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3 weeks, can we do Ireland and England/Wales/Scotland?

If we only have 21-23 days, can we do a trip to Ireland and England/Wales/Scotland and not be overwhelmed? I want to spend perhaps a week in Ireland but not rent a car. Will we be able to see enough doing train/bus? Like the western and southern part of the country. While in England I want to rent a car and drive through Wales up to Edinburgh and also spend several days in London. If it is not feasible to do all of this, I am not sure what to exclude. Looking for recommendations from people who have done something like this. We have just started planning and have not booked anything yet. We want to go around August 23, 2019 for approx. 3 weeks. I would love to go for longer but my husband says it is not in the budget since it is so expensive there. Thanks for any suggestions and opinions.

Posted by
3467 posts

I’d leave Ireland for another trip. Even with 3 weeks, you’ll need to be selective on what you see. It’s easy to spend 3 weeks in each Wales, England, and Scotland, let alone all three on the same trip. You won’t need a car in either Edinburgh or London. Start selecting places you’d like to see and that may help you decide where to best spend your time. You’ll have a nice trip and will probably decide you want to return.

Posted by
3500 posts

Agree with the suggestion to leave Ireland for another trip. It alone will need at least ten to twelve days minimum to really do it justice. Years ago Rick Steves had a 21 day Best of England, Scotland, and Wales tour so it can be done with the right amount of planning. He now has a Best of England in Fourteen Days Tour and a Best of Scotland in Ten Days Tour. Suggest you look at the itineraries for those and adapt them to your particular interest. His guide books may also offer possible itineraries for independent travel.

Posted by
996 posts

All of the above is very, very cool, but -

I agree with the above posters. Focus on England/Wales/Scotland on this trip. Part of this depends on your own travel style, of course, and what YOU want to see/do here. But as far as time goes, I think that looking at this trio would give you a better chance to see what you're there to see, versus waving at it as you drive by...

Posted by
2814 posts

Which of the four places -- or actually five (Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, England, Scotland) -- interests you most, and why? Once you answer that question you'll be better able to set your priorities.

If you just want a taste of Ireland, for example because you'll be flying Aer Lingus, then you could stop over in Dublin or Shannon for 2-3 days before flying onward to England or Scotland. Shannon is in the west so it would put you within reach of the western and southern region of the Republic of Ireland.

I second the advice from TC to adapt your itinerary from the Rick Steves tours, except be aware that an organized tour is better able to whisk you from destination to destination because they know the ropes. When you do it on your own, there will be wrong turns, days when you're tired and just feel like wandering, places that capture your interest unexpectedly. That's the joy of independent travel but it also means you may not be able to check off all the boxes on your wish list.

Posted by
13 posts

First of all, I agree with what everyone above has said. Trying to do all four parts of the United Kingdom (England/Wales/Scotland/Northern Ireland) and the Republic of Ireland in one 3-week trip is A LOT! However, it is doable; my husband and I did it a couple years ago. It was a great trip, but I wouldn't really recommend packing it all in like that. I don't regret any of it, but if I had to do it over, I would do Great Britain and Ireland/Northern Ireland as separate trips. There's just so much to see! Funny thing though, we now live in Belfast, Northern Ireland (totally unexpected move!) and now have Ireland at our fingertips! So even though our trip two years ago was crazy packed, I believe it was fate that we squeezed in the emerald island, the place we now call home. :)

Here is a summary of what we did: Our focus was on England and Scotland and we spent a solid week in each. We flew into London and after exploring London for several days, we took a train to Bath (visiting Windsor along the way). In Bath we rented a car and worked our way up (over the course of about two weeks) through England into Scotland (major stops included the Cotswolds, York, Edinburgh, Pitlochry, and the Oban area). Also, when in southern England, we dipped into Wales for a day to see a few sites, but did not spend a night there. We dropped our rental car off in Glasgow and took a ferry over to Belfast, Northern Ireland (from Cairnryan, Scotland). We rented a second car in Northern Ireland and spent a day exploring the beautiful Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland. We then returned to Belfast, got rid of the rental car, and took the train to Dublin. Spent about two days exploring Dublin before flying home from Dublin. As you can see, we didn't see any of the southern or western parts of Ireland on this trip. We were going at a pretty fast pace, so by the time we were in Dublin, we were pretty tired. All in all, we had a wonderful time and it was a great taster of all "five" countries. Hope that helps!