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Where should we go on our own before & after traveling in Ireland with a tour group?

We are booked for a tour group from July 11-18, 2017, and will be arriving and departing from Shannon Airport. With the tour group we will spend 2 nights in Galway , 2 nights in Cork, and 2 nights in Dublin. As part of the tour group, we travel through the Burren, visit the Cliffs of Moher, and make stops in Cobh, at Blarney Castle, and have options to see Glendalough and Kinsale.

We will arrive early in order to have 2 nights & 2 1/2 days on our own before we join the group in Galway.

And when the group departs from Dublin, we plan to take a train from Dublin back to the west of Ireland and spend 3 nights & 3 days on our own.

We're trying to decide where to spend the extra time before & after our time with the tour group.

We think we will really enjoy Galway, so we could spend extra time there.
Dingle sounds wonderful! But do we have enough time for it since we'll be using public transportation?

Any other ideas?

We depart from Shannon Airport at 11:35 am on Friday, July 21. I'm thinking we need to spend Thursday night close to the airport & not have to worry about getting there early. Thanks for any and all suggestions!

Posted by
552 posts

Galway was my favourite town, and I spent four nights there. You could start there and do a day tour out to the Aran Islands, and another day tour of the Connemara region and Kylemore Abbey since your tour group is not doing this. Two nights in Dublin may not be long enough as you may only have one whole day there to see some sights. There are many day tours you can do from Dublin so in one way it might make sense to just stay there, but if you are leaving from Shannon airport it makes more sense to head in that direction. I spent several nights in Killarney because I was also travelling without a car. From there you can do day trips to the Dingle area, Ring of Kerry, the Gap of Dunloe and national park. Have you researched how you are getting to the airport without a car? I seem to recall when I was researching my trip the reason I didn't fly into Shannon was that it was time consuming to get from there to Killarney or anywhere else. There may be more options, now, though. You may want to figure out the bus schedules to Shannon from more than one town and then decide where to spend your last few nights. There is so much to see in Ireland that you really can't go wrong, but with so little time it will be best to find a town to use as a home base so you don't spend all of your time getting from place to place.

Posted by
25 posts

We just returned from our second trip to Ireland, and our two favorite stops this time were Kinsale and Glendalough-I strongly recommend you take those side trips!

We flew in and out of Shannon on our previous trip last year and stayed at the Oakwood Arms Hotel twice. It's a big old cool hotel with a nice breakfast, and a good value as well.

We absolutely loved the Dingle peninsula and the Ring of Kerry. You can drive each one in a day (although we were there off season, not sure how much more congested it will be in summer). Have you considered renting a car? Driving in Ireland isn't as difficult as some make it out to be. The roads are modern, and not complicated on the less-developed west side of the island. It's absolutely the best way to get around.

We didn't make it to Galway so can't comment on that.

Overall, you can't go wrong in Ireland. There's nothing we didn't like!

Posted by
68 posts

I second the idea for the daytrip to the Aran Islands- so beautiful. Oakwood Arms is comfortable and convenient for the night before flying out of Shannon. If it's in the budget, a castle stay is a really special experience. Dromoland Castle isn't too far from Shannon airport, so could be feasible for the night before your return flight, and Ashford Castle in Cong, and visiting the tiny downtown there, is really lovely. Have a wonderful trip!