Two for the Road
The best way to see Ireland’s verdant countryside is by driving right through it. You’ll never think of green in the same way again.
Days 1–2: Dublin
Check into one of the refined rooms at the award-winning Merrion hotel (from $350; merrionhotel.com). Then explore the city: Take a pint break at the ornate Long Hall pub; go book browsing at Hodges Figgis; and do some time at Kilmain-ham Gaol, the prison dating back to 1796. Book a dinner reservation before your trip at Michelin-starred Chapter One (chapteronerestaurant.com), located in the basement of the Dublin Writers Museum.
Day 3: Mayo
Pay a visit to New-grange—a UNESCO prehistoric site that predates the Egyptian pyramids—then drive west toward Connemara County. Book an opulent room at Ashford Castle (from $209 to $253; ashford.ie), then drive to Connemara National Park, visit the walled Victorian gardens of Kylemore Abbey, and watch sheepdogs at work on Joe Joyce’s third-generation sheep farm.
Days 4–5: Galway
Stay at the modern House Hotel (from $133; thehousehotel.ie) in this dynamic coastal city. Stroll along the seaside promenade and enjoy an haute-locavore feast at Aniar (aniarrestaurant.ie). Take a ferry to the Aran Islands (Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer), where Ireland’s iconic cable-knit sweaters are produced.
Days 6–7: Dingle
Use Adare Manor, a nineteenth-century manor house that’s now a luxury hotel, as your base (from $235; adaremanor.com). Explore the Dingle Peninsula by bike or car, making sure to stop at Conor, the highest mountain pass in Ireland. Sample local oysters and frosty pints at Lord Baker’s, then head to Dingle favorite, the Chart House, for dinner (thecharthousedingle.com).
Days 8–9: Cork
Check into the five-star boutique hotel Hayfield Manor (from $187; hayfieldmanor.com) before wandering the manicured gardens of the historic Bantry House. See the ancient architecture of Holy Trinity Church, then follow the droves of tourists to kiss the famed Blarney Stone.
Days 10–11: Bray
Take long hikes amid the lush surroundings in Wicklow Mountains National Park; wander around the castle and gardens of massive estate Powerscourt (don’t miss Powerscourt Waterfall, Ireland’s highest); and relax among the dunes at Brittas Bay Beach. Retire to a room at the Martello (from $94; themartello.ie) in the seaside town of Bray, and catch a performance at the Mermaid County Wicklow Arts Centre. From there, the drive back to the Dublin airport is only about 30 minutes.
From the Summer 2013 New York Wedding Guide