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Which option do I pick? 5 day packed itinerary!


I'm posting for the first time here, so please bear with me! We're a couple in our 30s, I love photography and my wife is into food. We'd like to maximize our time in Ireland. I came up with 2 itineraries and I understand both of these are jam packed. However, I'd like your feedback whether these are 'doable' or whether I should completely skip some places.

Itinerary 1:
Thu: 6am fly into Shannon. Shannon to Cliffs of Moher, Doolin, Tralee, Conor Pass, Dingle. 4hr 30 min. Map link
Stay in Dingle.
Fri: Dingle to Dunquin/Slea Head to Rock of Cashel to Dublin. 5hr 30min. Map link
Stay in Dublin.
Sat: Dublin full day - Trinity College, St. Stephen’s Green, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin Castle, Temple Bar, Guinness Tour etc.
Stay in Dublin.
Sun: Dublin to Giants causeway & Dark Hedges & back. 6hr 30min
Stay in Dublin.
Mon: Dublin time pass - until 2pm. Flight at 4:20pm

Itinerary 2:
Thu: 6am fly into Shannon. Shannon to Cliffs of Moher, Doolin, Tralee, Conor Pass, Dingle. 4hr 30 min
Stay in Dingle.
Fri: Dingle to Dunquin/Slea Head to Blarney Castle to Cobh to Cork. 4h 10min. Map link
Stay in Cork.
Sat: Cork to Dublin. Dublin half day - Guinness tour, Dublin Castle and Temple Bar etc.
Stay in Dublin.
Sun: Dublin to Giants causeway & Dark Hedges & back.
Stay in Dublin
Mon: Dublin - Trinity College, St. Stephen’s Green, St. Patrick’s Cathedral until 2pm

Posted by
75 posts


You said it yourself that both trips are jam packed. You're trying to cover way too much in a short time. I'd skip at least half of the places on your list and aim for shorter drives.

For example I don't see how will you have time for photography on such a hectic trip. Imagine you're at the Giant's Causeway and you see that you'll need to wait 1-2 hours for the best light, but you can't wait, because you'll still have a very long drive to Dublin.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for the quick reply sargan8!

I agree with you that I should skip part of the trip. Which part do you recommend that I skip?

The dingle portion of the trip is taking a ton of time but I've heard many people say - 'do not skip Dingle!'.
The giant's causeway & dark wedges are just too photogenic for me to skip them. Can stay in Belfast if needed, but would have to reduce time in Dublin. Do you recommend that instead?

Posted by
5011 posts

Neither itinerary seems reasonable to me.

First, start by being honest with yourself. You call this a "5 day" itinerary. I don't believe that's true. You have three full days in Ireland - three, not five. On your arrival day, it's usually not realistic to plan much at all, never mind a full (way too full) day of sightseeing and...driving.

Where are you flying in from? Are you coming in on an overnight flight from North America or someplace else very far away? If that's the case, you will very likely be exhausted and in no shape to do a full day (this is less an issue if you're just hopping over from London). You would also be in no condition to drive - which begs further inconvenient questions: how are you planning to get around? The west of Ireland is most efficiently done by car, but it's very dangerous to arrive exhausted, jump in a car and drive off (even more so if you are not used to driving on the left side of the road). But getting around the west of Ireland without your own car is very time consuming.

But a lot of this is moot. You have just three days in Ireland. You simply can not see half of the things on your list in that very limited time.

Are your flights booked? Can they be changed?

Posted by
5629 posts


Fly into and out of Shannon and stay on the West Coast.

Slea Head
Coulmeenole Beach
Gap Of Dunloe
Killarney National Park
Cliffs of Kerry
Skellig Ring
Mizen Head

Posted by
67 posts

The drive times on Google do not hold true once on the island. For example, we were on many a road that had a posted speed limit of 80 km but we were lucky to get up to 40 km (narrow, windy, stone walls, etc). Many two-lane roads in Ireland are the width of a single lane in the US - difficult to get used to. Plus, you need to take weather into consideration with those travel times - lots of rain slows you down.

IMO, your itinerary should either go north OR south - not both. Save the other half of the island for a future trip. Do you really just want to see Ireland out of a car window? Or do you want to spend some time experiencing Ireland?

Whatever you choose, have fun! Ireland is a wonderful country to visit.


Posted by
552 posts

There is absolutely no way you can cover this much ground in the few days you have and even have time to stop and take a photo. I realize that when looking at a map of Ireland it looks pretty small compared to North America, but drive times are much longer. You need to make some tough choices and realize that you will only be able to see about a third (maybe less) of what is on your list. If you have already booked your flights into Shannon and out of Dublin you will need to cut out a lot of things if you really want to spend some time in Dublin. Seriously simplify your route and don't backtrack. For example spend your first day in Dingle then spend one day getting to the Galway area stopping at the cliffs and Burren area and spend the night. Then spend the next day getting from Galway to Dublin maybe stopping at Clonmacnoise and Newgrange. If you want to go the other direction then start in Dingle, then go to Killarney for the national park and spend one night there. Then skip Cork (and Blarney, major tourist trap), stop at Cashel and finish in Kilkenny for the night. Then before going to Dublin you can make a stop at Glendalough. These are just suggestions, but you want to be able to make short stops along the way to take photos and go for a walk etc so double( maybe triple) your drive times. Cut out the Giant's Causeway, it's too far for the time you have. Dublin is a busy city, and it's popular with tourists so even seeing the sights in the city will take longer than you think. Essentially, what I'm saying is spend your first day and night close to Shannon, then spend two days getting to Dublin, but aim for shorter, more direct drives. If you want to remove a night from Dublin then you could spend more time elsewhere along your route.

Posted by
76 posts

You're trying to do way too much in too short a time. I personally would skip Dublin altogether and, as Claudia suggested, stay on the west coast.

During one of our first trips we crammed in a bunch of stuff on the day we landed; by the end of the day we were miserably exhausted and cranky with each other. We saw a lot, but we paid the price. From that point on, we make the first day "Ireland Lite"

I know you're excited about your trip, and you want to see as much as you can...and I get that. But, IMO, it would be best to spend the short time you have in one general area.


Posted by
11798 posts

Staying west saves some time. From my perspective, it should be a north or south choice. I'd either skip Antrim coast or Dingle area because of the distance/time to cover both. That allows you to focus on one area rather than spend your time driving. I also think, with limited time, you want to limit your time on rural roads. Scenic sounds nice until you drive six hours to do something you could have covered in an hour and a half, especially when your time is tight.