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Help with Planning Please:-)

I am heading to Ireland in March and the more the plan, the more confused and uncertain I am about my itinerary. I am generally a "planner", but I tend to wing it when it comes to traveling and I feel like I need to have plans set for Ireland so I need your help:-)

We land in Ireland on March 30th after our flight from LAX. Based on the advice I have read on here, it seems like the best option is to start our trip in Dublin so we can get our bearings before getting our rental car (I was originally planning on traveling by train, but given the amount of time we have I think a car is the best option. Thoughts about this?).

We have a total of 9 nights in Ireland (fly out the afternoon of April 8th). I have a basic idea, of what to do, but I feel like I am missing something or maybe my timing in some of the paces is off. Here is my general itinerary. I'd love any suggestions on scheduling and must do things with my daughter who is 9. I feel like I need at least 2 nights in Galway, but not sure what to cut out.

Day 1 (March 30th)-arrive Dublin in afternoon & explore/sleep
Day 2-(March 31)-Explore Dublin
Day 3-(April 1)-Explore Dublin
Day 4-(April 2)-Rent car in Dublin and drive to Kilkenny/sleep in Kilkenny
Day 5-(April 3)- Drive from Kilkenny to Cobh or Kinsale (see Rock of Cashel on the way)/stay in Cobh or Kinsale (or is there a better option?)
Day 6-(April 4)- Explore Cobh or Kinsale/stay in Cobh or Kinsale for night
Day 7-(April 5)-Drive from Cobh/Kinsale to Killarney (do Jaunting Car Tour)/Stay in Killarney
Day 8-(April 6)- Drive from Kilarney to Dingle/Explore the Ring of Kerry. Stay in Dingle for the night)
Day 9-April 7-Drive from DIngle to Galway/Cliffs of Moher tour? Is this better to do from somewhere else. Stay in Galway.
Day 10-(April 8)-Drive from Galway to Dublin/drop off car & fly home @ 2pm

Cheers & Safe Travels,

Posted by
6789 posts

Alexis, since you mention generally being a wing-it traveler, I thought I’d just mention that back in 2011 (gee, it’s been almost a full dozen years!) my husband and I rented bikes and set off from Galway, out to Inishmore island, then back down the west coast, to Dingle and beyond. We had a reservation for a cottage (sadly, no longer being rented) just outside Dingle, so needed to make it there for the arranged dates, but kind-of winged it much of the other days. That suited our varying pedaling pace, and we didn’t absolutely have to do a certain number of miles on a particular day, and a drenching rainstorm one day let us pull in an unexpected town to dry off until the next morning.

We were able to plan where we’d wind up an hour or two before we needed to spend each night, and then book our stay. Maybe things are different now, and reservations may be more necessary, but short of St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, I believe March is off-season in Ireland, and you’d be able to find a room wherever you wanted, without booking weeks ahead.

On 2 trips, we’ve landed in Dublin both times, and caught a bus immediately for Galway. Our most recent trip, we rented a car after Galway, and finally turned it in in Dublin. Would you consider doing a counter-clockwise trip, and saving Dublin for the end? The day you fly home, you’d want to be at the Dublin airport by 11am, and that’s after you’ve turned in your car. You’d need to get out of Galway plenty early, with the plan you mention above.

If you did start with Dublin for 3 days, you could still head next for Galway, and work your way counter-clockwise, That way, on departure day, Kilkenny is closer to the Dublin airport than Galway.

Posted by
2625 posts

Why not fly into and out of Dublin and Shannon (multi-city) so you don’t have to drive or take the train back to Dublin: Check flights both ways (to Dublin out of Shannon or vice vs.).
You put together a good itinerary but Galway is not a “must see” city. It’s best as a jumping off point to visit the Aran Islands or Connemara.
If you fly round trip, take a bus from Dublin’s airport to Galway and pick up your car there and visit Dublin at the end of your trip. If you fly home from Dublin, drop off your car in Kilkenny and take a direct train to Dublin (1h 45m). Nobody likes driving in Dublin.

Posted by
6098 posts

Open jaw using Shannon would work better but it's probably too late now because your flights are set. And Shannon has fewer transatlantic options than Dublin. (But if you're connecting through London you might find Shannon works just as well.)

You're using Dingle as an overnight stop after the Ring of Kerry. You could also skip the Ring (seems sacrilegious, but still) and instead take the Slea Head Drive around the Dingle Peninsula. Shorter, perhaps equally scenic, saves you some time.

