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Ireland: what to see for first trip

After spending a ton of time researching, reading, watching video etc, I'm no closer to getting a handle on what to do in Ireland. I was hoping I can get some advice. Planning on visiting on the last leg of a month long trip to Europe for a minimum of 5 days. We'd be flying in from Amsterdam, probably to Dublin (very few flights to Shannon, way more expensive and late arrivals) and flying home from Dublin. This city and the west coast are the areas we are interested in, but is this practical? My thoughts originally were to take a train to Limerick, rent a car and work our way back in 3 days or less (is this enough time?) or maybe just tour the west coast and take the train back or skip the west coast entirely and concentrate just around Dublin (not really what we want). Would appreciate some thoughts before my head explodes. Thanks (just found out flights home from Shannon may be around the same price . . . hmm)

Posted by
1014 posts

Three years ago, my wife and I spent a month touring Ireland and still did not see it all!! We will be back again next year, probably. You need to get guide book and a map, and go from there. Dublin alone can take a week, and you will still not see it all, so you must pick and choose for this first trip. There is really nothing in Limerick to see. Try to go to a city that you can do something for the day, and start the rental car the next day.

Posted by
9363 posts

What are you calling "late arrivals" to Shannon? Do you mean flights arriving late, or not getting there until late in the day? On the three trips where I have flown into Ireland, all have arrived early into Shannon, around 9:00 a.m. from Chicago. Might be different flying in from the continent, I guess. It is SO much easier to learn to drive on the other side of the road at Shannon. It's a small airport out in the country. You won't encounter any traffic right away. And it's close to the Cliffs of Moher, Lahinch, Doolin, etc.

Posted by
8728 posts

4-4.5 hour jaunt from Dublin to Shannon. If you fly into Dublin I'd head south to Glendalough in the Wicklow Mtns. Then with the aid of a good map and GPS make your way toward the West coast. That's how I meandered around the entire island. Maybe Glendalough to Killkenny or Cashel. Spend the night, see the Rock, then head out towards Dingle.
Stay the night in Dingle. Explore. From there to the Aran Islands, then a night in Galway. From Galway back to Dublin.

Posted by
74 posts

You really won't need 3 days to work your back to Dublin, it is about a 4-5 hour drive with a lunch stop.... unless you want to go around the south end or the north end of the Island....then the 3 day plan is better. Since it sounds like you have not booked your flights yet, check out open-jaw, or the multicity option. Most search engines allow you to choose at the top: one way, round trip, or multicity. You might want to fly into dublin and out of shannon (aka open jaw) or vice versa. It would save you a half day of back tracking if you only want to spend time in the east and the west sides of Ireland. If you end up renting a car, (advisable for the west coast touring) and the price is the same for both open jaw options, it might be easier to drive first in Shannon, and then you can drop your car in Dublin or easier yet at the Dublin Airport.....A car is NOT needed in Dublin, and Airport to downtown transportation, and mass transit in downtown Dublin is easy-peasy! Hope this helps...D

Posted by
433 posts

thanks for the suggestions. By late arrival, I mean late at night. There doesn't seem to be an easy way to get from Amsterdam to Shannon, all flights I see are about 12 hours long using discount airlines or Aer Lingus, or about 3x the cost if you use something like British Airways. Now flying into Dublin or Cork, the flights are about 1-1/2 hrs and inexpensive. We will be flying open jaw. Our trip starts in Prague a few weeks earlier. With Expedia, it seems I can fly home from Shannon instead of Dublin for about $50 more, but Travelocity is about $400 more per ticket. Now I'm thinking maybe flying into Cork, renting a car there to tour the west coast, return the car to Cork and then take a train into Dublin for the last couple of days

Posted by
69 posts

Cork is easy to fly into so probably your best option. Then you can go to kenmare if you want to see the ring of Kerry. Kenmare is a lot smaller than Killarney so not as touristy. I loved Dingle, Galway and Bunratty Castle. Kinsale right when you get into Cork is really nice too. Don't turn your car in. It's a really easy drive to Dublin on a major motorway. You can turn the car in Dublin when you get there (plus you can see the rock of cashel on the way). Have a great trip!

Posted by
69 posts

Just saw about possibly leaving from Shannon. You might want to skip Dublin this trip as it is a big city and not that exciting in my opinion. Then you can explore more of the west coast and Shannon is really easy to fly out of.

Posted by
105 posts

Just for clarity on driving times: Dublin Airport to Shannon Airport is 2.5 hrs approx Dublin Airport to Limerick is 2 hrs approx
Dublin Airport to Galway is 2 hrs approx