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Itinerary Help!

My husband and I are planning a 14 day trip to Ireland for a wedding in July. From there we will rent a car and try to fit in as much as we can, while trying to enjoy where we are. I am trying to follow everybody’s advice of staying multiple nights in one place and branching out from there for the beginning of the trip, but I’m struggling with my itinerary for the end. Would love to visit Northern Ireland, but not loving all of the long drives and short stays that will require. Here my thoughts for right now (planning stages) and would love any suggestions you would have.

Days 1-4 Dublin for wedding activities

Day 5- pick up rental, drive to Waterford (visit Kilkenny Castle, in rock of Cashel on the way).

Day 6- drive to Dingle (passing through Cork to sightsee) stay at a B&B 2 nights.

Day 8-from Dingle drive to Doolin for two nights.

And from here is where I get fuzzy. I don’t mind driving a long distance for one day. But, I don’t want to feel rushed and I also don’t want to miss anything!

Day 10 drive from Doolin to Donegal.

Day 11 drive from Donegal to Portrush, 2 nights in Portrush (Giant’s Causeway, Antrim Coast)

Day 13 Portrush to Dublin (Stay in Dublin to fly out the next morning).

Day 14: Fly home

I’m not sure exactly how to fix it. I’m wanting to go to Northern Ireland. I’d love to visit the Antrim Coast, Giants Causeway, Dunluce Castle etc , but definitely don’t have enough time scheduled for it. Wouldn’t even be able to visit Belfast (but feel that I’ll be spending so much time in Dublin that I’ll def get the feel for the Big City.

My other option is to just not go to Northern Ireland at all and add more days on in Galway, Connemara, Donegal etc. Suggestions??

Posted by
6245 posts

Be careful (and be honest with yourself) about counting your days. Many people fail to account for the actual, usable days they really have, and end up planning a grueling deathmarch. Start by talking about specific dates (either actual travel days, or proposed dates). That way, the picture will become more clear. Your arrival day will be in a fog, so don't expect much. Your departure day will be consumed with critical tasks to get home. You need to be back in Dublin on your last night, as you already recognize.

Once you start looking at specific dates on a calendar, you'll probably realize that your "14 day trip" yields (in your case) about 9 full, usable days (not counting the wedding days and days spent coming and going). With just 9 full days, and your (perfectly reasonable) preference to not move every day, I think you are going to have trouble fitting everything in. Ireland is bigger than most folks think, and it takes longer to get around than many expect. With 9 full days, you won't be able to get around the southwest (IMHO, the best, most interesting places) plus all the way up the west coast, into and around Northern Ireland, too.

I'd drop Northern Ireland (indeed, everything north of Galway) and save it for another trip, and concentrate on the southwest and west coast (or drop those and just focus on the north).

If you are doing the southwest and the west coast, you will be blowing right past some of the best Ireland has to offer, not yet on your list: consider a landing trip out to Skellig Michael, and a visit (overnight if you can) to the Aran Islands. But be careful with your time, I did a trip similar to that (in about as many days) and while it was wonderful, we sometimes had to move fast and drive some long days.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you so much for the detailed and thought out reply. That is exactly what I needed to help me decide to forgo the Northern Ireland portion and save that for another time. I love the comparison to a “grueling deathmarch” which is exactly what I think it would have been. I so appreciate your help!

Posted by
66 posts

We did same length trip last year. While 2 of our favorite places were Derry and Belfast, you would be able to enjoy your vaca more if you left them until next time. All those places you mentioned in the north are also remarkable, and it gives you a great reason to go back, and you will want to go back. We are!

Posted by
1491 posts

I would also suggest you need to drop Northern Ireland for this trip. You need to slow down and not try and cram everything in. You already have two very long driving days on Day 5 and again on Day 6.

Driving nin Ireland is slow. distances may not look far but will take a lot longer to cover than you might expect. Slow moving traffic or even a funeral (really big in Ireland) can trhow timing to the winds. If using google maps add 25% to the drivin g times AND THEN ADD ON TIME FOR STOPS, LUNCH etc.

Day 5 - Just driving from Dublin to Kilkenny to Rock of Cashel to Waterford is goin g to take 4+ hours . I assume you will want to stop to see both Kilkenny and Rock of Cashel, so this is goiung to be a very long day. Something needs to give.

Day 6 Waterford to Dingle and sightseeing in Cork - Again you are talking about 5hours drive without any stops.

Use the time saved by leaving out Northern Ireland to slow down. MY SUGGESTION...

Day 5 Head to Kilkenny- drive through the Wicklow Mountains and stop off at Glendalough early Christian site. spend the night in Kilkenny,

Day 6 Visit Waterford as a day trip from Kilkenny and go back to Kilkenny to sleep OR cut out this day and add another day in Doolon..

Day 7 Head to Cork, via Rock of Cashel on the way and stop the night there.

Day 8 & 9 Dingle

Day 10 Doolin OR an extra night if leave out Waterford.

Day 11 & 12 Donegal

Day 13 Back to Dublin for flight home on Day 14

Posted by
3 posts

I love that itinerary-I hadn't considered staying in Kilkenny, but that makes sense. I def have decided to not attempt N. Ireland and samve that for another trip. I need to research Cork a little more to see if that would make for a good stop, and if I want to delete Galway (might be a long last day drive from Dingle to Dublin). Thank you so much for the suggestions-so appreciated!

Posted by
1491 posts

Cobh with its harbour and brighty painted houses is about 30-45 minutes drive from Cork and is worth researching. A bit further away in the opposite direction is Kinsale, which is also a pretty town on the coast and popular with visitors.

Posted by
6792 posts

You mention the possibility of skipping Northern Ireland. On our first trip to Ireland, we only saw part of the south, and didn’t even see Dublin, as we flew in and out of Shannon. We were traveling by bicycle and a bit of bus, so slower than if we’d had a car.

Second trip, we did have a rental car, and worked our way clockwise around the north, flying into Dublin, immediate bus from Dublin airport to Galway, then driving to/through Connemara, Donnegal, Northern Ireland, and down to Dublin for a few days at the end. We stayed in Trim the night before getting to Dublin on the last trip. We’ll finally get to Cork on trim #3, this spring.

The Antrim Coast and Giant’s Causeway were definitely worth seeing (and hiking), but we were able to take a second trip to achieve that. You bay love what you see in Ireland so much that you’ll make it a priority to go back for more. Could you foresee that, and doing half of the island now, at a somewhat slower pace, and more on a return visit.

By the way, on both trips, we stayed both in Galway and on Inishmore, the largest of the three Aran Islands off the western coast of the mainland.