Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

First draft of Ireland + UK Itinerary - how ambitious is it?

First draft of Ireland + UK Itinerary - how ambitious is it?

Old Mar 30th, 2024, 08:45 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2022
Posts: 171
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
First draft of Ireland + UK Itinerary - how ambitious is it?

I've used the Easter weekend to do some extensive research and have now put together a first draft itinerary for a proposed 5-week trip to Ireland and the UK (less Wales).

For context, it'll be my sister (20), our mother (55) and I (27). We are huge history lovers, adore wildlife and appreciate the great outdoors but aren't quite into things like hiking (short/easy walks are ok though). We'll be coming from Australia so are used to long drives.

I've put together the below draft itinerary based on the above factors - would love to get some input as to whether it is too ambitious or if things could be done better etc. Mum can't do as fast pace as we can so I am hoping that the driving in between certain stops will provide some reprieve (I'll be the designated driver for the bulk of the trip). Scotland is the focus of our trip so if the Ireland portion is unrealistic, we will likely cut out the road trip and just do Dublin and Belfast (train between them) - from my comments in bold, you'll probably pick up that Ireland part of the itinerary is the one we are most uncertain about).

Day 1: Depart Sydney / arrive in Dublin same day in early evening (no plans beyond dinner and resting up)
Days 2-3: Dublin
Day 4: Pick up hire car and drive to Killarney stopping by Rock of Cashel and either Cahir Castle or Blarney Castle / stay overnight in Killarney
Day 5: Killarney (may possibly be cut out in favour of simply staying the night and continuing onto the Dingle Peninsula)
Day 6: Dingle Peninsula, continue on to Shannon to stay overnight (any suggestions as to a better location to stay overnight between the Dingle Peninsula and Cliffs of Moher?)
Day 7: Day trip to Cliffs of Moher and Doolin Caves (contemplated returning to Shannon or continuing to Galway to stay overnight before driving to Belfast but would appreciate suggestions as to any better location for the overnight stay)
Day 8: Drive to Belfast (ideally would like to make 1-2 stops on the way to sightsee and break up the drive - TBD) and return hire car
Days 9-10: Belfast
Day 11: Fly to Inverness
Day 12: Pick up hire car and take day trip to Fort George, Clava Cairns and Culloden (return to Inverness)
Day 13: Drive to Isle of Skye (Sligachan) stopping by Loch Ness and Eilean Donan
Days 14-15: Isle of Skye (I've allowed 2/2.5 days on the premise that we won't do any hiking trails, just some of the easier walks at most - i.e. we might skip or do the first 15 mins to Old Man of Storr but not the whole route)
Day 16: Drive to Isle of Mull
Days 17-19: Isle of Mull
Day 20: Drive to Edinburgh stopping by Stirling Castle, Bannockburn and Wallace Monument, return hire car
Days 21 - 25: Edinburgh
Days 26-28: York
Days 29-34: London
Day 35: Depart London

victoriainwanderland is offline  
Old Mar 30th, 2024, 09:50 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 72,943
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
Are we still talking June/July next year?

In general it is a doable plan. Some minor nit picking --- like not staying in Inverness (there are much nicer places in that region)

However - You stress that "Scotland is the focus of our trip" -- yet are spending less than half your time in Scotland and almost all of that is on two west coast islands and Edinburgh. So for what it is - really nothing 'wrong'. But a Scotland-focussed itinerary is isn't so I'm a little confused??
janisj is offline  
Old Mar 30th, 2024, 09:57 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2022
Posts: 171
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by janisj
Are we still talking June/July next year?

In general it is a doable plan. Some minor nit picking --- like not staying in Inverness (there are much nicer places in that region)

However - You stress that "Scotland is the focus of our trip" -- yet are spending less than half your time in Scotland and almost all of that is on two west coast islands and Edinburgh. So for what it is - really nothing 'wrong'. But a Scotland-focussed itinerary is isn't so I'm a little confused??
Yeah this would be mid June/July next year.

From what I’ve researched it does look like Inverness doesn’t have much to offer but thought of it as a pit stop to allow us to see nearby places before driving on to the Isle of Skye (given Inverness also has an airport we can fly into) - where would you suggest we stay instead?

