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Where to put the extra days?

Hi, fellow travelers and experts!

We are planning a trip to Ireland this year and have a rough idea about where we want to go. We will spend 20 nights there and want to spend at least 2 nights at every stop. If we do 2 nights everywhere (plus one last night at Dublin airport area the night before we leave), we're curious if anyone has some ideas of where to put the 5 extra days. We are thinking we would just add those nights to one or more of the stops we are already planning on. We will have a rental car and would explore the neighboring areas wherever we stay. So far we are planning on:
Waterford or Kilkenny
Donegal (do we need to stay somewhere between Donegal and return to Dublin?)
Dublin Airport (probably just 1 night before our return flight)
Also, it seems most of the travelers would do this trip clockwise. Any reason for this?

Thanks to any and all for your help!

Posted by
1878 posts

Consider Galway, also County Clare with Ennis as a base. Also the sights near Bru na Boinne, Trim Castle, Monasterboice. The Wicklow Mountains and Glendalough. Rock of Cashel, Cahir.

Posted by
14404 posts

I loved Dublin, lots to see and do for more than 2 days. But why not use at least 3 of those days to visit Northern Ireland - Giant's Causeway, Derry, Belfast?

Posted by
63 posts

Yes! I was just about to post that I think Northern Ireland would be a great addition. We spent 2 weeks in Ireland a couple of years ago and found that the comparison between Ireland and Northern Ireland was fascinating. Our kids loved learning about the politics. I would go to Ireland first and then to the North before going back to Dublin. It was a bit of a shock to drive through the Protestant towns in the North and see all the Union Jacks. A very different place from Ireland. The people were lovely in both Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Antrim Coast in the North is fantastic- Giant's Causeway is really worth a visit! In Ireland, we loved Dingle, the Cliffs on Moher, Dublin and all the small towns in between. Enjoy yourselves!

Posted by
317 posts

Greetings from Ireland!

I think those who suggest going the North for those extra days are spot-on, a few nights in Belfast, Historic Derry or Portrush would be perfect.

Theres is so much to do and see and if you need any specific tips just send me an email or re-post here on the forum.

Just one thing, its not "Ireland and Northern Ireland", its the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. "Ireland" is a reference to the entire Island. I was born in Derry, my passport is Irish, and my children, family and entire social circle regard Derry as being in Ireland if you are chatting to them about it (but of course we/they are aware that it is politically in "Northern Ireland"). Complex eh :)

Best wishes on your journey and thanks for choosing to spend a full 20 days on my beloved Island!

Le meas/with respect
Stephen McPhilemy
Derry & Dingle

Posted by
44 posts

If you decide to use Ennis as a home base as VS suggested I would mention that the Poets Corner Bar at the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis was the best pub experience we had during our 12 days in Ireland last summer. We stayed at the Old Ground and would happily recommend it as a lodging choice. Ennis is only about 45 minutes over to Cliffs of Moher / Burren and only fifteen minutes or so over to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park so it's well situated to use as a home base. Bunratty Castle has an "Irish Night at the Corn Barn" show that was great fun and, alternatively, a "Medieval Banquet" which I'm told is outstanding. The Folk Park at Bunratty Castle is a recreation of a typical Irish community, set on several hundred acres, of the early 1800's and provides an interesting insight into the Irish lifestyle of that time in history. Great fish and chips and a pint of the Guiness at Durty Nellies Pub (just outside the Castle grounds and an interesting history in itself) provided a fun and refreshing break for us during the very pleasant day we spent at the Castle and Folk Park. You can google it and get tons of information but, if you're in the area, it's one of the top half dozen or so visitor attractions in Ireland and well worth the time.

Posted by
552 posts

Galway was my favourite town. So much to see and do from there, Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, Connemara, Aran Islands. I spent four nights there so why no just add an extra night to Dublin and spend 4 nights in Galway. I would also go with Kilkenny instead of Waterford. I agree that it would be a shame to miss the northern regions, though as I also spent four nights in Belfast on my tour and really enjoyed it. I assume you are renting a car so you could probably do a whole circle route and fit in most of this. Go north from Dublin, up to the Giant's causeway, back down through Galway, south to Dingle, across to Kinsale, then make your way north again through Kilkenny and back to Dublin (I'm not sure where Westport fits in)? I'm sure others more familiar with driving times will have better suggestions, but I managed a lot of what you are doing without a car in the same amount of time.

Posted by
234 posts

Here's another vote for spending some time in Northern Ireland. When we made our first trip to Ireland we did a circle tour of the entire island. We flew in and out of Dublin and chose to travel counterclockwise. After three nights in Dublin we drove north to Belfast, stopping a Bru na Boinne on the way (a must see imho). We spent two nights in Belfast so we could visit the (then) new Titanic Museum and could have used a third night to see more of the city. We stopped at Giant's Causeway (another interesting site) on our way through the north and back to the Republic and have always been a little sorry that we didn't spend another night and day in Northern Ireland, perhaps in Derry. We enjoyed Westport, Dingle and Kinsale very much and each of them merit a two or three night stay.

Posted by
53 posts

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback. All your comments will be considered. We had planned to skip Northern Ireland for several reasons-- 1) we didn't think we had enough time and 2) we thought it would be a problem with a rental car. Maybe neither is correct. We were thinking that some of the stops we had listed should be expanded from 2 nights to 3 (especially in Dublin) but maybe that is not the best use of that time. Thanks again for our input (and I'm still open to more)!

Posted by
14404 posts

I think the only problem with the car would be adjusting to speed limits in MPH instead of KPH. And if you need petrol, it may be by the gallon. As I recall from my coach tour, there was a small welcome sign on the side of the road. Our guide played a game with us "spot the difference" - otherwise half the people on the tour wouldn't have known we'd left the Republic and were in the UK :-)

Posted by
409 posts


Maybe add a night in Port Magee or Valentia Island between Kenmare and Dingle? You'll' drive right by the cutoff to there (Skellig Loop) as you go around the Ring of Kerry towards Dingle.

Possibly a day or two on Achill Island when you're near Westport?

An American living in Waterville on the Ring of Kerry

Posted by
53 posts

Thanks, everyone!
I hear a lot of recommendations to fit in Northern Ireland. If we do not do that, any opinion about adding more nights in certain areas vs adding additional stops? We are inclined to spend no less than 2 nights at each stop but wonder if more than 3 is too much.
Thanks again!