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Landing in Dublin 4/25/18 and coming home from Edinburgh 5/16/18

We are taking a trip to explore ireland and Scotland. (This is cross-posted in the Ireland forum) We will have approximately 20 days and would love to have suggested itineraries. We planned to start in Dublin and wind our way around Ireland to Belfast and then take a ferry to Scotland. Would prefer to use public transportation though I suppose we could rent a car if we absolutely had to. Can anyone help?

Posted by
556 posts

If you haven't booked your flights yet I would suggest flying into Shannon. This way you can start in the south and make your way north. As far as an itinerary you should probably say what interests you the most as there is a lot of things to see and do, but you only have ten days so you won't be able to see everything. You can do Ireland by train/bus quite easily, but it does take longer to get around as you are tied to the train/bus schedules. With only ten days I would highly recommend you rent a car. I did Ireland by train/bus, but I had three weeks. You will find it difficult to get to some of the more popular places by train/bus (Dingle would be an example), and with limited days on the ground you don't want to be spending too much of your valuable time waiting for buses and trains. If you do decide to go by train then the best thing is to base yourself in larger towns such as Dublin/Killarney/Galway, and do guided day trips from there.
For Scotland it's the same, you can get around by train/bus, but it's a lot more time consuming, and you will miss out on some great places and scenery if you don't have a car (the drive out to Applecross for example). Again, if you are going to be using public transit then you should base yourself in larger towns that will have guided day trips available so you can see places that aren't so accessible from the bus or train. Edinburgh/Glasgow/Inverness will offer many day trips, and getting to Inverness by train is easy.
Some of the most interesting places in both countries are near small towns that have very limited bus service (or none at all), and may not be near train service, either.
If you really don't want to drive in either country then you may want to consider a tour of 3-5 days that will cover some of the places you want to see, but won't be able to get to on your own without a car. No one can really give you any itinerary advice until you know what you want to see, and if you are going to have a car.

Posted by
2926 posts

Hello, here are some ideas for Scotland. If you fly into Glasgow you can do a nice loop and end up in Edinburgh. Let's say you have 9 days, starting with a late afternoon or early evening flight to Glasgow from Dublin. Stay that night at Glasgow airport in the Holiday Inn or another of the onsite hotels.

Here is rail info on the West Highland Line. https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/West_Highland_Line

A friend of mine took a boat from Fort William to Inverness on the Caledonian Canal. You can get off the boat and walk or bike along the path part of the way if you choose. Not sure how many days this takes, but info here https://www.scottishcanals.co.uk/activities/holidays/boating-holidays/caledonian-canal/

When you stay in Inverness, take a day trip eastward to Culloden Battlefield and Cawdor Castle. You may want to do a day tour by one of the van companies for this. For getting there on your own, see https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/scotland/help-getting-around-inverness

Inverness to Edinburgh by train is quite straightforward and there are nice places to stop along the way including Newtonmore, Pitlochry, and Perth -- or you can swing westward and include Stirling.

Hope this helps!