Scotland will definitely get the bulk of the time though we are contemplating cutting out Ireland for this trip in favour of more time in Scotland and maybe one more shorter stop in England.

If we do cut Ireland, I suspect our picks for additional stops in Scotland will be between the North Coast and Outer Hebrides and the East Coast (though I think the East Coast might add a nice contrast) and we’d fly into Glasgow and going Isle of Mull, then Skye etc.

Last edited by victoriainwanderland; Mar 30th, 2024 at 10:00 PM.
victoriainwanderland is offline  
Old Mar 30th, 2024, 10:27 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 72,943
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
Flying in to Inverness is fine -- I just wouldn't stay IN the city. Several nearby bases would work -- Nairn, anywhere on the the Black Isle (across the Moray Firth from Inverness), Cawdor, Culloden, Beauly, etc.

If you dropped Ireland you could do something like Fly into GLA, a day or two in Glasgow, then pick up car and do Kilmartin/Oban > Mull > Glencoe > Skye > Inverness area > Deeside (castle Trail/Balmoral/Dunnottar/etc) > Fife (St Andrews/fishing villages) > Edinburgh/drop car there. You can easily visit Stirling from Edinburgh via a quick train ride.

Then train to York (if you stayed 3 days you could rent a car for a day or two to explore the Dales, Castle Howard, Fountains Abbey) > then train to London. Fly home.
janisj is offline  
Old Mar 30th, 2024, 10:52 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2022
Posts: 171
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by janisj

If you dropped Ireland you could do something like Fly into GLA, a day or two in Glasgow, then pick up car and do Kilmartin/Oban > Mull > Glencoe > Skye > Inverness area > Deeside (castle Trail/Balmoral/Dunnottar/etc) > Fife (St Andrews/fishing villages) > Edinburgh/drop car there. You can easily visit Stirling from Edinburgh via a quick train ride.
Your knowledge is unparalleled janisj! Do you think we could squeeze in the extra stops with about 5 extra days maybe?

From what I’ve researched thus far I’m not sure how much Glasgow itself appeals to us so depending on how long we stayed for I do like the idea of maybe taking the West Highlands line for some scenic travel (especially if we choose to simply fly into Glasgow and head straight out) and maybe get off at Fort William and grab the car from there.
victoriainwanderland is offline  
Old Mar 30th, 2024, 11:12 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 72,943
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
If you dropped Ireland you could easily do everything I listed without rushing.

Glasgow has a lot of interest -- some really amazing museums, Charles Rennie Mackintosh connections, great pubs/dining. But I meant it mainly just a a one or two day stop to get over the jet lag.

Train to Ft William doesn't work. There are no national rental agencies there. Scotland is predominantly very rural -- there are few places one can rent a car except for small local garages where you can't take the car out of the area. There is an Enterprise location there -- but it isn't a typical rental agency -- it only rents locally by the day or hour - sort of a membership set-up. You couldn't pick up a car there and drop it anywhere else. If you want to rent a car to tour the country it will need to be in Glasgow/GLA, Inverness, Aberdeen, EDI/Edinburgh, etc i.e. -- in cities.
janisj is offline  
Old Mar 30th, 2024, 11:31 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2022
Posts: 171
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by janisj
Train to Ft William doesn't work. There are no national rental agencies there. Scotland is predominantly very rural -- there are few places one can rent a car except for small local garages where you can't take the car out of the area. There is an Enterprise location there -- but it isn't a typical rental agency -- it only rents locally by the day or hour - sort of a membership set-up. You couldn't pick up a car there and drop it anywhere else. If you want to rent a car to tour the country it will need to be in Glasgow/GLA, Inverness, Aberdeen, EDI/Edinburgh, etc i.e. -- in cities.
ahhh, noted! Looking at the map I think it looks very doable that we stop by Loch Lomond on the way to Mull and then Glencoe and Fort William between Mull and Skye (maybe stopping overnight at either place to break it up) so shouldn’t be an issue taking the car from Glasgow.

