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Republic of Ireland: In Two Weeks

With 2 weeks, your visit to Ireland will be much more relaxed. You can stretch out a bit more in your travels, heading to less crowded counties, with more time to meet the locals. In your second week, head up to Galway, Mayo, and Donegal, taking time to smell the heather along the way.

Days 1 through 7

Follow the "In One Week" itinerary.

Day 8: County Clare

After spending Day 7 exploring Clare, you'll discover that you need more time to really get the most out of this big, varied place. On Day 8, you can explore whichever section you skipped yesterday. Wander the castles of Clare -- Bunratty, Dromoland, and Knappogue -- and consider indulging in one of their medieval banquets held nightly in summer. They're unsurprisingly expensive, but also good fun. Abbey lovers should take the time for the mile-long walk to the exquisite Corcomroe Abbey.

Day 9: County Clare to Galway City

This morning, drive up from Clare to Galway City (it will take around an hour), and spend a relaxing day walking the delightful streets of this artsy, vibrant town. Shop for stemware at the Galway Irish Crystal Heritage Centre, and wander the waterfront. Spend the afternoon relaxing and shopping for locally made arts and crafts, or lingering over pints at the sunny Front Door Pub. If you don't need the rest, and you want to stay busy, take a cruise out to the misty Aran Islands, or head down to explore Yeats's old country home Thoor Ballylee.

Day 10: County Galway

Start early today, and strike out for the tiny R336, the best road for exploring the craggy Galway Coastline. Stop by the pretty little town of Spiddal, where plentiful adorable little shops sell Aran sweaters and other Irish knits -- my favorite shop is Standun. Follow signs to the cliff-top town of Clifden, which has spectacular views and lots of good restaurants and pubs, making it a good place to break for lunch, and a spot of crafts shopping at Fuchsia Craft. I love to see the countryside from horseback, and Cleggan Riding Centre offers great horseback tours.

Day 11: County Mayo

Driving up from Galway, the scenery stays spectacular in Mayo, where the rocky shoreline plunges down to the cobalt sea in glorious fashion. Head up to the south Mayo town of Westport, which sits at the edge of a picturesque river, and is a delightful, peaceful place to wander. From there, you drive across the flatlands, a strangely empty landscape, toward Achill Island; the drive along the coast and out across a bridge to the island is slow and windy, but the views are fantastic. Spend a relaxing afternoon and evening exploring the island, before climbing into a comfortable bed at The Bervie, where the sea is right outside the door.

Day 12: County Mayo to Donegal

Drive up through Mayo and the quiet farmland of Sligo to the rugged landscape of Donegal. Head up the coast past Donegal Town until you catch the N15 road, and then follow it around the breathtaking coastline to the busy hill town of Ballyshannon, which has excellent crafts shops and glorious views from the top of the hill. The adventurous can explore for the Catsby Cave, a picturesque grotto at the edge of the Abbey River. But here the drive is really the thing, so drive on to the darling town of Glencolumbkille. There's an excellent folk park here that's well worth an hour of your time before you head on to the stone-cut town of Ardara at the foot of a steep hill -- it's wall-to-wall arts-and-crafts shops, and is a pleasure to explore. From there it's around an hour's drive to the Fanad, a scenic drive around Lough Swilly. Follow it around to Rathmullan, a quiet, lakefront village, and spend the night there at relaxing Rathmullan House.

Day 13: Donegal

You've been traveling a great deal, so today should be a rest day. Spend the morning walking along the lake, or take a horseback tour down its sandy beaches (Rathmullan House arranges excellent horseback treks for adults and pony treks for children). After you've recharged your batteries, in the afternoon go for a drive around the lake and explore the little villages: Rathmelton is a picturesque town with stone cottages mirrored in the glassy lake, while Dunfanaghy is adorable and has an excellent beach -- perfect for an afternoon swim.

Day 14: Heading home

If your flight leaves late, you could rise early and spend the morning driving up to Malin Head, the northernmost tip of Ireland; a wild and woolly place just a couple of hours' drive from Rathmullan. From there, expect the drive to the airport to take at least 4 hours, but allow plenty of time in case of traffic backups around Dublin -- they're virtually constant.

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