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10 day Ireland Itinerary Ideas Needed

Hello everyone! My sister and I are just in the early stages of planning a 10 trip to Ireland for May or June, 2010. As we haven't booked anything yet, we are completely open to suggestion!!

About us... We are both very active in our late 30s. I have traveled in Europe but was a teenager and part of a school group. My sister has never been overseas. Our grandmothers parents immigrated from Ireland but unfortunetely we do not know many details. We are hoping our Aunt will be able to give us some details.

After watching Rick's series on Ireland we do think we have to narrow down the country to some degree just because we only have 10 days. I believe we are going to leave out Northern Ireland from this trip. We are completely open to flying into Dublin or Shannon and flying out of the other to better maximize our time by avoiding a complete round trip voyage. My sister is kind of against driving but I'm not at all! I'd rather have control of where we go and when than be at the mercy of a bus or train schedule. I am however fine with using mass transit within Dublin.

Our interests include historical Ireland, Celtic landmarks, scenery, shopping, PUBS, Irish culture, music, dining... Notice PUBS is in caps!! :) My sister and I are not shy and really do enjoy a good time with a pint or two! Throw in some local music and we'll be in heaven. Given that we will be there at least 10 days...we should hit a Sunday at least once :)...we would like to go to Catholic Mass while there. We would love any tips on some beautiful churches to possibly attend these services at.

I hope this request isn't too broad... but we really are wanting to open this itinerary up to all you travel experts!!

Posted by
319 posts


I would try to get any info you can on your ancestors before you book anything. If you can find out where your family is from, you'll definitely want to go there and that will affect the rest of your itinerary.

If you're up for it, driving definitely helps you to get the most out of Ireland. But if your sister is definitely not going to drive then you'll want to make sure that you don't plan for too much driving in any one day as it does get tiring.

A few sites to research: Newgrange (ancient Celtic traditions), Rock of Cashel (Church ruins), Trinity College (Book of Kells), Dingle (both the town and the peninsula drive), and the Ring of Kerry (amazing scenery).

Best of luck with your trip planning.

Posted by
147 posts

A day or two in Dublin is all you want there. Get out of town and you see the real Ireland. Glengalough, Rock of Cashel for old spots. Dingle, Kilkenny for good PUBS and music. Definitely drive. Just about every small town has an old church, an old castle and a great PUB. Explore, explore explore.

Posted by
9363 posts

I like everything that has been suggested so far. I have always made my trips in the off- or shoulder-season, so I'm used to no crowds. May or June should still be pretty uncrowded. Newgrange and Glendalough are both very well worth a visit. It was misting when I was at Glendalough so I didn't get to do as much there as I would have liked, but there are several lakes to hike to there, as well as the monastic settlement, and a really good small museum. One little tip: make sure you watch the films they offer at each of the heritage sites. They give great background information on the area and the particular site that you are visiting.

I would suggest flying into Shannon and out of Dublin, particularly if you are going to be driving. Shannon Airport is out in the middle of nowhere, so it's easy to get some driving practice in before encountering any traffic. Bunratty Castle is nearby, and would make a great first stop before you really hit the road (and there's a little shopping center across the road with great food). And once you get to Dublin, you can turn in your car and depend on public transportation for the rest of the time (you do NOT want to drive in Dublin). You'll find Dublin city center very walkable, but there are a few things that you might want to see, such as Kilmainham Gaol, that you'll need to bus to.

Posted by
504 posts

If you fly into Shannon, Galway might make a good first base of operations. It's handy for the Burren, Connemara, and Aran Islands. And it has lots of pubs!

In Dublin, there are plenty of pubs to chose from. There is a nice one on the south river bank that is a microbrew. Their own brews are cheaper than the usual commercial ones, and quite good. Sure wish I could remember the name of it! I'd skip the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. It's expensive and a combination advertisement and tourist trap. You can buy Guinness kitsch anywhere in Ireland, and you can drink it in any pub.

For history, try to get to Trim Castle, just north of Dublin. It's a real medieval castle (what's left of it), not a manor house or mansion tricked out like one.

I kept missing connections on the music scene, looking for authentic trad. Rock and country are easier to find. Good luck with that. If you're successful, get back to us.

Posted by
2678 posts

I would concentrate on the south and west coasts. Kinsale is a wonderful town with great food. From there you can head over to Kenmare and the Ring of Kerry, Kilarney National Park and Dingle Peninsula for fantastic scenery. You don't have to do the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula. A couple of nights in Dingle town would be great - it's my favorite place in Ireland. You'll find plenty of music and pubs there. Head up the west coast taking the Tarbert-Kilimer (sp?) ferry to save a lot of time. You can hit the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren and Doolin for more music. Other possibilities are Galway, the Aran Islands and Connemara. But I would not plan too many stops. The driving can get stressful with the roads being so narrow, and it is really slow -- it takes twice as long to get places as you are probably used to in the US. Ireland is full of small towns with pubs and music, the scenery is beautiful almost everywhere, and there are Celtic ruins all over the place. You can hardly go wrong, unless you try to cram in too much and wear yourself out. Good luck!

Posted by
10136 posts

Don't miss Dingle. I would stay there a minimum of two nights so that you will have a full day there. Three nights would be better. It was my favorite place in Ireland. It is a charming town with fun pubs and the surrounding area is beautiful. We also stayed in Kilkenny and went to the Rock of Cashel. Other people have mentioned more great places to consider.

