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14 days in Ireland .. please vet the itinerary!

Hi Fellow Travelers,

We are planning to show up at the Irish Doors right on the 19th July Morning! We are looking at a 14 day trip - and will be hiring a car. Does this look reasonable - waste of time - too ambitious? Will appreciate any good insights.

Besides I have 3 Most Crucial Questions:

Burning Questions 1: Northern Ireland is a toss up - we might stay somewhere on border and make a day trip to Giant's Causeway.

Burning Questions 2: For ENTRY to Ireland we gather that no testing is needed - just the CDC vaccination card. What's the best source to get the latest official stand?

Burning Questions 3: For RETURN to USA we gather we will need negative testing done in Ireland. Anyone has more details on where best to get it done? and how long before flight? Is Dublin Airport on day of departure itself an option?

  • Jul 18 2021 FLIGHT FLIGHT
  • Jul 19 2021 REACH DAY 1 7:30 AM Check in. CHILL. Downtown [Sleep at DUBLIN]
  • Jul 20 2021 DAY 2 [Wake up in DUBLIN] See Library / Downtown / Cathedrals / Guiness [Sleep at DUBLIN]
  • Jul 21 2021 DAY 3 [Wake up in DUBLIN] Burial Grounds, Kilmainham Gaol, ... [Sleep at DUBLIN]
  • Jul 22 2021 DAY 4 [Wake up in DUBLIN] DRIVE> Tipperary, Rock of Cashal + Hore Abbey > [Sleep at Kinsale]
  • Jul 23 2021 DAY 5 [Wake up in Kinsale] Around Kinsale, Cork, Cobh, Charles Fort [Sleep at Kinsale]
  • Jul 24 2021 DAY 6 [Wake up in Kinsale] DRIVE > SHEEP > Killarney National Park [Sleep at Dingle]
  • Jul 25 2021 DAY 7 [Wake up in Dingle] Sail for the day to rugged Blasket Islands [Sleep at Dingle]
  • Jul 26 2021 DAY 8 [Wake up in Dingle] Slea Head Drive, Dingle Distillary [Sleep at Dingle]
  • Jul 27 2021 DAY 9 [Wake up in Dingle] DRIVE > Cliffs of Moher - Burren [Sleep at Galway]
  • Jul 28 2021 DAY 10 [Wake up in Galway] DRIVE > Ashford Castle / Falconry / Doo Lough Valley [Sleep at Westport]
  • Jul 29 2021 DAY 11 [Wake up in Westport] DRIVE > Doo Lough Valley if not done the day before - else [Sleep at Sligo]
  • Jul 30 2021 DAY 12 [Wake up in Sligo] DRIVE > Causeway Region [Sleep at Portrush]
  • Jul 31 2021 DAY 13 [Wake up in Portrush] DRIVE > Via Belfast (3) [Sleep at DUBLIN]
  • Aug 1 2021 DAY 14 [Wake up in DUBLIN] Chill [Sleep at DUBLIN]
  • Aug 2 2021 - LEAVE FOR AIRPORT IN AM

-- Regards,
Rishi Chhibber

Posted by
552 posts

I can't answer burning questions 1 or 3 and only have a best guess for question 2. I would go to the U.S. Embassy site for Ireland for information,

I think your full day in Kinsale is ambitious. You may need to drop Cork, Cobh or Charles Fort. The drive from Kinsale to Dingle via Killarney National Park will also be a long day, especially if you want to stop and visit the various areas of the Park.

I'm jealous that your going to Dingle Distillery. We just finished our bottle of Dingle Gin.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks Trotter! We are not too keen on Cork or even Cobh that much (Maybe a photo stop in Cobh for that classic instagram pic) - more interested in Charles Fort really.

Thanks for feedback on Killarney day. We have been wondering if it makes sense to add "Kissane sheep farm" to that day and I suppose it'll be best to drop that.

Posted by
4765 posts

At present, as you will be travelling from America (on the amber list as far as NI is concerned), you can’t enter NI from Ireland without taking a Covid test up to 3 days before entry, book a post arrival test and quarantine for 10 days.

