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Ireland Itinerary by Rail & Bus - What to Leave in or Out

We have been working on an itinerary for some time but may need to shorten our trip. We'll be traveling by rail and bus as my husband is 75 and renting a car is difficult at that age, not to mention really expensive. We plan to book day trips out of a few bases. If we have to delete one or more of these, which would you suggest? I understand that this is completely subjective but find the opinions of those who have been there to be valuable. Our travel style has leaned heavily toward "fast travel" but we may slow down a bit for this trip. We're primarily interested in seeing natural beauty and wandering quaint streets but will include some of the "must sees" in Dublin and elsewhere. Given our age and the many other places on our bucket list, this may be our only trip to Ireland.

I would love to visit Rock of Cashel but had difficulty working it in because of limited public transportation. Suggestions about how best to work this in would be greatly appreciated.

Arrive Dublin early AM (2 nights) - Tour sights; half day trip to Wicklow National Park/Glendalough
Kilkenny (1 night) - Early train; spend day exploring Medieval Village
Cork (Cobh) or Kinsale (2 nights) - wandering and eating
Killarney - (4 nights) - Explore Killarney and National Park; day trip to Kenmare, Ring of Kerry; day trip to Dingle Peninsula
Galway - (3 nights) - Explore city; day trip to Cliffs of Moher; day trip to Connemara National Park and Kylemore Abbey
Return to Dublin (1 night) - fly home.

Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences.

Posted by
2225 posts

Just a thought since you'll be arriving in the early morning and say that one of your destinations will be Killarney : Ryan Air has a morning flight from Dublin to the Kerry airport near Killarney that departs around 8:55 AM. Costs less than $50 and takes about an hour to get there. If you can work that in to your itinerary after arrival on Day 1 it might streamline things a bit. Besides, you'll probably be pretty tired and at a loss for things to do while waiting to check into your accommodations, so why not put the time to good use by just continuing on a little further that day?

Posted by
5113 posts

I traveled by bus, train, and boat when I went to Ireland. You can have a great trip on public transport and it is definitely my preferred way of travel. That said, there are some logistical challenges involved. It will take longer to get to places than you might expect. I like that you are availing yourself of several day tours, that seems an excellent idea.

My suggestion is to increase the length of your trip. You think it may be your only trip? Then rather than try to put too much in a short time, extend the time you have available on this trip. Even 2-3 days more would make a difference.

Posted by
210 posts

Carol now retired - We would love to add more days but are also visiting a friend who lives near London on this trip and are under some time constraints. We usually travel in a single country for at least 3 weeks but may not be able to this time. We've put this trip off since 2020 and hat to keep waiting. We'd rather see what we can at this point.

Posted by
210 posts

Robert - Thanks for the suggestion. Prior to the Ireland trip we may be visiting a friend who lives near Stansted airport north of London so we may look into flying from there to one of our stops in Ireland.

Posted by
2225 posts

I see that RyanAir runs direct flights from Stanstead to Kerry, Shannon and Cork so I suppose any of those would work to get you on your way.
My suggestion would still be to start with Kerry. Though the general recommendation here is to avoid Killarney town, in your case (without a car) it's probably your best choice for a base since there are a myriad of day trips from there that will take you all around the area - escorted coach trips around the ROK, up to Dingle, and down to the Beara peninsula to the south. There's even a day trip that combines a boat trip across the Lough to Lord Brandon's Cottage, a pony trap from there thru the Gap of Dunloe, lunch at Kate Kearney's and then a bus ride back into town.
From there maybe catch the afternoon RyanAir flight back to Dublin. As was mentioned, with some minor surgery to your plan you can still put together a nice itinerary using public transport with Dublin as your base. Belfast is a couple of hours away as is Galway, opening up the possibility of quick getaways for a few days to either one, reserving a few days for Dublin itself.

Posted by
210 posts

Robert - Thanks again for your guidance. I wish we could have done this trip when we were still able to drive, as we've done in England, Scotland, France, and Italy, as I know we could have seen the out-of-the-way places but we've gotten to the point in life where we accept that anything we see is something we haven't seen before and we'll enjoy whatever we do get to do. And maybe we will get to return!