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3 days in Ireland -- need help with itinerary

Hi all. I'm hoping that some of you kind expert travelers may be able to help me out with a 3-day itinerary to Ireland in late August. We are taking a transatlantic cruise from London and tacking on a few days in Ireland beforehand. We will be flying into and out of Shannon and renting a car -- arriving Saturday early in the morning after a redeye from NY and departing Tuesday late afternoon. Essentially, we have 3 and a half days to sight-see (3 nights) and we trying to figure out best itinerary.

We definitely want to do Dingle peninsula, and would also like to do Kenmare/Beara peninsula area and see the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. We are thinking of one night in Kenmare, one night in Dingle, and one night in Doolin. Is that too much? If so, what should we leave out -- Kenmare area or Cliffs of Moher/Burren?

We are trying to do as much as possible in three days while also having time to enjoy the beauty around us. We are in our late 20s, so we're not too concerned with getting tired out, but we don't want to plan more than we actually can do! Also, I should mention that our cruise gives us a day in Belfast and a day in Cork, where we are thinking of taking a trip to Kinsale. Thanks in advance for your help!

Posted by
8700 posts

I agree with Nancy. As much as I like Kenmare, I don't recommend that you try to squeeze it in this time. While distances aren't that great, driving time in Ireland is slow, especially on secondary roads. In many places you won't average more than 40 mph. If you use the viamichelin site to get driving routes and times, increase the times by up to 50%. Another good site is

Allow time to get out of the car frequently to admire the view or take a walk.

I suggest that you see the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher on the first day. Driving from Doolin to Dingle will take longer than you think, even when crossing the Shannon River on the ferry. Spend two nights in Dingle and drive back to Shannon from there.

Posted by
9363 posts

Kenmare is going to be a haul from Shannon. While it's a great place to visit, I wouldn't suggest it on this trip. You could do the Cliffs of Moher/Burren area easily from Shannon (if your flight arrives early enough in the morning you could do them on the first day, stay in Doolin, and then head south to Dingle). You'll save time going south if you take the Tarbert/Killimer ferry across the River Shannon. Check to see distances/times between spots. That might guide your planning better.

Posted by
100 posts

Hi Tricia,
I agree with the other two posters. I would spend the time in the Burren, then Dingle area, with 2 nights in Dingle. The Dingle Penninsula area is beautiful and for us it was great to have a full day to explore, then another full day to hang out in Dingle town , which is a great little place with lots to do. Have a great trip!

Posted by
1681 posts

We flew from California to Shannon, then drove from Shannon to Kenmare---it took us three and a half hours, driving at normal speed. (We did this when we were ages 55 and 57, so you can certainly manage it at age 20 something if you feel like it!) The drive would have been three hours but we ran into a traffic jam caused by the annual County Kerry--County Cork soccer match. We stayed at Tahilla Cove near Kenmare. From Kenmare you can drive around the Beara Peninsula or the Ring of Kerry or you could drive up to Dingle for the day, although that would be a long day. The Burren is an interesting geological phenomena but we didn't feel it was worth a full day. Skipped the Cliffs of Moher because it sounded a lot like Big Sur, which is near our home. If you have to choose, I think County Kerry is much more interesting than County Clare. Near Shannon, we did the Bunratty Castle medieval banquet. We thought it would be too touristy but it was actually a lot of fun. Hope this helps.

Posted by
668 posts

We spent 3 1/2 weeks in Ireland in Sept 2008. Dingle is a good sight, Ring of Kerry is a disappointment after Dingle, too many trees, a few really great views, but not worth the effort on a tight schedule. Dingle is one continuous view for the whole circuit. We hoped to see the Beara peninsula, but did not have time(!) Burren is interesting, but you can drive round it and get a taste without spending a lot of time. Cliffs of Moher are spectacular. I beg to differ with the Californian. It is nothing like Big Sur.

My sister lives in Scotland and is used to narrow roads. She did all the driving in Ireland and in teh area you are talking about, I think 30mph average is closer to what you will achieve. The roads are unbelievably narrow. If your area has back alleys,look at it and consider meeting a tour bus coming the other way - that is what roads are like in southwestern Ireland - except they also twist and turn up and down hills.

Enjoy your trip, but take your time, stop often, talk to the local people. Sometimes less is more. As Rick Steves says, plan to return.