Hi Everyone! My wife and I will be traveling to Ireland for 10 days (5/26 - 6/5). We will be flying in and out of Dublin. Our first three days will be in Dublin. After that we are not sure where to go next. I will rent a car and would like to stay a couple of nights in different locations. Any of your thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
For the best scenery, rugged cliffs, mountain passes and Irish culture (the Gaeltacht - Irish-speaking pockets - and trad music) consider anywhere along the West and Soutwest coasts from Kinsale and the Beara and Iveragh peninsulas in Co. Cork to Dingle Town and the Dingle Peninsula in Co. Kerry to Ennis and Doolin in Co. Clare to the Aran Islands in Co. Galway and to Galway Town and Connemara.
But ten days is a such short time to see much of anything, especially after three nights in Dublin. All depends on your interests, your tolerance for driving and the like. You can also take the train out of Dublin. More information would help.
Do you arrive on May 26 and depart on June 5 or do you arrive on May 27? I'm assuming you are traveling from North America and that's usually an overnight flight. I ask because it affects how many days you really have in Ireland and therefore, how many places you can realistically visit. Assuming you are traveling from the US (or transiting via the US), you will clear US immigration in Dublin, which means you really need to be at the airport 3 hours before departure. So the timing of your flight will affect where you spend your last night.
Agree completely with David from Missoula.
First suggestion: try hard to find a way to make your trip to Ireland longer than 10 days. you will be glad if you can.
If you can't make the trip longer (and maybe even if you can), don't spend 3 days in Dublin. The best part of Ireland (IMHO) is the west and southwest. Land in Dublin, then get right on a bus or train to Galway from the airport (easy, comfy, quick, cheap). Arrive in Galway, walk around, stay awake until dinner, then sleep deeply. Wake up, rent a car, head down the west coast, and spend your days along the Wild Atlantic Way. When you have run out of days, drop your car someplace in the south that has a rail station, take the train to Dublin. Spend maybe 1 day there, and fly out.
If this is to be your first trip to Ireland then I agree with David's suggestion (both Davids actually) to concentrate on the area between Dingle and the Beara peninsula. There's plenty enough there to keep you busy for 6 or 7 days. Most here advise steering clear of Killarney town - it's something of a tourist trap and it can be a real pain trying to get out of there in the morning once the tour buses start running.
Kenmare is popular with many here - it's convenient to the southern half of the Ring of Kerry and is also a short drive from the very pretty Beara peninsula.
Staying a few nights north of Killarney would allow easy access to Dingle and the northern half of the ROK, the exquisite Gap of Dunloe, and the Skellig Ring Road.
I suggest returning to Dublin the afternoon before your flight and turning in the car at the airport. Spending the night at an airport hotel or in the city will greatly simplify your logistics on getaway day.
Robert and David have triggered another suggestion. Unless you have some pressing urge or need to see Dublin, then fly into Shannon in Co. Clare instead. And lengthen your trip by at least four or five days if possible. You can always take the train to Dublin from a number of towns in the West or leave it for a future trip.
Here's the link to Irish Rail. Check out the map to get a macro view of just where it goes. All trains to the south depart from Dublin's Heuston Station.
Dublin is fun, gritty and full of Irish history and three days will be a good first stop. I second the suggestion related to Doolin, Ennis, the Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands, etc. The Rock of Cashel is worth a couple of hours. Kilkenny is also a fun place.
We spent 10 days there in 2010. Upon landing in Dublin we drove to Trim castle, then continued up to Crawfordsburn for our first night. From there we drove the Antrum coast stopping at Carrickfergus, Carrick-a-Rede bridge, Giants Causway, and finally Old Bushmills distillery. We skipped Derry due to a small bombing. Other places we visited on the trip include an ancient ring fort near Stranolar, Marian Shrine, Galway, Cliffs of Moher, Dingle Peninsula, Hill of Tara, Muckross House, Cobh, Kinsale, Cahir castle, Kilkenny, Rock of Cashel, Avoca, and Glendalough/monastic city. We finished the trip with 2 nights Dublin.
Unless you have some pressing urge or need to see Dublin, then fly into Shannon in Co. Clare instead.
Indeed. But, flights to Shannon are harder to find. The vast majority of flights go to Dublin, so that's where most of us end up entering the Irish Republic. Shannon would certainly save time and greatly simplify any trip focused on the west/southwest, IF you can make that work.
Interesting comment about fewer flights to Shannon. Any idea why that is? With one exception (by choice), we've always flown into Shannon on our multiple trips to Ireland and always had more than enough price point, schedule and other options from which to choose.
While in Dublin will you take any day trips? I suggest visiting Brú na Bóinne (you can sign up for tours at the visitor center) and Trim.
I also recommend renting a car and driving to Dingle for a couple nights and driving the peninsula.
While I think of it: I suggest collecting your rental car at the airport rather than in the city. The airport concessions open early (around 5:30 or 6 AM) whereas those in the city don't open until later in the morning. It's usually a little easier to book an automatic at the airport, plus I generally find it easier to ease back into the whole left-handed driving thing when starting from the airport. Getting out of Dublin city while trying to adjust to an unfamiliar vehicle layout and unfamiliar rules of the road would be a daunting experience for a first-timer I think.
Getting an early start from the airport would enable you to head down to Glendalough well before the tour buses start to arrive around 9:30. You'll have the place all to yourselves if you arrive early, and it's a completely different experience without the crowds. Take the Old Military Road (the R115 on the map) from Dublin, which winds its way thru some of the most scenic parts of the Wicklow mountains. It has a history of its own that might be of interest, plus it's just a beautiful drive.
In case you happen to be a fan of the old UK tv show Ballykissangel, it was filmed primarily in Avoca, 12 miles from Glendalough. There also a woolen mill in town that is worth stopping at.
Thanks to everyone for your great suggestions. We have chosen to stay in for 3 days, each in Dublin, Galway for and Dingle. We will use Galway and Dingle as bases to explore the area. We will probably take a train to Galway and rent a car for the rest of the trip returning the car to the Dublin airport. Have to figure out the rental car situation. Thanks again for your suggestions!