Never been to Ireland, but would love a primer on the must sees. Assuming we start and end in Dublin? Should Northern Ireland be on the docket? A mix of urban/cultural and rural is desirable. All ideas, experiences, recommendations welcome!
Yes, Ni should be on the docket.
Belfast is an easy 2 1/2 hour train or bus ride from Dublin.
St George’s market and the Titanic Museum. Would also visit Crumlin Road Gaol.
From Dublin see Glendalough, Powers Court, Newgrange.
I’ve driven around Eire and NI twice. I like the freedom of having a car. Rural roads are tiny and often rimmed by tall hedges. You’ll encounter sheep, cattle, horse drawn carts, farm equipment, joggers, bicyclists and dog walkers. Driving slowly helps.
Towns I enjoyed on these journeys included Hollywood, Carlingford, Sneem, and Dingle.
Throughly loved walking on and then driving over the Gap Of Dunloe. Killarney National Park is truly beautiful in the Fall.
Depending on your itinerary and the flights you book, you don’t have to start or end in Dublin. While you could start or end in Dublin, you could also either arrive or fly home at either Shannon (in the west) or Cork (in the far south). Our first trip, we skipped Dublin entirely, and then flew in/flew out at Dublin on our second trip.
Frankly, the west is my favorite part, starting in Galway and heading out to Inishmore island, and south towards Dingle, or north thru Connemara and then towards Donnegal.
The last trip, we continued clockwise, up and over thru Northern Ireland. Parts were very nice, especially the Antrim Coast and the Giant’s Causeway, but overall I really prefer the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland. With less than 2 weeks, I’d stick with Ireland and and skip Northern Ireland this trip.
We’re heading to Ireland tonight, flying in to Cork tomorrow, and seeing southern Ireland this trip, flying home from Shannon. Counties Cork, Kerry, and Clare - arguably the best places for foodies, stunning sea views, iand trad music fans. We’ve got 4 weeks and could spend even more time in just those parts.
With just 12 days, don't be too ambitious in what you want to do/see. Distances may not look that great but will take a lot longer to cover than you might expect. Ireland is a place to slow down a, relax and enjoy.
Are you planning to rent a car or use public transport?
Are you planning a series of one night stops (hard work) or basing yourself for 2-3 nights in an area?
This is such a huge subject, it is difficult to know where to begin with advice. I think you need to get a good guide book with lots of pictures and narrow down what you think will appeal to you. I like DK Eyewitness Ireland. There are lots of pictures and it covers places ignored by many of the other guide bnooks, really searching out the hidden gems. This is your trip and my experiences/recommendations may not be what you like or want!!!
Many thanks to all who've replied! Very useful information that we'll consider seriously as planning continues.
Also don't miss the info in "Explore Europe" on this website.