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And how about this one? (Ireland, 13 days)

We've been trying to rough out an itinerary. Below is a list of areas and the number of days we plan to spend there. I'd like advice on:

* Whether the list is over-ambitious and involves too much moving around.

* What are the best things to see

* Where are good places to base ourselves in each area

I know this is kind of bass-ackwards, since we're deciding where to go instead of what we want to see. The trouble is that there is so much to see that we can't decide where to go! So I'm hoping we can hang some sights on this framework. Of course, the framework itself can be altered if, in the process, we decide we want to stay somewhere longer or elsewhere less.


1 Fly to Belfast

2 Belfast

1 Giant's Causeway

2 Donegal

3 Connemara/Burren/Galway

3 Dublin/Powerscourt

1 Fly from Dublin

Wadaya think?


Posted by
2215 posts

Dav, I have been to Dublin, Connemara and the Burren and drove through Galway. I have not been to the other places on your itinerary. But this seems pretty reasonable to me. I would suggest you check driving distances, or rather time estimates, online to be sure it's not to much driving. Don't go by the mileage. Driving in Ireland is much slower than in the U.S.

I think you should read up on each place on your itinerary and make a list of the places you want to see in each and how long you want to spend at each. Assign priorities A, B and C. That will help you decide if you have chosen the right amount of time for each place.

Good luck!

Posted by
113 posts

I am assuming you will be driving and I don't know what your likes/dislikes are. In general your plan looks like a good start. And I wouldn't call it bassackwards. Our first trip to Ireland was done this way. Yes, you will be tweaking it now and later.

For this tight of a schedule I'd say Belfast proper can be done in 3/4 of a day, if you're just trying to hit the highlights. The Antrim coast is a great scenic drive. You might need to spend a night along the way. Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge is worth the stop, as is the Causeway. If you have time, Derry (Londonderry) is very interesting.

Those are just a few ideas to help you get started. I also agree about really allowing for the slow driving. If you can find the posting from Kent, he has a good recommendation for estimating driving times.

Posted by
504 posts

Thank you. I figure we'll need extra time in Belfast because of jet lag. My wife is a horticulturist, and so we have to see the Botanic Garden, which features a very early greenhouse.

Posted by
977 posts

We covered most of these areas in roughly the same time last year. I think you would be disappointed if you couldn't find time to fit Dingle into your schedule.
One night in Donegal and 2 nights in Galway would make this possible. Just a thought. Also, if possible, include a visit to Glendalough when you go to Powerscourt.

Posted by
1660 posts

I would replace the Dublin days with days in Dingle and the Gap of Dunloe. Drive back to Dublin right after breakfast, possibly detouring towards Glendalough, then fly out of Dublin the next day.

Posted by
484 posts

You will find parts of Donegal just as scenic,if not more so,than Dingle and far fewer tourists. I love the Dingle peninsula but trying to work it in could make for a hurried trip. If I were going to change anything and maybe see Dingle it might be three days in Galway,Burren etc. I seem to be the only person who did not enjoy Galway but when I was there it was not even prime tourist season and it was crowded,noisy and just did not appeal to me. I realize I am in the minority on Galway and that most people find it great.

If you try and see too much you will end up missing a lot. Take your time and you will enjoy it more.

Posted by
504 posts

Thanks to all who have replied so far. It gives us much to think about.

Yes, we plan to be driving. As to what we like: history, gardens, art, nature, beer, music (trad and classical). That doesn't narrow it down much, does it? Not sports. We'll probably buy a few things, but shopping isn't a focus. We do like cities, which makes dividing our time that much more difficult.

I understand about not planning too much. That's very easy to do in Ireland, it would seem.


Posted by
113 posts

It is easy to plan too much for any trip Europe, not just Ireland.

So you like beer....ya gotta do the Guinness brewery tour thing, just to have a pint with a 360 view of Dublin. Here's a warning,,,don't drink Guinness after you get back home.

Pat, You are not alone on Galway. We've been through there twice and it didn't offer us any reason to stay. It just seemed to be another large town. Not what we are interested in.

Posted by
22 posts

We are in Donegal and drove to Causeway, did Bushmills for a taste(not tour) had lunch in Port Stewart and finished up our full days drive with Derry and the walls. Left at 11:30 and got back to Donegal pub by 8:30 for music and drink. Saturday, very little traffic. We stayed 3 days in Dingle and 4 in Doolin, so much to enjoy and the best food and music in Ireland,I would drop a day or 2 in Donegal/Giant's Causeway for sure.
A boat trip to Aran Island and then Cliffs of Moer was outstanding.

Posted by
319 posts


I think your itinerary looks like an excellent trip through the north. Very reasonable.

It seems that every poster looking for advice here on Ireland is told to go to Dingle. I think Dingle's fantastic, but it doesn't make sense on a trip like this where you're focused on the north and go no further south than Galway. I'd stay focused on the north and leave Dingle for another trip where you travel the south, if that interests you.

