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11 days in Ireland and going non stop

Hello, my husband and I are flying in and out of Dublin March 19-29. We are hoping for some feedback on our below very FULL itinerary. With kids in the future we want to take this time to see as much as we can as it will be a long time till we can come back. Please advise on things we should eliminate or add or different places to go / not go. We have never been to Ireland and are hoping so well versed Ireland travelers can give us some input. Just a note we only have one full 24 hours in Dublin to explore as neither of us love huge cities and would rather explore the rest of the Ireland.

March 19 Day 1- Land Dublin 7am - drive to Kilkenny passing through Glendalough and Wicklow mts to Kilkenny (sleep in Kilkenny)
March 20 Day 2 - Drive to Cachel Rock then to Wexford then to Rosslare then back to Waterford (sleep in Waterford)
March 21 Day 3 - Waterford crystal tour then Drive through (exploring along the way ) Cobh, Cork end in Kinsale (sleep in Kinsale)
March 22 Day 4- Drive to Barnel Castle, Muckross House, Killarney, Drive the Ring of Kerry to Dingle (sleep in Dingle)
March 23 Day 5- Drive to Calre, Cliffs of Moher to Galway (sleep in Galway)
March 24 Day 6-Aran Islands - Ashford castle if time then drive to Westport (Sleep in Westport)
March 25 Day 7 - leave Westport and drive to the Slieve League Cliffs, Glencolumbkille, Dungloe, end in Drerry (sleep in Derry)
March 26 Day 8 -Leave Derry watch sunrise over Malin Head, drive Causeway coast, Dark Hedges, drive to Belfast (sleep in Belfast)
March 27 Day 9 - Belfast to Bru Na Bonnie to Trim to Dublin (sleep in Dublin)
March 28 Day 10 - Dublin city tour day (sleep in Dublin)
March 29 Day 11- Fly out of Dublin in the am

so I know we have a TON! on our itinerary, all which might not be possible but I don't know.... , so what are your suggestions?. PLEASE give me some feedback!!

Thank you so very much!!


Posted by
5745 posts

I suggest you make an apppointment at a hospital upon your return from Ireland, because you are going to need some serious medical attention.

All kidding aside, two things that should be obvious but need to be said:

  1. Do NOT plan to fly to the other side of the world, arrive exhausted, jetlagged, and groggy (you will be), then jump in a car and drive away - in a country where everything is on the "wrong side." Your plan for "Day 1" could send you to a hospital (or a morgue) in Ireland, so maybe you won't need that reservation for medical attention when you get home - you might only get a few minutes from the airport before your accident. Seriously, do not do this. I hope you have good medical insurance.

  2. Your plan is not realistic. You have 2, 3, 4 or more things scheduled for pretty much every day - including long drives. This is not physically possible. I would suggest you need to cut at least half of the things you have on your wish list (maybe more).

I'll leave the rest to others.

Posted by
61 posts

Day 1 - Driving after a red eye flight can be dangerous, especially if you are not familiar with driving on the left.
Day 4 - I assume you mean Blarney Castle. Do you plan to tour Blarney Castle and Muckross House? If so, I'm pretty sure you'll hit the ROK at peak traffic time. Also ROK is south of Killarney and Dingle is to the north. I can't imagine trying to do all that in one day.

Personally, I try to savor the sights I see and the people I meet rather than simply saying, "saw that," and checking it off a list. You may be a "sprinter" and I'm a "stroller." However, think about the memories you have from past vacations. What was meaningful and lasting, and what's just a blur. Good luck.

Posted by
699 posts

I'm going to add a different point of view. In our 60's, husband and I drove out of Heathrow to the Midlands on the wrong side of the road. We made sure we slept on the flight over (i.e., drugs). We drove just fine except for one curb and me, the passenger, scared witless until I got used to my side of the car. So, yes, it can be iffy to drive after a transatlantic flight, but you sound young and capable. I am in the planning stages of my own September trip so I cannot speak with authority on your plans other than you should probably skip Cork and any other big city to focus instead on the smaller town. Day 4/3-22...oh, boy. Too much I'm sure. Drive from Kinsale...maybe the Ring of Kerry and end in Dingle. March 23 - I don't know where Caire is. Some people have said that cliffs in Kerry and Dingle are better than Moher. Maybe you could focus on those instead of Moher. I think that March 7 is too big of a leap. Personally, I would skip Waterford tour (but I'm past the crystal stage) and focus on Cobh and Kinsale. I didn't cover all of your trip but I hope it gives you just a little help.

Posted by
836 posts

I would also skip Waterford and the factory tour. I’m not familiar with Barnel castle. If you meant Blarney castle, I would skip that too. 30 years ago the Cliffs of Moher were awesome. From what others say, it’s rather touristy now. Bear in mind that it will most likely be rainy, making driving a little slower and perhaps more hazardous when you are fatigued. Also remember to add about 30% drive time to whatever google maps tells you.

