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16 Days in Ireland: Itinerary Help Please!

16 Days in Ireland: Itinerary Help Please!

Old Mar 23rd, 2011, 02:53 PM
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16 Days in Ireland: Itinerary Help Please!

My life long dream of visiting Ireland is finally coming true this August. We arrive in Dublin extremely early on August 11 and fly out of Dublin the afternoon of August 27. I would like to see as much as possible but also have time to truly enjoy my time everywhere I go. Using Rick Steves' guide and tips from Fodor's I have come up with a VERY rough itinerary. I would love feedback from folks on here as you all really seem to know what you're talking about and I have no idea what I'm doing.

Day 1. Land in Dublin, go to hotel, explore
Day 2. Dublin
Day 3. Leave Dublin in rental car, Glendalough, Wicklow, Stop in Kilkenny
Day 4. Kilkenny, Rock of Cashel, Drive to Kinsale
Day 5. Kinsale, Blarney, Stop in Kenmare
Day 6. Killarney Natl Park, MuckRoss House, Stay in Kenmare
Day 7. Ring of Kerry, Stop in Dingle
Day 8. Dingle
Day 9. Dingle
Day 10. Cliffs of Moher, Burren, Stop in Galway
Day 11. Galway
Day 12. Aran Islands for the day/night
Day 13. Drive to Portrush
Day 14. Antrim Coast, Giant's Causeway, Stay in Portrush
Day 15. Belfast
Day 16. Either back to Dublin visiting Valley of the Boyne sights on the way, or use this day somewhere earlier in the trip and only do a day trip in Belfast and head down to Dublin same night.
Day 17. Fly out of Dublin

I really appreciate any feedback, suggestions, changes you have to offer! Thank you!
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Old Mar 24th, 2011, 04:59 AM
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I take it that the Rick Steves book is the reason for 3 days in Dingle. Personally I have little love for the book or the location. My choice would be to drop one of the Dingle nights and head to Doolin on Day 9 which would give you the Burren and Cliffs plus the ferry over to the Aran's and the ability to split the drive between Galway and Portrush. I would also consider dropping Kinsale to give extra time for this section. If you have a couple of days between Galway and the Antrim coast you could drive through the Connemara and Donegal rather than rushing up and across.
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Old Mar 24th, 2011, 05:21 AM
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As you seem to be trying to do as much of the country as possible, devoting three nights in Dingle might not be the best plan.
I would use the night, created by dropping Dingle to two nights, to break the long journey from Galway to the North Antrim coast. Without veering too much off the direct A to B line, you could visit County Sligo (Ben Bulben, Yeat's grave etc) and the County Fermanagh lakeland. A great overnight stop, if food is your thing, is McNean House in Blacklion, Co. Cavan; top class restaurant but advance booking absolutely essential.
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Old Mar 24th, 2011, 07:51 AM
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I disagree on Dingle - I love the area, and I found it very beautiful. Perhaps dropping one night will help, but I wouldn't skip it all together. However, I agree on dropping Kinsale. Do try to avoid the Green Blur tour - I know how tempting it is to try to see it ALL, but you must remember, this is an entire country you're trying to see in two weeks. You need to plan as if you will be back. you will! It's addicting

The drive to Portrush will be a very long day - use www.viamichelin.com to estimate driving distances, and then use 35mph as your average speed. Then add stops for sheep in the road, photos, bathroom breaks, meal breaks... you see what I mean.

I'd also consider skipping Northern Ireland this trip. While it is beautiful along the Antrim coast, it is also very out of the way for your other spots. I'd add another day to Kenmare, or Galway area, and then perhaps spend a day or two in the Boyne Valley area before getting back to Dublin. But that's me

I have been to Ireland three times, feel free to search my name for my trip reports. They are all here - and more with photos on my website, www.greendragonartist.com.
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Old Mar 24th, 2011, 09:50 AM
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Hi all:

It's been a while since I have hung out here, but it's good to say hello again. Oh, and hi Holly!

My reaction is that you spend 2/3-3/4 of your trip focusing on the bottom 1/3 of the country and a very small amount of time focusing on the top 2/3. People frequently focus that way and personally I tend to do one or the other, though one time I did an entire loop (long ago) in 18 days. I don't think I would do that again but I was new at this.

So my first thought is that I'm with Greendragon on this (good to see you again). I think NI and Donegal are spectacular but you are making the end of you trip a mad dash across a lot of beautiful territory and you could have a much more relxed holiday by staying south. If you must go north Here are some ideas.

