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6 Day Southern Ireland Itinerary HELP!

My girlfriend and I are heading to Ireland for 6 days at the beginning of March. Our trip includes flights in/out of Dublin, rental car, first night’s hotel in Dublin, and 5 open B&B vouchers. We just booked the trip and have barely scratched the surface on our research, but know we want to travel the southern loop and were thinking this itinerary as a general outline:

3/6 - Dublin
3/7 - Kilkenny? (possible stops in Powerscourt, Glendalough)
3/8 - not sure where to stay on the way to Dingle? possibly Kinsale? or would it be better to spend 2 nights in Dingle? would like to see the Rock of Cashel and the Muckross House
3/9 - Dingle (thinking of driving the Dingle Peninsula vs the Ring of Kerry due to short duration of trip)
3/10 - Staying at a B&B near the Cliffs of Moher (would like to see the Burren if possible on 3/10 or 3/11)
3/11 - back to Dublin
3/12 - fly home

My girlfriend is 31 and I will be turning 29 while in Ireland and we are eager to see and do as much as possible in our short time. Any tips/suggestions/must dos would be greatly appreciated in planning our trip. Since we are covering a lot of terrain in a short amount of time, we are trying to plan a route that doesn’t involve too much driving in one day. We are most interested in historical landmarks, beautiful landscapes, and good food. Thank you in advance!!!

Posted by
388 posts

With limited time you will need to maximize as much as possible. You'll definitely need a car since this will be difficult without one. Depending on when your flight gets in, you may want to head straight out and save Dublin for last.

First, I would skip Kilkenny all together and head straight to Kinsale with a stop at either Gendalough or Powerscourt but not both. Driving time is already about 3 hours so adding a stop somewhere will stretch your day out quite a way but its still doable.

Second, try to stay at least a full day in Kinsale, which equates to 2 nights

Then, you can decide which route you want to take to Dingle. Taking the coastal road is the prettiest but also takes about 4.5 hours via Bantry, Kenmare, and Killarney, not including any stops you want to make. The alternative would be to take the N22 highway through Killarney and on to Dingle. This route takes only 2.5 hours and would allow for a stop at Muckross house and the National Park there.

Try to spend a full day (two nights) in Dingle as well to do the loop drive around Slea Head.

Finally, you don't need to stay near the cliffs. Instead, take the ferry across from Tarbert to Killimer and drive up there. Will save you time from having to go to Limerick. The cliffs can be seen in an hour or less, then drive through the Burren on the way to Galway.

Once in Galway you can stay the night and end back in Dublin the next day, or just head straight back to Dublin that day. It will be a really long day but it will depend on how much time you want to allow for Dublin. Play with the days a little if you need to but most importantly, don't try to add more than you can. You won't be able to see all of Ireland in 6 days, so err on the side of caution.

I hope this helps some

Posted by
9363 posts

If you skip Glendalough, you could catch Rock of Cashel on the way to Kinsale. It's less out of the way, too. I second the idea of taking the ferry across the Shannon instead of going around through Limerick.

Posted by
1994 posts

For the scenic drive on the Dingle Peninsula, consider hiring a driver/guide for the day. The roads are challenging, and if you drive it yourself it will be hard for the driver to enjoy the scenery. We arranged for a guide mentioned in the RS guidebook. He picked us up, did the driving, and also provided guide services. I drive challenging coastal roads in California at least once a month, so I'm very comfortable with narrow cliff-top roads, but having a driver in Dingle was one of our best decisions.

And I would definitely include bothGlendalough and the Burren. Both are beautiful and unique places.

Posted by
35 posts

Sherry, how much did the Dingle peninsula guide cost? Was it a full day on the Dingle peninsula?

Posted by
2244 posts

I agree completely with Sherry's suggestion to hire a guide. We did this for the Slea Head drive, Gallarus Oratory, etc. and it really was a great choice. To be able to ride along just looking and listening made all the difference.

Jack, we used Denis Ryan, and the cost IIRC was around eighty euro for two of us, half day. He picked us up at the TI in Dingle. I don't know if he's the one referred to above, but the point is to let a local drive and show you around, you won't regret it.

Posted by
1878 posts

You might consider flying into Dublin and out of Shannon. Dropping the car at Shannon could not be easier, and you might consider staying in a B&B in Ennis rather than out by the Cliffs. A good stop near Rock of Cashel is Cahir, which has a highly regarded castle. We blasted through and did not visit it, but I wish we had. Also the Swiss Cottage near Cahir. The way you have it planned above you're not going to see much of Dublin at all. I would normally say minimum two full days in Dublin, not counting the day of arrival. Overall that's a lot of one night stays. You could do two nights in Dublin to start, two nights in Kilkenny and visit the Rock of Cashel from there. It's under and hour from Kilekenny to Cashel according to Google maps. I went to Kinsale on a day trip from Cork in 2010 when I stayed on after a business trip, and I thought it was a nice town, but I would not go way out of my way to make it there. If you can stick to two night stays that would be ideal on such a short trip. My wife and I did five nights in Dublin, three night side trip to Edinburgh, then six night in the countryside in Ireland in 2002. It was a magical trip but wish we'd had more time in the smaller towns. Muckross House is a very worthy visit. I have a hard time planning a two week trip to Ireland that visits all the stops I would like, and this time I would only spend three nights in Dublin.

Posted by
35 posts

Thank you, Dave! I will try to get in touch with Denis soon. We will be there in mid-April 2016. Do you have any idea of how bad (or not) the Dingle peninsula traffic is likely to be then?