Posted by
4998 posts

For Question 1, on our last 3-week trip, we drove clockwise from Galway, up around the west coast, into Northern Ireland for several days, then down and around to Dublin. Overall, the Republic of Ireland is decidedly our favorite, over Northern Ireland, but Londonderry and the Giant’s Causeway were very, very nice. We stayed at a wonderful B&B in Bushmills, close to the Causeway. We didn’t go into downtown Belfast, and stayed one night in a town a few miles to the east. The next day, heading to our next stay in Trim, before Dublin, we were passing by Belfast on the Motorway, leaving town, right at morning rush hour, when everybody else was driving in to the city. We were glad we weren’t part of that mass of cars - looks like Belfast is another one of those big cities where having a car would be a pain on vacation, not an asset.

Definitely see some of Northern Ireland, and definitely stay at least one night. But it doesn’t look like your plan is to spend a huge amount of your 2 weeks there, and that’s a good thing. Enjoy both Ireland and Northern Ireland!

Posted by
262 posts

If you skip Kissane Sheep Farm, try to see Killary Sheep Farm. It’s not that far from Doo Lough Valley. The sheep dog demonstration is fascinating and the views of Killary Fjord are gorgeous.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks Jennifer. I think we will keep NI plan open till the last moment - if its open to US tourists with vaccination certificate only by Jul30 we will swing by - else just skip unfortunately. We are only interested in Gian't Causeway.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks Cyn. I visited NI once before way back in 2004 as a bachelor traveling alone and actually stayed in Belfast proper in a sort of seedy hostel! It was a friendly walkable city. I painted a small painting of Crown Bar for myself on return. But really it was not particularly the kind of city I'd spend multiple days at with family.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks Katheryne - that one actually looks like it'd be a better experience.

Posted by
1 posts

Unfortunately, I don’t have anything helpful to add…but we’re heading there in September, and I have many of the same burning questions! If you remember, I would so appreciate it if you could update us after your trip and let us know where you got a Covid test, etc. Thank you! Hope your trip is wonderful!

Posted by
17 posts

Will do tara.alaska! Hopefully July 19 openings sticks - watching for all news with guarded optimism.
I'll update the thread - or you directly - how it goes if our trip goes through.

Posted by
3425 posts

I do have a suggested alternative to staying in Portrush if you are able to make it to Northern Ireland. I hope you can because it is lovely and we really enjoyed it.

The Bayview Hotel in Port Ballintrae is a gem. It is located just a few miles from Portrush, Bushmills, the Giants Causeway and Dunluce Castle. In fact, we walked to all of these places while we stayed there. You certainly can drive, however! This hotel is one of our favorites. The view out into the harbor is amazing and the restaurant was excellent.

I think that if you need to cut a night somewhere, Westport is the place to do it. It is a minature Galway and if you have been to Galway, I don't know that you will find enough different there to make it worth a night's stop unless you are into cycling. If you do go to Westport, I strongly suggest NOT staying at the Wyatt Hotel. Rooms are directly above a bar that never seems to close and we had hotel employees having long, loud cell phone calls right under our windows at 3 am in morning. I get grumpy without my sleep!

Have you considered staying in Belfast vs. returning to Dublin for those last nights? I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the Titanic Experience in Belfast. This is a high quality museum/exhibit. We stayed at the Premier Inn Titanic Quarter which was well situated for the Titanic Experience and an easy walk or bus ride to downtown.

Posted by
17 posts

Thank Carol!
I'll definitely consider Port Ballintrae for stay in NI.

re Westport - to be honest both Galway and Westport for us are going to be stopovers. I don't intend to spend much time in these cities themself. From Dingle I expect to leisurely drive through Ennis, Cliifs of Mohr, Burren, and reach Westport late - then leave early morning from there, and drive through Ashford and Doo Lough Valley/Cornamona and reach Westport late - and onward!

I could cut sligo and move 2 nights in NI - still contemplating.

Last 2 days we will need in Dublin because I really want the covid testing thing to be done without a chellenge!

Posted by
180 posts

Question two and three cannot be answered with any certainty until closer to the date. Each country determines their own regulations and they may change based on Covid rates in the country. There is also the possibility that certain sites are approved for testing. Recently a group was refused entry into Hawaii or they must quarantine for 10 days because though their tests were negative and they were fully vaccinated they had not had their test from in an approved location.
I am scheduled for Luxembourg, France and Germany in September. France and Germany required no test for vaccinated people but the Luxembourg site said no entry till September 30 for third party nationals. Two days later they changed it to included the United States as an approved country but you must get tested. Two days after that they said no test was required. The point that I’m trying to make it will remain a fluid situation and you just need to pay careful careful attention to the details. I believe the CDC has a website that will tell you exactly what you have to do for each country, just keep checking it.

