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2 Weeks in Ireland & Northern Ireland by Car

We'll be flying in/out of Dublin and driving around Ireland. Using Rick Steves 3-week drive & 14 Day tour of Ireland and other itineraries found on Ireland tourism websites as guide for 14 days. Plan to use recommended B&B's and those of Ireland tourism board. Tourireland.com has 15 day self-drive plan. Upon arrival plan to drive to Wicklow/Glendalough/Powerscourt and spend night in Kilkenny, , 2 nights in Kinsale, 2 in Kenmare, 1 in Dingle, 2 in Galway, 1 in Donegal, 1 in Derry, 1 in Belfast and 3 in Dublin. We plan to see all the sites that are on Rick Steves 14-day Tour of Ireland. Rock of Cashel & plain of Tipperary, plan to drive both Ring of Kerry & Dingle Peninusla, Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, Connemara & County Mayo Loop (break drive up with stay in Clifden?), Derry, Belfast with Giant's Causeway, sights outside Trim before returning to Dublin.
Is Waterford worth a stop to see Waterford Crystal factory? Should we just be in Dublin 2 days and 2 nights? Any suggestions would be welcome!

Posted by
9350 posts

The Waterford Crystal factory that exists today is not the historic factory. It has been downsized and moved to a new location, becoming a "showroom". I have not been since that happened, so I don't know exactly how it compares. I believe you do still see some crystal engraving, but it's not the same experience as before. Clifden is a great place to stay on the Connemara loop! One of my favorite little towns, with great B&Bs on the Sky Road or near the coast. I would switch your 2 nights Kenmare, 1 night Dingle to 2 nights Dingle, 1 night Kenmare. I love Kenmare, but Dingle needs more time. I'm hoping that you are only using the tours you mention as a guideline and aren't trying to actually "do" the itineraries and see all of the places in 2 weeks. Your first day (arrival) will be largely taken up with getting out of the airport, getting your car, etc., and you will be tired early. Your last day (departure) will be unusable for any sightseeing - car dropoff, check in, security, US immigration will take time, too. Remember that on Rick Steves' tour, transportation, lodging, meals, etc., are already arranged. You don't get lost or have to find a parking place or decide where to eat or accidentally sleep in. You simply can't do by yourself what a tour can accomplish in the same timeframe. Any time you change lodging locations, you have to allow time to pack the car, find your way, unpack again, get settled. You lose a good amount of time out of every day when you are only staying one night in a place. Your three nights in Dublin is only two full days - last day won't be usable. I would stick with the three rather than cut it to two.

Posted by
9350 posts

I don't see any mention of when you are traveling, but if your "sights outside Trim" include Newgrange you might have to plan carefully. At Newgrange, you have to take a shuttle bus from the visitor center to the actual site. During peak tourist season, you need to arrive early in the day in order to insure getting in. Tours book out a lot of the shuttle bus spots, and only so many people per day can get in. You might have to wait through a shuttle or two until it's your turn to go. It's not like you can just drive up, look around, and leave.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks for your quick reply and suggestions: 1 night in Kenmare/2 Dingle and 3 days in Dublin as we will be arriving from Belfast on 9/19. We fly back to US early on 9/22 so that was factored in. Regarding Clifden, should I switch to 1 night in Galway or skip 1 night in Donegal, keep 2 nights in Galway and just drive straight to Derry from Galway? Aran Island for day or not? Galway Irish Crystal Center? That's good to know about Newgrange shuttle bus so we'll get there early.
Yes, I am just using the detailed itinerary from tourireland.com as a guide to the highlights and off-path places of each area.

Posted by
69 posts

Hi Sheron, I would suggest 1 night in Kinsale then 2 in Kenmare and 2 in Dingle. If the weather is good then go to the Aran Islands. Haven't been to Cliffden so can't comment. Enjoy your holiday!

Posted by
7 posts

Hi Sheron; We just returned from an 8 day trip Dublin, Kilkenny, Dingle, Galway. We were in Dublin for a few days before we picked up our car on the Sunday. My initial plan was to see Powerscourt, then head through the Sally Gap, down to Glendalough, then onto Kilkenny. Waaaay too ambitious for the first day of driving, and we weren't jeg lagged. We ended up getting to Powerscourt (after getting lost, no gps with the car, thought I'd use the ipad with an Irish sim card - no service in the Wicklow mtns!) We ended up doing Powerscourt, then retracing our steps and heading down the motorway to Kilkenny. Also thought we could leave Dingle, see the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, and then get to Galway. Bailed on the Burren, again, just too much to take in and drive in one day. Loved Kilkenny, adored Dingle, and Galway was fun. Did 2 nights in each, that gave us a chance to drive one day, then take a day off. One other recommendation, if you're looking forward to a pint in the evening it is well worth it to pick a B&B within walking distance of the pubs and restaurants you want to go to. That way you don't have to worry about drinking and driving.
Have fun!