Posted by
6453 posts

Here’s my advice having driven Eire and Northern Ireland more than once.

  1. You are on a vacation so don’t pretend you are an Indy 500 driver. Your present itinerary means you’ll spend more time in your car than experiencing Ireland. Distances are deceiving because of the size of Road’s, sheep, tour busses, lorries, hikers, bicyclests, etc.
  2. Ireland is gorgeous. Make time to truly enjoy its beauty.
  3. Irish people are truly lovely. Make time to enjoy your interactions with them.
  4. Waterford is not a place I’d waste time seeing. You do know that Waterford Crystal hasn’t been made in Ireland for years.?! Artisans still there though.
  5. Personally I find the West Coast Of Ireland worth days of exploration. Killarney National Park, Gap Of Dunloe, Cliffs Of Kerry in Portmagee, Ring Of Kerry, Sneem, Dingle, Slea Head, Coulmeenoole Beach, Tralee, Conner Pass.
  6. SLOW DOWN. Your trip will be more enjoyable if you do!!
Posted by
11973 posts

This is March and daylight hours aren't particularly long in the northern locations.

When I plan an itinerary, I divide my days into travel days and sight-seeing days.

A travel day is a day I wake up in one lodging and go to sleep in another. I may make a stop or two enroute but I factor in time for packing/getting out of lodging, eating breakfast, getting to transportation, connections, eating lunch, finding your lodging/checking in/unpacking, getting dinner. A rental car normally gives you more time because you don't lose it to getting to an airport/train station or making connections. My general rule is plan no more than four hours of actually moving (driving, flying, train) because that will be a full day after adding the rest of the things you need to accomplish.

For true sight-seeing days, I plan to stay two nights to give myself a full day to just see sights. To keep things comfortable, I plan only two sights for a day. A big sight before lunch and another after lunch (roughly two to three hours for each). I might see more, or less, than two sights during the day, some sights take more or less time. I leave my evenings open, then decide whether I'm up for seeing something in the evening or would rather relax. I keep a list of sights in my back pocket and see those depending on how much time and energy I have available.

I'm looking at some of your itinerary and you don't seem to have planned to see anything. For example, a ferry that stops at each of the Aran Islands will take better than an hour each way. Do you plan to get off and look around? If so, you have to add more time for the activity and additional time to catch a later ferry. If you are doing more than riding the ferry out and back, I don't see how you will have time to then see Ashford castle (unless you just want to drive past and "see" it)?

Your day for Bru na Boinne is doable but long. It will end up being roughly three hours of driving at best. Getting into and out of lodging will take some of your day. Meals will take some time (depends on how you like to eat). I don't think you can plan less than a couple hours to see Newgrange (even ignoring the other sights). Trim closes at 5 and many places won't let you enter right before closing. If you start at daybreak (about 7 am) and go until dark (about 6 pm), you can do it. Is everyone in your party capable, and willing, to spend each day like that?

I recall Ring of Kerry being more than half a day to drive, with no stops. I don't know how you can also see Barnel (Blarney?), Muckross House and Killarney in the same day you want to drive the Ring of Kerry and end in Dingle?

Posted by
2212 posts

Definately glad I will not be on vacation with you! Remember, less IS more.
Slow down, cut half this list, read some guidebooks and search this forum as many similar itineraries have been proposed on this website and been shot down.

Posted by
8 posts

Hi Elizabeth,

Glad you're taking the time to visit our country and hope you enjoy your stay. I have to agree with most of the replies here that recommend cutting back on the itinerary. You're missing the best part of the experience - kicking back, relaxing and soaking up the atmosphere. I drive for a living in Ireland and would baulk at some of the journeys you're contemplating. Dingle to Moher to Galway for instance are on very poor country roads (albeit very scenic) for long stretches and tiredness is a major concern. Your also doing a lot of crisscrossing day 1 and 2 for locations that are limited in appeal (Waterford/Wexford). There are some beautiful routes between Wicklow/Kilkenny/Lismore/Cashel that will capture the type of history I think you are seeking. Also we had 2inches of snow last week and the country ground to a halt. It can take 60-90 minutes to get into most off the major cities Cork/Dublin/Galway at peak times. Happy to suggest some other routes/locations that you can read up on if you like to reply.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you all for your advice and suggestions. I knew that we had too much on our itinerary and your suggestions are helping us pair our trip down.... there is just so much to see and we are so very excited. Thank you all!

I did want to know, if people preferred staying in hotels, hostels or B and B's? I have found a variety of places and prices but I wanted to know from those of you who have been which ones are better? I know when traveling though Greece turkey and Israel we loved the bed and breakfasts vs hotels, and hostels were often more sketchy, but we would like to know what peoples experiences have been in Ireland.

Also, are there any traditional Irish food dishes / drinks (other than Guinness) that we should be sure to try?

Thank you so much everyone I have truly appreciated it!