Ireland and Scotland September 2017

Old Jun 24th, 2017, 07:53 AM
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Ireland and Scotland September 2017

Hello Fodors Friends,

We're in the early stages of thinking about our next journey, having had a remarkable month in Uruguay and Argentina in February/March. We have traveled throughout the west and south of Ireland (2006) but are interested in seeing Dublin, Belfast, and other parts of Northern Ireland, then moving on to Edinburgh, thinking around 3 weeks but that is totally flexible. Another consideration, though, is that we would definitely want to visit Sligo and areas north (Tubbercurry, Moneygold, Grange) as DH has family there.

We had thought we'd fly into Dublin, then home from Edinburgh, but looking at the map now I'm wondering if we'd be wiser to fly into Shannon, head straight to Sligo area and stay a few days there, then drive on in a circular route through Derry, Portrush, Bushmills, Giant's Causeway, Bangor, ending up in Belfast. We could take as many days to do this as we like, so suggestions are sought.

We'd then drop the car, spend (how many?) days in Belfast, then take the train to Dublin and spend some time there. Knowing we do not want a car to deal with in Dublin, are we fine to take the DART to Howth and the train to visit Kilkenny and Waterford, or should we drive to Kilkenny/Waterford before ending up in Dublin?

Again, we've been around the coast from Donegal through Connemara to Galway, through the Burren, to Dingle to Kenmare and Kinsale so aren't concerned about visiting those areas this trip.

One big consideration as I write this, though, is our travel from Ireland to Edinburgh. In this scenario we would fly from Dublin to Edinburgh, but now I'm wondering if travel from Belfast is more efficient?

Ah, as you can see, we're just beginning this journey of discovery . Thrilled for any advice that will set us on the right track so that we can begin the deeper research.

Thanks as always to the amazing group here at Fodors.
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Old Jun 24th, 2017, 08:16 AM
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A few observations, it appears to me you are starting with looking at the driving map and then finding a way to fit the flights into the resulting itinerary, while other travelers start their planning with finding optimal flight combinations first and then worrying about ground itinerary to fit those. Sometimes, the differences in flight costs from one day to another can be striking. This is purely a matter of planning style.

Aer Lingus out of Dublin is pretty traveler friendly and usually has competitive costs. WE recently did a trip similar to your planned one and elected to fly first to Scotland with Aer Lingus and changing planes in Dublin,then rail/ferry back to Dublin, then fly home from Dublin. it worked well.

I also observe you are travelling around Northern Ireland outside of cities, but only seeking to go to Edinburgh? Not seeing other sights in Scotland? That seems to be two different paradigms. Any particular reason why? (Just being nosey ) More ideas in a bit.
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Old Jun 24th, 2017, 08:26 AM
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Thanks, docdan1.

No, we do want to travel outside of Edinburgh as well, just haven't begun to think that one out until we get Ireland nailed down. Too much to bite off all at once.

You're not the first person to tell us they did Scotland first, then Ireland. Not sure we have a rationale for that though as you mention air fares will dictate our decisions.

I've been the primary trip planner for our last eight journeys since 2004 and know just what you're talking about in terms of itinerary planning. You're right, it does end up being a combination of looking at air fares and the places we want to visit, then finding the best itinerary overall. As I said, we're in the earliest phase of planning so wanted to throw this out there and see what others suggested. While I wait for responses, we'll also be checking out the air fare possibilities, which will also factor into our decision. Some of the sites actually show you a calendar where you can see which days are less expensive, also very helpful.
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Old Jun 24th, 2017, 08:58 AM
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We spent 5 weeks driving a loop around Ireland and Northern Ireland, starting and ending in Dublin.
As we thought a few more days would have been perfect, I'd suggest skipping Scotland with just 3 weeks.
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Old Jun 24th, 2017, 09:04 AM
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Abram, did you travel all around Ireland or only Dublin and the north? As I mentioned, we've already spent 16 days in the west and south so will basically be spending time in Dublin and Belfast with a drive around the north.

