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One week itinerary in Ireland- Is it too aggressive!?

Hello! This will be our first trip to Ireland. We plan to go to Scotland for a week after Ireland. We plan to drive ourselves. We are two couples in our 60’s but we have plenty of international travel experience, so we feel like we’ll be fine doing the DIY plan. Here is our itinerary. We’ve been tweaking it over and over, trying to decide if it’s too much or should we do part of it as a tour? We’re concentrating on Southern Ireland.
Day 1, arrive in Dublin, see a few sights, sleep in Dublin, Day 2; see Powers Court gardens, Wicklow Mts, Glendalough monastic grounds, sleep in Kilkenny. Day 3: Rock of Cashel, Cork, Cobb, sleep in Kinsale. Day 4 Killarney NP, Muckross House, Sleep in Dingle. Day 5 Drive Dingle loop, sleep in Dingle. Day 6: Drive along coast to Cliffs of Mohr, Burren and sleep in Galway. Day 7 Explore Galway, drive to Dublin, sleep near Dublin Airport. Day 8: Depart Ireland, to Scotland. Is there enough in Dublin to see, to add a day in Dublin and maybe drop Galway and Cliffs of Mohr? Thanks for any help you can offer!

Posted by
428 posts

Wow. Pretty ambitious. My 2 cents = Day 3 drop either Cork or Cobb. Depends on what you want to see, but really can't do justice to both. Kinsale is about an hour from Cork. Day 6, we drove from Dingle to Cliffs of Moher and it took about 4 hours just driving. I think adding stops like CoM (take time for visitors center and to experience the trail along the cliffs in either direction), Burren (lots of stops to consider) to Galway is way too much in my opinion. I'd cut out Day 2 activities and give more time to the other sights. You've probably read this in other posts, but the roads are way narrower and twisty then you can imagine - even on "good" secondary roads. You will be going slower than you think you might. It's also really tiring for both the driver and the navigator, especially if you're not used to driving on the left side of the road. Take more time to enjoy less. We just were there in October, so this is from very fresh experience - and we're 60 somethings too.

Posted by
1878 posts

I do think this is too much, except for Dingle it’s all one night stays. You might want to consider Shannon airport instead of doubling back to Dublin though you would likely incur a drop fee. The rock of Cashel day is way too much and Kinsale is worth a day on its own. Cork city does not really merit a visit. Galway is fine but I would not consider it essential on such a short stay. Sticking to the west might be best and use Shannon. There is an easy bus from Shannon to Galway, if you did decide to do that. Then bus back to the airport to get the rental car.

Posted by
138 posts

I’m exhausted just reading your schedule. If your goal is to check off as many places as possible, this will do it. We found this last summer in Ireland that travel times turn out to be longer than you would think, looking at maps and mileage. Your itinerary will require a lot of driving. What time of year will you be traveling to Ireland? Lots of daylight in the summer but not much in the winter. I would probably pick a region (such as the West of Ireland or the Southeast) and concentrate on that. But it’s my opinion and I’m sure others will respond with theirs. In any event, you’ll enjoy Ireland I’m sure!

Posted by
506 posts

Your plan involves a lot of "drive by" sightseeing. If you and your travel companions are comfortable with that type of travel, then okay. However, with driving on the "left hand side" and constantly on the go is going to get tiring in my opinion. I would recommend that you cut out a day, space your travels out a little bit and enjoy.

Posted by
5011 posts

I agree this pace looks very aggressive, too aggressive for many folks. It might be a bit too much.

Day 6: Drive along coast to Cliffs of Mohr, Burren and sleep in Galway.

This is a long slog in one day. I did it (in reverse order, starting in Galway, ending in Dingle) this past summer, and it left me exhausted (and I tolerate long drives quite well).

You don't mention what time of the year you're going. That could make a big difference.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you for all this helpful information! We are going in early June. I agree, I think we should cut out a couple of destinations. It sounds like good choices to cut out would be Galway, Rock of Cashel, and maybe even Cliffs of Mohr (I hear that they are fogged in a good deal of the time). Thank you!

Posted by
1172 posts

What do you like to see and do? I think narrowing this down will help determine what to cut out...

