Ireland Trip Coming Up-Advice?

Sep 4th, 2007, 03:23 PM
  #1  
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Ireland Trip Coming Up-Advice?

I will be in Ireland in October for a wedding. I will be flying into Dublin, renting a car, and driving straight to Belfast for the wedding. After the wedding, I will be embarking on an 11 day journey (October 23-November 2)...following the coast back around to Dublin (counterclockwise).

I will be doing this with a friend, and have a couple great maps that were recommended on various travel forums like this one. I have not secured a car yet, but I have looked at the Nova Car Hire website. Does anyone have any recommendations on a car rental company?

The real dilemma I am having is an itinerary. The trip is coming up and I need to make my reservations at B&Bs/hostels. I have looked at the Fodors and Lonely Planet Ireland books, and the Frommers Best Loved Driving Tours of Ireland...and I am so excited about what there is to see! But I am afraid might be trying to do too much in the time I have. I want flexibility, but I am having a heck of a time deciding where to overnight each night, while still leaving myself enough time to get out of the car to see/do things. Even after looking at mileage/minutes guides from point to point...I am afraid that either 1)I will spend too much time driving, and not enough time experiencing and 2) spending too much time in the wrong areas.

Preliminarily...this is what I have decided:

Leave Belfast the morning of the 23rd...and spend the night in County Derry.

24th...overnight in County Donegal.
25th...overnight in County Sligo or Mayo.
26th...overnight in County Galway.
27th...overnight in County Clare.
28th and 29th...overnight in County Kerry.
30th...overnight in County Cork.
31st...overnight in County Kilkenny.
1st and 2nd...overnight in Dublin.

Is this too ambitious? Any recommendations on where I should concentrate my time?

righteousbabe is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 03:50 PM
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just a few quick comments - you will get a lot more too

are you flying in on the morning of the 23rd (transatlantic?) - If so, picking up a car and driving to Belfast really isn't recommended. Jet lag, "wrong side of the road" driving, etc can add up to real trouble.

I'd take the train to Belfast and not drive until the second day.

my other major comment -- waaaaay to much territory in too short a time. You have one night stand, after one night stand, after one night stand. You'll spend more time driving, packing, unpacking, checking in, checking out -- than actually seeing things.

When factoring in the possible bad weather and the 35 mph average speeds you really don't have enough time to circle the entire country - 2 countries really.
janisj is online now  
Sep 4th, 2007, 04:31 PM
  #3  
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I will be flying in on the morning of the 21st, and driving to Belfast. The wedding is on the 22nd.

I will look into the train...thanks for the advice!

I am glad I asked...I was afraid my itinerary was too ambitious Any advice on where to concentrate? I would like to see a little of everything (castles, ocean, cliffs, mountains, pubs, music, etc). I love nature and history.
righteousbabe is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 04:43 PM
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righteousbabe,

Why don't you train up and back. Don't rent a car until you are ready to leave Dublin. That time of year you might have better weather on the east coast. Just a couple of thoughts.

Joan
chatham is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 04:44 PM
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oh sheesh - I see it now -- You LEAVE Belfast the morning of the 23rd. Duh

So arriving on the 21st - my recommendation still stands. I'd take the train or even a bus and not try to drive until I'd recovered from the jet lag.

As for a suggested itinerary - you really can't go wrong which areas you choose. There are amazing places in all parts of Ireland/NI. But I would try to stay 2 nights a few places - but the time you drive from point to point, and leave the next moring, a 1 night stop doesn't give you much time in a location.

Me personally - I'd spend 2-3 days exploring The Devil's Causway/NW coast. maybe 3 days in the mid-coast/Galway/Cliffs of moher area, 3 days in the SW/County Cork/Kilarney area and the last day/night in Dublin.
janisj is online now  
Sep 4th, 2007, 04:48 PM
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You can read my trip report at www.markandmonica.com/travel/ireland.htm to get ideas of what we liked in particular. No matter where you go you can see castles. Just decide what you want to see (personally I would choose the Connemara and the Dingle Peninsula) and work from there.
MonicaRichards is online now  
Sep 4th, 2007, 08:10 PM
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The first problem I see is the wedding. Irish weddings are very long drawn out events that generally last way into the wee hours with much drink taken. I doubt if after that you will feel like hitting the road the next day. Many B&Bs do not take guests who are attending weddings because they never get up in the morning and sleep till 2 pm!

If you rent a car in Belfast and drop in Dublin you may have a large drop off fee. Either train back and forth or rent the car in Dublin. It takes about 2 hours to drive to Belfast. The highway is very good right up to the border. It is a toll road.

Delete everything south of Galway/Dublin. Concentrate on things north of the line between those locations.

The Antrim coast and Giant's Causeway are on Belfast's doorstep. You must see one of the most beautiful coastlines in Ireland.

