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4 Days in Ireland

My wife and I are flying to Dublin, staying for 4 days, then flying to Edinburgh to visit our daughter. Here is a potential agenda:

Day 1: Arrive at 6 AM, tour Dublin (St. Pats, Trinity College, Book of Kells), early dinner and to sleep early at hotel (suggestions?) in Dublin

Day 2: Visit Glendalough, Kilkenny Castle and Rock of Cashel - stay at hotel in Kilkenny (suggestions?)

Day 3: Killarney - visit Blarney castle, Bunratty Castle - stay at hotel in Killarney (suggestions?)

Day 4: Dingle Pensula and drive back to Dublin (I think the only direct flights to Edinburgh are from Dublin (correct?)

Day 5: early morning flight to Edinburgh

We plan to rent a car at the airport in Dublin and return it there. Please let me know if this is too much to plan for 4 days and if I am missing anything significant on the route I am planning. Any hotel recommendations or other suggestions/comments are appreciated. We have never been to Ireland or Scotland before. We will rely on our daughter to make plans for Scotland. Thanks in advance.

Posted by
386 posts

That strikes me as too much for 4 days. You'd be really selling yourself short at most of these destinations in my opinion. Especially on Days 2 and 4. The drive from Dingle Town to Dublin is probably four hours, minimum, and that would be after you spent time getting out to Dingle from Killarney, and driving the Slea Head road. Also, Dingle was our favorite part of our trip - the town itself is worth spending some time in.

You'll have time to do more in Dublin than just the three things you've listed, even in just one day. I'd recommend Kilmainham Gaol, the archaeology museum, or (although it's touristy) the Guinness Storehouse.

There are nonstops from Cork to Edinburgh - something to keep in mind. It appears to be at 2:40 every afternoon.

If it were me, I'd skip your day three agenda. Head to Dingle from Kilkenny (you could actually stop at the Rock of Cashel on your way instead of doing that Day Two), and spend the night there (the pubs are the best in Ireland for traditional music). Do the Slea Head drive on day four leaving as early as you can that morning, and then instead of stopping off somewhere, just head straight to Cork Airport (which is still a good two hours' drive from Dingle Town).

For Dublin, we stayed at Staunton's on the Green, which had a very convenient location on the south side of St. Stephen's Green (near enough everything to be walkable, but quiet).

For Kilkenny, we stayed at the Lyrath Estate, which was gorgeous. It's about 3 miles away from the city center if I recall correctly.

For Dingle, we stayed at Browne's B&B, which I'd highly recommend. It's about a 15-20 minute walk to the town center, but the hosts were amazing, it's probably the nicest B&B we've ever stayed at.

Posted by
602 posts

Hi Jack,

Day 2 -- this seems like too much, too far spread out. I haven't been to Glendalough, but I believe you can spend quite a bit of time there. My husband and I did both Cahir Castle and Rock of Cashel in one day and it was a nicely paced day, with an overnight in Kilkenny. You might be able to see Cahir, Rock of Cashel, and Kilkenny Castle in one day coming out of Dublin (even that is probably pushing it because sites don't stay open very late in Ireland). I'm doubtful that you can visit Glendalough and enjoy it, while trying to fit in the rest of your stops. Via Michelin gives me a road time estimate of 4-1/2 hours for the stops you listed. Factor in time to pick up your rental car and a quick bite for lunch, and you'll be racing the clock and not enjoying yourselves. We stayed at Fanad House in Kilkenny. Nothing extraordinary about the place, but it was nice, cheap, and clean with a good breakfast.

Day 3 -- Bunratty Castle and Blarney Castle are on opposite sides of Killarney. Again, it seems like an awful lot of driving and not much time for enjoying. I would pick one or the other and spend the rest of your time in Killarney. You may want to check out Muckros House and Ross Castle in Killarney. I haven't been to Bunratty, so I really can't compare but I can tell you that we thought Muckros and Ross Castle were fantastic. From what I remember of Blarney from my college trip, is was a very touristy "check this off my list" kind of place. I remember the grounds/gardens being beautiful, but I was on a bus tour and I didn't really have time to explore. As far as lodging goes, check out Friar's Glen in Killarney. We absolutely adored this place. Best B&B of our entire trip. Luckily for us, all of them were good, but this one was outstanding.

Day 4 -- For what it's worth, my husband and I spent a complete day driving Dingle Peninsula and still didn't have enough time to do everything we wanted to do. The sneaky thing about Ireland is that around every bend in the road there is something new and wonderful to discover and enjoy. It's a two-sided side, you'll get to enjoy it no matter what. The other side, with this time-frame, you just don't get as thorough of as an experience that it deserves.

If I were you (with your current prioritized list of sights), I would do this:

Day 1: Dublin
Day 2: Killarney - visit Rock of Cashel and either Cahir Castle or Blarney Castle on your way to Killarney.
Day 3: Dingle - spend day driving and exploring Dingle peninsula.
Day 4: Dublin - drive back to Dublin, see Bunratty Castle on the way. You may have time for another stop along the way if you find something that catches your eye. Via Michelin says it's about 5 hours of drive time between Dingle and Dublin.

We loved Kilkenny but I just don't think you have time for it. I think what I've suggested will allow you to see several of the things you want to see in a logical (map-order) way while giving you enough time to enjoy some things. Via Michelin will have more accurate road times than Google, FYI. Hope this helps!

Posted by
602 posts

I missed Steve's idea of flying out of Cork. That is an excellent suggestion and will save you a lot of drive time.

Posted by
1878 posts

I would not plan on getting too much done on the day of arrival, you are going to be seriously jetlagged although not as badly as we generally are flying from the west coast. I have rarely been able to do any meaningful sightseeing on the day of arrival. You will really be shortchanging Dublin which is a nice visit, and a rental car a burden in Dublin. You might be able to do the Dublin plus day two part and keep it reasonable. Another worthy area - not that you need more ideas, and much closer to Dublin - is up around Newgrange, Trim, and Monasterboice. A general rule when driving in Ireland is expect it to take longer than you expect it to take. Sorry to be so negative; I know what it's like trying to squeeze in a lot in a little time. Good luck, I am sure you will have a great trip.

Posted by
386 posts

I don't agree for a minute with the assertion that you shouldn't plan much for your first day in Europe. I've traveled to Europe several times now, and we always plan plenty for our first day. We establish a goal of trying to make it until at least 8 or 9 at night that first day. If you hang around, you won't adjust to the new time zone you are in, and you'll just remain thrown off. I think your plan for Dublin is fine, other than that I would love to have an extra day there.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks for all the great advice. I used the map function on my smart phone and it showed much shorter drive times. I'll adjust my plans based on your suggestions. Other replys are also welcome.

Posted by
9363 posts

I do not agree with the idea of not doing much the first day, either. I always have a lot planned. I travel fairly frequently and I am never very bothered by jet lag. It's hard to say how someone else might react the the time zone change, but staying outside, if possible, and moving around will help a lot. I do tend to go to bed a bit early the first night, but then I'm fine. I use to gauge my drive times, though you need to add about 25% for a more realistic answer. Driving is much slower in Ireland than it is for the same distance in the US, particularly in more rural areas, where you are likely to encounter herds of sheep in the road, or slow-moving farm equipment.