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7 to 9 day Itinerary reasonable ?

This is our first trip to Ireland. We've read many posts here and will heed the wise advice to slow down and smell the roses. We want to see & do much ... in a relaxed unhurried way. After all, it is a vacation and we should enjoy this moment. We have only 6 to possibly 9 days available so we will focus our time on Cork and County Clare.

I'm trying to minimize time on a bus, yet maximize fun. We don't have a car.

Daughter wants to sea kayak, see Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, and more. I enjoy it all, but mostly want to visit historic sites, hike, listen to traditional Irish music and drink a pint. We plan to fly out of Dublin.

Our general plan is:
2 nights Cork area - Morning bus from Cork to Doolin
3 nights in Doolin - day trips, then bus to Galway
1 or 2 nights in Galway. - bus to Dublin
1 or 2 nights in Dublin. Like to see Newgrange - Fly out.

Within our time constraint, is their a persuasive case for 2 nights in Galway or Dublin?

Does this itinerary seem reasonable and unhurried ?

All comments welcome. Thank you !

Posted by
6584 posts

We are leaving on a ship for the UK and Ireland in a week. We are spending one night in Dublin before heading for a great waterfront B&B in County Kerry in a rental car. The automobile is where you get the ability to see many times more travel sights than via bus or train. We are going to be doing 1/2 day road trips by day and hitting local pubs at night--slowly.
Ireland is a much larger place than I realized, and it is essentially a two trip place.

Posted by
359 posts

Are you flying into Shannon ? Why Cork ? Would have to know what you want to see and do more. Personally I would skip the Cork area entirely with your time constraints and spend the time instead on Dingle or the ROK. Far more unique, scenic and historic w endless mind blowing hiking opportunities and sea kayaking.

Also why Galway ? It's pretty, but it's a hectic full sized city. You can get the pubs, restaurants and trad music almost anywhere else and avoid the tourist and city crush. If you enjoy the city scene and going shopping its excellent for that and as a good base for the area......but it is a city and you would get the wild, historic Ireland feel better in a number of other places.

Just wondering.

Posted by
5 posts


We're first timers to Ireland, so we're feeling our way along in the darkness.
We're flying from London into Cork.

Why? Because my 19 year old daughter wants to visit Blarney Castle and see Cobh, the Titanic's last port of call.
Also, she wants to visit the the English Market in Cork. While in Cork, I'll satisfy myself with a visit to Long Valley pub, or similar.
I think she is also interested in Spike Island prison. This will probably be our only visit to the Cork area.

I want to spend some time listening to live music. That means pubs. Hopefully Doolin and nearby satisfies that goal.

We won't have a car. A US driver on a left lane narrow Irish road is a recipe for high anxiety. I'll pass on that this trip. Maybe we'll drive on the next Irish visit.

Why Galway? Simply because it appears to be a natural route to Dublin, where we fly out. I heard good things about Galway (in relative comparison to Dublin). Yes, I agree with you that a rural area is preferred, like Dingle or ROK. We have lodging reserved in Cork and Doolin. Our travel & lodging plans are still open for the route from Doolin to Dublin, although I'll finalize those plans today.

If you have alternate ideas, please share your thoughts, I welcome your suggestions.

Posted by
224 posts

Doolin is a good base for the Cliffs and the Burren. You can enjoy several hikes in both areas, including along the Cliffs, and enjoy the pubs and music in the evening. Given your interests, it is worth spending 2 or 3 nights there.

Galway is a fun city, with some good pubs for music. I consider Dublin better for history, though. It is worth a visit, and it has some pleasant walks. If you want to explore historic sites, you might consider only one night in Galway to add one more in Dublin.

Visiting Newgrange would take up a good part of one day. It is an impressive site to visit. There are other interesting historical sites in the area. Nearby Trim has an impressive castle and a great river walk.

In Dublin, Kilmainham Gaol and the General Post Office 1916 exhibit offer a fascinating look at history.

There are several sea kayaking centers in and near Dublin that offer trips in nearby bays. You can take the DART to some. There is also a tamer kayak trip on the Royal Canal, and trips on the River Liffey although Doolin probably is a better option for sea kayaking. I did a half day trip in Dingle Harbor and loved it. It’s a great way to experience the scenery from a different viewpoint.

Posted by
359 posts

Hi.....the reason I asked about Cork is that while having some interesting things there are richer areas for scenery, history and culture. Kinsale just south of Cork is far more scenic. However it sounds like there are fun things you have picked out there so it's not a bad choice....Not what I'd do on limited time but so what - to each their own. Would however urge you to skip, unless REALLY important to someone, the Blarney Stone. It's on Rick Steves top ten tourist traps in all of Europe for good reason:

Blarney Stone (Ireland): "Busloads line up to kiss a stone on the top of a castle rampart and get “the gift of gab.” The best thing about this lame sight is watching a cranky man lower lemming-like tourists over the edge, belly up and head back, to kiss the stone while an automated camera snaps a photo — which will be available for purchase back at the parking lot. After a day of tour groups mindlessly climbing up here to perform this ritual, the stone is slathered with spit and lipstick." Rick Steves

There are literally hundreds of better things to spend time on that have a real connection to Ireland and its real history. Far better to spend longer periods anywhere else you listed or save time on your way to Doolin by having a day tour of the Dingle Penninsula with insanely beautiful scenery and real Irish history.

Doolin is a great base......with wonderful trad music in the pubs. We particularly loved McGanns Pub with great music and fantastic Irish Stew. If you have nice weather a guided tour of the Burren is well worth it....So starkly beautiful ! Also a day trip to the Aran Islands is wonderful. The cliffs at the ancient Dun Anghosa fort are even prettier and far more wild than Moher. It's a wonderful fun day.

While Galway itself isn't my cup of tea it is a pretty city and a fantastic hub for day tours out to great spots I'm sure you'll love. Try to get out to is one of the prettiest spots in Ireland. If you're using Galway as a hub the time you allotted is well worth it. If you are going for Galway itself I echo the recommendation of cutting time there and adding time in Dublin.

In Dublin the easy day trip to Newgrange is totally worth it....older than the pyramids it is a moving experience. Also if there and want a great day trip out into the country there are great tours available that will take you through the gorgeous Wicklow Mountains to Glendalough the ancient monastic settlement in a beautiful lake setting with fantastic hikes.

Hope you all have a fantastic trip. All of Ireland is a joy !!!!

Posted by
996 posts

I agree that Newgrange is worth the trip. Depending on the time of year, consider going to see it early or super late in the day. We lucked out and had the first tour of the day when we were there. We saw lots of busses headed in that direction as we left. I'd think that most of the tourist busses (if they do go there) would be early, on their way to other locations.

Have a great trip!