It would be nice to see all of Ireland in 11 days. Unfortunately it is impossible. Instead make the best of what you have.
IrishEyes is offline  
Sep 5th, 2007, 02:11 AM
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I found the advice from janisj in reference to renting a car and on to Belfast a bit "dramatic". We just did exactly that last week and it could not have been easier. Nowhere near as convoluted as janisj makes it sound. Also, I doubt that you will find a car rental company that will allow you to rent in Belfast and drop off in Ireland. Good luck with that. Drive if that is what you want to do; I actually find that dealing with the train logistics is the real hassle in this case.

By now you know the itinerary is heavy. Select three home bases; Dublin, Killarney, and another place for coastal scenery. Reserve lodging at the beggining of the trip, i.e. in Dublin, leave the rest open. There are only like a million B&B's in Ireland, so I doubt you will sleep in the car due to lack of rooms. This way, you have the flexibility you need; that time of the year you will need flexibility.
Viajero2 is offline  
Sep 5th, 2007, 04:37 AM
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Viajero: If you read what I wrote - I said nothing about it being "convoluted". The process of renting a car and driving to Belfast could not be easier. What I meant was it could be down right dangerous.

Unfortunately, one does not know until already in the car which they are - well rested or totally zonked. I am very happy for you that you had no proplems. And many people don't. The problem is that just as many are a real menace on strange roads, in a strange car after an often totally sleepless overnight flight. And by then it is too late.

In the past I often drove a long way my first day in the UK/Ireland. But it is not wise and now I always try to avoid it.

When I was living in England, a family flying in from San Francisco got off the plane in Glasgow, picked up their rental car and headed north up the A82 and made it less than 40 miles before they had a head on w/ a lorry killing Mom, Dad and 2 kids leaving only the 3 yo alive. There - is that dramatic enough for you?

The coroners inquest determined he had fallen asleep at the wheel - it was about 10:30 a.m. in beautiful, clear conditions. My anecdote about this family is just that - one instance, but so is yours.

Lots of people drive w/ no problem - and just as many should stay very far from an automobile that first day.

I know I am belaboring the point - but it is important to know how different the driving is, the signage is, the cars are, even the weather. A lot to keep together if you are sleep walking.
janisj is online now  
Sep 5th, 2007, 05:49 AM
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I agree - you have no idea how knackered you can be after jet lag. Sometimes I'm fine, sometimes I'm awful, it depends on the trip.

I would take a train to Belfast, and then concentrate in the north of the countries. You can easily fill 11 days just in the north, and still not have what Michele Erdvig (of www.irelandyes.com) calls the 'green blur' tour.

Ireland is a magical place, but you can't feel that magic from behind the steering wheel. You will want to get out and explore. Giant's Causeway, Ulster Folk Park, the Rope Bridge, Belfast itself has lots of places. Visit one of the little islands off the north coast - some still have local kings Go to Donegal and Connemara, but I wouldn't go anywhere south - save that for another trip. Circle back towards Dublin and check out the Boyne valley, filled with neolithic sites and incredible churches, manor houses, abbeys, landscapes, and such.

Plenty to do without driving the whole time!

I made that mistake on a trip to England/Scotland/Wales - different B&B each night. It was exhausting!
GreenDragon is offline  
Sep 5th, 2007, 05:02 PM
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Everyone...thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences, and for giving me much needed advice!

I figured I was trying to see too much. I am just so excited about having this opportunity to go to Ireland, and I am not sure when/if I will ever make it back...so I am attempting to see everything. But thankfully, y'all have made me realize that it is not possible in the time I have.

You have also made me realize that the morning after the wedding I may not be in any shape to drive and sight-see...so I should not try to plan too much that day! ;-)

So...I am definitely going to try to stay multiple nights in one location as much as possible. But realizing I have to scale back, I know I need to sacrifice some places. There seems to be differing opinions on whether I should spend more time in the West and South...or concentrate on the North and West. Very difficult decisions...

I am a little nervous about not having reservations...I got burned one time while on a trip, and I am afraid to make the same mistake twice. But I really like the idea of having an open schedule. Do you really think we can wing it and just find a place each night?



righteousbabe is offline  
Sep 5th, 2007, 05:43 PM
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I don't think your decision is at all difficult. Belfast at the beginning of your tour, and Dublin at the end, are fixed. The days are getting shorter. Why burn up time going the length of the island when there is great stuff in the north and north-west?

I fully endorse what IrishEyes said.

It is probably advisable to book accommodation in Dublin, and in Galway city if you go there at a weekend; otherwise you can wing it.
Padraig is offline  
Sep 5th, 2007, 06:14 PM
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Where are you flying from? If from the East Coast, I wouldn't think it would be a too much of a problem to get your rental in Dublin and head towards Belfast. From the West Coast, I wouldn't even consider driving that the same day. Your judgement and perception is going to be off, at best.

