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Flying into Dublin/Family of 5/June 12, 2021

Hello!

We are flying from the U.S., probably Newark to Dublin on Saturday, June 12, 2021. My grandfather is originally from Kenmare and I wanted to take our three kids, ages 14, 13, and 10. Starting in Dublin, we were planning on staying in Ireland for 5 nights and flying over to Edinburgh (from Dublin) for 2 nights, and then to London for 5 - 6 nights.

(Note: I really wish there was a direct flight from BWI, Philly, or Newark to Shannon. But I know with COVID and everything else, it's pretty much not even possible. We can only fly Sat. June 12 or Sun. June 13).

For the Ireland leg, we'll be renting a van. Is Waterford even worth visiting anymore? Would you drive directly from Dublin to Kenmare? As I recall, Cork isn't necessarily the most exciting place to visit for a first trip. What loop would you plan? This is our children's first visit.

If you have any suggested itinerary for the Scotland and London legs of the trip, please do advise! We think we'll take public transportation in Scotland and taking the train to London from there. We're open to renting a car or taking public transportation in London and on the day excursions from there.

Thank you so much for your guidance! :-)

Posted by
17020 posts

You certainly won't benefit from a rental car while you're in London. Traffic is bad and the cost of parking would probably be astronomical. If you have time for a day-trip out of town, the odds are very good that it will be easily accomplished via public transportation.

Some of the expensive, big-name sights both in London and outside it have 2-for-1 deals that require both parties to have a train ticket (or in London an Underground pass bought at an actual train station). In the past a few of the sights suspended their participation in the 2-for-1 deals during peak season, so that's a detail to verify. Taking advantage of the 2-for-1 offers means standing in line and buying your tickets at the ticket office, so the possibility of a ticket line is something to consider. In addition, a few highly popular sights might be sold out, or sold out for several hours, when you show up. I opted not to try to use the 2-for-1 deal at the Churchill War Rooms last year for that reason.

With only two nights in Edinburgh, I doubt that you'll have time to head out of town. Does your family have a particular interest you want to cater to while there? The National Museum of Scotland is excellent and is well designed to appeal to all ages. Edinburgh Castle is very popular (and thus often quite crowded); I skipped it, having much more interest in art museums than in castles. I can well imagine it would be a hit with youngsters.

Posted by
23751 posts

We're open to renting a car or taking public transportation in London and on the day excursions from there.

Have you been to London before?

Having a car in London is no fun. And it is both expensive and slow. You have to at least pay the Congestion Charge every day. That £15 every day (except Christmas Day), and if you miss paying a day it gets very expensive.

Then parking (if you can find it) will be between £20 and £40 a day.

According to an official answer by The Mayor to an official question from The London Assembly - the local government body -

Long term general traffic speeds in London are measured for central,
inner and outer London using GPS-based data for key roads. Weekday
(07:00 to 19:00) speeds from 2008 to 2018 have changed from:

8.7 mph to 7.1 mph in central London

12.5 mph to 11.6 mph in inner London

20.3 mph to 19.3 mph in outer London

so in 10 years the average speeds have decreased to the second number on each line. Since 2018 it has become even worse.

I say these things as a local - as somebody who has to drive into London more often than I would like.

This doesn't count the fact that entire boroughs have adopted the 20mph speed limit enforced by camera and sleeping policemen, and the very extensive use of both yellow and grey speed and junction/bus lane cameras. And that most of central London roads have very narrow lanes in many places, even major roads (because they squeeze in an extra lane to try to move more traffic, but they are really narrow. And the pariah of cycle lane construction and cycle superhighway construction and other roadworks.

As somebody who has had to deal with driving in London for 40 years, and who has dealt with traveling into London since I was a boy let me just give you one piece of advice - don't try to drive in London. The outer suburbs aren't much better but at least you might have a chance. London drivers are NOT the most polite in the world.

Posted by
704 posts
  1. I would not drive directly from the airport to Kenmare. Some people wouldn’t drive at all, but I certainly wouldn’t go further than an hour or so - jet lag, opposite side of the road, and a 4-5 hour drive don’t usually combine well.

  2. I am trying to figure out why it makes sense to spend 2 days of travel to spend one day in Edinburgh. I would cut Edinburgh from this trip and go on to London from Dublin. Spend that extra night in Ireland - it is an amazing place for kids! You won’t be sorry!

  3. And you will need to spend one night back in Dublin to be close enough for your flight at the end of your Ireland stay.

So: 1 night between Dublin and Kenmare; 3 nights in Kenmare; 1 night back near Dublin; 5-6 nights in London.

Posted by
13 posts

acraven:

Thanks for the info about the 2-for-1 deals in London and posing those important questions. As for Edinborough, I'm not sure what we'll do. It all depends on what the majority of the kids want to do.

Posted by
13 posts

acraven & Nigel:

Thanks so much for the info on the horrific-sounding driving and parking scenario in London. We've never been to London before, so this is very, very helpful! I know we'll want to hit some of the touristy spots because we don't know if or when we'll be back there again.

