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Ireland Trip Planning

We are panning to spend a week/10 days or so in Ireland in mid-May. We would start in either Belfast or Dublin (our son works in Belfast). Our main interests are scenery and museums (and, of course, local pubs!). We are hoping to tour without renting a car (using trains/buses). What would be a suggested itinerary? We've always been fascinated by the Cliffs Of Mohr.

Would I side trip by ferry to the Isle Of Man be worth out time? If so, via Belfast or Dublin?

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
8864 posts

Having driven around the island twice solo I suggest you rent a car. Drove it in my 50’s and late 60’s. Once in an automatic, once with a clutch.

IMHO driving is the best way to see Eire and NI. Public transport is slow.

That said you can bus from Belfast to see the Giants Causeway. Or take a Games of Thrones locations tour.

As far as Belfast pubs; The Spaniard, Kelly Cellars next to Mournes ( still dream of their seafood chowder) McHughs for a pint and music.

Will say Glendalough 20 years ago was a “ hidden” gem. Doubt I’d care to see it now with all the tour buses.

Lastly, do visit Newgrange.

Slainte and Cheers

Posted by
1081 posts

You will find that Ireland is one of few European countries that public transportation is not really very good. I strongly recommend that you get a rental car with GPS and automatic transmission, this will make your trip much better, trust me. We drove all over Ireland and found that it would be very difficult without GPS, many roads are just country lanes and there is often no signs to guide you.

Now for the rest of the story, of all the countries we've visited Ireland was and is our favorite! The people are wonderful and friendly, the Guinness is excellent and like they say Ireland is 50 shades of green!

Posted by
8618 posts

I did a 2 week trip in Ireland on Public Transport and it is entirely doable, don't let anyone tell you that it is not! I will admit that it takes extra planning and research and that some places were dropped from our itinerary. I found public transport in Northern Ireland to be far more user friendly than in the Republic.

From Belfast you could take the train to Coleraine, then convenient buses to explore the Antrim Coast (Port Rush, Dunluce Castle, Giants Causeway, Bushmills, etc). Then I would take the train back to Belfast and get a bus to Galway. You can use Galway as a base to explore the Cliffs of Mohr, the Aran Islands and the surrounding area using public transport or day tours.

Will you see all of Ireland?, No. However, you will be able to really enjoy your time and explore these two areas (plus Belfast).

PS Favorite hotel on the Antrim coast is Bayview Hotel, Port Ballintrae. Bus stops outside.

Posted by
2063 posts

Much as I love the Isle of Man, a 'side trip' isn't really feasible in the week/10 days you are planning for Ireland. There's so much to see and do in Ireland and the Isle of man deserves several days to begin to do it justice.

Posted by
207 posts

We just did 8 days in Dublin, Galway and Belfast in October without a car and had a fabulous time! While it's true that a car makes it easier to venture further afield, we absolutely had a marvelous adventure without one.

We flew into Dublin, took a bus directly from the airport to Galway. We spent 3 nights there, seeing Galway City on the first day, took a tour to the Cliffs and the Aran Islands on day 2, then another tour of Connemara and Kylemore Abbey on day 3.

We then took a train to Dublin for 3 nights, which we loved. Finally, we took a bus to Belfast for 1 day and spent our last night at the Dublin Airport hotel, taking a late bus back from Belfast.

In Belfast be absolutely sure to tour the Titanic Experience- I highly recommend purchasing the Discovery Tour in addition to standard admission. I also urge you to consider a Black Taxi tour detailing the Troubles. Both experiences were incredibly eye-opening and ended up being some of our trip highlights.

I recommend the Skeffington Arms Hotel in Galway too. It's nothing fancy, but it's clean, the staff are super friendly, the location is super convenient for day tours and the train, and it has our favourite restaurant attached.

Have a wonderful trip!!


Posted by
901 posts

I agree with Carol, seeing Ireland without a car is very doable, it just takes some planning, and a bit more time, so go for as long as you can. I had three weeks, but if you can’t have that much time you can still see the highlights. Use larger towns that are easy to get to by train and base yourself there for three or four days and use guided day trips to see the sights. Dublin, Killarney, Galway and Belfast are all easy to get to by train. Killarney will be the furthest so if you are short on time then leave it for another trip. There’s enough to see in the other three places to fill three or four days each.

Posted by
6670 posts

Take the ten days, or longer if you can. Start in Belfast with your son, take a guided day trip to the Antrim Coast (especially Giant's Causeway). Then a train or bus to Dublin for some more days. Then a train to Galway for some more days, including a day tour to the Cliffs of Moher, another to Inishmore, and/or another into Connemara. (Galway is a nice place but its greatest value is as a base for exploring the countryside in all directions.) No time for the Isle of Man.

Fly into Belfast if you can (probably means a transfer at Heathrow), home from either Dublin or Shannon. There's direct bus service between Galway and Dublin Airport. There must be a convenient way from Galway to Shannon since they're close.

Posted by
37 posts

Thank you, everybody, for your great Ireland suggestions! I can't wait to get there! Now, I just have to start buying tickets and reserving hotels....

Posted by
37 posts

jameslanyonni - Thank you for your feedback. No argument here about the state of the US transportation infrastructure...this is one reason we love traveling to Europe! As you have stated, you are from Northern Ireland. What are your favorite haunts and places you recommend we visit when we are there? Cheers!

Posted by
37 posts

Well, my Ireland trip is slowly coming together. WE will be landing in Dublin (we've been there already) and taking the bus/train to Galway, spending 4 nights in Galway, taking the bus/train to Cork (my sons work is bringing us there). From there, back to Dublin and catching a flight back top Bristol.
We plan to at least do a day trip to the Cliffs of Mohr. Can anyone suggest additional sights in in Galway, and day trips/activities in and around Cork. I see a couple of actives in AirBnB, but not much.
Does anyone have a favorite place to stay in Galway and Cork?
Thank you all, for sharing your advice!