Completely agree with the suggestion to not going any further south than Galway. You wouldn't do that part of the Republic justice -save it for another trip.

Also second the sentiment regarding the wedding. It's not like anything else - they start early and go late. You will be tired, even if you don't overindulge

I used Dan Dooley car rental in April - I got a great rate and wonderful service. If you can do it - I highly recommend a GPS.... it really does take that much more of the stress of driving off you and your co-pilot/navigator. You'll still want your maps, but you won't have to have them in your face the whole time!

Enjoy! And don't forget your hat!
celticdreams is offline  
Sep 6th, 2007, 06:24 AM
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Yup, travel time to the southwest (as much as I love that area of the island!) would eat up valuable vacation time. I would spend this trip in the north and east, or maybe the north and northwest.

Remember, Ireland is addicting. You WILL go back again. You CAN'T see it all in one trip, even if it was a month long. There is no use trying and you waste time if you do.

Take the time to relax, explore the unmarked sheep trails, get lost on purpose, sample the pubs, talk to the locals, buy them a round. The days are short so the pubs are full

GreenDragon is offline  
Sep 6th, 2007, 06:43 AM
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GreenDragon wrote: "talk to the locals, buy them a round."

Great advice. Mine's a pint.
Padraig is offline  
Sep 6th, 2007, 07:01 AM
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Thinking up similar trip:

Flying into and out of Dublin. Thinking of fitting Dublin, Belfast, Cork, and Galway/Shannon area in. We'll be there for a week.

I've been told that it takes a long time to drive between places. I am assuming most people will say that this is too much. I want to see the best Ireland has to offer.

Things we want to do/see the most:
Cliffs of Moher
Blarney Stone
Giant's Causeway
Brewery Tours

What parts of the country are best and what is a not miss.

Driving Note: My wife and I flew to Scotland a few years ago (via Baltimore) landing in Edinburgh. We were driving to Pitlochry and my wife started falling asleep at the wheel. We had to pull over and switch drivers. I drove the rest of the way, but I was EXHAUSTED. There was no problem with adjusting to the other side of the road but it was hell trying to stay awake. If you have to get to Belfast that day, maybe take a while once you get to Dublin and relax somewhere before hitting the road.
jedivader is offline  
Sep 6th, 2007, 07:06 AM
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jedivader: Just a quick comment - NO - that itinerary is pretty much impossible in 7 days. I gotta run at the moment and others will have advice for you - but 7 days/2 countries/very slow roads/TONS of things to see -- something has got to give.
janisj is online now  
Sep 6th, 2007, 07:39 AM
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jedivader, see if you can fly into and out of Shannon instead, and cut out Giant's Causeway, and you will be doing much better. County Clare and Kerry are wonderful, beautiful places to visit. The Burren, the Cliffs of Moher, shopping in Ennis, The Aran Islands, Doolin, Bunratty; Dingle, Ring of Kerry, Killarney National Park, Ring of Beara, there are already two weeks worth of stuff here.

We spend four nights each in Ennis and Killarney, and had a wonderful time. Picking up and packing each night, finding the B&B (often in the dark), etc., takes a lot of valuable site-seeing time. Relax!

Mine's a pint of cider Too bad I'm not local!
GreenDragon is offline  
Sep 6th, 2007, 07:47 AM
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We've already booked Dublin flight. We looked into Shannon or in one, out the other....it increased the cost of the flight.

So, no way we can fit in Giant's/Moher/Blarney in one trip??

Those are the three main things we wanted to do/see.

I don't really want to have to move each day and find places to stay in 5-7 different places. It seems things are more spread out in Ireland. In Scotland we were able to have base-camp in Pitlochry and drive in out and to see all we wanted to see.
jedivader is offline  
Sep 6th, 2007, 08:05 AM
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I just returned from Ireland and we found that we were able to see a lot of sites from our base cities without feeling like we drove all the time. Granted I am not familiar with the north of Ireland, becuase we just didn't have time to see it all and we were there for 12 days, so maybe I won't be much help, but I will try.

Our base cities were Ennis, Killarney, Kilkenny & Dublin. We did not have a car in Dublin. We also flew into Shannon and out of Dublin.

My advice would be to sit down and see what you want to see and pick base locations from there. I agree with the others spending more than one night in a location is better than changing every night. We had at least 3 nights in each place and it was great.

Also on moving from one location to the other plan stops to see so that you don't drive the whole time. We did that anytime we moved from our base city. For example, Ennis to Killarney we stopped at Limerick. From Killarney to Kilkenny we stopped at Cork, the Distillery, & Waterford(admittingly a long day).

I am sure you can get some great advice on here and hopefully you will get things worked out. Just take it easy and don't forget it is okay if you want to just relax and enjoy your surroundings without going to a specified location.

Have a great trip.


Nuttela is offline  

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