I agree dropping Kinsale would be fine because something needs to go. While you are at it, drop Blarney Castle. One of the least interesting catsles and tourist traps in Ireland and likely to be mobbed in August with as long as 2 hours waits to kiss that stupid stone. I you want to see a well preserved castle see Cahir instead. You could see that as you cross country on you way to Kenmare. The Rock of Cashel would be another option, though not a Castle. Kilkenny to Kenmare is not a short drive but there would be lots to do to break it up on the way like the two features listed above.

You could also, as others have said, drop a day in Dingle. I agree with Greendragon that you can find plenty to do in Dingle for three days but you don't really have that much time.

It's a full day from Dingle to Galway via the Cliffs but doable. You will want to get an early start to do that. I've always been surprised at how long it takes to get to the Cliffs from Dingle, but 4 hours (taking into account timing to catch the ferry) is about right.

You don't want to overnight on Inishmore (or the others) and then drive to Portrush. Way too much. On the other hand, especially at that time of year, overnighting on the Arans is really the best way to enjoy them (another argument for not going north). August will be very crowded and the islands will be packed between 10-4 when the day trippers are there. If you are looking for a B&B, book now.

Finally, you could easily spend some time outside of Galway instead of Galway during the day. If you could only make a day trip to the Arans, then do it on the Galway day and spend the evening enjoying Galways nightlife. It's a college town and there is a lot of great tradition music to be found.

So potentially, with this you could add three days to the North part of the trip, perhaps spending a night in Co. Donegal on the way .... but still I would stay south the whole time.

A note: The Boyne Valley attractions are very interesting, but especially at that time of year you should arrive early in the day to make sure you can get in to see them. The tours for the whole day fill up quickly and arriving after 1 would probably leave you missing a chance to see them.

What you will miss if you don't go north. Giant's Causeway is the only truly unique landscape feature and it's certainly interesting but I wouldn't drive that far to see. Carrick-a-Rede is a wonderful place, but Ireland is loaded with wonderful places. Belfast has the interesting black cab tours which are a couple of hours of time worth, but doesn't have any more to offer than Dublin and again, not worth rushing a trip for in my view. The coast lines of Donegal are absolutley spectacular but save that for another trip because you could spend more time along the SW Cork coast which are equally amazing.

So, do yourself a favor I say, take the north out, spend a night on one of the Arans, more time in SW Cork and maybe go as far north as Westport if you must.

I have some thoughts on lodging ... but perhaps later.

I hope this helps.

Bill
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Old Mar 24th, 2011, 02:10 PM
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Wow, thank you all so much for the fabulous insight and suggestions. I'll definitely scratch Kinsale and Blarney (I can kiss a rock here in California with no wait line). Probably also do one less night in Dingle. While I would love to see the Antrim Coast, I was afraid that might be trying to pack too much into one trip. Top priority is definitely to fully experience Ireland, not just watch it go by out the rental car window. Looks like we'll just have to go for a second trip Bill, thank you for the detailed insight and tips, I am very interested in hearing your lodging suggestions! Green Dragon, your website and trip reports are amazing, your photography got me even more excited for this trip than I already was!
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Old Mar 24th, 2011, 03:14 PM
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Hi Holly:

As a possiblility if you are dropping the north, then you can certainly keep Kinsale and perhaps plan a route along the southern coast and stay around Baltimore. Also by dropping the north, I would schedule an overnight on the Aran Islands. The one downside to Kinsale would be that it would be terribly crowded in August, perhaps worse than other villages. It always seems to be under sonstruction though I haven't been there since Sept 2008.

With 16 days you will have a good amount of time to see some interesting things in the south. One option if you are near Baltimore is to take a short trip out to Sherkin or Clear Island. I've never done the boat trip around Fastnet Rock which in good weather would be spectacular.

Going back a few steps, there is a lot to see around Kilkenny and if you were looking to add a night, this would be an option. I like Ireland's smallest city and to the south and east there are some very interesting things to do.

Other options in the SE would be to take a trip out to the Crookhaven on the Mizen Peninsula. One of my favorite pubs, O'Sullivan's (for personal reason) sits in this classic little fishing village and it certainly won't be as crowded as the more well known and MUCH larger towns of Dingle and Kinsale. I've stayed out there before and it's really lovely and peaceful. I have a tendency to like to stay away from crowds which is why I've never traveled to Ireland in July or August (all the other months though).

Sheepshead Peninsula is a haven for walkers and very little else as the population dwindles significantly the closer you get to the tip. There is a cool lighthouse sitting on the rocks at the end that you can walk to an overlook to see. Don't blow off the edge.