Posted by
17 posts

Hi All,

Thanks again for all the responses.
We just returned from a 2 week Ireland trip. Some highlights:

(For reference - we are a family of 4 with 2 early teenagers)

  • Live trad music was impossible to come by and so we missed out on that.
  • Most Pubs had only outdoor seating in front or beer gardens in back - and we were ok with that. Sat inside a few where allowed and it seemed less crowded.
  • Republic of Ireland had the rule where inside seating required one to prove vaccination. We loved the idea and our CDC vaccination cards worked well for us everywhere for this. We still preferred outdoor seating when suitable.
  • Northern Ireland had no such requirement curiously.
  • Testing for return is a hassle and drag on schedule yes, but since US accepts antigen tests, it was very easy to find options, schedule, pay and get results.
  • All 4 of us are vaccinated but we wore mask everywhere - outdoor and indoor. Not a hassle for us.
  • Mask adherence in Ireland is at par with US - rare to see one outdoors, very common indoors with several nose-maskers (including wait staff) and occasional non-maskers.

It was a lovey vacation altogether and we (including kids) loved it more than we thought we would.

Falconry at Ashford, and Killary Sheep Farm (What a hidden gem!) were both extremely enjoyable for the family.

Please feel free to ask any questions - will love to answer while things are still fresh in mind!


Posted by
17 posts

jameswoodsni : Of course. Just an observation. In US even neighboring counties can have very diff rules. In close proximity good practices do often spill over though. Maybe in time it will be more commonplace everywhere.

Posted by
98 posts

americans cant legally visit Northern Ireland as part of the UK and the regulations for NI are the UK rules even though the border is open and there is no controls on it the rules for Ireland are for the 26 counties south of the international border not NI
see here for details
the USA is on the UKs amber list

Posted by
17 posts

Its not true anymore for fully vaccinated travelers from US. Fully vaccinated Americans can now visit England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland without quarantining, a long-awaited change for travelers.

"You need to show your travel operator proof that you’ve been fully vaccinated with one of the authorised vaccines before you travel.

This proof should be:

an EU Digital COVID Certificate (EU DCC) for Europe
a CDC card for the USA – you’ll also need to show proof of USA residency, such as your USA passport, visa or Green Card
If you cannot show an EU DCC or CDC card you must follow the rules for those who are not fully vaccinated.

Posted by
98 posts

then this applies to you Passenger locator form
You must fill in and submit a UK passenger locator form(external link opens in a new window / tab), either on arrival, or in the 48 hours prior to your arrival into Northern Ireland (or your first point of entry into the UK/ Republic of Ireland, if not direct into Northern Ireland) that includes:

details of your journey
contact details
the address where you will isolate
booking references for managed isolation and testing
If you are fully vaccinated in the USA. Europe, or under the UK vaccination programme, you will need to:

declare that you have been fully vaccinated on your passenger locator form
show proof of your vaccination status to your carrier (ferry, airline or train) when you travel
so you need to fill in a UK passenger locator form Before you cross the border into NI

Posted by
17 posts

Not needed for land crossing. One is supposed to be tested 2 days before entering and so on.

That said - I don't know what we both are discussing here :) I don't think these days one should use discussion threads to decide what the current rules for travel are. Rick Steves says it best that it is a patchwork of rules at the moment for travel and things are changing every other day.

My Post's point is - fully vaccinated Americans can safely visit Ireland right now - as I did - if they chose to and should expect some things to be fluid and different. And I would love to help someone if they had question on their plans in general - maybe not travel rules as such.

Posted by
17 posts

Travelling to NI from within the Common Travel Area

You do not need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form if you’re travelling from within the CTA and you have not been outside the CTA in the last 10 days.
However - Passenger Locator Form is perhaps the easiest of all requirements atm.

When traveling right now there are a lot of rules and they change rapidly. One should find out what's what and follow the rules as they apply.