Getting Around Ireland

I am planning on a trip to Ireland in August for my honeymoon. We have the cities we want to visit but wanted to see if travelling between them by train/bus is a feasible option. We want to save money and heard driving can be interesting at times. Here is the order of cities we are visiting: 1. Dublin 2. Kilkenny 3. Waterford 4. Cork 5. Killarney 6. Dingle 7. Limerick 8. Galway
9. Back to Dublin

Posted by Dan
Denver, CO
29 posts

As usual, Nancy gives some pretty good advice. I was there a few months back and the driving wasn't an issue at all, but would have been without a GPS. For all the great things about the Irish and their country, they aren't very good at labeling their streets. But with the GPS traveling by car was a breeze. And I'm very glad I had the freedom to follow my own schedule. Read up on places to see, but one of my favorite places was Westport. A good place to stop for a few days and take some day trips from there. There was a B&B there called the Boulevard House (I think, it's in RS's guidebook) and the hostess there was fantastic with tons of suggestions on places to see and things to do. One of my favorite pubs was there also, called Matt Molloy's. Had a blast there - lots of music and craic. I also agree you should keep your driving during the daylight - it's safer but there's also so much to see. Dingle and Kinsale were also beautiful and fun as well. And yes, never try driving in Dublin. Not worth the heartburn. Have a great time!

Posted by Tim
Ojai, CA
591 posts

First, click 'Railpasses' above & then 'Ireland' and Rick gives some very good info on traveling by rail or bus. I'd cut down the number of cities you have as it amounts to using 8 half-days of your valuable time just getting between cities if you use public transportation. Dublin, Kilkenny, Killarney and Galway have more to offer (IMO) than the others. Don't eliminate having a car yet as it has some good advantages. Driving being 'interesting' probably refers to the high rate of accidents in the country caused by those who party a bit too much. Ireland is a lot about the beautiful countryside and you can see much more with a car. Limit your driving to daylight hours and there will be less chance of having problems.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7684 posts

I would also suggest a few changes to your itinerary. Waterford has little to offer, particularly since the historic crystal factory has been replaced by a smaller, newer "showroom". Limerick is another city I would leave out - again, nothing much to see but traffic. Using public transportation might be cheaper than renting a car, but you will be at the mercy of their schedules. The "cost" of travel time needs to be considered when comparing it to a rental, where you can come and go as your interests dictate. Personally, I love driving in Ireland. I will never again drive IN Dublin, but otherwise, it's not a problem. The flexibility of having a car beats anything else, in my opinion.

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1564 posts

Suggest you fly into Dublin to start, maybe spend three or four days there, take a day trip to Newgrange from Dublin. Then rent a car, head down to Cashel, Kinsale, eventually to Dingle and see sites on west coast and home from Shannon, no need to go back to Dublin. Agree to skip Waterford and Limerick, did not find anything there worthwhile although years ago we did go to Waterford factory when they had tours but understand they don't have that anymore. Good luck.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7213 posts

Agree about dropping Waterford (not much there without the factory tour) and Limerick (a very gray industrial city in an otherwise bright green country). I think driving is the best option in Ireland. Bussing is the second best, but cheapest, option - this is probably your save money option. Train service is limited and not cheap.

Posted by George
653 posts

Lots of good advice above. Do drive (with lots of insurance.) Also, omit Waterford and Limerick. If you start in Dublin be sure to include Newgrange. Return from Shannon. Overall, the part of Ireland you want most to see is the southwest. Reserve B&Bs and auto ahead. Refer to RS and to No more than a day or two for Dublin. Enjoy!

Posted by Teresa
57 posts

Here's another vote for driving. Yes, driving the left side of the road is weird at first, but my husband tackled it on a stick in Dublin (poor planning on our part). If you get an automatic, don't drive in Dublin and stay on the main roads as much as you can, it's really not bad at all.
If you do decide to drive, the best advice I can give is to plan out your route ahead of time, to the minute detail. Google map all the directions and write them down specifically - if it says turn in 23.4 km, write that. As the people above said, Ireland doesn't have the greatest signage, so having these directions greatly helped us. Although we didn't have a GPS, so maybe that would work better (I'm a navigating snob and disdain those things ;)).

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17796 posts

Laura, I agree with the others that it would be advisable to skip some of the places on your list, and expand time in others. Dingle is one of my favourite locations, so I'd definitely plan a few days there. What is the time frame for your trip? Many people from this side of the pond drive in Ireland without too many problems. However, it can be difficult for some especially as many roads in rural areas are narrow and winding, and may not be well marked. A GPS unit along with a good Map would be prudent. According to the U.S. State Dept. website, "If you do not have experience driving on the left, you should be especially cautious as tourists driving on the incorrect side of the road are the cause of several serious accidents each year." I've driven in the U.K. and didn't really find it all that difficult but it does require extra vigilance and some familiarity with the driving conventions there (ie: Roundabouts and NO turns on red). Given your location, I would highly recommend taking the short drive to Edmonds and having a chat with Rick's excellent and knowledgeable staff. Spending a few bucks on a travel consultation might save you a few bucks and make the trip go more smoothly. You might be lucky and find Pat O'Connor in the office that day (he's the co-author of Rick's Ireland Guidebook). As it's your honeymoon, you'll want everything to be "perfect". Finally, congratulations and happy travels!

Posted by jeff
naches, wa, usa
182 posts

in 2009 i took a somewhat similar trip. i always go by rail or bus and have never driven in 16 years of european travel. probably lame but relaxing. i flew into dublin. train to powerscourt for the gardens and gordon ramseys at the ritz. train back to dublin then onto kilkenny. i love kilkenny maybe my favorite. bus to kinsale through cork. easy connection. kinsale to dingle. long bus ride went right through killarney. dingle to galway on bus. took tour to the cliffs and such also on bus. train back to dublin from galway. yeah it took longer then a typical train driven vacation in most of europe. but was it worth it? yes. have fun, be safe. jeff