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Itinerary advice. Galway vs Dublin at the end of the trip

Hello fellow travelers!
We are having fun researching and planning our Sept trip to Ireland. My husband will come 6 days before me and have the time of his life playing golf. I will fly over from Spain to join him for the next 11 days of non-golf travel. I have got wonderful accommodations reserved through booking.com and Airbnb that are mostly full refundable if things should make it so that we should not or cannot travel. (we are vaccinated) I am looking for a little advice for the end of our trip, regarding an extra night in Galway or coming over to Dublin mid-day to have an afternoon and night over there before we fly out the following morning. I know that Dublin is a much larger city and will have a different feel that the smaller Galway, but looking for input on other's experiences or preferences. We tend to not be huge city people, but really enjoyed having Paris as our last stop on our 21 day Best of Europe Trip 2 years ago, my only other time in Europe. I know that some people like to advise people not to try and do too much or move around too much, but that is how we roll. We like to move around and stay in different places, and with a rental car it seems pretty easy to us.

Here is our itinerary so far:
Day 1 Husband picks me up at Dublin airport and we drive to Bandon in County Cork (we live in Bandon Oregon, named after this place!)
Stay in Bandon 2 nights
Day 2 Visit Kinsale and the area. 1st full day in Ireland!
Day 3 Drive and visit Beara Peninsula and/or Killarney National Park - looking for hike suggestions
Stay in Kenmare 1 night
Day 4 Drive and explore the Ring of Kerry and drive to Dingle
Stay in Dingle 3 nights
Day 5 Explore Dingle Peninsula - we want to hike! Suggestions?
Day 6 Husband goes golfing, we may play a little put put golf together, more exploring and hiking
Day 7 Drive to Doolin, take short cut ferry Tarbert to Killmer, visit Cliff of Moher, hike suggestions?
Stay in Doolin 1 night
Day 8 Drive to Galway, possibly drive over to the Connemara, explore Galway
Stay in Galway 2 nights in a quiet residential neighborhood close to downtown
Day 9 Explore Connemara National Park- Hiking suggestions
overnight in Galway again
Day 10 Drive to Dublin airport to drop of rental car by noon. Take train to city center and explore area on foot and have our last meal at a lively pub
Stay Dublin last night
(Or skip Dublin and just stay in Galway or another town our last night) The big question here
Day 11 Fly home at noon back to Oregon USA

I know that there are a lot of questions here. Nothing is set in stone and can be changed, but I am pretty sure we are not interested in changing the first 7 nights of our itinerary. I have read the most of the RS 2020 Ireland book except for the areas which we will not be covering this trip. And listened to many of his podcasts and shows pertaining to Ireland. I am very excited and can't wait to visit Ireland! Thank you in advance to all that respond.

Update on 6/6/21
We have decided to stay with our above itinerary but have dropped the first night in Galway in order to fit in a night in Clifden and more time to explore the Connemara area. And our last night will be in Trim, only about 45 minutes or so from Dublin Airport.

Day 8- Drive to Connemara and stay one night in Clifden. Stopping in the Burren and hiking and exploring along the way.
Day 9 Hiking and exploring in Connemara National Park (Diamond Hill for sure!) then driving to Galway for one night there. We will be staying just a short walk from the center of town. Evening and next morning in Galway.
Day 10 Drive to Trim and have one last leisurely day and evening there
Day 11 Noon flight home
I am pretty happy with the itinerary now, and will look forward to seeing other places next time we come to Ireland!

Posted by
5078 posts

Looks like if you don’t spend your last night in Dublin, then you won’t see any of Dublin at all, except for the airport. If you spent your last night in Galway, when would you need to leave to make it to the Dublin airport for your flight, including check-in and security?

Posted by
55 posts

Yes that is true Cyn. I wonder if it is a not to be missed stop, or worth the one night? (and one more location move) We do hope to come back to Ireland again in the future and explore more of the northern parts, including Northern Ireland. And we could visit Dublin then.

Posted by
577 posts

In case you didn't know, you pre-clear U.S. immigration in Ireland. So you need to be at the terminal checking in at least 3 hours before your departure. You will go through 2 sets of security screenings, one for Ireland, one TSA. Then you go through U.S. passport control. That's a long way of saying, do you want the stress of having to return a car, shuttle to the terminal, check-in, etc. the day you leave? If your flight is later in the day it's probably okay. But if it isn't, I wouldn't risk it.

