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Ireland and Scotland

Will be traveling in Scotland and Ireland for 11 days in May. We have a rough itinerary but would love some feedback.
Day 1-Edinburgh city sites- mainly interested in Royal Mile and Castle and Holyrood House. We are not big on museums.

Day 2- 3- travel to Inverness. Explore town, Loch Ness and Urquhart castle.
Day 4- travel back to Edinburgh in am and see what was missed the first day.
Day 5 - flight to Dublin in am then see what we can in Dublin. We are not big on city scene and would prefer to spend our time in countryside. Planning on seeing Trinity college and catching cultural show in Pm.
Day 6- 9 - travel to west coast by car. We would like to get to Killarney and use it for our home base the remaining of the trip until last day where we will stay in Bunratty the night before we fly out from Shannon.
Day 10 - travel to Bunratty to be close to airport.

So here are my questions.

1- We are thinking about stopping for the night on way to Killarney but not sure where is the best spot. Cashel, Killkenney, maybe Cork?
2 - other than Killarney national park! where would you suggest to go? I know how much Dingle is loved by Rick Steve's readers and Tralee but any other places? ( we have decided not to do Cliffs of Moher due to length of travel and the big wall that seems to be in the way of seeing the cliffs, We are also traveling with my 70 year old mother.
3 - is the castle or Bunratty worth seeing?
4 a Is the Kerry living history village a tourist trap or worth seeing?

Any other advice is welcomed!

Thanks for your input!!!!

Posted by
9363 posts

The Cliffs of Moher are one of the iconic sites of Ireland. What "big wall that seems to be in the way" are you talking about? Yes, Bunratty and the folk park are nice, but the Cliffs are only an hour or so away. Not so sure there's anything that special in Tralee. If you want to stop en route to Killarney, I would suggest Cashel.

Posted by
1878 posts

This seems like a lot to do in 11 days. I would have a hard time fitting a trip to Scotland or Ireland in 11 days, much less trying to do both countries in that amount of time. Edinburgh is worth two to three full days by itself, Dublin about the same. (My wife and I traveled to Ireland in 2002 with five nights in Dublin, too many by one or two, even given that this was our arrival city and the first jetlagged day is a throwaway. We added a three day detour to Edinburgh, a wonderful destination and easy to reach from Dublin on Aer Lingus, but that left only six nights in the Irish countryside. I mention this to back up my view that trying to do too much is a mistake, because I have done that. As much as we loved Edinburgh, the sensible thing would have been to save that for a separate trip.) Killarney city is known for being over the top commercial, I would recommend exploring smaller town options. Bunratty castle is worth seeing, sure. Also the Burren is that general area is very worth visiting. We just passed through after a quick visit to the Cliffs of Moher. Next time I would like to set aside a half day to hike in the Burren. A good option near the Shannon airport is Ennis, a very authentic workaday town. Cruise's pub there in town used to have live Irish music, a very nice experience.

Posted by
2127 posts

I agree with VS; I would not want to visit Scotland and Ireland in just 11 days. You have just 3 and a half days for the Scotland, which is not much time, especially considering you might be jet lagged for the first day or two.

That said, if this is what you really want to do, I would recommend revising your itinerary. I would stay the entire time in Edinburgh and do a day trip if you want to see something besides the city. There are very long day trips to the highlands which I think would be easier than traveling to and staying in Inverness for two nights. Or you could do a shorter day trip on your own by train. You could also spend the whole time in Edinburgh - it's a stunningly beautiful city. If you do decide to go to Inverness, is it possible to get a flight from there to Ireland so you don't have to waste time going back to Edinburgh? That is just wasted time.

As for Ireland, if you aren't big on cities, why not skip Dublin and fly into Shannon. I was not that impressed by Dublin, although I did love the Trinity library. With your current itinerary, you only have half a day in Dublin and then you have to spend half a day traveling to the west. With so little time, I would skip Dublin and focus on western Ireland. You would have enough time to see quite a bit in a fairly relaxed pace.

