Ireland Trip Itinerary

Old Jan 25th, 2020, 02:18 PM
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Ireland Trip Itinerary


I am planning a surprise trip to Ireland for my husband. We are both 40 and we will not be bringing children. We will be going in September, maybe next year. I have never been out of the country and I know little about Ireland but it has always been his dream so I am trying my best. I have been researching and this is what I have come up with so far. I have a lot to work out so please be kind. I may have it all wrong but it seems feasible to me. I am planning to rent a car and total travel, max, 10 days. Looking for advice from all you travel experts. Please and Thank you.

1. Fly into Shannon Airport and head to Galway. Plan to see Cliffs of Moher and Galway Bay. Should we go further up to see Kylemore Abbey?
2. Galway to Dingle Peninsula, stay somewhere around here for the night. Suggestions?
3. Dingle to Killarney National Park, then off to Cork. Stay in Cork for 2 days. Would love to do some fishing here. Suggestions?
4. Cork to Rock of Cashel, then Kilkenny.
5. Kilkenny to Dublin.
6. Northern Ireland Highlights Day Trip to Giants Causeway and Belfast from Dublin.
7. Fly out of Dublin.

How does this sound? Seems like it makes sense but I really know little about Ireland other than the landmarks I wish to see. I know nothing about renting a car, other than we drive on the left Places to stay along the way (so LOST) I know I would love to see a cute cottage or B&B but have to stay in at least one castle. I look forward to hearing your suggestions.

Thank you for your thoughtful advice. Cheers!
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Old Jan 25th, 2020, 02:36 PM
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Welcome to Fodors -- you'll get a lot of help on these forums . .

Now for the bad news "total travel, max, 10 days." will net you a grand total of 7.5 days free on the ground to see and do things. And the first day or two one or both of you will probably be jet lagged - so count on about 6 full sightseeing days. Your list is close to a full two week itinerary so a good deal of cutting/refining needs to be done. Driving in the scenic western and NW bits is sloooow -- like 30 or 35 mph sloooow

Then there is the issue of it being a very bad idea to drive on your arrival day - jet lag, 'wrong' side of the road, having to acclimate to the different road signage etc.

I'd reverse things and fly into Dublin and stay a couple of nights car-less then rent a car and head out but with less than a week for the car tour you'll have to trim.

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Old Jan 25th, 2020, 03:25 PM
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Where are you coming from? USA or another country? I live in central Fl and we fly in and out of Dublin because it is a non-stop direct flight and easy for us. To fly in or out of Shannon is a stop which I avoid.
You could fly to Dublin and take the bus directly from the airport to Belfast. If an early morning flight and there are two different buses that go into Belfast. If you have the budget the Europa hotel is right there by the bus stop and the Crown bar across the street. We drop luggage and take a black cab tour or city hall tour. You could go to see the Titanic museum or catch a bus to Giants Causeway. There are easy public bus options. I love the McCombs small bus tours which do a game of thrones tour but two nights might be a bit much for you. If your flight is super early they have a 10 am tour. You finish the tour around 6 so could take the bus back to Dublin or the train to Hueston station. You don't want a car there because of parking. Then reverse your trip flying out of Shannon.
The other option would be to take the gobus to Galway. Great city to get over jet lag. Stay city center. You could get a car next day there. . Kylemore Abby is north of Galway so you would have to do a loop back to go to Dingle. I would not bother but head south and see the cliffs, a bit of the Burren and then head on down to Dingle maybe making it to Tralee for the night. We crossed the Shannon on the ferry once. Saved a bit of time. I am not sure about Shannon options but if you live close by a trip to Galway from there is not a biggie but if aa long flight you might be a bit unsteady to drive that day. Lahinch is a nice seaside village to stay. Enough to take in and I am cooking.
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Old Jan 26th, 2020, 04:16 AM
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We are coming from the United States. Thank you both. You have given me a lot to consider. This is very helpful.

Last edited by jmartin228; Jan 26th, 2020 at 04:20 AM.
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Old Jan 26th, 2020, 05:19 AM
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Received 1 Like on 1 Post I like for Ireland. Also is great for distance and options. We have been so many times that now we base ourselves for several days and do day trips from Galway or Dublin or someplace else. We spent five nights in Ballycotton, County Cork in May. Next trip we are going to stay on the Dingle peninsula for five nights and just enjoy and I am going back to Ballycotton to take cooking classes at Ballymaloe. I could stay there for the whole trip. First time you will want to take in as much as you can and we did on our first trip.

