Northern Ireland side trip to a Republic of Ireland vacation

My wife and I are planning a 10-12 night trip through Ireland in June. We plan on hitting the following cities in order... 1. Dublin 2. Kilkenny/Cashel 3. Cork 4. Dingle 5. Doolin or Galway and the Aran Islands
6. Dublin We want to also spend a day or two on the Antrim coast (Portrush, Bushmills, Giant's Causeway) in northern Ireland, but are having trouble working it into the itinerary without adding a ton of travel time. We have considered driving from Dublin before starting the loop, taking a train, doing northern Ireland then doing the loop in reverse. We need help making the most of our travel days while still seeing the most important sights to us. Thanks!

Posted by Sherri
Goleen, Co Cork, Ireland
69 posts

Hi Adam, Unfortunately there isn't an easy way to fit Giants Causeway in. It's over a 5 hour drive from Galway to Portrush or 3 1/2 hours or so from Portrush to Dublin. It is an amazing site and worth an overnight stay if you can add it in. I personally liked Portstewart a bit better than Portrush as it's a smaller village. Enjoy your holiday! Sherri

Posted by Joel
Tempe, AZ, USA
832 posts

Adam - This past summer our family made a trip up to Belfast for 2 days as part of our Ireland vacation. We went from Dublin to Belfast on the first day and did a Black Cab tour. On the second day we did a tour of the Antrim Coast (book by our b&b). Then we headed from Belfast to Galway. It made for a long day, but I feel it was worth it.

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1554 posts

One suggestion is to try to fly into say Dublin and out of Shannon or the reverse, would save a lot of travel time.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
677 posts

Adam, unfortunately I can only agree with the above - your planned route is taking you in other directions if you want to visit Ulster too. All I can suggest are - - where are you coming from, can you fly into Belfast, see Ulster, then go down to Dublin for your RoI itinerary (you can do Belfast/Dublin by train as you clearly have found out), or
- from Arrival in Dublin head directly North and have a mini itinerary there, before heading back to the South, & perhaps making Dublin the "switch point" so you don't stay there twice.

Posted by Cynthia
Gig Harbor, Washington, USA
1202 posts

We enjoyed a twenty day road trip around Ireland in April, 2012. While staying in Donegal, we drove a very long day trip to see the Giant's Causeway. Frankly, IMHO,it wasn't worth the time involved to get there. You pay to park at the top near a very touristy restaurant, then walk about a mile downhill to the site or wait a long time to get on the bus that goes down there. "There" is a beach comprised of very large hexagonal columns. After that, you walk a mile uphill to the car park or wait even longer to get on the return bus. The site is also very crowded, even on a rainy day in April. If you are really into geology, it is an interesting site. But for a tourist with limited time, there are much better sights, both historic and scenic. With your limited time, I would suggest using the time to enjoy Connemara or staying in Kenmare to explore the Beara and the Inveragh peninsulas. Beautiful scenery in both of those areas and Kenmare has loads of good restaurants, music pubs, and decent (not just tourist junk) shops.