Do you have any recommendations on where to stay in Mull? Tobermory looks beautiful but would probably be inconvenient for getting around. Hoping to find a central Mull equivalent of your recommendation for Sligachan Hotel on Skye (brilliant!!).

Last edited by victoriainwanderland; Mar 30th, 2024 at 11:33 PM.
victoriainwanderland is offline  
Old Mar 31st, 2024, 12:02 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 72,943
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
For Mull -- Anyplace in Tobermory would be fine, or . . . my personal favorite - here in Fionnphort on the other end of the island. Seaview Bed and Breakfast Accommodation, Isle of Mull. One minute from Iona Ferry. Great breakfasts, view of the Abbey across the water, short walk to the foot ferry to Iona, and the boat tours to Staffa/Fingal's Cave Except for maybe Knock, Mull doesn't have a similar central location similar to the Sligachan. Buy IMO/IME Fionnphort or Tobermory would be letter bases.

I'd try to stay one night in Glencoe -- here if possible -- not fancy but great food and live music a few times a week https://clachaig.com But there are also lots of other options in Glencoe/Ballachulish
janisj is offline  
Old Mar 31st, 2024, 04:16 AM
  #9  
J62
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 12,021
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The Ireland portion of you plan has way too much time zig zagging around for my taste - sounds like you're trying to check off as many “been there - seen that” boxes in a short time.

Also note that crossing the border in a rental car may or may not be allowed. Even if it is, returning the car in a different country may be a huge added cost if even allowed.
J62 is online now  
Old Mar 31st, 2024, 06:31 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Nov 2023
Posts: 47
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Glasgow is a hugely underrated city. It’s not a popular opinion, but if anything I prefer it to Edinburgh. It certainly deserves a day or two of your time in comparison to the other urban areas you’re visiting.
JohnEW2912 is offline  
Old Mar 31st, 2024, 07:34 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 72,943
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
Originally Posted by J62
The Ireland portion of you plan has way too much time zig zagging around for my taste - sounds like you're trying to check off as many “been there - seen that” boxes in a short time.

Also note that crossing the border in a rental car may or may not be allowed. Even if it is, returning the car in a different country may be a huge added cost if even allowed.

^^^ this. Totally agree re the Ireland bits (which is why I straightaway tried to wean you away from that idea ). As for taking a car from the Republic into NI (hopefully now a moot point) it is totally allowed - though some agencies will ask but it just a formality. But dropping the car in the north will cost quite a bit more. They aren't different states like in OZ or the US, but different countries . . .
janisj is offline  
Old Mar 31st, 2024, 08:30 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,561
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
O-Kay...
Whoo

If you are driven by a checklist, MAYBE you COULD accomplish this itinerary. I, for one, sure as heck don't want to be in your car whilst you do it, even if you have five weeks.

I think part of your planning problem is that you are viewing it from OZ standards, much as we do in the States in the US Rockies area. Distance just isn't a that much of a problem on the US I-25 stretch from Cheyenne, Wyoming down to the Four Corners of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. But when you transfer that mileage and outlook (I've been there and done that in the American West and Ireland and Scotland) to someplace like Ireland or Scotland, it just doesn't work, especially the way you've mapped it.

Relax. Refresh.

As the above posters are suggesting, drop Ireland. That way you have a prayer of having some experiences outside of the car.

My very best to you in your planning because it's so hard to make everyone happy in the process,
AZ

PS--Your mother is a youngster to we over 70.
PSS--Edinburgh was a vision in my first trip to the UK. When we visited Glasgow and Edinburgh year later, I was surprised to find that we LOVED Glasgow. Go figure.

AlessandraZoe is offline  
Old Mar 31st, 2024, 11:48 AM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2022
Posts: 171
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by J62
The Ireland portion of you plan has way too much time zig zagging around for my taste - sounds like you're trying to check off as many “been there - seen that” boxes in a short time..
Honestly I’m glad you said it because I think I knew that already but was trying to deny it. I feel like it would be so dissatisfying to just go to the cities when there are beautiful places to be seen elsewhere, and even though you can see things like the Cliffs oh Moher as a day trip from Dublin they’re way too long/too much driving even for my likes.