By the way, when are you planning on going? Just curious.

Best of luck.

Posted by
504 posts

Yes, we're trying to cultivate the idea that we will be going back. Of course, there are more and more places to go back to...

We will be going in September, right after Labor Day.

Posted by
113 posts

While you are in the Belfast area, consider going to Mt Stewart Gardens. Not as large as Powerscourt but worth the visit. If you do go, nearby is Grey Abbey, also worth seeing.

Posted by
11798 posts

It looks good to me. I think you're giving yourself a reasonable amount of time at each stop. Have a great trip!

Posted by
18 posts

Hi Dav,

Having lived in Ireland, I thought I would chime in. I have to agree with Michael. While Dingle is a great place to visit, it makes no sense to go south when your entire visit is to the north of the Galway-Dublin line.

Depending on what time you fly in to Belfast, you could really see most of what there is to see in 2 days. From there you could drive up the Antrim Coast, and see the reed bridge, G's Causeway, the Bushmill's Distillery and overnight in Derry. I would spend one of your Galway days on the Aran Islands...probably Inishmore. The ferry is easily accessible since you have a car. I second a trip to Glendalough, while you are at Powerscourt.

This sounds like a great trip! Don't forget nightlife in the local pubs...and remember...if you want to get a seat, during the summer months, try and get there no later then 8pm.


Posted by
504 posts

Well, I said we were going to be flexible. One bit of flexibility is that we've made flight reservations to land in Shannon instead of Belfast. The plan is to do pretty much the same trip, but in the opposite direction: Clockwise around the north of Ireland, hitting Belfast and then going down to Dublin.

Posted by
1804 posts

Great that you changed your arrival and departure points. Flying open jaw into Shannon and out of Dublin makes much more sense.

The Belfast Botanical Gardens are excellent. Your wife will really enjoy them. Definitely try to see the murals in the Falls Road/Shankill area. Along the Antrim Coast, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and Giant's Causeway are terrific. With limited time, I'd pick Dunluce Castle over Bushmills Distillery unless you are really into whiskey.

Sights you might want to see in the Connemara/Burren/Galway area: Cliffs of Moher, Dun Angus (Inis Mor), Poulnabrone, Ailwee Caves, Kylemore Abbey. Ballynahinch Castle makes a good stop for lunch or dinner and has nice gardens to walk around.

While drinking Guiness in Ireland is something not to be missed, I disagree about the Guiness Storehouse tour in Dublin. The only thing it has going for it is being able to have a pint in the Gravity Bar which affords a nice view of the city. Other than that, it's just a lot of advertising and a big gift shop - you see absolutely nothing of the factory where the bottling actually takes place.

If you are travelling in September, the Galway and Clarenbridge Oyster Festivals are both taking place, as is the Clifden Arts Week festival.

Posted by
504 posts

Are there any brewery tours in Ireland? I'm kicking myself for skipping a tour of one of the oldest breweries in England when we visited London a while back. It closed shortly thereafter.

Posted by
1804 posts

The Biddy Early Brewery in Inagh, County Clare (about 10 miles from Ennis) offers a brewery tour. If you are going to the Cliffs of Moher, you can make a detour to hit this brewery.

If you like pale ale, be sure to try a Galway Hooker. I don't know that they offer a tour of their microbrewery, but they do have a website so you could probably email to ask.

Posted by
504 posts

Here is a refined itinerary. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

Sunday, September 6: Fly to Shannon. 2:57 PM-7:00 AM (Sept 7)

Monday, September 7: Take coach to Galway, Explore Galway.

Tuesday, September 8: Coach/ferry to Inishmore, return to Galway in evening. Need to book tickets.

Wednesday, September 9: (where?) One more day trip from Galway Rent car—-Morning, evening, or next day?

Thursday, September 10: Drive to Derry (5 hours). Sightseeing on the way? Lodgings in Derry.

Friday, September 11: Explore Derry: Walk the walls, etc.

Saturday, September 12: Donegal loop, per Rick Steves book. Return to Derry, fill up gas tank.

Sunday, September 13: Drive to Giant’s Causeway.
What else along the way? Arrive Belfast. Lodgings in Belfast.

Monday, September 14: Botanic Garden, Explore Belfast.

Tuesday, September 15: Leave Belfast. Stop at Bru Na Boinne (New Grange), Hill of Tara, Trim Castle(?).
Arrive Dublin.

Wednesday, September 16: Powerscourt Gardens. Time for anything else? Return to Dublin, lose rental car.

Thursday, September 17. Book of Kells, Museum of Ireland, St. Stephan’s Green.

Friday, September 18. Explore Dublin, Prepare for departure.

Saturday, September 19: Flight home. 9:00 AM-4:29 PM.