Aran Islands or Dingle Peninsula?

My husband and I will arrive in Dublin 9/18, spend the night at a B&B then drive to the very small town of Bree in SW Ireland to spend a week at a cottage("won" at a school auction!) We will be making day trips to explore the area. From there we have another week to explore the west coast but want to have several nights at a central "home base". We will spend the night of 10/2 back near Dublin airport and the next day fly to Sardinia. It's clear there is a LOT of territory to cover and lots of stops to chose from. I was asked do we skip Dingle and go to Galway/Aran Islands or the opposite? Any help will be appreciated and any other "must see" suggestions as well. Thanks!

Posted by sherrell
sarasota, fl, usa
43 posts

T thought the Dingle peninsula was the most beautiful part of Ireland, if given the chance-GO!
Also liked the 1/2 day trip out of Dublin to the monastic site of St. Kevin-very interesting.

Posted by Cynthia
Gig Harbor, Washington, USA
1202 posts

We have visited both several times and they are both lovely areas. One big difference is that Dingle is more visited by tourists, therefore, more people and more amenities. Connemara and the Aran Islands in County Galway are much more remote, less amenities, but in my view more beautiful. Why not split your time and visit both? Two full days in Dingle, do a long days drive to somewhere like Clifden or Roundstone and spend the rest of the time enjoying County Galway. Unless you really like small cities, I would skip Galway town.

Posted by Cynthia
Gig Harbor, Washington, USA
1202 posts

We have visited both several times and they are both lovely areas. One big difference is that Dingle is more visited by tourists, therefore, more people and more amenities. Connemara and the Aran Islands in County Galway are much more remote, less amenities, but in my view more beautiful. Why not split your time and visit both? Two full days in Dingle, then a long drive (200 miles on mostly main roads) to somewhere like Clifden or Roundstone and spend the rest of the time enjoying County Galway. Unless you really like small cities, I would skip Galway town.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

Patricia, My suggestion would be Dingle (it's about my favourite part of Ireland). While there you could perhaps visit the Blasket Islands or at least the Interpretive Centre. While it is popular with tourists, it has a lively atmosphere with good Pubs and music. While Galway and the Aran Islands are certainly worth visiting, there could be "issues" if you're just taking a day trip. Boat transport to the islands and back will be subject to weather, so sailings can be cancelled on occasion. Happy travels!

Posted by Patricia
Seattle, WA, USA
17 posts

Thanks to all for your feedback. The general plan now is to stay in Kenmare the 1st night, see Muchkross House and Blarney Castle on the way. Then Ring of Kerry and Dingle, staying 2 nights. Cliffs, Burren, Dunguaire Castle, Arran Islands day 4 and 5, staying at suggested towns outside Galway, then back to Dublin for our last overnight. Husband has worked out the drive and tour time and seems happy with it all. Is this feasible?

Posted by Cynthia
Gig Harbor, Washington, USA
1202 posts

A couple of additional suggestions: The Ring of Beara is just as scenic as the Ring of Kerry (actually the Inveragh Peninsula) and less crowded. From Kenmare, you can easily access either one. If you choose Beara, it's better to drive the north shore to the tip, then return the same way. The south side is less scenic. (Same advice for Ring of Kerry, except that one it's the south side that's scenic.) Good places to stay: Tahila Cove (near Kenmare), Ballynahinch Castle Hotel near Roundstone (lovely place, not at all stuffy) or Quay House in Clifden. While in Connemara, be sure to drive up towards Delphi - one of the most beautiful places in Ireland. Keep the car gassed up while in Connemara - gas stations are not frequent.

Posted by Patricia
Seattle, WA, USA
17 posts

Thanks so much for the additional and quite specific suggestions! That makes the journey easier and even more enjoyable.
I'm now caught up in the process of identifying all the details of the Schengen Treaty. Last night I read the 1st posting about it, now multiple others. This is totally new info for us (but this is the longest trip we've ever made) and we will be flexible and plan on spending our "overage time", beyond the 90 day limit, in countries NOT in the Treaty, ie Ireland, Turkey, etc. We'll work that time in then re-enter the Schengen Treaty area and stay/tour around Amsterdam before we return home 1/22/14. Your advice is appreciated!

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

A couple of things:
That "monastic site of St. Kevin" is called Glendalough, and is well worth a visit on your way to Dublin. Be sure that you add about 25% to the driving times estimate for Ireland. It can be unbelieveably slow - narrow, winding roads, sheep in the road, slow-moving farm equipment, etc. Adding 25% gives you a more realistic idea of the time it will really take. I find that www.viamichelin.com has the most accurate information.

Posted by Kathy
St. Louis, MO, USA
16 posts

Driving the Dingle loop was our favorite part of our 10 days in Ireland. There was a beautiful beach where we could get our feet wet. We also enjoyed a day trip to Inishmore (Aran Island).

Posted by Patricia
Seattle, WA, USA
17 posts

Thought I'd give an update on our planning....we decided to stay in Ireland for a 3rd week so we will be able to explore more of the coast a bit more leisurely! This also means that Day 1 of the 90 allowed in Schengren countries doesn't occur until 10/10 when we arrive in Sardinia. Thanks to you all for your tips!