A lot of folks opt for the Beara Peninsula over the Ring of Kerry (RoK) because again, less crowded and equally spectacular. One of the options of the RoK though is a trip out to Skellig Rocks which is an amazing adventure again, as long as the weather is good. The boat ride can be very uncomfortable in bad/windy weather. I think of Kenmare as a god place to spend multiple nights (3ish) because it is such a great jumping off point. I've also stayed in Glengarriff on Beara and had a wonderful time sight seeing. It's pretty small and not for everyone, but I like peace and quiet.

Though I do agree with Tony on Rick Steve's book, I don't agree on Dingle. Mile for mile, it's hard to beat the scenery. The music at the Small Bridge Pub (An Droichead Beag) can be amazing, some of the best you will hear in Ireland. The antiquities on the island are impressive though there have been persistent rumores that some of them were built by farmers. The jury is still out on that.

I always consider Doolin sort of a stop over location and a suburb of the Cliffs of Moher. The village itself, other than the three music pubs is not terribly interesting and it wouldn't be my jumping off point for going to the Aran Islands. The airport or dock 90 minutes west of Galway is a much better choice.

From Galway, you could see Connemara and/or perhaps do a boat trip on Lough Corrib. Much of this all depends on how you decide to change the number of days around now that you have dropped the north.

A few things to note. The ride from Galway to Dublin will be pretty quick now that there is a motorway that connects the two. Regardless, don't get some crazy idea that you will stay anywhere but in and around Dublin for your last night.

Please forgive the typos by the way, I'm notorious and a lazy proofreader. In other words, I don't do it. I'll give you some lodging ideas, but give some thought to how you will adjst and use those now available nights in the SW and west.

Bill
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Old Mar 25th, 2011, 06:16 AM
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I second all that Bill has to stay as I live in the (West Cork) area. Also DEFINITELY drop Blarney AND Northern Ireland.
Have fun!
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Old Mar 25th, 2011, 09:06 AM
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So I thought about your trip and thought about the time of year and here is what I might do.

Dublin
Dublin
Kilkenny
Kilkenny
Kinsale? - I think it will be overcrowded at that time of year and I would tend to pick something smaller along the southern coast somewhere, maybe Ardmore. The area surrounding Ardmore is beautiful.
Baltimore
Baltimore
Kenmare
Kenmare
Kenmare
Dingle
Dingle
Kinvarra - I would pick this over Doolin in August because the main reason to stay in Doolin (the pubs) will be a mob scene and hearing the music will be impossible. In Kinvara you can see Dunguaire Castle which sits in a truly picturesque spot (esp when the tide is in). You could make a reservation for dinner in the castle which is absolutley touristy and still pretty fun. The food is average but the seeting is nice. Reservations should be made months in advance for this.
Aran - The other advantage of Kinvara is that it is a much shorter ride to get to the possibilites for visiting the Arans. You can actually fly for E45ish and it's a 10 minute flight. The boat trip is much less and about 40 minutes as I remember. If the weather is good. It's a fine option.
Galway
Dublin

Just a thought.

Bill
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Old Mar 25th, 2011, 12:51 PM
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Bill, you are amazing! Thank you so, so much! I spent all day yesterday playing with the dates and locations trying to figure out what was best. Looks like you have done it for me! I almost wish I was going in a different month so it would be less crowded, but it has always been my dream to spend my birthday in the motherland Have you stayed at any B&B's in those cities that I should check out? Thank you again!
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Old Mar 27th, 2011, 09:38 AM
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I am a travel agent who specializes in Irish travel and would love to help you here. Bill has some good points to be sure, but I have some other suggestions, but am running out the door to meet a client. If you'd like help feel free to email me at [email protected].
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Old Mar 28th, 2011, 07:06 AM
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Hi Bill! Yes, what he said Holly, I'm so glad you enjoyed the trip reports and the photos. I'm headed back myself in May, and will be adding another!
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Old Mar 28th, 2011, 03:36 PM
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I'd echo (realizing you've dropped it) Blarney - wasted time getting there my first trip, but I'd also drop Kinsale. We were there in 2009 so that DH could play Old Head, which he loved, but the town didn't meet expectations - so if you're not a golfer and it's going to be crowded, use the time elsewhere.
we LOVED Kilkenny, and only had a day/night there, wished for more.
Biggest surprise to me was how much I loved County Meath, above Dublin. Newgrange in the Boyne valley, the castles all round, the people, the food - I want to spend more time there.
We do love Dingle (it's my husband's favorite) so I'd echo keeping the bit of time there.
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 09:01 AM
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Hi Holly:

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. It's been rather crazy in my world these days. As for places to stay, here are a few thoughts.

