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6 Days in Ireland - North First or South & West First

I am planning for the first time to Ireland after a week in England (Business). Really want to go to Northern Ireland, but also Cork County and Galway - which is better? Will be renting a car (drove in England and Scotland before). Also what is the best way to fly into Ireland or Northern Ireland from London? Thanks!

Posted by
5762 posts

Fly from London directly to Dublin or Belfast. HOur and a half drive from Dublin to Belfast. If you choose Dublin. Go North to Belfast, then west, then south, then back to Dublin. Small island. It's ALL lovely. Personally I found the drive from Dublin to Glendalough and from there over the Sally gap one of the most beautiful I've ever encountered. Each to the their own. Just watch out for the sheep.

Posted by
9110 posts

I don't think either way is better, just that back-tracking stinks when there's so much to see. If you're flying home from Ireland, ending in Dublin makes more sense. Conversely, if you're flying home from Shannon, Dublin might be the place to start. If you're going back to London, open-jaw cuts driving time. If using one airport is substantially cheaper than using the other, do it that way. Cork itself didn't really ring my bell, but I really enjoyed Cobh. Cork is down at the far end of the stick for what else you have in mind. My whole knowledge of the RoI and NI is largely based on one trip of about six weeks back in everwhat year the volcan business was an issue. We managed most of it, I guess. What impressed me most was the northern part of the Republic and Northern Ireland. I liked Belfast so much that, when I nearly got drowned out on a solo hiking trip in Wales a year later, I went and knocked around Belfast again.

Posted by
9110 posts

I can't quite understand the above response. It's at least two hours from Dublin to Belfast. If you fly into Dublin and then drive to Belfast, the fastest route to Galway is right back down through Dublin then west on the freeway. The least amount of driving is Belfast (arrival), Galway, Cork, Dublin (departure) - - or the reverse. If either major city is both the arrival and departure point, rather than double-hump the boring M1, make the Belfast-Galway segment via the more interesting N55. Contrary to a common misconception, there's is no problem picking up a car in either NI or the RoI and dropping it in the oher. There are problems with moving a car across the Irish Sea.

Posted by
16 posts

Claudia - thank you for your response - will try to make it a point to drive through Sally Gap. Ed - thank you - so you think arriving in NI is better? Thank you!!!! Now the question is - Cork County - is it really a place to see? Reading RS' guidebook made me re-think...

Posted by
5762 posts

@Ed, really. It's easy. Dublin to Belfast, Belfast to GC, then off to Londonderry, then South to Galway and from there back to Dublin. The Glendalough, Sally Gap, Dublin mention was made in hopes she's get a map and plans a route that includes that lovely drive. NI is fine. The Ring of Kerry is breathtaking!

Posted by
9363 posts

The Ring of Kerry is only breathtaking if you don't get rained out, or fogged in. We ended up spending the day in Kenmare poking around because we could see nothing on the Ring on the day we planned for it.

Posted by
16 posts

If there is only 6 days (including time getting to Ireland and back to London) then fly into Dublin - and roundtrip through Ireland and Northern Ireland...? I read in the guidebook that it was difficult to drive in Dublin and then onto Belfast... Train sounds easier... Hmmm - there is really too much choice isn't there :)
Thank you all for your messages! I think I am narrowing it down to NI, and Galway to Dublin...

Posted by
5762 posts

Don't drive into Dublin. It's that simple. Arrive at the airport, shuttle to car rental, rent the car and head North to NI and Belfast. Spend the day and night. Drive around the northern part, then onto to Galway, over to Ring of Kerry. Then drive back to the airport, drop the car off and take a bus into Dublin. Stay the night. Back to airport for flight. Easy Peasy.
Truly, small island, you'll get to see a lot with the car. Enjoy.