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2 week trip to Ireland, Scotland, England

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Hi there!
I'm a first-time Europe traveller and I am seeking some help for my itinerary. I am a 23 year old female who will be traveling with 2 other 23 year old females (one also a first-timer, the other not, all three pretty avid travelers in the States).

We are hoping to see Ireland, Scotland, and England. We are planning the trip for August, which we know may not be the ideal time, but it works for us with vacation days so we're seizing the opportunity. (So please don't suggest a different month).

We are some-what flexible for dates. We are hoping to leave around the 8th or 9th of August and return sometime in the week of 23rd. We need to be back for sure by the 26th for a wedding. So there's potential to stretch the trip a couple of days (i.e. 16/17 days instead of 14).

What is the best route to take if we are hoping to see those three countries? Major cities we hope to see are Dublin, Edinburgh, and London.

Does it make more sense to fly to London from the U.S., travel by train to Edinburgh, and then fly to Dublin -- fly home? If we are hoping to see some of the countryside in Ireland or Scotland, what is the best suggestion there? Should we rent a car? What stops should we see and what should be miss? What are experiences on day trips that are guided? We are more of solo travelers looking for authentic experiences, might not be super excited about a group tour bus trip so helpful hints to avoid that would be great.

Open to any suggestions about places to stay (budget friendly!) or things to do. Honestly, we would just like some help for a realistic route since we aren't familiar with Europe travel. Thanks!

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    Ok, just to be clear London is way bigger than the other two cities and has more "stuff" to do, but of course there are more people in the way. So fly into London an give it at least 5 nights. You can do tours out to a variety of places or just catch the train. London public transport and English public transport is pretty good and very dense. Depending on cash you can stay in nice but simple hotels like premierinn.com or ibis.com or hostels like the yha.org.uk or yoiu can go grungier. choosing where to stay in London is a bit tricky (there is too much choice) but as long as you are near a "tube" or a busy bus stop you will be fine. Have a look at prices and come back to review options. Of course you may want a flat but you will get fewer concierge type services.

    Edinburgh, will be in the middle of two major festivals while you are there, so rooms are going to be tricky but book soon and you could be in for a party of your life. Taking a tour from Edinburgh is a good way to minimise car rental costs yet get out where the buses give out. Min 3 nights here. How to get here, catch the train from London (cheaper if you book early see seat61.com)

    Fly to Dublin (Ryanair should be good price). 3 good nights is good for the city then hire a car to visit places. Take as few clothes as possible because Ryanair will hit you luggage transport as the standard with them is far lower than for crossing the pond. You are in Euro land now so your second currency, look for B&Bs in Dublin or stay out of town on the "Dart" and come in for fun.

    Look up the "pub" and how to behave in one in Ireland and the UK to get the best fun.

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    Edinburgh in August = make your plans ASAP.

    August is festival month and Edinburgh visitors outnumber residents by 2-1 that month.

    Note that London is about 5x the size of Dublin and Edinburgh combined - cities are not equivalent just because they're cities.

    If you're in London for 5+ days (and London is worth far more) then check out the Days Out Guide (www.daysoutguide.co.uk), print all the vouchers that you want (one for each of you), bring passport-size photos to England, and get paper travel cards. With 2 admissions for the price of 1 at the Tower or Hampton Court Palace that means the three of you will ultimately have to pay two full-price entries, which is a lot better than three considering that the places that charge admission in London charge a lot (there are MANY sites that charge no admission fee).

    <<Does it make more sense to fly to London from the U.S., travel by train to Edinburgh, and then fly to Dublin -- fly home?>>

    That's prudent, especially considering that with Dublin on one end of the trip, not the middle, you won't have to constantly change currencies. Easier to travel GBP, GBP, Euro than GBP, Euro, GBP.

    <<If we are hoping to see some of the countryside in Ireland or Scotland, what is the best suggestion there?>>

    This is vague. There are various trains that go through countryside but you should have a notion of what you want to visit too.

    <<Should we rent a car?>>

    Not for the cities. Probably unnecessary overall depending upon where you go and what you want to do. Right now, it seems you're concentrating on cities with day trips to the countryside and that doesn't warrant car hires.

    <<What stops should we see and what should be miss?>>

    This question is unanswerable. You should see what you like and miss what you don't. Check the various guidebooks and get ideas, then come back and toss up trial balloons here.

    <<What are experiences on day trips that are guided?>>

    Huh? If you're asking about good guided daytrips, Scotland has various companies that run them. Rabbies is frequently lauded on this forum and its groups tend to be manageable (15 or so), not massive (45 old buggers sitting on a bus).

    For Ireland, look here: https://railtoursireland.com/tours-of-ireland-day-tours.

    For London, www.walks.com does day trips and guided perambulations within London.

    And the notion of "budget-friendly" is meaningless - state a nightly lodging budget in dollars.

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