Also, Ireland is the best country to give yourself some downtime so that you can just see where the day or locals take you. One night, we spent close to 4 hours in pub as we met a family that we just hit it off with.

I'm actually going to slightly disagree with some of the other input. I do think it is manageable as long as the weather is cooperative. We have done a similar itinerary on 2 different visits. Rock of Cashel is lovely and right off the highway so it's an easy spot to stop for a short visit. We drove from Kilkenny to Kinsale and never stopped in Cork, but wish we had. Day 4 will be a really long day and the Muckross House is a guided tour only so keep that in mind on your timing and you can't "speed through it" even if you want to. Dingle is wonderful and worth the 2 nights. Cliffs of Moher is a must see (even though we feel like the cliffs on the Dingle Peninsula are prettier). The Burren is amazing---nothing like anything we have ever experienced. It is also VERY doable to spend 2 nights in Galway and depending on when your flight out of Dublin is, get up and drive straight to the Dublin airport after breakfast...Its a straight highway across the country that is probably the easiest drive you will have had all week..Flying out of Shannon airport is another option, we have done both. ENJOY!!

Posted by
1834 posts

Too much driving! Slow down. If you can fly out of Shannon. Cliffs of Moher are indeed foggy much of the time. Skip Galway. I would pick no more than 3 destinations, minimum 2 nts each locale.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks to everyone for all the great suggestions! We have decided to stretch our time in Ireland to 12 days, so I think it will be much more enjoyable.

Our new itinerary:

Day 1 and 2 in Dublin, Sleep in Dublin
Day 3 to powerscourt gardens and Glendalough. Sleep in? .
Day 4 Rock of Cashel and Kinsale. Sleep in Kinsale
Day 5 Kinsale and Cobh. Sleep in Kinsale
Day 6 and 7 Dingle. Sleep in Dingle
Day 8 Cliffs of Mohr and Burren, sleep in ?

Day 9 and 10 stay in Galway, drive Connemara. Sleep in Galway
Day 11 Drive to Dublin for the night. Day 12 depart. We may add a day if we find a good castle hotel to stay a night in.

I have concerns on a couple days.

1. On Day 3 We will pick up a car in Dublin and go see the Powercourt gardens and Glendalough that day. Is it too far to travel on to Kilkenny to spend the night? If so, is there a good overnight option closer to Glendalough or on the other side of the Wicklow mountains?
2. On the day we leave Dingle (via Conner pass), we will take the ferry crossing and go see the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. Is it too long of a day to go on to Galway to spend that night? It doesn’t sound like there are too many options for accommodations around Doolin. Also, has anyone taken the boat trip from Doolin to view the cliffs? Is it worthwhile?
3. We are thinking about driving the loop through Connemara. Is it worth going? We’d start and end in Galway.

Thanks so much!

Posted by
596 posts

Hi Lisa,

Have you considered flying into Shannon airport? That puts you over on the west side of Ireland. And in a MUCH smaller location to pick up a rental car. Not sure if you have any experience driving on the other side of the car on the other side of the road, but it's a bit to get used to. Especially when you are tired after a long flight. We did this but our base for the area was Doolin, not Galway. My husband was very happy that we picked our car up in Shannon airport instead of Dublin airport.

If you are planning to stay a couple nights in Galway, you could also consider hopping on a Dublin airport bus that goes to Galway. The timetable I found looks like it takes about 2.5 hours. Which is very reasonable when looking at making the journey yourself via rental car. Then you don't have to adjust to a very different driving experience while jetlagged. I personally think this option would be even better than flying into Shannon because you'll save a lot of time making an extra airport connection. And you can avoid driving on your first day. I think it's a win-win.

You'll be very happy with 12 days in Ireland. It's completely jam-packed with things to do and see. I was astounded by all the opportunities for places to stop and explore while driving the country roads. It felt endless. We covered a very similar itinerary to yours but we skipped your original itinerary Day 2. Also Galway. I had received a lot of great help from the members over at TA so I wrote my trip report up there. Feel free to check it out:

Happy planning! :)

Edited to add a few responses to your new post as I was typing at the same time you were I think:

We stayed in Doolin and loved it. It's a charming small place with some wonderful pubs to hear traditional music. I would go back in a heartbeat. We also did the boat ride to see the cliffs and loved it. We got lucky with some sunshine but I'd think it would be enjoyable with rain/clouds too, just pack the right gear!