Fishing in Cork? Will have to investigate that.

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Old Jan 26th, 2020, 05:40 AM
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For a first overseas trip you should scale back your sightseeing objectives. Our first trip overseas (we were 30-somethings) was to Vienna for 6 days, and I naively over scheduled the itinerary because I wanted to see and do everything. Once we settled into our hotel and navigated the U-Bahn, exiting at Stephansdom on a sunny day, wowed by the beauty of everything and the rush of being overseas, the itinerary vanished into thin air. Beautiful buildings! Cafes, too! I remember being so excited that I purchased a postcard, went to Aida (a chain cafe) and immediately wrote to my best friend about how spectacular everything was after just a couple of hours.

That was 20-ish years and 42 countries ago. And our travel strategy hasn't really changed. I "plan" for spontaneity because you just never know what you'll stumble upon or otherwise be distracted by. We have missed many "must do" and "must see" because we opt to see and do what appeals to us, but we're okay with that. There will always be a "Next Time."

Do try to us public transportation if possible for Ireland. Jetlag can be a cruel mistress, and the last thing you'll want to do is drive. Ireland's scenery is compelling. Our daughter attends Trinity College Dublin and on her move-in/orientation week I took a couple of day trips here and there by IrishRail and absolutely loved them (and I'm not much of a train traveler). And although this was our third visit to Dublin, I still had to remind myself to, "Look Right." You don't want to waste holiday time intently focusing on the roads, either.

Our fourth visit to Ireland will be this spring; we are planning a visit to coordinate with the end of DD's term, to see Ireland by IrishRail and hired car (for visits to DH's ancestral places). This leaves plenty of time for long walks in towns and pints of beer in cozy pubs without worrying about getting behind the wheel.

Good Luck. Happy Planning!
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Old Jan 26th, 2020, 07:49 AM
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Ok. You have all been so helpful. I have decided to eliminate Dingle Peninsula and Killarney National Park. This is what the trip itinerary could look like based off of your advice:

Fly into Dublin: Eat, Drink, Sleep.
Take a Day Tour to Cliffs of Moher and Galway, back to Dublin that night.
Take the train, or bus, to Cork and rent a car.
Stay 3 days in Cork: Midleton Distillery, Blarney Stone & Castle, Cork Harbour Fishing Day.

Sound good so far???
Here is where I get lost:

Do I drive from Cork to Rock of Cashel and then to Kilkenny and stay there for the night?
Ultimately ending up back in Dublin.

Now I am at Day 6 or 7 in Dublin.

Here is what I still want to accomplish with the most efficient use of my time, not exactly in this order:

Full day in Dublin
Overnight at Castle Leslie or Cabra Castle
Day trip to Giants Causeway and Belfast

Can this be done if we fly out on day 11? Should I only stay in Cork for 2 days and give myself more time in Dublin?
Keeping in mind we will be traveling in September if this affects any of my plans in any way.

Fingers crossed I am on to something here
Thanks for your input. Cheers!

Last edited by jmartin228; Jan 26th, 2020 at 07:53 AM.
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Old Jan 26th, 2020, 12:37 PM
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Our daughter and a friend took three days/two nights during their autumn break last October to visit Galway and the Cliffs of Moher. They caught an early train from Dublin (2.5 hours) and explored Galway that afternoon. The following day they boarded a 1000 bus to Galway and arrived around 1230. From there they caught a 1515 bus/train combo back to Dublin. I suppose you could make Galway a long day from Dublin but when even two college students decide to stay a couple of nights that might be worth considering.

When I accompanied DD to Dublin in late August/early September of last year to help her settle in I took a long day trip to Belfast on one of the "off" days. Honestly, I wish I had planned an overnight. My outbound train from Dublin was delayed, and the return train options did not really give me much time to explore. It was pouring rain in Belfast, too, so that dampened my sightseeing mood, and I wished that I had planned an overnight. I also took a half-day train to explore Kilkenney and found that to be quite sufficient, even with a break for lunch.
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