Regardless of what you decide, you can have a really great trip with a little bit of tweaking your itinerary.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks for your suggestions. I know we are trying to see a lot in a short time but the time we have is all we have. Our flights are booked into Edinburgh and out of Shannon. I have been to Edinburgh and it is a beautiful city and I agree you could spend lots of time there. I will plan on flying from Edinburgh to Shannon so we save a 5 plus hour drive across the country. I have read in more than one guide book that there is a 1.5 meter wall built along cliffs of Moher that block the view unless you hike around it something I am unsure my mom could do. is this not true? Are there other places to view it. I have looked at their official website but wasn't sure which one to believe?
Thanks again!

Posted by
1887 posts

There is a "sort" of wall along the walk, more for safety than anything else, it does not block the view. It is a not to be missed place and your mom will enjoy. Am almost her age and it was no problem, you do not have to walk off the beaten path to enjoy. Have been there five times and always is one of highlights of our trips. We were last there end of October and was so windy I did not walk up to O,Briens Tower although my son and his wife did. If your mom doesn't want to walk up there, she will still have great views and can always walk down to visitor center and have a cup of tea and wait for you.

Kris, I agree with other posters about the wall. There is a short wall, but I remember it being to the right of me as I walked up the cliffs. There was nothing blocking my view and there were even brave?/ crazy people, that were crawling up to the edge of the cliffs to get photos. This has been 10 years ago now, so I can't speak to anything more recent, but I can't imagine how, or why, they would have built a wall between that walk way and the cliffs. I will say though that I was simply amazed at how strong the winds were on the walkway along the cliffs. I was with a friend and she weighed close to 100lbs and I literally had to hold onto her to keep her from staggering. Not sure how agile your mother is but that might be something you want to take into consideration. It's certainly not something that would keep me from the cliffs, but something to be prepared for with suitable footwear, thick coat, and no purse or pack to encumber ones movements. Also, my friend and I were 22 at the time of that trip if that helps. :)

Bunratty Castle is a really fun site to visit. It was very accessible, and the tour was interesting, and moved at a good clip. I would definitely recommend it.

Happy travels!!

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks for your answers regarding the Cliffs of Moher. Sounds like we will be there!

Posted by
6059 posts

Kris

only been there once, a long time ago. But as I recall the trip from Edinburgh to Inverness was long and not particularly scenic or interesting. I was disappointed in Inverness and Loch Ness and would rather have spent more time in Edinburgh. You just use up a lot of time in the travel and logistics. I would recommend considering somewhere on the West coast, Skye maybe, and then maybe ferry over to Ireland. Just my two cents.

Posted by
9363 posts

The Cliffs of Moher built a beautiful handicapped-accessible visitor center into the hillside a few years ago. There are great views from there or from outside, and the view is not blocked anywhere.

Posted by
6 posts

The Cliffs of Moher are a must, in my opinion. Stunningly beautiful, even in the pouring rain. The travel time to get there will be well worth it; it was one of the most beautiful sights I saw in Ireland.
I stayed overnight in Kilkenney, which was a cute, quaint town. I recall a beautiful abbey there which was nice to visit. I would avoid Cork...there wasn't much to see there, in my opinion. A rather industrial city.

I stayed in Killarney for three days and spent two full days in the park. There is so much to do in the park. I took a boat ride along the lakes of Killarney (which are in the park), as well as a tour of Ross Castle in the park. The lakes were stunning; that was one of my favorite parts of the park. I would allocate at least a day for the park. In downtown Killarney, I was also able to get a bus ticket for a bus ride around the Ring of Kerry. It's an all-day ride, and well, well worth the time. Exquisite beauty.

Have fun! And best of luck planning!

Posted by
26 posts

If you have already been to Edinburgh, may I suggest substituting Sterling for the 2nd go-round back to Edinburgh? I don't know how you are traveling to Inverness, driving yourself or via a tour, but would recommend driving through the Cairngorms on one leg.

Posted by
13 posts

Laura, great feedback on Killarney National Park! I am so excited to go there as well as Cliffs of Moher.

Olivia, will look into Sterling but going to Edinburg again because I am the only one in the group that has been there. Also will check out The Cairngorns!

thanks again everyone!