In Dublin, I I ususally stay on the cheaper end as opposed to a Hilton, I've stayed at the Academy Plaza Hotel off of O'Connell St just north of the bridge. I think the rooms are nice, the prices seem similar to other affordable options and the location is good. It is also the 1st stop on the airport buses and the last stop headed back so you spend much less time on a bus. You are literally less than a block from your hotel at the drop off point. Very convenient. http://www.academyplazahotel.ie/ I would check prices on hotels.com or something like that.

I should preface all of my B&B suggestions by saying that I tend to stay away from the towns and villages as opposed to staying in town. I prefer waking up to the sounds of gulls rather than the busy clatter of a village waking up. Most areas villages don't have a seriousl problem with parking and a short 5-10 minute ride is WELL worth the option of looking out on a lighthouse flashing in the distance as day turns to night.

In Kilkenny I've stayed at the Laragh House B&B and really liked it. Michele Erdwig gave it her emerald award which is not easily achieved. She has good taste! (irelandyes.com) http://www.laraghhouse.com/index.asp

I haven't stayed in Kinsale in a long time so I'm not sure my suggestions would be very up to date.

Baltimore. I stayed at the Channel View which is just a short ride to the village. As I remember, it has an exiting driveway to climb and has a beautiful view out over the channel (you can't always trust a name). It was very comfortable and I'll certainly stay there again. http://www.channelviewbb.com/

Kenmare: I've stayed at a number of places around Kenmare and it really is one of my favorite villages in Ireland. It's a great jumping off point for lots of things. Here are a couple, again, outside of town.

Shaminir: Spectacular location about 10 minutes or less from town on the Beara Road. Looks out over the bay and is truly a nice place to stay. Great hosts. http://www.shaminir.com/thebb.html

Waters Edge: I stayed with her right after she had opened the place and like the place and her a lot. I think she was still doing some decorating and the like so it is probably moved along nicely since then. This is much closer to the village and you can probably walk the in about 10 minutes. I know there is a path that is treacherous when muddy, but on a dry day, will shorten the trek substantially. http://www.kenmare.eu/watersedge/

Dingle; The Shores: I can't say enough about this place. Great food, the sweetest hostes you will meet, the rooms have amazing views, the house is stunning and elegant, the showers are like a downpour as opposed to the much more common trickles you will find. I stay here everytime I visit. Yes, it's on the other side of the pass and it's worth every mile. http://www.shorescountryhouse.com/ Say hi to Annette for me when you are there!

Kinvara: Breacan Cottage. This one is also way off the beaten track and you will think you are lost when you are headed out to it. It's in a wonderful location though, I woke up to ealy morning fog one day and could just see the images of the boats in the harbor. It was wonderful. Geraldine is slightly crazy and hysterically funny. She has an imaginary chef that she calls to frequently (Jean Claude). I stayed there once and rebooked with her on my way back through. http://www.breacan.com/

Aran: To be honest, both B&Bs that I've stayed at on Inishmore were nothing fabulous so I wouldn't sya that I have a great suggestion there. Others have an idea?

Galway: I generally stay outside of the city and drive in. The one time I stayed at a place it Galway it was fine but parking was a pain. If I can remebere where that was I'll let you know. On the otherhand, I believe Michele Erdwig suggests the Marless House which was booked when I tried to stay there. http://marlesshouse.com/

If you decide you want to stay outside of Galway, I've stayed in Oughterard at the Waterfront and it was nice. The woman actually did a load of laundry for us as we were a bit desperate. http://www.galwaytourist.com/details...terfront.shtml. The picture on the website is very old and the vegetation has grown up substantially around the place.

The Waterfall Lodge also gets high marks there.

I hope this helps you out.

Bill
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 09:29 AM
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Cathy on www.irelandyes.com forums HIGHLY recommends Man of Aran cottage on Inis Mor - I'm trying it in my May trip
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 01:45 PM
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Man of Aran cottage does get good reviews. As I remember it's a bit of a haul to get back to town.I also seem to remember that it only has a couple of rooms so I would book very early. I'll see if I can figure out where I stayed. Again, nothing spectacular and more over, I don't remember the owners of either being particularly pleasant.

Bill
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 02:24 PM
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And make sure you have a bike to rent right away, so you don't have to hoof it back to town
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