My husband and I will be spending 13 nights in Ireland, flying in/out of Dublin this May. We are not looking to see everything in the country but to enjoy the countryside, do some hiking or biking one day, and get an appreciation of the Irish culture. We plan to rent a car and stay in small B&B's. The itinerary at the moment is 2 nights in Dublin, 1 night in Kilkenny, 2 nights in Kinsale, 3 nights in Dingle, 2 nights in Galway, 2 nights in Westport, and last night near Dublin airport for flight out the next morning. As much as we'd love to see Belfast, I can't seem to make it work without rushing other stops. We are taking this trip 2 weeks after our son's wedding so maintaining a relaxing and enjoyable pace is important to us. Any suggestions/corrections/comments? Also, we have found on other European trips that picking up the rent car a bit out of the larger towns works well. With this itinerary any suggestions on pick up location? Thank you!
It is a lot of ground to cover, and I think you may find that two nights is not enough for places like Dublin and Galway that have so much to see and do in around them. I wouldn't normally recommend 1 night stays anywhere, but towns like Kinsale and Dingle are quite small and you may want to consider stealing a day from them to add to the larger places. If you are looking to hike or bike then Killarney national park would be a great place to stop and do that. You can rent bikes and take them in a boat across the lake and then ride or walk through the Gap of Dunloe. Great scenery. I know a lot of people think Killarney is too touristy, but it is a great base to tour from. Galway has so much to see that I spent four days there and wished I had more. The Cliffs of Moher/Burren area, Connemara, and the Aran Islands can all be day trips by themselves so two nights there is going to be pretty short. If it were me I would actually consider removing one stop so I could spend more time in other places. Don't make your trip about checking towns off your list, have a particular reason for stopping in each one and then maybe eliminate the on the bottom of your list. I pared down my list quite a bit before finalizing my route after realizing it was more important to spend my time at the places I really wanted to see, and then just plan to go back again to see the things I missed.
My wife and I traveled to Ireland in 2002, again in 2016--have been to all of the places that you mention except Westport.
-Is the flights already booked? Better to open jaw into Shannon/out of Dublin or the opposite way. Open jaw is the way to go, even if it's a little more expensive.
-If you want an automatic (advisable) you might not be able to get one in smaller pickup locations. Airport locations have the best selection.
-Get the super CDW on the rental car. We had some scratches on the underside of the bumper that may or may not have happened on our watch on our recent trip. The Hertz agent informed us that if we had not had the super-CDW they could have charged us "whatever they wanted" for damages so slight that they would not even bothered to have it fixed.
--You may pay close to $70 a day for the rental car (with super CDW), so try and figure out how to reduce your time with it. Seriously, you are going to pay nearly as much for the rental car per day as your B&B. We took the train from Shannon airport to Galway, where a car is not useful, and saved a couple of days rental that way.
-You are missing County Clare, a really great stop. We stayed in Ennis on both of our trips. A very authentic, pleasant workaday town with good Irish music in the pubs. To paraphrase Rick, does not pander to the tourist dollar nor shun it. County Clare includes the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher as well. But, seems like you are seeking to visit Connemara which is supposed to be great too. You might want to stop for lunch at Dromoland Castle in County Clare which is right on the way between Dingle and Galway.
-Train or bus from Dublin to Galway is very efficient, if you wanted to rework this itinerary.
-I recommend two full days in Dublin, and it would be better at the end of the trip after you have your travel legs on.
EDIT: Wesport looks awesome based upon Google images, we will have to visit there the next time we go to Ireland!
We had a very similar itinerary last summer and beloved it!
3 nights Dublin
1 night Kilkenny
2 nights Killarney
2 nights Dingle
2 nights Galway
1 night Cong
last night close to Dublin airport
We picked up our car at the airport on the way out of Dublin ( do not get a car for the Dublin part of your trip) We did get an automatic and bought the cadillac of insurance plans. It was worth the peace of mind for us. We rented from Sixt and had a great experience.
We rented bikes in Killarney and took them into the park. We biked to Muckross house and farms. It was great!
We mainly stayed in hotels but did say t a great B&B in Ventry (just outside Dingle) It was the Garvey farmhouse and I highly recommend
Have a great time!
Thank you all so much for the comments! I posted last night when I was stuck on a few things with the itinerary and it was awesome to wake up this morning with several problems solved! I appreciate the help and will revise schedule as noted and thank you for tips on the car rental (has been delegated to hubby)
I actually like your itinerary exactly as it is. I am not a huge fan of Dublin so I think two nights is plenty. If you could fly home from Shannon, that would be better, but if your flights are already purchased, it's not a big deal. If you decide to drop a day to add a day somewhere else, I would drop Kilkenny.