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Help with my June 2020 Itinerary - Want More Outdoors Activities/Less Tourists

Good day!

I am planning a June 2 (arrive in Dublin at 8am local time) to June 15 (leave Dublin at 445pm local time) 2020 trip. The party will include me (a 40ish year old mom) and two kids, ages 15 and 11. We are very outdoorsy, love hiking, swimming, biking, and generally being outside. We love history. I would like to see as much as possible without, though, sacrificing some R&R time where we are not constantly picking up and moving locations. Any help on itinerary is much appreciated - and my preference is to have less crowds and more peace and serenity, though we do want to see some of the city life too.

Proposed potential schedule, very open to suggestions:
Arrive in Dublin and drive to Kilkenny or Glendalough (2 nights)
2 nights in Killarney or Kenmare
3 nights in Dingle
3 nights in Galway
3 nights in Portrush (or 1 night in Derry or Sligo en route to Portrush and 2 nights in Portrush?)
Drive to Dublin to fly out the morning of the 15th from Portrush.

This does not allow any time in Dublin. Also, not sure if Dingle and Galway are so different that 3 nights in each make sense? Have not been to Ireland so any guidance is much appreciated.

Posted by
36 posts

Portrush is over 3 hours drive from Dublin. If you look up directions on Google maps, its wise to add 25% time on to those drive times in Ireland.

If you are flying directly to the USA from Dublin, you need to be at the airport at least 3 hours ahead of your flight time to go thru US Preclearance. Its basically doing US Customs/Immigration before you board your flight instead of after you get off the plane back in the USA. So it would be wise to spend your last night close to the Dublin Airport.

Posted by
224 posts

Given the amount of time you have and your preference for outdoors and fewer tourists, I’m wondering why you plan to drive to Portrush, which is a long drive from Galway and Dublin. I found it o.k., but not one of the top places I visited. Nearby Derry is great and the Bog Murals and Guildhall Museum offer a different perspective on Irish history. Even so, it’s a long drive from Galway and Dublin as well.

If you want more time outside and fewer tourists, you might consider cutting the long drive to Derry/Portrush and spending more time in some of these areas. If you’re staying in Portrush to visit Giant’s Causeway and the Rope Bridge, they are fascinating, but crowded with tourists. Both were worth it to me.

The Burren: very different landscape, lots of hikes and trails and scenic backroads. I saw fewer tourists while visiting there than most places.

Connemara: classic Ireland scenery, mountains, lakes, hikes, peat bogs; Clifden has trad music.

Sligo; rural countryside with nice walks (trails and roads); hikes around and on Ben Bulben; I drove back roads for different photographic angles of Ben Bulben and saw no other tourists and had a nice chat with a farmer who drove by on his tractor while I was walking down a narrow lane.

In Dingle, there are nice trails and walks along the Slea Head Drive, and they often take you away from the crowds. There are also nice side trips on smaller roads that offer good scenery and fewer tourists. Also, you can join a guided half day kayak tour of the harbor which is quite good.

All the best,

Raymond

Posted by
2 posts

This is really helpful. After reading more in this forum, I was thinking about this alternative and just cutting out the northern trek altogether.

Trim (Newgrange) - 1 night
Galway - 4 nights
Kinvarra en route to Dingle - 1 night
Dingle - 3 nights
Kinsale - 2 nights
Glendalough - 2 nights?
Dublin - 1 night/fly out next evening

Any reactions? Is Sligo a worthwhile addition, cutting down on Dingle or Glendalough?

Thanks again!!

Posted by
1980 posts

Your revised itinerary looks much better in my opinion. I'd resist the urge to add anything to it.
Personal preference only, but I suggest that rather than basing yourselves in Galway for 4 nights you consider staying in or near the village of Clifden instead. It's a pretty little town and is central for explorations around the Connemara region including the Sky Road, the loop drive to Diamond Hill (nice hikes), Kylemore Abbey, the ferry from Cleggan out to Inishbofin, and the ferry from Rossaveal out to Inishmore - renting bikes there to explore the island would be a memorable experience for you and your kids. Likewise the Hawk Walk at Ashford Castle, which many here rave about.
For our own trips to Dingle and the ROK we've started to stay between Glenbeigh and Castlemaine rather than in one of the larger towns. We just like the more relaxed vibe in the countryside and that particular stretch is within an easy hour's drive of both Dingle and the prettiest parts of the ROK, including the Gap of Dunloe and the very pretty Skellig Ring Road.
Staying in or near Glendalough will allow you to visit the monastic site early in the morning before the tour buses start to arrive at 9:30 - a much more mellow experience without the crowds. There are several very nice hikes there that could keep you busy for most of a day. Some of the prettiest hikes in the Wicklow mtns. are right there at Glendalough.
On your way back to Dublin drive the Old Military Road thru the Sally Gap - a very scenic route with lots of photo ops and with a fascinating history of its own.

Posted by
36 posts

Kinvarra is so close to Galway. If I were you I would drive further down into Clare to spend a night.

Posted by
224 posts

Your new itinerary will give you more time to enjoy the outdoors and less time driving. Trim has a great walk along the river.

Whether Sligo is worth the extra driving time is up to you; all of the places you mention are worth visiting, so it’s always a balancing act of how much to see versus spending time to enjoy each place. In general, slowing down and having more time in a few places lets you enjoy and experience Ireland more.

All the best,

Raymond

Posted by
8 posts

I may be late to the conversation but Westport in County Mayo is a great base - you can travel out to Achill Island. There’s an old railroad line that is now open for hiking or bike riding.

Donegal is stunning - Slieve League is truly a sight to behold. No tourists at all.

Posted by
5011 posts

Drop 2 nights from Galway. Fly to Inish Mor (in the Arran Islands). The flight is super cheap and takes all of 10 minutes, but you will be in a different world. Stay 2 nights on Inish Mor - there you will be free from tourist crowds, you can hike and explore the bizarre, dramatic and spectacular landscapes. It will be a highlight of your trip.

Posted by
10 posts

I agree with David about dropping 2 nights from Galway and spending them on Inis Mor, whether you get there by plane or by ferry, though I'd recommend ferry to take advantage of being on the water.

We were hardly in Galway and would like to visit it again sometime, but the Aran Islands are so unique and otherwordly; David is spot on. Since you and your family love the outdoors, you could easily spend the entire day hiking around the island and exploring ruins. And it's easy enough to take a ferry to visit Inis Oir or Inis Man and spend several hours there hiking/biking. Also, the farther west you hike on Inis Mor, I think the fewer tourists you're likely to see, especially if you head out early before the tourist ferries arrive.