Crisscrossing Ireland in a rental car is not really such a bad way to go when it comes to taking in the depth and breadth of Ireland. In a country roughly the size of Indiana, driving is a practical way to see a lot in a limited amount of time.
After landing in the eclectic, friendly big city of Dublin (and a stop at Guinness's Open Gate Brewery, shown here), our Irish journey took us from the extreme north of Giant's Causeway and the modern-history infused city of Belfast, to the artsy southern city of Cork and to the west, to Galway and Cong. Make up your own path through this lovely country, but make time to explore the many small villages and embrace the delightful surprises and people you'll find along the way.
From a car you can take in a number of cities and see the country's remarkable diversity of landscape: from green fields dotted with cows and sheep to the dramatic sea and coastline in a drive from the north to the south of the country. Best of all, a drive allows you to make wonderful discoveries along the way, like the charming garden shop and restaurant Strandfield we stumbled upon on the drive between Belfast and Cork, a combination florist, grocer, gift shop and farm-to-table cafe with gorgeous wood tables and vintage china where you can stop for tea and a snack, browse the curated, high-end groceries and giftware and marvel at the parking lot filled with country gentry and their Jags, Mercedes and Audis buying bread and flowers for their tables.