum of History in Dublin.

Lunch: The Left Bank Bistro

Lots of delicious lunch offerings at this popular bistro in Athlone's Left Bank Quarter.

All menus include vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. The restaurant is also wheelchair-friendly.

Tourist Attraction: Viking Cruise from Athlone to Clonmacnoise

Take it slowly for part of the day and enjoy a Viking cruise along the shores of Lough Ree that will take you to the sacred monastic site, Clonmacnoise courtesy of Viking Tours.

irelandonabudget.com
Athlone Castle. Photo: Fennell Photography for Tourism Ireland.

The cruise, voted number 1 on TripAdvisor, takes 90 minutes.

Sailings from Athlone Castle take place between May and October each year and are only available on specific dates and times. You can enjoy live commentary, as well as access to a snack shop and a bar.

a lake Dublin to Galway in three days
Lough Ree, which serves as a border between Counties Longford and Westmeath. Photo: Levers2007 for Getty Images Signature.

Tickets can be purchased online or the day of the cruise, but be sure to check the website beforehand as sailings are weather- and water level-dependent. Admission is €30 for adults, €15 for children, and €100 for a family of seven.

Clonmacnoise is a must-see on your Dublin to Galway in three days journey.

The mid-6th century monastic site was founded by St. Ciaran.

It includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches, two round towers, three high crosses and the largest collection of Early Christian grave slabs to be found anywhere else in Europe.

a Celtic cross Dublin to Galway in three days
The remains of a church and Celtic cross at Clonmacnoise. Photo: Kevin Griffin for Failte Ireland.

You can see the slabs in the visitor center, as well as other exhibitions, including its centerpiece, the Cross of the Scriptures.

Clonmacnoise was a major center of religion and learning, with many written works created at the site.

round tower Dublin to Galway in three days
Clonmacnoise cemetery with the Shannon river in the background. Photo: Liam Murphy for Failte Ireland.

It flourished for at least 600 years and the monks who lived there created some of the most beautiful Celtic art and illuminated manuscripts in the world.

This is a truly awe-inspiring, peaceful place to fit into your itinerary. You won’t be disappointed.

Viking Cruises also runs the Lough Ree and Hodson Bay Cruise departing from Athlone Castle and Hodson Bay and are offered more frequently than the Clonmacnoise cruise. Tickets are flexible, meaning they can be used at any time during the tourist season.

Dinner: The Fatted Calf, Church Street, Athlone

The Fatted Calf is one of several great restaurants among Athlone’s burgeoning culinary scene.

food Dublin to Galway in three days
Photo courtesy of The Fatted Calf Facebook.

The food is stellar here and like so many other restaurants across Ireland these days, all food is sourced locally.

Find Your Rental Car
Suggested Accommodation: The Shearwater Hotel & Spa, Ballinasloe.irelandonabudget.com

DAY 3:
Tourist Attraction: Irish Workhouse Centre, Portumna, Co. Galway

The journey to this poignant place is about a 42-minute drive from Athlone via the M6 motorway and the R355 secondary road, which is a bit of a detour from the official Dublin to Galway road journey.

Expect to spend several hours at the Irish Workhouse Centre, which documents what life was like for local families during the Famine.

Between 1840 and 1858, there were 163 workhouses in Ireland. This was the largest building project the British established in Ireland to provide social relief to the poor and destitute.

a large building Dublin to Galway in three days
The Irish Workhouse Centre in Portumna, Co. Galway. Photo: Brian Morrison for Failte Ireland.

Visitors are guided through the original workhouse buildings, which opened in 1852, and are shown a short film on life in the workhouse.

a door opening up to a room Dublin to Galway in three days
The interior of the Irish Workhouse Centre, Portumna, now renovated and where residents slept. Photo: Brian Morrison, Failte Ireland/Tourism Ireland.

You’ll begin your tour in the boardroom, where the Board of Guardians regularly met, then a guide will take you to the waiting room, where people stood to be admitted.

Women and men were separated as were children if they were old enough.

It was a tragic end for many.

