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Scotland and Ireland, 12 days. Suggestions?

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Jan 13th, 2012, 07:12 AM
  #1
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Scotland and Ireland, 12 days. Suggestions?

Hi all,

It's back to Europe for my wife and I. It's our 5th wedding anniversary this year and we'd like to have one last big trip before having kids. She's 27 and I'm 30.

We're thinking of Ireland this time. We also have friends outside of Edinburgh that we'd like to visit for a day or two, hence the title. We've both been to Scotland before, although I missed out on seeing Edinburgh (spent most of my time in Glasgow).

She likes cities, I like nature. She likes a schedule, I like to sit and "people watch". We both like history and culture, and we both love a good fish-n-chips, but neither of us are big into the "nightlife".

Hopefully that helps a bit. Here's a preliminary itinerary I've put together. I'd love to get some feedback!

Day 0: fly out of MDT/BWI/PHL (right now, BWI->BOS->DUB is the best deal)
Days 1,2: Dublin
Days 3,4: Galway
Day 5: Sligo
Day 6: Giant's Causeway
Days 7,8: Belfast
Days 9,10: Edinburgh
Day 11: Dublin
Day 12: fly home

I'd love to skip the journey back to Dublin to get an extra day in Scotland, but the airfare is much cheaper flying out of Dublin.

Is renting a car in Ireland the best way to do things? During our last trip to Europe, we made exclusive use of trains.
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Jan 13th, 2012, 11:37 AM
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Renting a car is the best for your plans but the problem is hiring from Dublin and dropping in (another country)Belfast.

I would reverse the journey start in Dublin, hire a car then Belfast for the first 2 nights round to Dublin to drop the car and either fly to Edinburgh (you might be able to leave your main baggage at the hotel if you use the same place for the 2 nights and the night before your flight home) Taking Ryanair with just one 10kg hand baggage each will be the cheapest flight.
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Jan 13th, 2012, 11:41 AM
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Or rail and sail across to Edinburgh and back either from Dublin or probably better Belfast.
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Jan 13th, 2012, 05:10 PM
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Tony - I hadn't thought of that. Is there really a problem dropping off the car in a different country? I read that the border between Ireland and the UK is not even marked well.

It does make things easier to put Dublin at the end of the trip, as we would avoid a pointless overnight pre-flight stay.

Now my plans are this:
Fly into Dublin, hop on a train to Belfast.
Belfast/Giant's Causeway for 2-3 days
Ferry+train over to Edinburgh for 2 days
Train+ferry back to Belfast
...Here it seems silly to go to Dublin just to rent a car...
drive to Galway for 2 days
drive to Sligo for 2 days
drive to Dublin for 2-3 days
fly home

Actually, what about renting and returning in Galway? The train runs from there to Dublin, so it wouldn't be too bad. I'm going to run some costs and see which makes more sense.
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Jan 13th, 2012, 05:33 PM
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it isn't the border--it is that the car will be licensed/registered in a different country. If a rental company will do it, there will likely be hefty drop off fees.

When rail/ferry option would be good if you had more time,but w/ only 12 days --fly to Edinburgh and back
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Jan 13th, 2012, 05:34 PM
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That should be >>The rail/ferry option<<
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Jan 13th, 2012, 05:40 PM
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Yes, I was looking at travel times, and getting from Dublin to Edinburgh via train/bus/ferry would chew up an entire day.

Is a 2.5 hour train time between Dublin and Belfast accurate?

I did check out Galway car rentals. Very cheap at around $25/day for unlimited miles.

Thanks for the advice Tony and Janis!
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Jan 13th, 2012, 06:00 PM
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w/ the rentals -- be sure to factor in expensive CDW and top/excess coverage. Almost no credit cards cover rental car insurance in Ireland (they do in NI/the UK). One rare type of World Mastercard will cover the insurance --but others won't. The insurance can sometimes cost more than the base rate.
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Jan 14th, 2012, 03:30 AM
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How much baggage will you have? Budget flights from Ireland to Edinburgh have strict or expensive policies.

Bus from Dublin Airport to Belfast takes 2 hours direct.

Pinching the first night and hiring a car from Dublin then heading north you could go down to Shannon for a flight to Edinburgh. returning from there to Dublin.

Budget have a hire depot in Galway city but ensure you get an all inclusive quote with insurance and fuel policy details.

