After reading 5 travel guides, what is the best options for routes to take if a lot of the areas in Ireland that you would like to see are in Cork/Southwest Ireland, Galway/West Ireland, and ending the trip with 2-3 nights in Dublin for St. Patrick's Day? We're planning on being in London from 3/8 (Still haven't picked the city to stay in London yet either)and departing on 3/10 for Shannon to pick up our rental car and spend the next 8 nights/7 days traveling towards Dublin and leaving from Dublin on the 18th. Avoiding big touristy spots, how would you lay out these 8 nights? I thought of staying in Ennis or Fenore for 2 days and seeing the hotels Adare Manor and Dromoland Castle only because I loved their golf courses, King John's Castle, and then Cliffs of Moher. From there I could either head towards Dingle and travel from there through Killarney, Macroom, or Kenmare, travel via routes of Cahir and Cashel and staying in either Kilkenny or Kildare. I only say these options because I'm trying to make it to Dublin but would like to stop along the way there to see Glendalough and Luggala Estates to see Lough Tay. That was one option and the other was to skip Dingle and do Galway from Ennis and then head towards Dublin from a route near there. We want a relaxing trip, small pubs, hubby is big on history/war/police/military, we like the outdoors, won't be doing a lot of shopping, hopefully just lots of great food/entertainment/beer/and sight seeing.
Last trip I put a big map on the wall of our kitchen and added small post it notes of each place we wanted to visit. After awhile, it helped determine the most logical route.
Maybe if you started on the beer about now it would help.
I'm responding because of your "exhaustion", not because I know anything about Ireland. I spent hundreds of hours planning our recent trip to England and was starting to lose my enthusiasm before we left. I had a carefully planned agenda and ended up following about ten percent of it. Most of the things we enjoyed the most were the little surprises along the way. You say you want a relaxing trip. That might be the key to planning. You know what gives you the most joy when you travel so just pick places that really grab your attention. Like everyone says, assume you will return.
I'm with Janet. There is no perfect plan and no perfect itinerary. You can get a lot of good advice from books and web sites. But, none of it is in any way comparable to being there. Otherwise, we would not travel, we'd just read books about travel and visit forums like this. I've found that a relaxed trip begins with an acceptance that you might miss something you regret, and that you might spend a lot of time visiting some place you decide you can't stand. Don't sweat it. Try to give yourself a flexible schedule and itinerary. Ireland isn't going anywhere.
And I'm with Janet and j.c. Try not to schedule more than one or two "must see" places each day. That leaves you lots of time for what my wife and I call "planned spontaneity". Linger someplace that isn't on your list just because you happened upon it and found it to be delightful. You'll find those places in abundance in Ireland! Take breaks to walk a bit or sit and drink coffee. With a car this is easy because you can set your own pace and stop whenever you wish.
Thanks for replying. I was worried no one would. I did the post it notes like you suggested and I can see the routes that I should take. I just didn't know if there was better areas to stay near these places and about how many nights I should stay there. My worry is I'm going to break up my driving so much that I'm staying in 4 diff b&b/hotels by the time I get to Dublin. Plus the smaller towns near places like Limerick, County Clare, Kerry, and Cork might have more of a relaxed night feel that would be nice to come home to after sight seeing all day. My husband feels like you see one castle you've seen all castles same with mountains (terrible thought process). I tried looking for Killian Irish Red Beer factory bc we wanted to go to a distillery that didn't suck as bad as what I've heard about the Guiness.
The reason I switched from Dingle to Galway and then continued to switch was because I didn't want to take a ferry bc we will have a rental car from Shannon till Dublin. I'm all about spontaneous adventures I just need to book hotels/b&b's bc it's a busy time of year there I'm sure.
I hate to disappoint you, but Killians Irish Red beer is American, brewed in Colorado by Coors. And you don't have to take the ferry to get from Dingle to Galway. There is a tunnel, and you can also go around past Limerick to go north. Use www.viamichelin.com to see the driving distances between places on your list. Add about 25% to their time estimates to get a more accurate picture of how long it takes. That might give you a better idea of how to lay out your itinerary. Remember to allow time to actually SEE what you are going to see, not just arrive there.
Amy, If you had more time, you could take also take the RS Ireland tour, which covers most of the island including the north. That would take all the stress out of planning as everything is taken care of. It's an awesome tour! Good luck
Sometimes when I am planning a trip and can't make a decision regarding the itinerary I check what the experts do. That would be major tour operators. Take a look at the Rick Steves, Tauck, Roads Scholar, etc. and see where they go and how much time they spend in any location. This will give you some
idea how to spend your time and the sites that are most important.