The center is open 7 days a week from March 1st through Oct. 31. Tours are provided at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Admission is €12 for adults, €8 for seniors and students, and €25 for a family of four. Children under 7 are admitted free and kids between 7 and 12 are charged €6.

Get Wifi in Ireland with Wifi Candy – take 10% off with code IOB2024

Tourist Attraction: Thoor Ballylee, Gort, Co. Galway

A visit to Thoor Ballylee, the summer home of William Butler Yeats, is a welcome transition from the somber surroundings of the workhouse in Portumna.

The late Seamus Heaney, also a celebrated Irish poet, once called this place the most important building in Ireland.

The 14th-century Norman tower was once the home of Yeats, who paid £35 for the run-down property in 1917.

He lived there during the summer months only. Following his departure in 1929, the tower began to deteriorate again.

a castle Dublin to Galway in three days
Thor Ballylee in Co. Galway, a stop on your Dublin to Galway in three days journey. Photo: Derek Cullen for Failte Ireland.

Today, it has been tastefully restored inside in a way that is similar to the style of the early 20th century.

Climb to the top of the tower and take in the surrounding South Galway countryside as well as the Burren in Co. Clare.

You can get to the top by climbing the winding staircase that inspired Yeats’ volume of poems titled “The Winding Stair.”

an archway Dublin to Galway in three days
A peek into the interior of the renovated Thoor Ballylee. Photo: Keith Ewing, https://www.flickr.com/photos/kewing/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

An audio-visual presentation recounts the life and times of Yeats and is available in several languages.

Outside, you can take a walk along the river and explore the nearby mill.

Admission is $7 per adult. For groups of 10 or more, admission is €5 each. Thoor Ballylee is open from April through September only.

Tourist Attraction: Dunguaire Castle, Kinvara, Co. Galway

Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara, Co. Galway is temporarily closed right now, but it still makes for a good place to stretch your legs and take a photo.

a castle Dublin to Galway in three days
Dunguaire Castle in Co. Galway. Photo: Bernd Thaller, https://www.flickr.com/photos/bernd_thaller/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

This 16th-century castle/tower house was built in 1520 by the Hynes clan, descendants of King Guaire of Connacht, who died several centuries before, in 663 AD and is buried in Clonmacnoise, the attraction you'll have visited earlier in your journey.

a stone fireplace Dublin to Galway in three days
The interior of Dunguaire Castle, one of the attractions you can see on your Dublin to Galway in three days journey. Photo: Jeremy Polanski, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jpolanski50/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Hynes clan who originally owned it were in a bitter fight against the Normans and the English at the time.

Little is known about its construction, but 100 years later, it was gifted to Oliver Martyn, who had shown loyalty to the crown.

Martyn's son, Richard, later became mayor of Galway,

In 1924, it was bought and restored by the surgeon and writer Oliver St. Gogarty and became the place for the literary giants of the day to gather.

They included George Bernard Shaw, J.M. Synge, WB Yeats, Lady Gregory, and others.

Lunch: Moran’s Oyster Cottage, Kilcolgan, Co. Galway

No visit to County Galway is complete without tasting the excellent oysters, brown soda bread, and other offerings at Moran’s Oyster Cottage in Kilcolgan.

a thatched cottage Dublin to Galway in three days
Moran's Oyster Cottage in Kilcolgan, Co. Galway, where you can stop off for lunch on your Dublin to Galway in three days adventure. Photo: Catherine Cronin – https://www.flickr.com/photos/catherinecronin/14516235561, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48221919

Moran’s Oyster Cottage is a family business that has been around since 1790 and is popular among locals and visitors alike, especially during Galway’s Oyster Festival.

Take a look at the menu here.

The drive to Galway City from here will take approximately 30 minutes.

Have you driven from Dublin to Galway while vacationing in Ireland? If so, let me know the sights and sounds that you experienced on your journey.

colette

Colette is a County Sligo native who created Ireland on a Budget to provide her readers with money-saving tips on how to get to Ireland and then save even more when they're there. She's a professional copywriter who lives in the New York area with her husband and two children.

Leave a Reply