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First timer-- too ambitious/where do I need more time?

I'm joining my husband on a last minute business trip to NI/Ireland in a couple of weeks, so I get to quickly plan our trip. We have always wanted to go, so of course we have a million more things to see than we have time for! We have a week after he's done working in Belfast to explore south and have narrowed the itinerary, though possibly not enough. We enjoy exploring outside, scenic walks, old architecture, museums, quaint and friendly towns and getting a feel for the local culture. Can't miss things for me are Cliffs of Moher, Dingle Peninsula, Rock of Cashel and Dublin. I don't have much experience traveling internationally, and we tend to be ambitious on trips, so I could use some help with logistics. Please tell me if this is reasonable:
Day 1: Finish sightseeing in Belfast or go right to small town near Cliffs of Moher. I'm thinking Doolin, but am open to whatever town is best for getting to Cliffs. Sleep in Doolin or whatever place best suited for Cliffs. (yes, long drive but we want to end at Dublin and want to minimize number of short BnB stays)
Day 2: Cliffs of Moher, drive to Dingle, sleep in Dingle
Day 3 and 4: Dingle, scenic drives, exploring
Day 5: Wake up, drive to Dublin, stopping at Rock of Cashel along the way.
Day 6 and 7: Our Dublin must sees
Day 8: I fly out of Dublin

I feel like I'm wasting a precious day on day 5, mostly on the road from Dingle to Dublin with only Rock of Cashel for that day, but this is the best I can come up with to hit all of the spots. I am inexperienced and rushed so would love any help/insight! Thanks!

Posted by
1461 posts

I’m trying to get a better idea of the time you have - it would help if you’d clarify how many nights rather than days. I’m also trying to think of something you could add between Dingle and Dublin. Killarney National Park comes to mind.

Posted by
5629 posts

First thought: Slow down. The beauty of NI and Eire shouldn’t be rushed.

NORTHERN IRELAND:
Second thought: In Belfast Visit: The Ulster Museum to learn about the history of The Troubles. Don’t miss the Titanic Museum, Crumlin Road Gaol, and see the murals on the Peace wall. Also try the seafood chowder at Mourne’s by Kelly Cellars Pub.
Third thought: Visit the Giant’s Causeway on your way to Doolin.
Fourth Thought: If you were a Game of Thrones fan know that the large yellow and green building behind the Titanic Museum in the Titanic Quarter is where the main stages were. I understand GOT tours are available to take if you have interest.
Fifth Thought: Remember you are in Northern Ireland so you’ll need British Pounds as currency NOT Euros.

IRELAND
First Thought: Other than the Book of Kells and the
Long Room at Trinity College in Dublin I didn’t find anything of much interest in the city. Did like a strolling through St Stephen’s Green and enjoyed a pint and Craic at the Doheny and Nesbitt pub.
Second Thought: The Dingle Peninsula and Dingle are lovely.
Third Thought: In Dingle DON’T miss having a pint at Foxy John’s. Go midday or early evening. Interior space is small ( it’s a hardware store AND pub ).
Fourth Thought: visit the Cliffs of Kerry near Portmagee which is an easy 2 hours drive from Dingle. Liked better than the Cliffs of Mohr
Fourth Thought: I loved Killarney National Park but I was there in the Fall when the flora was gold, red and green. Walked from the Muckross House to Muckross Lake. Peaceful and lovely trek.
Fifth Thought: Dingle to the Rock of Cashel will be a 3 hour drive. Leave early and drive to the Rock of Cashel. From there head to Jerpoint Abbey then on to Dublin on the M9.

If you are picking up your vehicle in Belfast be sure to ask if can return the car in Dublin. Remember two different countries.

Non fizzy water in bottles will be labeled Still. Other
wise you’ll feel like your are drinking club soda.

Gas is called petrol.

Been around the island twice. Wonderful place to explore and experience.

Cheers AND Slainte

Posted by
5 posts

Inbsig--To simplify, we we have 8 nights in Ireland. That doesn't count our time in Northern Ireland at the beginning of the trip while my husband is working, so our Belfast sightseeing doesn't take away from those 8 nights.

Claudia--thank you for your helpful tips! We saw Foxy John's on the RS show we watched last night. I will look into the Cliffs of Kelly and your other helpful suggestions.

Posted by
552 posts

When do you plan to drop off the car? If you are staying in Dublin City Center you will definitely not want or need it. So on Day 5 you could also visit Hore Abbey which is a nice walk across fields from the Rock of Cashel. On the way to Dublin form Cashel you could stop in Kilkenny for a stroll and a snack. Depending on where you drop off the car you could also consider visiting Trim Castle (a defensive castle) https://heritageireland.ie/places-to-visit/trim-castle/, on the Boyne River in Trim, or Malahide Castle (which is really a manor house) https://www.malahidecastleandgardens.ie in Malahide. Both Trim and Malahide are near the Dublin airport (where you might be dropping off the car).