Posted by
13 posts

Travelmom: Thanks for your great points and questions. Just to clarify, we will be spending two nights and three days in Edinburgh. Also, I've been to Ireland twice before and so I don't really want to spend as much time there because I don't know if and when I'll make it to Scotland and London again. Is there a midway overnight stop point you'd suggest for Dublin to Kenmare?

What day excursions would you recommend from London? My kids are not Harry Potter fans. Any lovely places, maybe a bit that you'd recommend for high tea (we're willing to splurge on this)?

Posted by
704 posts

Well by the time you fly from Dublin to Edinburgh, find your lodging to drop off bags, eat lunch, and get started with sightseeing, you don’t have a full day upon arrival. And this is only if you get a really early start. Same with leaving for London, whether you fly or take the train. With 3 kids, it would be hard to pack up, check out, do some sightseeing for a couple of hours, go back to get the luggage, and then head to the airport or train station in less than 1/2 day. So at the most, you have 1 full day and 2 partial days in Edinburgh. That’s fine - but you need to not think of it as 3 full days. You really only have 1 full day and the rest depends on your transportation schedule. I love Edinburgh but that really is a rush. If that’s ok, then go for it. Busses and trams in Edinburgh (and to and from the airport) are very convenient.

For between Dublin and Kenmare: I haven’t stopped anywhere along that way, but maybe Kilkenny? Or somewhere near Glendalough? Others will know better on this question. Since you have been to Ireland, you know that the Google time estimates between destinations is optimistic. The other option is to spend the night in Dublin and head off to Kenmare the next day after a night of sleep.

Posted by
3340 posts

You’ve already gotten several responses, although your question is posted under the “Hotel and Restaurant Reviews” section in this forum, and you might get even more answers if you reposted under the “Destination Q&A“ section of this forum - just a suggestion. The Reviews here are generally written by people who already stayed at a particular hotel or ate at a specific restaurant, to give their review of the place. The Destination Q&A section is usually where folks post their questions about a destination they plan to visit, to get the most answers. You could even post once in the Destination Q&A for Ireland, separately for Scotland, and again for England.

Given that, in Edinburgh, consider a visit to the Royal Yacht Britannia, now permanently docked just east of town, to see how Queen Elizabeth II used to cruise the waves. And if taking the train to London, a stopover for part of the day (or even spending the night, of you could take one away from London) could be some time visiting York, right along the way.

Posted by
5296 posts

Stop at the Rock of Cashel in your drive from Dublin to Kenmare. I’d then take the time to show the kids the Gap of Dunloe as well as the Cliffs of Portmagee. Both short drives from Kenmare. The drive through Moll’s Gap and Killarney National Park is lovely but leave early to miss being stuck behind tour busses.

Absolutely NO need for a car in London. Merely get Oyster Cards for each family member ( purchase when you get there) and off you go. Riding the tube and busses are a practical means of transport as is walking.

For example tube to the Tower of London, and following your visit to the Tower walk a few blocks to the glass covered Leadenhall Market for lunch then stroll across Tower Bridge past the Beehive
( London’s City Hall) to the HMS Belfast. From there onto either the Shard or Borough Market. Then take the tube back to where ever you are staying for a pub grub dinner.

Get pocket size London tube maps to carry with you. Usually available on the counters by the manned ticket windows. Helps plot your daily routes as does reading TimeOut magazine London online. TimeOut has opening times for museums, theatres, galleries, etc. https://www.timeout.com/london

Start your days early in London. There’s lots to see.
Portobello Road Market on Saturday’s is sight to behold and if anyone is a vinyl lover ( albums ) Spitafields Market on the first and 3rd Friday of the month is a must.

Definitely see theatre. You can see what productions will be offering 1/2 price tickets at the original 1/2 Theatre Booth in Leicester Square by going online.
https://officiallondontheatre.com/tkts/

As far as day trips from London, Hampton Court is the most obvious but you should also consider Cambridge, Bletchley Park and Canterbury.

Lastly, make a practical investment and either go to your local library, a bookstore or order on online but do get the RS Guidebooks for Ireland, Scotland and London. Loads of useful, easy to understand guidance and travel tips in each books.

Love Ireland and London. Been a number times to each. Always find something new to experience on each trip. Scotland is on my wish list.

Have fun!

