planning an Ireland trip, any advice welcome!

Hello Rick Steeves community!
My partner is turning 50 this year and I am planning a trip to Ireland for him secretly. I am a Rick devotee and have had successful European trips in the past with his tutelage, and I have so many questions about Ireland. I am thinking of flying in and out of Dublin and renting a car. We have 9 days in September, and I was hoping to drive across to the Aran Islands, down to Dingle, then make our way back to Dublin. Neither of us have been to Ireland before. Does this make sense? Any hints? Flying from Boston in to Dublin, then out of Dublin to Prague to visit my daughter, before heading back to Boston again. Any hint and/or advice is appreciated. Thanks! Molly

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1562 posts

My suggestion is to fly into Shannon, rent car there, tour southwest, head down and then around towards Dublin where you can drop off car and have several days there before going towards Prague. I am assuming you are getting open jaw tickets from Boston to Ireland, then regional one way tickets from Ireland to Prague and home from there, correct?

Posted by Molly
Lowell
8 posts

I was worried it would be more expensive to fly into a smaller airport, but I like the idea of ending in Dublin before moving on, instead of criss crossing the country. Flying open jaw may make more sense than flying in and out of Dublin even if the cost is a little more. I won't have to drive across the center of the country just to start the trip, which could save money. It's okay to rent a car in one city and leave it in another?

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1562 posts

Never had a problem picking up in Shannon and dropping in Dublin. Be sure to get CDW, credit cards do not cover insurance in Ireland. Someone recently posted about a good deal through Hertz with CDW included but would be very unsure about this unless it is something new, five trips there never heard of it but there is something new every day. Keep posting, where do you want to go, see, etc. Funny, when we several years ago looked up top ten places to see in Ireland, it mentioned Waterford and I personally would put it in bottom ten but to each their own.

Posted by Molly
Lowell
8 posts

We are outdoorsy types and history buffs. Traveling along the coast, hiking/biking, and exploring villages are our primary interests (and pubs!!!!) Not so keen on touristy stuff or factories, etc. I am hoping for personal experiences, not cookie cutter ones.

Posted by Jerry
Carrollton, Texas, USA
65 posts

Well I wrote a lengthy email earlier but it wouldn't post so I will shorten my reply and see if it works. I highly recommend buying Rick's Ireland book. First, I definitely agree with flying into Shannon and out of Dublin. Shannon airport is very small and easy to get in and out of. I would get a car rental quote from Bob Bestor - www.gemut.com. He has the best rates in all of Europe. Definitely buy the CDW insurance. Here's my suggested itinerary in visit order from Shannon: 1) Cashel - Rock of Cashel 2) Killarney - Muckross House - Lakes of Killary - Ring of Kerry 3) Dingle - Slea Head drive is a definite must - takes 3 - 4 hours. Lighthouse B&B is our most favorite place to stay. 4) When leaving Dingle take the Connor Pass drive. It is spectacular. And not near as scary as Rick makes it seem. 5) Cliffs of Moher - if you leave Dingle after breakfast and drive north, you'll be at the cliffs in 4 hours or so. 6) Burren National Park 7) Galway 8) Dublin - all of the major Dublin sites are in the City Centre - Christ Church, St. Patrick's, Trinity College, Temple Bar.
9) Outside Dublin to the north is Newgrange and the Hill of Tara. Just to the south of Dublin in the Wicklow mountains is Powerscourt Estate - modeled after Versailles. I stressed for months because there is just so much to see. Our next trip is to Donegal and Connemara. Safe travels.

Posted by Molly
Lowell
8 posts

Thanks Jerry! I already bought the book (I own lots of Rick's books including places I may never travel to, but fantasize about)
I like the specific suggestions about sights and the particular car rental place. I know that it will be impossible to see it all in one trip, but I wanted to make this first trip spectacular. Those are some good hints! I get so excited just planning and putting all of theses pieces together. Thanks again Molly

Posted by Cliff
Texas
120 posts

FWIW, some random thoughts about my week driving in Ireland. dingle peninsula, wish we had stayed in a B&B there.
Rock of Cashel, Cliffs of Moher, Newgrange were awesome. Galway at night was ok, but to many young drunks. Overall experience was wonderful, and hope to return and spend more time there.

Posted by Connie
Everett, WA
827 posts

I have not been to Ireland recently, so was not going to post. However, your comment about being "outdoorsy, hiker" people caught my eye. We always fit some "outdoor" days into our vacation. In Ireland, we really enjoyed hiking up Croagh Patrick and the Connemara area. It is a great hike and a real highlight for us. In Dingle, we rented bikes and biked around the Dingle peninsula. Since you also love history, allow plenty of time to stop and see all the sights on the Dingle drive that is in the Rick Steves book. The bike ride has a few hills, but very fun. Although we did not do it, I think you can still rent bikes on the Aran Island as well. We also did a short hike between Killarney and Kenmare, but not as much as we would have liked due to rain.

Posted by Molly
Lowell
8 posts

Thank you Todd and Connie! Those are exactly the types of hints I am looking for! I am having so much fun planning this, and can't believe I have to wait 8 more months to go!
We will hike and bike and spend time in small, historic and charming places on the west coast!

Posted by Sarah
Calgary, Ab, Canada
48 posts

If you like being outdoors, I'd like to suggest biking Inish Mor. One of my most loved experiences on my trip to Ireland. It will steal your heart and strengthen your leg muscles :) we stayed 2 nights there and that was perfect.

Posted by John
Dublin, Ireland
105 posts

Congrats to your partner, on reaching that milestone, he's only a young lad. Some good advice posted here for you. There are loads of very pleasant walks you can do. I'm based in Dublin and just south of us are the Dublin/Wicklow mountains, an hour's drive from Dublin, excellent hiking area. The Wicklow Way is a lovely area for a trek, just back from part of it today, total isolation, peace and quiet, a gentle hike, rain, snow and fine weather, where else would you get it.
http://www.wicklowway.com/ Enjoy your stay with us!

Posted by Elaine
Mission Viejo, Calif., USA
784 posts

My husband and I took a TAUCK tour to Ireland last June. It was a 14 day tour, but we added on two nights to our hotel near Shannon airport. We loved the Tauck tour. You can find them at Tauck Tours.com. We had just 24 people on our tour and it was first rate. We stayed at Ashford Castle and it was fantastic.

Posted by Molly
Lowell
8 posts

Thank you John for the trekking advice! We are not afraid of a little weather, and am looking forward to exploring the Wicklowway site. It's good to know a nice outdoors location on the Dublin side! Although we are not particularly tour people Elaine, I hope to work in a night or two at a castle. I will check it out!