Posted by
273 posts

My two cents on your question 2 and 3 in your second post:

RE: where to stay for Cliffs of Moher/Burren--we spent 3 nights in Lahinch at Craglea Lodge B&B and enjoyed it very much as a base for exploring the area. We did the boat trip out of Doolin on a beautiful sunny day. I was disappointed mostly in the extremely crowded boat with people jostling for position to take photos. We thought the Kerry Cliffs and Slieve League were both prettier than Cliffs of Moher IMHO.

BTW If you are taking the Tarbert Ferry you may want to make sure it's OK to take your car on the ferry. My rental through Auto Europe did not allow our rental car to be taken on ANY kind of ferry.

Connemara is wonderful, there are many beautiful sights to see and things to do. I'm not sure what you are describing as the loop through Connemara--is this Rick's self-drive tour? If so, we didn't do that exact loop but did see many of the sights included on it. I would say yes, it's worth it.

Posted by
114 posts

As often discussed on this forum, your arrival day in Dublin, if from the USA, may not be very productive. We arrived in May about 9:30 AM, took a taxi to our hotel, and it was almost 2 PM before we "started" to see sites. Fortunately I for once got some sleep on the plane and did not totally turn into a puddle of goo. Your initial itinerary allows very little time for Dublin, which rates a couple of days IMO.

Our day leaving Dublin we picked up a car (9 AM) and drove to Powers Court and Glendalough, then to Kilkenny. We managed to get lost on the way to Glendalough (thank you GPS) but still were in Kilkenny by mid afternoon. A reasonable day I thought.

Your day three we did much the same, unfortunately it POURED rain pretty much all day (including Cashel). We had planned to stop in Waterford but blew it off due to weather and just went to Kinsale mid afternoon, where it finally stopped raining. I think stopping at Cork and Cobb is awfully aggressive. We enjoyed a great afternoon and dinner in Kinsale.

Your Day four we stayed in Kinsale until about 2PM, took one of the local tours and enjoyed the village. I had planned to perhaps drive the Beara Penisula on the way to Kenmare but by now realized way too much driving. Arrived Kenmare later afternoon, enjoyed the village and another great meal. Kenmare was probably our least favorite overnight stop.

Day five we did the Ring of Kerry with an EARLY start (Cliffs of Kerry a don't miss) and eventually pulled into Dingle for 2 nights at almost 6 PM. A long day, but we saw a lot.

Spent 2 nights in Dingle, enjoyed the village, great food and a wonderful tour of the Dingle loop - again one of Ricks recommended guides. About right in Dingle for us.

Next morning we departed early and drove via the Ferry to the Cliffs of Mohr, through the Burren and to Galway. This was another long day, it was late afternoon/evening when we arrived in Galway. Walking the old town and having another nice dinner was about the extent of our Galway visit.

Our last day, somewhat reluctantly at this point, we drove up into Connemara for maybe 4 hours before deciding enough was enough and returned to Shannon for our trip home. Managed to get caught up in a bicycle charity event in Connemara and took FOREVER to get anywhere. Things you don't know sometimes.

We spent 9 1/2 days total on the ground in Ireland, broken up with 8 days on a Norway cruise from Dublin. I am a comfortable, strong driver (in your age group), but probably overextended my comfort zone on this trip. Hertz gave us a larger SUV (and with 4 of you something similar will be required), know that driving on the left side on the secondary (or even primary) roads requires CONSTANT focus by the driver, really no relaxation time available. I was never uncomfortable, but also never relaxed. As discussed repeatedly, driving to destinations takes longer than you think.

We very much enjoyed our time in Ireland. All of our meals were absolutely great, the people were wonderful and the scenery superb. We were however not relaxed but exhausted when we returned home - and we spent 8 nights on the ship with few responsibilities. We are both retired, so we could recover at home - absolutely do not regret our itinerary but probably the most energy consuming European trip we have taken (of a dozen).

Short version, more days or fewer stops. You will enjoy your trip much more!