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7 days in Ireland - Looking for advice and ideas!

Hello everyone! I will be flying into Dublin soon and I will have an almost full 7 days in Ireland (not including flights). I have been researching different sites that I would like to visit. I am currently creating my itinerary and I realize it will likely change as I travel, but I am okay with this! I will be backpacking, staying in hostels, and will not be renting out a car as I am on a bit of a budget.

I was wanting to get ideas and suggestions from locals or people who have visited for my journey. Before I start planning activities on specific days, I wanted to put down my overall travel plan and see what you all think. I plan on staying in some of the main cities and taking ventures from there to explore the surrounding areas.

Here is what I have so far:

Day 1: Arriving in Dublin at 10am.

-I plan to spend this day in Dublin exploring the city and local parks, breweries and pubs.

Day 2 & 3: Use Irish Rail to South Ireland.

-I was thinking of spending the next two days in Cork to explore the surrounding areas. What are some other sites or cities in the south I should see? Maybe stay somewhere else instead of Cork?

Day 4 & 5: Use Irish Rail to Galway

-I have heard many great things about Galway and it's attractions so I was thinking of spending two days here as well. I wanted to visit the Cliffs of Moher, Arran Islands, and I heard about Lough Key Forest Park in Roscommon!

Day 6 & 7: Use Irish Rail to Belfast

-I am a huge fan of GOT and wanted to visit some of the filming locations. I have heard great things about the Titanic site and Giant's Causeway, so I wanted to look into these as well. I would love to hear other suggestions about northern Ireland!

Day 8: Fly out

Do you all think I would simply feel too rushed with this plan? Should I consider staying in some places more? I do know the travel times/check-ins at hostels will take some time. Should I re-think my stay in certain places for others? Please let me know what you think!

The things I want to do for sure are:

-Explore Dublin, visit Belfast and the GOT sites and see the Cliffs of Moher and the surrounding areas around Galway. I love hiking and sightseeing.

All ideas, concerns, suggestions, etc. are welcome!

Posted by
5535 posts

I worry that the large number of days in transit may limit your actual time to enjoy the locations once you get there. I might suggest dropping Cork and having 3 bases, Dublin, Galway, Belfast due to your limited time.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you for your reply!
Ok, I have changed up my mind a bit. I have decided to spend two days in Dublin. I will be exploring the city the first, and I will take one of the tours on the 2nd to Giant's Causeway and Belfast.
If you had to choose, would you choose Cork or Galway? I think I want to leave my remaining five days to one of these areas - mid or south. What do you think?

Or I was thinking of somewhere in south Ireland for two days, and three days in Galway?
Any advice is appreciated!!

Posted by
1878 posts

This seems way too ground to cover in tool little time to me. You lose half a day or more every time you move cities. Check travel times on Rome2rio and to be more exact the Irish rail and bus sites. (Galway to Belfast is over five hours). Bus is probably faster on some routes and a lot cheaper. Don't expect to get much done on day one, you will be very jet lagged. Kinsale is a nicer place to stay than Cork, which is not that special. For a big city like Dublin or Belfast I would recommend three nights. If you Google it, I think you will find you can do Game of Thrones tours out of Dublin as well as Belfast. Rick's book is highly recommended for Ireland.

Posted by
5535 posts

Personally, I didn't enjoy Galway. Others seem to like it so don't let my feelings sway you. It does have the advantage of easy train or bus connections to Dublin and many day trip opportunities including the Aran Islands. We only had two weeks in Ireland so we never made it as far as Cork on this trip so I don't know how to compare the two for you.

Galway seemed designed to cater to the tourist trade. The central section seemed like a caricature of what they thought tourists thought Ireland would be like. If I hadn't just come from several days in a village, I don't know that it would have hit me quite as hard. I felt like I had been experiencing "authentic Ireland" and all of sudden it switched to more "tourist Ireland." I'm the first to admit that I am tourist so I am part of the issue.

We spent three days near the Giant's Causeway and wished we had spent more there and less in Galway. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay on the nearby Aran Islands.

Posted by
582 posts

With so few days, and travelling by train, there is no way you can cover all of this ground and actually have time to see many sights. Remember, when you spend two nights in a place you only have one whole day to tour the area, and this will be important if you have to make use of guided day tours to see what you want to see. You need to limit the places you stay to only two, possibly three depending on what you want to see. If you’re not interested in spending much time Dublin or the surrounding area then it may be best if you head for either Galway or Belfast the day you arrive in order to maximize your time in these two places. Galway was actually my favourite town. There is quite a variety of day trips you can do from there and it’s only two and a half hours on the train. If you are going to be taking some guided day trips the keep in mind that they often leave town at 0900 and the train from one town to the next may not arrive before day trips leave so you need to plan your train travel carefully, and keep it to a minimum.
The other way you could divide your time is to just split it between Dublin and one other town, either Galway or Belfast. Spend some time in Dublin seeing the things you mentioned plus a day trip or two to places such as Newgrange or Glendalough. There is more than enough to see and do in all of these three towns to keep you busy for several days so your biggest problem will be picking what you want to see. Using just two locations will be easier and require less travel time. Using three locations will give you more variety. Trying to stay in more than three places will be hectic and won’t allow you to see as much due to the time spent getting from one place to the next.

Posted by
375 posts

Ditto on the too much/too little time. There's so much to see/do in both those cities.

Arrive Dublin 3 nights
1 travel day (Stop at Newgrange? Hike along the way?)
4 nights Belfast
1 travel day back to Dublin

Return another time for the west coast.

Posted by
16 posts

Sometime ago I posted my itinerary on here and it led me to cut the island in half. I was trying to cover too much ground in 9 days and it was making me anxious before I even got there. LOL One of the comments I most appreciated was "assume you will be coming back" to visit again.