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8 day Ireland Itinerary Help for 8/6 - 8/14

Hello, Ireland experts!

My husband got a very sudden business trip to the UK and at the end of his trip, we've decided to take a vacation in Ireland. This will be our first time in Ireland, though we've been to England and Scotland before.

Because this trip was so sudden (3 days notice....), we are scrambling to juggle the long business trip (3 weeks long) and the last minute planning for the Ireland vacation. So we'd very much like your help.

These are some of the things that we came up with that we'd like to see in Ireland, without too much idea on how long it'd take to get there or see them. The only thing set right now are: we arrive in Dublin at night on Friday, August 5 and fly out from Belfast on Sunday, August 14 (to Heathrow then to home, Seattle).

Could we get your thoughts on how best to see the following list that we have come up so far? We were thinking of staying several days in Dublin and Belfast, making them our homebases for daytrips. Will we need a car or will it be good with the van/bus tours? A mix of both? (Husband is good at driving on the left side of the road and also with a manual car, but I don't want him to be exhausted from driving every day.)

  • Giant's Causeway + Rope bridge Trinity College (Book of Kells)
  • Hop on Hop off tour
  • Irish whiskey tour
  • Temple Bar (pub street)
  • Pub tour (music or literary)
  • Guinness Brewery (maybe)
  • Game of Throne tour (maybe)
  • Ring of Kerry
  • Cliffs of Moher
  • Blarney Castle
  • Staying or at least visiting some of the castles
  • Waterford crystal factory (maybe)

We have decided that for our personal preferences, we are skipping the Kilmainham Gaol and all Titanic-related stuff.

Aside from them, I'm sure we're forgetting some fantastic things, so if you have some unforgettable places from your past travels or any other tips, please share!

Posted by
379 posts

How great you can make a vacation out of a work trip! Looks like you really have 10 nights there, with 8 full days.

Several of the places you mention are on the west coast of Ireland (especially the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher, and Blarney Castle). The Cliffs are possible as a full day trip from Dublin, but the other two really not day trips. Note also that, while I've never been there and can't comment, Blarney Castle is often ranked as supremely overrated.

If I were you, I would try to do a bit of a circle. Spend three nights in Dublin, which gives you two full days there (the 6th and the 7th). On the morning of the 8th, head to Killarney (and stop at the Rock of Cashel on your way). This is a full day. Stay in Killarney two nights (the 8th and 9th). On the 9th, get an early start, and drive the Ring of Kerry with plenty of stops along the way.

On the morning of the 10th, head to Galway via the Cliffs of Moher. This is another full day. Stay in Galway on the 10th only (I don't like one night stops, but this gives you more time in Belfast, which seems to be a priority for you).

On the morning of the 11th, head from Galway to Belfast. This is a good 4 hour drive. Stay in Belfast the rest of your trip, and on either the 12th or the 13th, take a half day trip up to the Giant's Causeway.

There are plenty of castles and other places of interest to see along the way - just check out the routes. One tip for Ireland I think is to not view your itineraries as getting from point A to point B - because there is a lot worth seeing along the way. For example, taken an extra hour or two from the Cliffs of Moher to Galway and drive through the Burren. Or the Rock of Cashel as noted above. Or stop in Tullamore at the D.E.W. heritage site and see Charlevoix castle on your way from Galway to Belfast. Or see Clonmacnoise too.

Anyways, the big takeaway from my long post is that if you want to see the Ring of Kerry and parts of western Ireland, I don't think you can reasonably do it from Dublin as a day trip. Spend a few nights on the west coast - many, including myself, think its the best part of Ireland.

Posted by
300 posts

Since you're flying into Ireland and out from Northern Ireland (part of the UK - a different country) I suspect that your rental car will incur a significant drop fee unless you plan so you're renting and returning the car in the same country. I just did a quick rate check with Hertz and the fee to rent at Dublin Airport and drop at Belfast International is 141€. The comparable drop fee to rent at Dublin and drop at Shannon is under 10€. So either budget for this or try to structure your itinerary so you have an Ireland rental and a Northern Ireland rental.

Posted by
12 posts

I really love the idea of combining the self drive portion to the city stays! And a very good point on the rental car return issue.

Thank you so much for both of your answers, it will help us greatly!! :D

Posted by
552 posts

Steve gave some very good advice. Some of what you want to see is not reasonable as a day trip from Dublin. You won't need the car in Dublin as you can use the hop-on hop-off bus to see all of the local sights, and if you want to do a day trip to Newgrange it's easy to get a tour bus. Once you have the car head south as Steve mentioned, maybe a stop in Kilkenny or Glendalough, and certainly don't miss the Rock of Cashel, but I would also skip Blarney Castle (just a tourist trap). In Killarney you can do either the Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula, or the national park. Then head north stopping at the Cliffs and taking in the Burren on the way. There's many other things to see in and around Galway, but if you are limited for time then just pick the one you want to see the most. As someone else mentioned taking the car across the border will be expensive so maybe leave the car in Galway and take the train to Belfast? Or, drive back toward Dublin, stop at Clonmacnoise on the way, and take the train from Dublin. Once in Belfast you won't have any trouble getting a bus tour to the Causeway.

Posted by
12 posts

We're happily taken everyone's advpice here and are pretty confident about our plan of mixing city stays, guided tours and self driving portions.

One thing that we are worried is the availability of rooms/hotels. Because we are not 100% on whereabouts we will be during our self drive tour, we haven't booked anything yet, for example in Kilkenny or Glendalough,. We know that this is the super busy season, so we are worried. Should we try to book anything reasonable we can find ASAP? Or are there enough lodging places around so that we don't have to worry?

Posted by
300 posts

For a trip late August/early September I've begun making cancelable reservations, particularly for the weekends and cities (Belfast/Dublin). Use a booking site like booking.com or TripAdvisor to stay on top of room availability for your tentative itinerary and you'll know where you'll need to start nailing down details ahead of time.

Last May I was able to do most of a two-week trip by making reservations a couple of days out but that's shoulder season compared to August.

As an example specific to your Cliffs of Moher objective, Doolin is already mostly sold out August 23-24 and completely sold out the weekend of August 25-26.

Posted by
12 posts

You were absolutely right, it seems that a lot of the places are rapidly becoming unavailable. We hurried and managed to book all of the lodging at reasonable prices (considering how soon the trip is) this morning.

Thank you so much, we are getting very excited for our trip now that we have a good plan. We really appreciate everyone's help!