We may end up taking longer, which we are able to do, once we see how much time we would like to spend in Scotland, but given the territory we want to cover in Ireland, we're thinking two weeks, give or take, will be plenty for our time there.
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Old Jun 24th, 2017, 09:20 AM
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Scotland is large and glorious -- and September is one of the best times to visit. But a few days or a week doesn't do it. Unless you can devote 2 to 3 weeks just in Scotland - and even then you'd have to be VERY selective where you visited, I'd definitely consider sticking to Ireland.
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Old Jun 24th, 2017, 10:28 AM
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Latest plan:

Ireland: Fly into Dublin, see Dublin and take DART/train to Howth and Kilkenny. Time undetermined, but want to give this area the time it deserves.

Train to Belfast, stay in Belfast and visit Bangor and wherever else is easily doable by train, time also undetermined.

Pick up rental car at Belfast Intl. (could do Belfast city if I'm reassured that driving out won't be a nightmare as I'm the driver), drive directly to Sligo area and stay there several days, then drive through Northern Ireland (Derry, Antrim Coast, etc.), ending up at Belfast Intl. for flight to Edinburgh.

Each of these legs require more research on our part before we know how much time we will allocate. We are not interested in the Benny Hill tour of Ireland (or Scotland for that matter) but we don't plan to be away 6 weeks, either.

Some constraints: we want to be in Dublin on September 10th for the hurling finals, and I do not want the stress of driving a rental car out of Dublin.

Scotland:
Still unexplored...definitely our target is Edinburgh and we are iffy about also renting a car there as we will have already rented a week in Ireland. Are there any day tours of the highlands, etc., anyone would recommend? I realize Scotland is vast and beautiful, but we have always wanted to visit Edinburgh and don't want to skip it solely because we don't have time to see the rest of the country on this visit.
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Old Jun 24th, 2017, 01:05 PM
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Both are doable. Not everyone has a month to travel. I think since you are doing NI and concentrating on Edinburgh you are fine. We often fly in and out of Dublin for the cheaper fares and then buy tickets to other cities like Edinburgh. Edinburgh has a lot to see and I would concentrate on that area, maybe a day trip.
Some do Rabbie's tours.
We have used train and buses in NI but I think driving there would not be so bad.


Hurling finals! I would love that.
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Old Jun 24th, 2017, 01:11 PM
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This is quite doable. and the flights from Belfast to Edinburgh are quick enough and inexpensive enough to make this a good option. Looks like you'll just want to make one or two day trips out of Edinburgh. Stirling and St Andrews would be most people's first two suggestions, and can be done with rail and or bus. Glasgow gets a bad rap, but the Cathedral there and shopping areas make it a very nice agenda item, as well.

A "day trip" to the highlands will involve a lot of time driving to and from the areas with the best scenery, and not a lot of time actually enjoying the highlands. On that note, the above suggestions to "skip Scotland" become more credible. If you really want to see the Highlands, you need to devote _days_ to that endeavor, not a single day trip.

That being said, if you want to give it a try, I would personally suggest a private customized tour. Pricey, yes, but very time-efficient and most people who opt for the private tour feel it was a better value for the money, vice a lot of waiting for a bus full of folks to gt on/off the bus at each stop. There are many fine, fine operators of such tours, my personal suggestion is Ricky Henderson at http://aboutscotland.net/. And your are absolutely correct, if you have survived driving around Ireland for a week, then jumping right into a rental in Scotland is a sure recipe for risking a case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Time to let the Scots drive for you.
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Old Jun 24th, 2017, 02:45 PM
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I misunderstood your original post -- it sounded like you wanted to tour around Scotland with only a short time. If Edinburgh is your main target -- then absolutely go for it! Rabbies offers many terrific 1 day and multi day small group tours out of Edinburgh.

https://www.rabbies.com/en

Fly to EDI spend maybe 3 nights there (giving you 2.5 days on the ground) then choose which ever of Rabbies tours fit the length of time you have left.
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