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Ireland Itinerary - Doable?

Hello adventurers!

I'm planning an Ireland vacation for September of 2023. We will have 9 days (including travel) in Ireland (8:30AM arrival day 1). Please see my plan below and let me know your thoughts. Am I over committing? So far only our flights are booked.

Dublin - Days 1 & 2
Morning train to Cork and overnight in Cork - Day 3
Blarney Castle and drive to Dingle with lunch stop in Killarney. Overnight in Dingle - Day 4
Slea Head Drive and head north, overnight in Doolin - Day 5
Cliffs of Mohr & Aran Islands then drive to overnight in Galway - Day 6
Galway overnight in Galway - Day 7
Morning train back to Dublin, overnight in Dublin - Day 8
Fly home - Day 9

Thank you!

Posted by
1667 posts

Whenever someone asks if they're trying to squeeze too much into too little time, the answer is almost always yes. Just the fact that you are asking suggests that you have doubts.

That said, if you just want to be almost constantly on the go, are happy to wake up each morning and check out of your lodging to head to your next destination, seeing things mostly in passing without opportunities to linger, and spend a good part of your vacation moving from place to place, then maybe this itinerary will work for you. If you're happy to travel this way, then do it.

But if you are seriously doubtful about how much you have packed into your nine days, then eliminate one or two stops. I'm afraid I can't offer specific suggestions on what to cut, because I have only been to Dublin and Cork, and it was a long time ago.

Also, I think it would be better to stay in Dublin at the end of your trip, rather than doing two nights at the beginning and one more at the end. If you arrive and then immediately take the train to your next destination, it's more efficient.

Posted by
2684 posts

Have you purchased your plane tickets yet? If not, try to fly in and out of Shannon and Dublin. If yes, from Dublin’s airport hop on a direct bus to Galway (3h) and sleep there one night. The next morning rent a car and drive to the Cliffs and sleep in Doolin.
I don’t recommend the Aran Islands as a day trip. If I went again, I would spend the night. You need more than a day to appreciate it.

Posted by
6183 posts

If you're flying overnight from North America, your arrival day will be jetlagged and not much fun beyond what the adrenalin offers. I suggest that you take an Aircoach direct from DUB to Galway that first day. You can either enjoy the scenery or sleep, probably some of both, then get the car and move on to Aran and/or the Cliffs. While an overnight in Aran would be great, you don't have time and you'll still get a lot out of a day trip there. If you can find a day tour of Aran from Galway you can save a day's car rental (but pay for the tour of course).

Then work your way in reverse through the itinerary you described. I would skip Blarney, even if I had weeks to spend in Ireland. Even years.

Cork is way out of your way, though there are interesting things to see and do there. If this were my trip I'd head east from Dingle and spend more time in Dublin at the end, without the car of course.

If you can use Shannon and Dublin (in either order) for your flights you'll save time. And I agree with others that one-night stands should be minimized. Your plan has you moving almost every day. While most of the driving will be scenic, some of that time would be better spent appreciating where you actually are.

Posted by
491 posts

If you follow the CCW path, take the Rossaveal Ferry to Aran. It offers a bus from Galway for a small price and organizes everything for you. The bigger ferry is much more weather tolerant than the Doolin ferries,

Frankly, I'd skip Moher and maybe do the Ring of Kerry (and the Cliffs of K) on the way from Dingle to Cork. Moher and Blarney are not places I've been in four trips to Ireland because I'm repulsed by tour buses and long lines of people.

You will come home exhausted (rather than rested) but that's our travel style, so it's right for some. A recent post quoted someone famous that said "I'll rest when in my grave".

Posted by
9955 posts

I agree with Dick’s suggestion to go start in Galway. And you can go to Inishmore (Aran Islands) for the day and have a blast. There is no requirement to spend the night. We did it last October. We had 4 nights in Galway and we opted to fly to Inishmore in order to arrive well before the first ferry. We rented e-bikes and rode to the other side of the island and back. I would have liked to return by ferry so we could stay a bit longer, but we had a car so that wasn’t doable. If you could figure out how to fly there and ferry back that would be ideal. I know there’s a shuttle from Galway to the ferry. I’m not sure about the airport.