Posted by
1733 posts

Rather than returning to Dublin for your ongoing flight to Edinburgh, why not do a one-way rental and drop the car at Shannon? As I recall the drop fee is only 30 Euros or thereabouts, and there are cheap non-stop flights on Aer Lingus to Edinburgh from Shannon, though I don't know if they operate every day.
Am assuming that you're doing this on a multi-destination ticket, right? ie flying into Dublin and home from London?
It is a long driving day getting from Dublin to Kenmare. You might consider reorganizing your itinerary to stay in Dublin for the couple of nights on arrival - that way you'd have a chance to shed your jetlag and get a good nights sleep (or two) before getting behind the wheel. Would make the long drive a little more doable, especially if you break it up with stops along the way at either Glendalough or Cashel. Cork wouldn't be in my top ten. Kinsale is pretty but it would be too far out of your way, and besides it can be a congested mess at midday thanks to all of the day trippers and tour buses.
For such a short trip I don't think I'd prioritize a stop in Waterford ... not with all of the other attractions at hand in the vicinity of Kenmare, one of which is a day trip circling the Beara Peninsula just to the south. There are some spectacular seascapes there that rival anything you'll see along the ROK but without the crowds. There's also the ruins of an old famine village that might be a fun, off the beaten path, excursion if you have the interest.
Suggested easy day trips from London would be down to Greenwich - the Royal Observatory there is fascinating, to Brighton for a day at the beach, or maybe over to Salisbury - about an hour and a half by train from London.

9/8 Edited to add: Looks like the cheap flights from Shannon operate on Friday, Sunday and Monday, so if you did opt to spend your first couple of nights in Dublin your schedule would be set up to catch one of them over the weekend.

Posted by
1093 posts

If you like Roberts suggestion of shannon, let me suggest a destination that I apparently am more fond of than most posters here. Bunratty castle and folk park are near enough to the shannon airport that there's a shuttle available. I've visited the folk Park twice as an adult and really loved it. The photos I've taken there in period cottages, etc are the ones people always ask about in my albums. You could dump the car early and spend a last wonderful afternoon and dinner there. I love the folk Park, but am lukewarm on the castle dinner.

Posted by
783 posts

Have you considered flying into London and doing the trip in reverse? There are direct flights from Philly to LHR and probably also exist from BWI - from Philly via British Airways or American. You can proceed north from London to Edinburgh and then fly directly to Shannon, ending by driving to Dublin with a direct flight back to Philly via Aer Lingus. You might have to pick up the phone to work it out with British Airways if it isn't evident how to do it via their website. And sometimes speaking with someone on the phone is good so all your questions can be answered. You could probably arrange the Edinburgh to Shannon flight at the same time.

I would look at London Walks for arranged day trips from London - look now to see examples of what they offer, but know that the actual schedule for next June won't be posted till later.

I am sure you can find many interesting things to do in London via a guide book. I try to visit the Globe whenever visiting in summer.

Posted by
11158 posts

I just want to emphasize something said above. Two nights does NOT mean three days; it means one day, and parts of two other days. Depending on when you arrive and when you leave, those partial days may or may not be usable for sightseeing.

Also remember that when you change locations, you lose a half day. Getting from the hotel to the airport or train, taking the plane or train, getting from the airport or station to your hotel - all of this time adds up. Also remember that the larger the group, the slower it moves, and a group only moves as quickly as its slowest member (and who that is can vary).

I haven't been to Ireland, but something that is emphasized by everyone who has, is how much longer getting around takes than expected, compared to getting around the US. Small roads and a lack of highways mean that you simply can't cover as much ground as you may be thinking you can.

Finally, the day of arrival is usually a jet lagged haze, and the day of departure is taking up with getting to the airport.

So, unless there are very specific things you want to see in Edinburgh, I'd skip it on this trip, and add the time to Ireland. Unless you want to focus on Scotland, and then I'd skip London. Remember that your kids are young and will presumably have plenty of other opportunities to travel.

As for flights, I have no idea what they will be like next year. Before COVID, there were summer flights from Newark and Philadelphia to Shannon, and year-round flights from these to Dublin. BWI has flights to London only, but you can connect there to Dublin or Shannon if you want (although with kids, I do understand that nonstop flights are highly preferred).

Posted by
2981 posts

Day trips out of London

Hampton Court Palace (an easy train ride)
Windsor Castle (an easy train ride)
Bletchley Park ( easy train, good if history or computer buffs)

Realistically there is a lot to see within London itself.

I too, would drop Edinburgh out of the itinerary.

I like the Premier Inn chain of hotels for family friendly value.

Posted by
14 posts

We were in Scotland last October with Rick Steves and had a fabulous time. We took the train to London from Edinburgh and a 4 hour train trip turned to 8 with 3 unexpected delays. Plan accordingly with kids. I recommend taking your kids on a "London Walks"
tour. Check out their website; they have tours that will appeal to all ages and all interests, from ghost walks to pub crawls and museums as well. Each walk is 10 pounds for adults, I believe 8 pounds for children. No need to sign up, just show up at the tube station and they go rain or shine and no matter how many or few show up. The British Museum is free and fabulous for kids. We are heading to Ireland next August, god willing, so no advice for that part of your trip. If your going to be in London for several days I suggest you get a tube pass. London Tube is really easy to use and it's a great teachable moment for your children to learn and get comfortable using public transport in a foreign city. Enjoy your trip and be sure to give us all an update.

Posted by
5860 posts

I really do hope you all will be able to take this in June but would not count on it.