If you feel up to driving, go for it! I was very apprehensive, but it wasn't bad at all. Be sure to get an automatic, especially if you aren't used to driving a stick. You will be able to get around much easier with a car.

I would suggest flying into Shannon and dropping the car in Dublin. We just took the bus into Dublin after dropping the car off. There is a deal from the airport that gives you a round trip ride on the Airlink bus from the airport to town and back, and day on the hop on/hop off bus and rides on the city bus. I think the deal is for three days, which worked out great for us because we stayed 3 nights in Dublin.

Have a fantastic time!

Posted by
8700 posts

I suggest that you buy a couple of good guidebooks. The Rick Steves 2010 Ireland guidebook is scheduled to be available one week from today. The next edition of the Lonely Planet Ireland guidebook is scheduled to be published in January. It's more thorough than Rick's book and is geared a little more toward younger and more active travelers like you and your sister.

Flying into Shannon and out of Dublin is a good plan. Definitely rent a car. You'll need one to make the best use of your time in the Southwest. If you're comfortable driving a stick shift car, you will quickly adjust to driving one in Ireland. No need to pay extra for an automatic. Make your sister the navigator.

You'll need a detailed road map. I've found the Michelin #712 Ireland map to be detailed enough (scale 1:400,000). For even more detail (scale 1:200,000), buy the spiral-bound Frommer's Ireland road atlas. See here. If I didn't already have the Michelin map, I'd buy the Frommer's road atlas, both for more detail and because it's spiral-bound (the pages lie flat and there is no unfolding).

Posted by
129 posts

dublin is great for a day then get out of the city and explore...wicklow mtns...kinsale...cashel...dingle is a must...the burren...galway bay areas...

Posted by
162 posts

I would suggest buying the Ordnance Survey Complete Road Atlas of Ireland. You can get it at This is the best map -- even the Irish use it! Comes in a spiral bound book too. Having the map will help in your advance planning. In addition to this forum -- check out the Trip Advisor Ireland Forum. Read back into old posts there to get good info. Lots of funny, helpful folks on that forum.

Posted by
1357 posts

You said you're into historical Ireland, but that's a lot of time to cover. I'd spend at least 2 days in Dublin to hit some of the historical sights there. If you're into the history of the "troubles,", then definitely go to Kilmainham Jail and do the 1916 walking tour.

As far as going to mass, there's definitely beautiful historic churches in Dublin and the bigger towns. Many of the more historic churches in Dublin were turned into Anglican churches, but the pro-cathedral is still Catholic. But going to mass in a smaller town can be a treat, too. We went to mass in the small church in Doolin this summer, same one we went to 12 years ago when we were there, and the same old lady was up there before mass leading the Hail Marys. Mass is short there, they don't mess around, can be as short at 30 minutes.

Posted by
8700 posts

Adding to Janet's comment. I would have recommended the Ordnance Survey atlas, but I couldn't find it on the map site where I've seen it listed in the past. I looked a little harder and found it on the Ordnance Survey site (naturally). The scale is 1:210,000. See here.

Posted by
7 posts


Flying "open jaw" is a great idea. Think about Dingletown, and the Dingle Peninsula, it is so beautiful! The Cliffs of Mohr will take your breath away! The Rock of Cashel, and Cahir Castle are very worth seeing. Pubs are not hard to find, they are everywhere! Ennis, Kenmare, and Kilkenny are wonderful town. Driving is the way to see Ireland, I think, but it takes much, much longer to travel in Ireland! It is not hard to drive, really, once you get the hang of it, but the roads are narrow, and even the highways are not like ours! Flying into Shannon and out of Dublin is the way my DH and I like to do the "open jaw", because Shannon area is more remote, and you get to practice driving. There are lots of B&B's, and Farmhouse B&B's too. Galway area is good for shopping, as is Tralee, and Cork too. There will be many great ideas on this site, and have fun reading them all. Rest assured though that no matter what your trip turns out to be, you will have a great time, and will want to go back! The first time we arrived in Ireland, the shuttle bus driver taking us to our rental car said two things were guaranteed a visitor to Ireland: a great time, and rain. So, pack your rain gear, you will rained on, but it won't matter, Ireland is a warm welcoming country.

Have fun planning, it is part of the experience. Now, I have to go, and start packing. My DH and are off to the airport in a couple of days--Ireland is waiting for us.

Posted by
10 posts


I just returned last month from 10 fantastic days with my best friend. We flew in & out of Shannon.We rented a car and stayed in B&B's. The only reservation we had was the day we arrived @Oakwood Arms Hotel gave us a great rate.
We took a cab slept several hours , had a light lunch then got our rental car.
We traveled 1100mi and covered alot of territory. Shannon,Connamera ,Ballyshannon,Donegal,Cavan,Kilkenny, Kilarney and Doolin.
If we did it again I would stay in one region and spend 3 night in each.
The B&B's were about 30-35 euros pp and there is only 1 we wouldn't go back to. Best places for Pubs were Kilarney & Doolin. Favorite sites Dingle (Connor's pass), Ring of Kerry and getting lost and watching a Shepherd heard his sheep!Favorite B&B's Rockwood House in Co Cavan & O'Connor's Guest House in Doolin and best meals Flavors in Newmills & Cullinan's in Doolin.
I would recommend getting the heritage card.
Have fun