Insurance is the main problem with the two countries on one island and whilst only a few companies will charge extra to take a hire car between the two they must always be informed.

Have you thought of flying into/out of Scotland direct from home?

Just a few options.
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Jan 16th, 2012, 10:04 AM
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The more I think about it, the more I think we'll drop Edinburgh off the trip.

Also, the more I read, the more it seems that a car is almost a necessity.

So, forget my itineraries above. If you had 12 days in Ireland, what would you see? I'm worried that there won't be enough to keep my wife interested. She tends to like the more urban settings and seeing the major sights (e.g. a trip to London wouldn't be complete without seeing the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, etc.). I'm finding that I'm at a loss for what to "see" in Ireland. Personally, I'll be happy to just drive around the countryside for the whole trip. The photos I've seen are simply jaw-dropping.
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Jan 16th, 2012, 10:27 AM
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Send your wife to London and you go to Ireland

(That wasn't that helpful)

There are hundreds of fabulous things to see Ireland -- it is just that the majority of them are not in/near cities.

Your wife wouldn't enjoy castles, gardens, jaw dropping scenery, country pubs???
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Jan 16th, 2012, 10:40 AM
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It's not that she wouldn't enjoy them; I think she just needs something specific to look forward to. She does want to see the Giant's Causeway and the old McQuillan castle Dunluce.

Maybe I'll leave her in Dublin while I go exploring the rest of the country.
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Jan 16th, 2012, 10:50 AM
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Go to Johnnie Fox' pub in the hills outside Dublin . . . what a great fun time! A word of caution . . . it takes twice as long to get anywhere in Ireland than you think it will take; the roads present real challenges. I concur with flying between the two countries, and it seems like you are trying to fit alot of different places in with the concurrent "lots of driving." My experience was that most of Ireland is seen from the road and not from the cities which is problematic given your wife's taste. What about a spa experience through in somewhere?
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Jan 16th, 2012, 11:09 AM
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Ha, she hates spas.

Maybe I'm painting her in the wrong light here. Our last trip was to Florida. We went to Universal Orlando and then drove down to the Everglades for a few days. She enjoyed each equally, perhaps the Everglades more. It's just that she needs a destination. If it's "driving around the countryside", it's no good. If it's "going to the Cliffs of Moher", it's fine.
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Jan 16th, 2012, 04:01 PM
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There are plenty of "specifics" well worth seeing/visiting in Dublin, Galway, Belfast and on the roads in between. Once you have some idea of the route you want to take or major areas of interest, I suggest you get a guidebook Footprints and Lonely Planet, are two of my favorites, but there are other good ones as well. Then you can see what the possibilities are and narrow it down to specific sites.

If still planning on visiting Edinburgh, fly into EDB and then back to either Dublin or Shannon. Northern Ireland ( Dunluce Castle and Giant's Causway) fits well with any plans to visit Belfast and Dublin. Shannon works best for Galway and visiting sites in the west of Ireland. With only 12 days I think it's too much to try to do Edinburgh, Dublin, Belfast, the north coast and the west.
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Jan 16th, 2012, 08:04 PM
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>>fly into EDB<< That would be EDI
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Jan 17th, 2012, 05:00 AM
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12 days gives you time to follow the coast anticlockwise from Dublin to Galway or Limerick and back to Dublin dependant on what you want to see on the way.

The 1st time I brought Christina over we did Belfast to Dublin the long way in 2 weeks. Belfast-Portrush-Donegal-Westport-Spiddle-Ennis-Dublin could be an option for a Roadtrip.
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Jan 17th, 2012, 07:47 AM
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Thanks for the advice, everyone. It's time for me to dive into the guidebooks.
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Jan 18th, 2012, 11:11 AM
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Okay, one more itinerary. Let me know if stays are too short or too long. The order of the cities may change.

Dublin (3 days), including day trip to Wicklow Mountains/Glendalough

Belfast (3 days), including day trip to Giant's Causeway

Galway (3 days), including day trips to Aran Islands, Cliffs of Moher, Burren and to Connemara Nat'l Park

This leaves us with two days to play with. Would it be worth adding Limerick or Cork to the list, or some town in the northwest?
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Jan 18th, 2012, 11:44 AM
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I would put the 2 spare days back between Belfast and Galway, there is a lot of tourist neglected areas in Donegal and Sligo.
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