Posted by
3525 posts

Trust the mention of Irish Lira was a joke?! The currency in the Republic of Ireland is the Euro, €. Go here for a little more money info.

Posted by
5629 posts

Good catch Jo in Tucson regarding Irish currency. I either suffered a moment of temporary insanity or a 60’s flashback.

I’ve corrected my post.

Thank you.

Posted by
1937 posts

Picking up a rental car in Belfast and dropping it anywhere in the Republic will incur a sizeable one-way international drop charge, probably on the order of 200 Euros, but you’ll need to verify that with your provider.

Posted by
5 posts

We will not be returning the car on this trip; my husband will be using it in Belfast afterward.

Trotter, thanks for the suggestions!

Posted by
2785 posts

Others may disagree, but wasn't a fan of Dublin. The Book of Kells was underwhelming. I did like the museum in Dublin-maybe called the National Museum orArcheological Museum. We really enjoyed a day bus tour to Glendalough and Kilkenny.

Posted by
1461 posts

I really enjoyed the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin.

Posted by
868 posts

I loved Dublin. I was there for 3 nights and ran out of time to do things I wanted to do. I enjoyed the Giant's Causeway more than the Cliffs of Moher.

Posted by
1461 posts

Between the Cliffs of Moher and Dingle, there are the Cliffs of Kilkee, also beautiful. Walking them was a much quieter and more casual experience.

Posted by
917 posts

Have only visited Dublin once for 2 days and could not say I was wow'ed. Maybe it needs a lengthier visit to fall into the atmosphere? What are your Dublin must-sees that will take 2 full days? Maybe you will be able to identify something that does not make you feel day 5 is wasted. I know time is tight, but perhaps mosey a bit more?

Posted by
1461 posts

Dublin: St. Stephen’s Green Park was mentioned above, which is lovely. Merrion Square Park is also very nice, and has a really cool Oscar Wilde memorial in the NW corner.

Posted by
914 posts

Haven't been to Dingle or Belfast but have visited everywhere else on your list. If it was me I'd drop your outlier (Dingle) and spend less time driving and more time enjoying the other places you want to see - and maybe add a stop in between. In my experience the worst part of planning a trip is cutting because we can never do it all.

Posted by
1882 posts

Have been to Dublin a few times and enjoyed it. Christ Church is wonderful especially The lower level. My favorite has to be Kilmainhain Gaol. I believe you do need to get tickets in advance now but to me is a sight not to miss. Thought the Guinness Warehouse was very underwhelming but others might disagree. Walk across Hapenny Bridge (not the right spelling) and also.take in the GPO where you can see marks from the bullets during the Easter uprising. St. Stephens Green is a nice place also. See Newvgrange on the way out of Dublin.

Posted by
5 posts

I think I'm going to rework the itinerary so we start in Kilkenny (shaves off some drive time and eliminates the awkward day 5), spend the day to see the castle and take the jaunt to the Rock of Cashel, spend the night in Kilkenny then head to Dingle. I'm on the fence about Doolin now; we may cut it out as the other cliffs mentioned look magnificent and I like the suggestion that they're less visited/touristy.

Our wish list for Dublin is Trinity College (I need to see the library and the Book of Kells....the British Library was probably my favorite thing in London), Kilmainhain Gaol, a quick trip to the Guinness storehouse, and the National Museum. Our second day in Dublin will be a day trip out to Newgrange.

I so appreciate all of the suggestions and help!

Posted by
1937 posts

In general we've found that estimated drive times shown on some of the popular driving apps (Google maps, ViaMichelin, etc.) are overly optimistic. Actual drive times typically exceed their estimates by around 30%. It's not that much of an issue on the motorways where you'll generally make good time, but once off onto one of the N and R roads traffic doesn't go nearly as fast as the posted speed limits may suggest - they're all narrow, two-lane roads where any number of things can slow traffic to a crawl (or a stop).
Skipping Doolin and devoting more time to Kerry and Dingle would be a wise choice in my opinion. Time and interest permitting you might consider a short detour south of Kenmare out to the Beara peninsula - one of Ireland's better kept secrets, which features beautiful seascapes similar to those on the ROK or Slea Head drive but without the crowds.

Posted by
552 posts

MamaMcD: Have you gotten your tickets for Kilmainham Gaol yet? They sell out early and fast. Another poster can't find any for when they will be in Dublin. If you are interested in libraries and illuminated manuscripts consider a visit to the aforementioned Chester Beaty Library. The manuscripts are from the Middle East and are stunning. I believe that the Archaeology Museum also has an Irish illuminated manuscript along with information concerning Newgrange and the history of the Boyne River Valley.

Posted by
1461 posts

The Chester Beatty Library has work from all over the world, in various media. It has an incredibly informative exhibit on world religions, among others. Admission is free, no reservations required.