Posted by
55 posts

Thanks Trotter for that info. Might be a good reason to stay in Dublin the night before then. We would return our car before we stayed in Dublin and use public transpo to and from the airport.

Posted by
5078 posts

Camy J, it wasn’t until our 2nd Ireland trip that we stayed in Dublin, so it isn’t an absolute Must See, but definitely go on your following trip, if you don’t this time. I actually prefer Galway over Dublin, overall.

On Day 8, a hiking possibility would be The Burren, with its unique landscape and vegetation in Ireland, and close to both Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher.
We also stayed at a B&B in Clifden in Connemara our 2nd trip. We stopped at the visitor’s center at the Connemara National Park, but it was going to take so long to hike back to a peak climb that we saved hiking for later on our trip, farther north. The visitor’s center can provide suggestions, though, and there’s a Website.

We did the Killary Fjord boat tour up the road on the N59 highway, so didn’t have time for a park hike as well.

Posted by
1607 posts

Since you’re mentioning a morning flight back to the US, I would definitely recommend staying in Dublin the night before. A leisurely drive allowing you to stop if you see something interesting beats a mad dash from Galway the morning of your flight. Dublin is a fascinating, easily navigable city.

Posted by
3301 posts

If flying out of Dublin, stay in Dublin the last night. Getting to the airport is easy from Dublin while Galway is further away and more of a chance that something will go wrong.

Posted by
142 posts

From Doolin, the Cliffs of Moher cliff walk is a pretty easy and very scenic 20 km for the entire length or about half to to visitor center from either end. The terrain viewed on the cliff walk is part of the Burren rock formation, I believe. There are buses that stop at either end and at the visitor center.
I am not a golfer but I know people golf in Doolin and nearby Lahinch for the beautiful views.

I visited Connemara National Park as part of a Connemara day tour. There wasn't quite enough time to do the Diamond head (or Diamond hill) loop (about 2.5 hrs, I think) but it sounded like a popular hike.

If you choose the last night in Dublin, rather than a train from the airport (not sure there is a train), the Airlink Express busses are frequent and fairly quick. You can choose a place to stay near an Airlink stop. I enjoyed walking around Dublin very much, but I generally enjoy cities.

Posted by
577 posts

Just to clarify, there is no train service from the Dublin airport to the City Center. The airlink bus is the only public transportation option. It can be crowded with lots of baggage and may be more of a hassle than it's worth - especially with a golf bag. Taxis are plentiful and is about $30 dollars to the City Center. An alternative to staying in the City Center could be to keep the car and stay near the airport. A town like Trim (30-45 min from the airport) or Malahide (10-15 minutes) could be an option. Both have things to do for an evening. Malahide in particular has very nice restaurants. Trim has castle and abbey ruins and a nice pathway along the River Boyne. Malahide is on the coast and has a manor house and "quaint and charming" shops.

Posted by
55 posts

Thank you all again for your helpful replies. Cyn and CD of DC, I appreciated your hiking recommendations. Trotter, again thank you for your help and suggesting Trim as a last night stay. I did some research and it looks like a perfect and relaxing option to stay there our last night and be able to get to the airport by 9am (3 hours ahead of departure) And there are some great accommodation options there. The idea of lugging my husband's golf bag and both of our roll on luggage and extra carry ons, back and forth to Dublin on a bus just does not sound very relaxing for our last night in Ireland. (especially with a long connecting flight back to the West coast of US) Dublin can wait until another time and we will look forward to all of the other lovely places that we will be staying at.

Posted by
5078 posts

Our last trip involved renting that car in Galway, then working our way clockwise through Ireland and Northern Ireland, then back into Ireland. We stayed in Trim for 3 nights before heading to Dublin at the end for 3 nights, dropping off the rental car at the Dublin airport. It was pretty close. In addition to some pubs with music, Trim has a fantastic Indian restaurant.

