We're planning two nights in Dublin and one or two nights on the Dingle Peninsula. What's the best (convenient but affordable) way to go? Plane, train or rental car? We need to return to Dublin after the Dingle Peninsula to fly home.
Definitely rental car in my opinion. You can"t fly there unless you fly from Dublin to Shannon and then bus. Or train to west coast and then bus, there is no train to Dingle. Would plan two nights in Dingle.
You could take the bus from Dublin to Kerry Airport. You'll have to change buses at Limerick. Then at the Airport rent a car & drive to Dingle. This will take a while but check the anticipated driving time from Dublin to Dingle and then compare. Also think if you would have trouble driving the rental car out of Dublin. I agree with 2 nights on the Dingle peninsula, perhaps staying 1 night in the town and the other in Ballyferriter. If you would like more ideas about Dingle peninsula, please let me know. I have been to Ireland about 10 times and my favorite place is this peninsula. We are returning in September.
Another option that wasn't mentioned would be to train from Dublin to Tralee, then bus from there to Dingle. A car rental will probably be the most expensive but also the most direct. If you decide to do the train bus combo, use Irish Rail for trains and Bus Eireann for buses.
Keep in mind also that if you can commit to times and dates, you can usually get these tickets at discounted rates for quite a bit cheaper than a standard ticket costs.
I hope this helps some.
Simple answer. Get the rental car. Your time is limited in Eire and having the rental means you can stop and see what you want as you drive West. Stay in Dingle. John and Angela's B n B, http://www.cillbhreachouse.com, is great. They are wonderful hosts. Can't go wrong staying with them. Driving on the left truly isn't that difficult and once you get the hang of the roundabouts it's a breeze. Signage is excellent. Made the jaunt last November myself. Easy peasy. Lovely country, get the rental car to explore it!
Check out the prices online on flights from Dublin to Shannon. A plane ticket should not be expensive, as the flight time between the two is about a half hour. (I have flown between the two twice, most recently in 2010.) Either Aer Lingus or RyanAir, which is a budget airline. From Shannon, there are buses galore to Tralee, and from Tralee to the Dingle Peninsula, including Dingle Town.
If you don't want to drive, you can take an overnight tour (rental car is best, but a tour will let you see the beauty of the Peninsula). I had friends that took a tour to Dingle and had a good time (Paddy Wagon Tour). It is budget but I believe they give you some accomodation options so you don't have to hostel it. *I haven't taken their tours and there may be other overnight tour options.
Aer Lingus has flights from Dub to Kerry Airport - near Tralee - for about €80 per person round trip. You could rent a car from there.
Thanks everyone. I think car it is. Is the route from Dublin to Dingle pretty well marked, or will I be happier with a GPS?
Use Google Maps Satellite and Street View options. Great travel tool. You'll discover a lovely 4 hour route on the M7, N21 and N86. If you zoom in and use the little man for the street view you'll see a well signed 4 lane highway (M7). There will be some round a bouts and some tolls (you can pay on line) but the hi way is a breeze. Drive from Dublin to Tralee and from Tralee to Dingle. Followed a good portion of this route last November ( I was driving from Belfast to Dingle) with nary a hiccup. Took the Coner pass route option because I wanted to take pictures of the Loughs. It's a small, windy and well paved road. If that's a concern then remain on N86 which isn't that much bigger but you won't have the pass to go over. In all honesty allow 5 hours because you'll stop along the way to enjoy the beauty. Didn't use a GPS. Had an old road map which I reviewed the night before I left. Made a mental note of towns/cities between Dublin and Dingle. Directional signage was excellent so I followed it. Have a great trip!