Galway is a hub for the northwest more than a destination in itself, though it's a nice city. It connects directly by Aircoach bus with DUB, so you could head straight there after landing or head straight for the airport after dropping your car. Make the loop in either direction. But I'd urge you not to drive from Galway to DUB on the day of your homebound flight. It takes awhile and too many things can go wrong, including the car return process. If you're going to drive at the end, consider spending the last night in Trim, not far from DUB, or in Dublin itself (makes more sense if you do the loop counter-clockwise).

Posted by
5 posts

I do like the idea of ending out trip in Dublin. That was my original plan, but after reading so many comments, I got nervous about renting a car when we landed and being jet lagged. Getting out of Dublin and heading to Galway via public transport when we arrive actually seems to give us a jump start on our travels. Question- is bus or train best for this?

Also, if we pick up a car in Galway, should we plan on driving to the Cliffs of Moher ourselves? Or should we take a tour out of Galway or Doolin?

Thanks so much:-)

Posted by
5 posts

Ok, I reworked the itinerary going the opposite direction and ending in Dublin. I feel like we will need at least 2 solid days in Dublin so I need to shave a day off somewhere. What do I take off? Agh. I just need more time, but I don't have it for this trip.

Option #2
Day 1 (March 30th)-Arrive Dublin take train/bus to Galway. Stay night in Galway
Day 2-(March 31)-Pick up car in Galway and drive to Cliffs of Moher. Stay night in Bunratty Castle/Limerick?
Day 3-(April 1)-Drive to Dingle/Night in Dingle Town
Day 4-(April 2)-Explore Dingle-Slea Head Drive//Stay in Dingle
Day 5-(April 3)- Drive from Dingle to Killarney via Ring of Kerry? Or skip Ring of Kerry and do Jaunting Car Tour. Stay in Killarney
Day 6-(April 4)- Drive from Killarney to Kinsale/sleep in Kinsale
Day 7-(April 5)-Kinsale/Cobh. Kinslae walking tour. Sleep in Kinsale
Day 8-(April 6)- Drive from Kinsale to Dublin. Stop at the Rock of Cashel Along the Way. Drop car off. Sleep in Dublin
Day 9-(April 7)-Dublin. Walking Tour/Trinity Library/Book of Kells/Guinness (we need another day in Dublin!)
Day 10-(April 8)-Dublin/drop off car & fly home @ 2pm

Posted by
6789 posts

Use the Aircoach embedded link that Dick provides above, and go with a One Way bus from the Dublin airport to Galway, and it’s just €28 total for the two of you. You can ride in the top of the double decker, catch a nap like we needed to do the last time, and also enjoy scenery. Grab the seats right at the front of the upper level, with a picture window windshield. Nice toilet is onboard, too.

Posted by
1491 posts

You are travelling around a lot with many one night stops. There are a lot of good things you are by passing too... Regard this very much as a taster tour.

Cliffs of Moher are actually more impressive seen from a boat trip rather from standing on top. The Burren is wonderful with its limestone scenery and completely different to anywhere else in Ireland. Try and do the drive around the coast from Kinvarra to Doolin for the best scenery.

If you decide on the Ring of Kerry, try and make time to visit either Cahergal stone fort or Leacanabuile stone fort. They are unique and very impressive.

You ask about allowing another day in Dublin - problem with that is you will need to cut out a day somewhere else and that is going to be difficult.

Posted by
6789 posts

For Cliffs of Moher, we didn’t need to pay for parking, since we had bicycles. But if you took a tour from Doolin or Galway, you’d be backtracking to get your car, and you need to keep on the move, to make you way around Ireland, right? I’d suggest that you pick up your rental car when you’re departing Galway, make it to the Cliffs (pay parking lot, but also a fun, kid-oriented visitors center that your daughter should really enjoy), and then continue to where you’ll be staying the night.

At the risk of throwing more at you, for Day 2 I’d suggest that for that night, rather than staying in Limerick, consider Kilrush. It’s a pleasant town where we spent one night, and it gives you 2 advantages. First, you don’t have to drive the long, extra miles to make it around the bay of the River Shannon that Limerick would require, saving time and gas. The bonus is on the morning of Day 3 you get to take the quick, shortcut car ferry across the Shannon the next day, from nearby Killimer across to Tarbert. Once you drive off the ferry, you’re that much closer to Dingle.