Posted by
55 posts

Thanks again Cyn.....Trim looks like the perfect place for us to stay. We have booked our last night there at the Highfield House. Seem like a much more relaxing way to spend our last night in Ireland :-)

Posted by
453 posts

In Doolin there is a guided walk from Doolin up to and along the Cliff's of Moher, you might consider that hike....we did not do it because my wife ws not feeling well but everyone says it is a great way to get to the Cliff's....you then tke the bus back to Doolin.
https://doolin.ie/doolin-cliff-walk/ Its sounds great. We also enjoyed the Doolin music house, you might give it a visit if you are there on a night they are playing. We had a blast there as some other guests, total of about 10 of us, broke out guitars and it was fun early evening of music, then you have time to hit OConner's for music later on! https://www.doolinmusichouse.com/ We totally enjoyed our driving tour of the Beara Peninsula. We hired Paul Brown (in Kenmare) the day before we did Beara and Paul gave us an outstanding driving tour of the Ring of Kerry. It was the best thing we did in Ireland imo. http://www.kenmaretaxitours.com/home.html It was nice to have a day off of driving and a chance for me to see the sights rather than drive, look, and duck! You wont regret hiring Paul. He mapped out for us our own driving tour of Beara and it was very helpful, it is an easy beautiful self drive. https://bearatourism.com/ Regarding the pre flight customs in Ireland, you only do the pre customs if you are taking a direct flight from Dublin/Galway etc to the US...if you have a connecting flight in England you will do customs when you arrive in the US, Im not sure how your flights are structured. A taxis to Dublin city center is the way to go, we took the bus in and the taxis bck to the airport, spend the $30 or so on the taxi. The Eask tower is a nice hike that is just outside of town in Dingle, you can drive there and hike through the farmer field to the tower in 2-3 hours easy. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g211861-d215108-Reviews-Eask_Tower-Dingle_Dingle_Peninsula_County_Kerry.html

Posted by
55 posts

Wow thank you Jarred for all of that info! If you have done both Ring of Beara and Ring of Kerry, would you suggest doing both of them in the same trip? Are they very different? And if you only could chose one, which one was your favorite and why? It would seem to me from what I have read that Beara would be less crowded and certainly much shorter. We would be doing Beara on one day and Kerry on the next day if we did them both. If we only did one of them then we might have more time for hiking in Kilarney National Park, which has some appeal to me. I have yet to look at trails and options up there yet. Thank you for the helpful links also for hiking in Dingle and Doolin. Much appreciated!

Posted by
453 posts

aww clearly Beara is less crowded, more laid back but...…..RofK is really awesome. Now, we hired Paul Brown for the Ring and he so much added to our time on the ring. We did a private all day tour so it was just Paul and my wife and me and it was really great. So they are hard to compare. We had driven to Cong, over to Doolin, across on the ferry at Killmer, out to Dingle, Kenmare, then back to Dublin so I really appreciated the break in driving I got when we did the RofK. I would have missed a lot if I had to have negotiated those RofK roads, very doable but you need focus. Beara is much easier on the driver and very enjoyable. If forced to choose I would say the RofK...both were great. As we left Doolin we headed south and between Doolin and the ferry at Killmer we went right passed the Lahinch Golf Club which is a very famous old school course, we didn't play there but you might give it a look if you're still planning golf...we didn't do much "hiking" in Ireland and most of our trips involve hiking. If you are already a hiker you are probably familiar with https://www.alltrails.com/ireland/county-kerry/kenmare its a great resource for many locations. I checked Kenmare to make sure it worked for Ireland and it clearly does...don't miss the Cliffs of Kerry, they are no so much hyped but are a must see for me, I enjoyed them every bit as much as the Cliffs of Moher... give alltrails a look!

Posted by
9 posts

The highlight of our Western Ireland trip was Inishmore, an Aran island off Galway. What an experience!

As soon as you get to the island, rent a bike and start riding towards Dun Aengus. Walk up to the "fort" for the most tremendous and spectacular views in Western Ireland. Forget the Cliffs of Moher, this is the real deal. When I was there, there were no fences or guardrails to keep you from falling off the cliffs. You could literally sit on the edge, swing your legs and feel you are on top of the world.

Explore some more and then enjoy the small shops near the port on your way back. You'll love this island since it feels like stepping back into time.

https://www.aranisland.info/inishmore/

I agree that spending the night in Dublin before a morning flight would be advantageous. It would also give you a chance to experience Temple Bar and all its glorious trad music.

Posted by
55 posts

Thank you for your great idea Olygirl. We will probably do that another trip as it looks very interesting. Just not enough time to squeeze it in our itinerary this time, and we would have to cut out something else to do it.

We have decided to stay with our above itinerary but have dropped the first night in Galway in order to fit in a night in Clifden and more time to explore the Connemara area. And our last night will be in Trim, only about 45 minutes or so from Dublin Airport. I am pretty happy with the itinerary now, and will look forward to seeing other places next time we come to Ireland!

Thanks again everyone for your input and ideas....I really appreciate it and this forum in general. Happy Travels all!