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Ireland to Scotland or Scotland to Ireland

Hello, myself and three others will be travelling in September 2023 from the US to Ireland, visiting for 5 days and then travelling to Scotland and visiting there for 5 days, then flying back to the US. Not sure if we should go to Ireland first then Scotland or Scotland first to Ireland then home to US. We have family in Ireland that we hope to see as we travel through the country, but are not going out of the way to see them, may arrange a dinner at a local pub or something like that. We do not intend to drive so we are looking for the best ways to get around the 2 countries. Our main focus is eating and drinking and immersing ourselves in the culture, sightseeing comes secondary but is fairly important. Looking for ideas on best places to lay our heads as our base camp. We like spacious accommodations with our own bathrooms, preferably two rooms. Close enough to the action yet in a quiet neighborhood. Not sure whether we should look for hotel, air bnb or B&B. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Posted by
6355 posts

I would suggest Scotland first then Ireland simply because you can do your US pre-clearance at Dublin (or Shannon).

Posted by
7562 posts

Do airfare prices and times make any more sense flying to one country and from the other? Without a car, locating in cities or bigger towns that offer bus (aka “coach”) or train service could be your best bet. But what parts of each country are you considering … Dublin and eastern Ireland? Galway or Ennis and western Ireland? Cork and the south? Or northern Ireland (or separate country, Northern Ireland?). Then Scotland - - Edinburgh, Glasgow, and/or other areas?

A Vrbo or Airbnb rental lets you pick number of bathrooms, have a kitchen for breakfast or other meals, and probably more overall space. And could be less cost. But are they close to public transportation? Hotels will probably require you booking separate rooms, for separate bathrooms. B&B’s offer breakfast and owners with lots of travel advice, but the bathroom requirements may need to be considered. Look at specific places to determine the options.

Posted by
6788 posts

Are you sure you want to do this "5 days" in one then another "5 days" in the other? I just say that because...

  • Most first time visitors vastly underestimate the time they need to allow for many things in these places: they're bigger than many people think; it takes longer to get around than they expect; and there is a LOT more to do and see than they thought there would be.
  • Many first-time visitors are not entirely honest with themselves about how much usable time they will have – that's time on the ground, not including your arrival or departure days, and not counting any days that you pick up and move to another location. Once many people look hard at their plans and become more honest/realistic about their usable time, what they first were calling "5 days" may turn out to be just 2 or 3 actual full days.

Many people figure Ireland and Scotland look small, they're "kinda similar" and they're nearby. They expect places in Europe will be easily and efficiently tied together, and they figure they can knock out Ireland and Scotland in a week or so. If you have been thinking along these lines, you may want to reconsider.

Is this your first trip to these places? If not, ignore my comments above.

Here's how I would suggest you begin: start with specific dates that you would fly in and out (they don't have to be your actual dates, but having specific dates keeps you "honest" and forces you to look at realistic plans); so pick dates. Count your actual days, not including your arrival day nor your departure day. Toss out any day you fly somewhere (between Ireland and Scotland, for example). Plan on being in your departure city for your flight home (Dublin, Edinburgh or London) the night before your actual departure, so factor in a day possibly spent getting there. Every time you are picking up and changing locations, take some or all of that day out of your free time, too. Take that number, divide that by two (half for Ireland, half for Scotland). So how many full days does that leave you?

If that's alarmingly short, then you may want to consider what many people end up doing with their initial plan for "about 10 days between Ireland and Scotland"...pick one country, and save the other for another trip when you ca do it justice and get more out of both trips.

Both destinations are wonderful, and it would be painful to have less than a full week (10 days to 2 weeks is better) just for a brief taste of each. Sorry, I know that's not what yo want to hear.

If you really have your heart set on "doing" both, then ignore everything I've said. But...think twice before committing to both countries in roughly 10 days.

Posted by
2387 posts

I agree with David that your plan is something you could do but you really need to consider how much time you really have. The day you arrive will not get much sightseeing done, just a touch of the area due to possibility of jet lag. The day you transfer countries will probably take half a day. You need to get to the airport, be there two hours early, your flight is about an hour, then deplane and get to the city. A!so, if you are using budget airlines like Easy Jet they are super strict.with luggage requirements. The day you leave you need to be at airport three hours early. We used Air and B in Dublin and if was great, very affordable two bed two full bath in good location. Same thing in Edinburgh. We have also use B&B in both, always with private bath. Best of luck!

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you for all your input. You all have given me a lot to think about and reconsider. I have since asked my traveling companions what they thought of just doing the ten days in one of the countries and I think Ireland won out. More time to see more of the country. We were in Ireland in 2018 and only got to see a bit of dublin and a bit of Galway. We did get to see a couple of family members who live in Ireland but with a longer stay we may get to see more family members. As the planner of this trip it’ll be much easier to plan our stay in one country and see the other country on our next visit back this way. Thanks for all your thoughts and advice.