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Ireland Itinerary Advice Please

Hello- I am seeking suggestions on our itinerary to Ireland this summer. We have not booked plane tickets, but are planning to fly in and out of Dublin (as it is direct from Chicago), and stay for about 10 nights in-country. We have family in Westport, and therefore need to spend about 3 nights there. We’d also like to see Dublin. Generally, we prefer smaller and less touristy towns, don’t want to spend too much travel time between locations (we plan to come back for Dingle) and want to minimize “one night stands.” We are thinking:

Fly into Dublin – CityLink bus to Galway

3 nights Galway (with a day trip to the Burren/Cliffs of Moher – either by car rental or bus tour)

3 nights Westport (will definitely rent car for this portion, then train to Dublin)

4 nights Dublin

Fly out of Dublin

I appreciate any feedback but would also like to know specifically: are we spending too much time in Galway? In Dublin? Is there another recommended small-town stop besides or in addition to Galway that would be convenient to Westport? Is it better to do the bus tours of the Burren (such as Lally or O’Neachtain) or better to rent a car? If better to rent, is parking in Galway difficult? Recommended guidebook for the West coast to supplement Rick? Any other advice? Thanks in advance!

Posted by
1826 posts

Two full days is plenty of time for Dublin. You might want to consider doing a day trip to Glendalough which is very evocative, especially on an overcast day. Although we have not stayed there, Ennis in County Clare is often recommended because it is central and has some traditional music. We loved Clifden which is near Westport. From Galway or Clifden you can do daytrips to the Aran Islands and see lots of the beautiful Connemara. Loch Nafooey is spectacular, so is the area up by Delphi. For information use irelandexpert.com. Tons of really good advice there.

Posted by
8700 posts

For a second guidebook I recommend Lonely Planet's Ireland guidebook. It's more thorough than Rick's.

Posted by
655 posts

I agree with Cynthia - two days is plenty of time in Dublin. To me, the best of Ireland is in the villages and the coutryside.
On your way in/out of Dublin, consider Newgrange which we found very worthwhile.
Another valueable resource is: http://www.irelandyes.com/author.html

Happy travels.

Posted by
9363 posts

You can also fly direct to Shannon from Chicago - I've done it several times. Since you mostly want to be on the west coast, why not fly into Shannon and out of Dublin? More nights in the Galway area would give you time to explore the Connemara area, but you'd probably need a car. I'd cut your nights in Dublin to three, with one of them being the night before you fly out.

Posted by
46 posts

Thanks for the help!

Nancy - actually, there is no longer direct flights from Chicago to Shannon - that's why we are flying into Dublin. I know there used to be, but it appears Aer Lingus has cut them - too bad!

Any other towns besides Galway worth spending a night (or preferably 2) in to better explore the area (Clare, Aran Islands) - or is easiest/best to just stay in Galway and do day trips from there?

Posted by
9110 posts

In my mind the best guidebook for anywhere is the Michelin Green Guide series. I've beating mine to the devil trying to figure out how much damage I can do next month.

Posted by
333 posts

We stayed a night in Clifden which was a very nice town. The Sky Road from Galway City to Clifden is beautiful. Westport is a great town. I would love to spend some more time there. Chances are you are going to have a bad weather day so try to plan accordingly.

I wouldn't stay 4 days in Dublin personally. You can see pretty much everything in 2 days and it may be a bit of a letdown after Co Galway and Co Mayo.

If you are going to rent a car at some point you may as well rent it for the whole trip. You may find out that it's cheaper than taking the bus. There's a big parking garage in Eyre Square for parking in Galway City. I think it runs about 20 euro/day but your hotel may have a special rate.

Posted by
45 posts

I agree that 4 nights in Dublin is too many. If you take the hop on hop off bus, you could do most of the main attractions in 1-2 days tops. If you do really want to stay longer in Dublin, then I agree day trips to Newgrange or Glendalough (also powerscourt gardens - there is a bus tour that does both) would be a better option then spending the time in the city itself.

3 nights in Galway does not seem too many to me. I think I ended up staying four nights there. That allows one day to explore the town, and then two days to take day tours - cliffs of moher/burren and maybe the Aran Islands (or a tour of connemara). It will also give you a chance to settle and recover from the jet lag.

Since you have family in Westport then 3 days makes sense. Otherwise I would say that is too many as I found there was little to do there.

I would also agree with the suggestion of Clifden as another town near Westport that I loved. It was one of my favorite towns in Ireland. There is a great walk you can do right by the town and it is close to connemara national park as well. It also has good music at night in the pubs.