I think we will just have to save Ireland and Wales for another time.
victoriainwanderland is offline  
Old Mar 31st, 2024, 11:50 AM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2022
Posts: 171
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by JohnEW2912
Glasgow is a hugely underrated city. It’s not a popular opinion, but if anything I prefer it to Edinburgh. It certainly deserves a day or two of your time in comparison to the other urban areas you’re visiting.
Assuming we drop Ireland we will fly into Glasgow so I think we will likely spend at least a short time there, especially since taking the West Highland Rail won’t suit in terms of subsequent hiring of a car.
victoriainwanderland is offline  
Old Mar 31st, 2024, 11:57 AM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2022
Posts: 171
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by AlessandraZoe
As the above posters are suggesting, drop Ireland. That way you have a prayer of having some experiences outside of the car.

My very best to you in your planning because it's so hard to make everyone happy in the process,
AZ

PS--Your mother is a youngster to we over 70.
PSS--Edinburgh was a vision in my first trip to the UK. When we visited Glasgow and Edinburgh year later, I was surprised to find that we LOVED Glasgow. Go figure.
Yeah I think we will just focus on Scotland and England.

She is really young! Problem is Ma doesn’t look after herself (like go see the physio despite having recurrent pain!) so has made clear she can only go if we slow it down (ie Edinburgh I think we can do in 4 days but we will do 5 to stretch it out a bit) but hoping to get her moving a bit more ahead of the trip because there is a lot to see and do that’ll be much easier on her if she’s gotten into the habit of things like regular walks.
victoriainwanderland is offline  
Old Mar 31st, 2024, 05:40 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2024
Posts: 34
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by janisj
Flying in to Inverness is fine -- I just wouldn't stay IN the city.
I'm still in a quandary as to why people here deprecate Inverness; I found it to be a lovely highland city with enough charm to please those looking for it but also with extremely good restaurants and pubs, scenic local walks and a gorgeous riverfront (River Ness). A whole lot more to do of an evening than one will find in Nairn, which is a nice enough town but very little to do. Most of the best highland tours depart from either Glasgow, Edinburgh or Inverness, and among those three I'll take Inverness every time (excepting Edinburgh at Festival, but that's an entirely different experience).

People all want different things, I understand that; I'm just at a loss as to what the reason is for the antipathy toward Inverness. It's one of my favorite settled places in Scotland overall.
jeffhullinger3220 is offline  
Old Mar 31st, 2024, 05:53 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 72,943
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
Originally Posted by jeffhullinger3220
I'm still in a quandary as to why people here deprecate Inverness; I found it to be a lovely highland city with enough charm to please those looking for it but also with extremely good restaurants and pubs, scenic local walks and a gorgeous riverfront (River Ness). A whole lot more to do of an evening than one will find in Nairn, which is a nice enough town but very little to do. Most of the best highland tours depart from either Glasgow, Edinburgh or Inverness, and among those three I'll take Inverness every time (excepting Edinburgh at Festival, but that's an entirely different experience).

People all want different things, I understand that; I'm just at a loss as to what the reason is for the antipathy toward Inverness. It's one of my favorite settled places in Scotland overall.

Maybe to explain -- no one disses Inverness for what it is. Operative word being 'city'. IF one is using public transport and or taking local tours -- then yes - absolutely 100%. Inverness is the only place in the Highlands that would be a practical place to stay. All mod cons, trains, buses, Rabbies tours, supermarkets, river through town, etc etc. It is fine, lovely in fact for a . . . city.

If on the other hand, one is driving they can stay just about anywhere and there are much lovelier places which are not in a city.

Rural/scenic Scotland is not about cities so IMO/IME if one is driving don't stay in Inverness . . . if one isn't driving yes, stay in Inverness.
janisj is offline  
Old Mar 31st, 2024, 05:57 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Feb 2024
Posts: 34
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by janisj
Maybe to explain -- no one disses Inverness for what it is. Operative word being 'city'. IF one is using public transport and or taking local tours -- then yes - absolutely 100%. Inverness is the only place in the Highlands that would be a practical place to stay. All mod cons, trains, buses, Rabbies tours, supermarkets, river through town, etc etc. It is fine, lovely in fact for a . . . city.

