It will be beginning of December - I hear mixed reviews of Galway, we will have one day in Galway, so I don't know if we need to spend 3 days, but wonder what are the must do's for the area. We will have a teen with us, thank you in advance!
Could you clarify your question a little? You say you have one day in Galway, but you also say two days. Are you using one day to actually stay IN Galway and want to know what to do with two OTHER days, or are you talking about two days total? Where else will you have been near there?
So sorry, we arrive on Friday night into Shannon late, have to be in Galway Sunday night for a day of meetings on Monday, then we head out of Ireland Tuesday morning. I am thinking we will spend the night in Shannon Friday night unless it is feasible to get somewhere else. Thank you!!
OK, now I'm really confused. You were asking about Galway, I asked how much time you actually have there, and now you are taking about staying in Shannon? Can you clarify your Galway timing?
We do not have an itinerary at this time - we fly into Shannon Airport on a Friday night, rather late, and need to spend the day in Galway on Monday. We see in the Rick Steves' books that he has a greater appreciation for the Dingle area than the Galway area for sites and history. My plan was to head south upon arrival into the airport and spend our "free days" - Saturday and part of Sunday exploring the Dingle Peninsula and a leisurely drive to Galway beginning on Sunday at noon. I have never been to Ireland, let alone, the area of Galway, just trying to understand where the best area to explore might be. Our interests will be sites, not shopping. Thank you so much and so sorry to be so confusing, it is not my intention.
You could easily spend a day in the Burren, less than an hour from Galway. In addition to the scenery, there is quite a bit of history: Poulnabrone Dolmen, Corcomroe Abbey, Kilmacduagh, Kilfenora... Clonmacnoise is less than 2 hours away.
Thank you so much, Archimedes - typing this note makes me think of the movie The Sword and the Stone. I am grateful for your input and insight. I was not understand that there was much to do around Galway - our trip has come upon us rather quickly and unexpectedly, and I am waiting for the arrival of my Rick Steves' travel guide, I am so grateful for your post. We have traveled to Europe twice and only have used Rick Steves' travel guides to guide our travels and have never been disappointed, so I feel a bit lost without one to make some plans. I am anxious to get my hands on mine so I can begin to plan. Thanks!
As my relatives live right on the edge of the Burren and I've been in that area quite a bit over the years during various months, I can tell you that the Burren is most "scenic" in the warmer months. You are going in the beginning of December. So no matter where you go outside at that time of year - whether you stick around Galway or go to Dingle - you aren't going to be seeing things at their absolute best. Expect it to be cold (not bitterly cold, but cold enough), damp and a bit dreary with some occasional peeks of sunshine.
I'd stick to Galway over Dingle at that time of year. You're only there for a very short time and there's enough to keep you occupied for 1 to 3 days. Shannon I would skip completely unless you are arriving so late that you need to just find a bed very quickly and sleep.
In December, I wouldn't go to Dingle. I love the Burrin, and if the weather is good, I think it would be worth a visit. Clonmacnoise is wonderful. And FYI, it will take you a lot longer to drive in Ireland than you expect, so I would be conservative in how much territory you plan to cover.
Since you are flying into Shannon, you might want to stop at the Bunratty Folk Village. They have gathered a number of traditional buildings there, and I was surprised how enjoyable it was.
One other comment: the RS guide to Ireland is VERY selective. I would suggest also checking another guidebook.Frommer's has a book of scenic drives that I found to be helpful. And if you have particular interests in art, history, or architecture, the blue guide is great.
We went to Ireland many times before I was aware of the Rick Steve's travel books. I found Frommers to be helpful traveling with family. I would also skip going south to the Dingle peninsula. As had been said, driving anywhere in Ireland takes twice as long as you expect. You would spend all your time I the car.
From Shannon, you could head northwest thru Clare to the Cliffs of Moher. My teens enjoyed hiking along the Cliffs (I think you can still do that). It should be pretty rugged in December. A few miles further north is the town of Doolin, famous for its Irish music sessions. We enjoyed staying at Ballinalacken Castle, just beyond. It's not a grand castle--the accommodations are more like a lodge, but it does have an authentic castle tower on the grounds. The rates are reasonable, with full breakfast. The trip from there to Galway is not too long and goes along the coast part of the way--it's quite scenic. It would get you into Galway in time to do some sightseeing.