Posted by
1597 posts

Yes, you are over commiting. You need to slow down! Driving in Ireland does tend to be slow. Distances may not look that far on a map but will take a lot longer to cover than you might expect. You don't say where you are from. If the States, you may be used to driving long distances but driving in Ireland is very different... Planning to do Slea Head and then driving to Doolin in a day ius realistic. Slea Head with MINIMAL stops will take three hours - and you will want to stop! You then have another four hour drive to Doolin.

Cork is the 'outlier' on the tour. Cut that out and add the extra night to somewhere else.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you all for your generous insight and tips!

Dingle and Dublin are on my must see list so I guess its between cutting Galway or Cork. From other travel research I've come to understand Cork is a cultural hub of Ireland and great place for foodies and music, but from these responses Galway is recommended over the Rebel City. Can anyone offer additional insight why we should consider Galway over Cork as first time visitors?

Thanks again!

Posted by
1597 posts

Cork is a large city although Kinsale and Cobh are very close and much smaller.

Galway is not as large as Cork, but is equally as vibrant with its University. Galway also gives access to the Burren to the south with its limestone scenery which is completely different to anywhere else in Ireland as well as the Cliffs of Moher. There is also Dunguaire Castle and a medieval banquet!

Connemara has some of the best scenery in Ireland and is less busy than County Kerry. Don’t miss the Sky Drive from Clifden. On a sunny day, this is one of the best short drives in the world. The area around Roundstone with its tiny harbour and views across the Twelve Bens is one of the best anywhere. Alternatively head to Kilary Harbour, described as the only fjord in Ireland and go for a boat trip.

You also have the chance to do a side trip to the Arran Islands for a completely different cultural experience.

There is Kylemore Abbey, the ruined Aughnanure Castle, ruined abbeys at Cong (don’t miss the monk’s fishing station with bell to let the kitchen know when a fish was caught), and the lovely Ross Errily Priory. Balintubber Abbey was founded in 12178 and is still serves as a parish church. Just a short drive from Galway is the medieval walled town of Athenry with the remains of its castle and abbey.

If you are interested in social history, the National Museum of Ireland, Country Life in Castlebar is fascinating. As well as displays of the way of life betweern 1850-1950, there are many short videos filmed 70+ years ago showing customs and folk lore from the time. We spent several hours here.

Galway wins hands down as far as I’m concerned.

Posted by
6183 posts

If your priorities are Dublin and Dingle, then Cork is closer than Galway to your general direction of travel. I believe it also has Aircoach service from DUB, so you could start your trip there on arrival day. There's more of interest to me around Galway, and I'd certainly recommend it as a base for part of a longer trip, but Cork might be a better choice for you. Cobh and Kinsale are also worthwhile to see in that vicinity.

And, of course, Cork is much closer to the Blarney Stone, where you can line up with hundreds of visitors from all over the world and share their saliva for a moment. Maybe worthwhiole, but from your posts I'd say you don't need any "gift of gab" reinforcement. ;-)

Posted by
30 posts

Everything I’ve seen regarding Blarney Castle suggests it’s a tourist trap of major proportions. You might consider other options instead.

Posted by
14 posts

Dingle was my favorite stop in Ireland. Glad it is a priority for you!

Keep in mind, the boats to the Aran Island do get cancelled for weather. So leave flexibility if it is a priority to go day early/late or just be okay with missing it if weather doesn’t cooperate.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you all for the great advice. I'm very excited to continue planning this Ireland adventure! With our destinations decided (Galway, Dingle, and Dublin) I have some questions about car rentals, but I'll start a new thread for that.

Wishing you all safe and happy travels!

Posted by
1597 posts

destinations decided (Galway, Dingle, and Dublin)

Three very different places and experiences - Enjoy!

Posted by
180 posts


We are planning a trip to Ireland in September 2023 as well!

Just for comparison, we are planning to spend 10 days and are not trying to cover as much ground as you are. We haven't decided for sure which things we're leaving out this trip. Most likely we leave Dublin directly after landing and head for Waterford for one night. From there we will go to the Cork/Kinsale area and are planning to spend 2 or 3 nights there. On to Dingle for 2-3 nights. We are still debating Galway and the Aran Islands but I suspect we will not make it that far. A couple of nights in Dublin at the end of the trip.