If on the other hand, one is driving they can stay just about anywhere and there are much lovelier places which are not in a city.

Rural/scenic Scotland is not about cities so IMO/IME if one is driving don't stay in Inverness . . . if one isn't driving yes, stay in Inverness.
I look at things differently. If I have an auto, staying in the city (especially a small city like Inverness), I can easily drive out early in the morning to see all the sights, and when I return I'll be back in civilization where I can get a fine meal and listen to some superb Highland music before turning in. And without a car, the centrally-located train station provides the opportunity to take a quick run up to Nairn or over to Kyle of Lochalsh, for example, and then return to the city where there are more resources.

Each to his own, but I think the blanket advisory "Don't stay in Inverness" gives the impression that the city is an armpit, which it assuredly is not.

Last edited by jeffhullinger3220; Mar 31st, 2024 at 06:00 PM.
jeffhullinger3220 is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2024, 04:33 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 343
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by victoriainwanderland
Yeah I think we will just focus on Scotland and England.

She is really young! Problem is Ma doesn’t look after herself (like go see the physio despite having recurrent pain!) so has made clear she can only go if we slow it down (ie Edinburgh I think we can do in 4 days but we will do 5 to stretch it out a bit) but hoping to get her moving a bit more ahead of the trip because there is a lot to see and do that’ll be much easier on her if she’s gotten into the habit of things like regular walks.

This is the key to your planning

Speaking to you as an Aussie i csn appreciate your itinerary.
On that basis and that basis alone it's doable and you'll always get people telling you that driving in UK is not the same and it'll take longer etc etc.
so, again as an Aussie, take my word for it..... if you plan your driving using Google maps as a rough guide/indicator of the time it'll take and you're happy with your plan based on that then trust your plan. BUT get the smallest car you are comfortable with given its 3 people. We're currently in the Cotswold area with a Citroen c5....heaps of space for 3 people although you'll use one back seat for luggage. You could probably go down to a vauxhall crossland which I think is like a Nissan qashqai or Mazda cx3.
anyway, google has always been accurate for me. The only thing to consider for timing is
1) you'll add things that you see just on a whim or because you'll need a dunny break
2) you'll see less than you planned because, i mean how many churches and big old buildings do you really need to see?
I try and see everything but after a few weeks even I'm only keen to go in to that massive church building for a quick squizz then head to the next town. Honestly sometimes just slowly driving through the town to get a feel for it and maybe getting out for an ice cream or a drink is all you need at times.

So to summarise I think you'll need less time than the guidebooks say after a while. But the consideration is for Ma. Eg you could steal time from. London except for the dodgy knee which will slow you down.

Please take Ma to a couple of High Tea or morning or afternoon tea experiences.... it's super filling and sometimes a little expensive but so very much worth it.

Last note.... I love Stirling. I don't know why, but. I do

Last edited by bhuty; Apr 3rd, 2024 at 04:44 AM.
bhuty is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2024, 04:43 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 343
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sorry... just another thought

Janis has given some excellent information. AND at the same time i equally agree with Jeff's perspective. When you have a car if you give yourself some flexibility then it's easy to stay in one place and hit many directions. ... it uses more time and petrol BUT in the busy time of summer it gives you assurance of a place to stay AND flexibility.

Whereas if you were going in a quieter time then you could take a risk and just look for somewhere to stay on the day because you'll have plenty of options.

So in your planning try to build in.flexibility to spend less or more time occasionally.

No I lied... another thought.
You'll get criticised as just ticking off things on your list. Based on how i interpret your description of the 3 of you I would say (as an aussie) that sometimes ticking stuff off is all you'll want to do. It's hard to get 5 weeks to go back to the UK and so if you feel you need to see as much stuff as you can while you still can then 90% of your plans are already well suited to doing just that


And if you need help hiring a car then email me at [email protected]. I keep trying to use other rental companicompanies keep getting the best deals or close enough to it from Avis. No problems either with changing countries

Last edited by bhuty; Apr 3rd, 2024 at 04:46 AM.
bhuty is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -