I'm planning a trip for 2 for a two week trip to London, Ireland and Wales. I have been to London before so have those days covered but I'm looking for help for the other portion of the trip. We're not planning on renting a car so will be relying on buses and trains. Any suggestions about how to plan accordingly? We were thinking 2 or 3 days in Wales and then 7 or 8 in Ireland. I have a list of "must see" places but am overwhelmed with strategically planning out this trip. Any ideas about traveling between London, Wales and Ireland. Also any good hostels in either place?
What's the order you want to travel in? I'm on a trip, and did London, plane to Dublin, ferry to Wales, then trains to the north and back down again. Plane fare was incredibly cheap, not really more than ferry.
I'd highly recommend taking a ferry from Dublin to Holyhead, then basing yourself somewhere like Bangor for a few days. Northern Wales is incredibly lovely, with tons of easy great day trips by bus. Wales has been the best and more affordable section of my trip.
For Ireland, I preferred the countryside over Dublin... 1-2 days at most was enough for me in Dublin.
In terms of staying, I'm here during term break, so doing only student residences. Wales was cheap, 20 pounds or less per night in Bangor. Dublin was much more expensive, I stayed at Trinity, but location was great. London I love staying at LSE properties, did Carr-Saunders, Northumberland, and doing High Holborn next week.
I would strongly consider renting a car in Ireland. 7 or 8 days is way too many for Dublin, and you can't properly see the countryside (where Ireland's charm truly shines) without a car. If you definitely don't want to rent a car this time, then I would consider saving Ireland for a future trip when you can rent one.
If you do want to do what you can in Ireland without a car, then I'd recommend the following. 3-4 days in Dublin, with a one or more side trips to places like Newgrange and Glendalough. After that, you could go to Belfast or Galway by train and spend a few days in one of those cities. Depends on your personal interests which you might prefer. Or you could shorten your trip to Dublin and add days somewhere else. You could go north to Scotland, or take the Chunnel to Paris for a few days.
Though I always rent a car in Ireland, I think Michael is not considering the extensive bus system that can take you virtually anywhere you might want to go. It may take longer, but travel all over Ireland, even the rural areas, is perfectly possible on the bus.
We definitely want to see more of the country than just Dublin. We were thinking only 2 days there and then the rest of the time to explore. We were counting on buses and have heard that it is possible to do the countryside this way.
You can definitely get around the countryside by bus and train, but the bus system is much more extensive. It does take longer than going by car, but on a bus (and train) you get to enjoy the scenery and not worry about driving on the left side or deciphering Gaelic road signs. Many locals rely on the bus and it's fun to talk with them and ask for advice on what to see and where to eat. I've used the Bus Eireann (http://www.buseireann.ie) and Irish Rail (http://www.irishrail.ie) websites to help in planning my trips, just be ready for things to change when you get there and purchase your tickets. Often times the ticket agent at the station knows better or more direct routes than the ones generated by the computer. Good luck and have fun!
Carrie, What is included in your list of "must see sights"?
When are you going? The Bodnant Gardens in North Wales are beautiful. I'm sure there are day trips by bus from Conwy and other northern town. I have driven in Ireland, England and Wales and I tell you it can be very stressful. When we go back, we are going to use buses and trains. You can also sometimes hire a driver for a day trip and it is not as expensive as you would think.
RENT A CAR!!!
My girlfriend and I just went to Ireland last summer and possibly our most favorite part of the entire trip was renting a car and driving across the country (from galway to the wicklow mountaings) in a day. We stopped to pet some horses, got lost and met some old charming irish man who talked with us for a half hour, found a castle to check out along the way and took some of the best pictures along the way.
In terms of hostels: i would strongly recommend Palmer's Lodge in Swiss Cottage, London.
I didn't say it was impossible, but I did say that it's much more enjoyable to travel Ireland by car. And I stand by that. Being free to stop wherever you please is one of the great joys of traveling Ireland. Plus you'll spend a lot more time traveling by bus than with a car.
Having said that, if someone prefers to travel that way, more power to them. Simply my opinion.
What were your reasons for not renting a car?
Although it would be much more flexible to rent a car it is possible to get around Ireland by train or bus.
Both means of transport are very popular in Ireland and between big towns and cities you wont have any major problems. Its when you want to travel to the lesser populate areas that bus routes reduce in frequency.
When in the USA I got the opinion buses were the last ditch option for a lot of people. On one occasion traveling with 8-9 people, all americans, only 3 had ever used a bus before. I found it hard to believe.
For dublin to galway and vice a versa www.gobus.ie are good, non stop and are good value. They also go straight to Dublin airport.