I'm planning a trip to Ireland/ Scotland/ London in August 2008 for my 50th birthday. I plan on being over there for 14 days (7 days in Ireland & 7 days in Scotland & London) my question is : if you had 14 days to be on this trip what things would you absolutely see? ( I know I'll be going to the Jameson & Bushmill & Guiness factories along with pubs in the Dingle Peninsula & of course the Waterford tour) but what else? any help would be greatly appreciated! thanks, Kerry
If you like visiting really great pubs you must pay a visit to The Seven Starts on Carey Street in London.
It's a pub that tourists know nothing about. It is tiny and survived the great fire of London. It sits behind the Royal Courts of Justice and Lincolns Inn Fields, just around the corner is Dickens' Old Curiosity Shop and Lincolns Inn is the setting for Dickens' Bleak House. It's a short walk up Fleet Street and Ludgate Hill to St Pauls. With all the history ( and historic pubs ) you will encounter on that short walk it could take at least half a day.
If you are going to travel to Scotland in August, you need to book any rooms in Edinburgh WAY in advance (8 months to a year) because of the Festivals - space is at a premium because so much is going on so prices go up dramatically and rooms sell out many months in advance.
If the Festivals are not your thing, come early in the month before it gets truly crazy. Or consider staying outside of Edinburgh. Especially if you will have a car - parking is nightmare in Edinburgh on good days, near impossible in August.
Kerry, unless you're in it for the tasting, you might pass on the Jameson & Guiness tours. Jameson is a simulation. The last time I was at Guiness, you could see some old style advertising, tasting room, and the gift store. No factory tour.
While in Dingle, check out the Blasket Island center. Very interesting interpretive center about west Ireland island life. Muckross House on the Kerry peninsula is also interesting if you're into architecture. While in Dublin, check out the National Museum. I didn't know there was so much gold in Ireland. Done the Waterford tour 3 times. Always enjoy it and leave some $ in the store. By the way, Waterford, and many other stores, will ship your purchases for you. Takes about 6 weeks or so, but you don't have to lug it around and if it's broken, it's not your problem. The museum in the old Granery, on the Waterford waterfront is also very interesting. You might check out the Rock of Cashel and Kilkenney Castle. Lots to see - have fun
I have to give a second for the Rock of Cashel. We stumbled upon it by accident and thought it was very interesting.
Kerry, If you are at all pressed for time I would skip the Jamesons and Guinness tours. You see none of the actual brewing or distilling process in either place.As someone mentioned earlier the Jameson's tour is just a simulation,although the stuffed cat was interesting, as the whiskey is now distilled somewhere in the Cork area. Guinness is a self guided tour and on the weekends can be a real zoo. That being said if you do take the Guinness tour buy your ticket on-line as it is a little cheaper and you do not have to stand in line once you get to the brewery.
I'd suggest you go to Inverness Scotland. Great place to use as a base and do day trips. You can do 1 day to Isle of Skye, do a criuse on the Forth, take a boat ride up the river Ness and Loch Ness, see Urquart Castle, go to Drumnadrochit- the small village at the top of Loch Ness. You can also do Whiskey trips and tastings, etc.
Aviemore is another neat place- very small, but lots to do!!!!! You may find that 7 days for Scotland and London is no where near enough. I enjoyed Ireland the one time I went, but haven't wanted to return- but we've been to London and Scotland more than 40 times.
ditto on Blasket Center on Dingle Peninsula; wish we'd had time to go out to the islands
Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle are simply spectacular; staying in/near Inverness would allow you to go out to Culloden battlefield as well--sobering but very interesting
Just returned from 2 weeks visiting London, York, Edinburgh, & Dublin w/my 2 sisters. I agree w/previous posts about Guiness tour - it's just a big multi-media Guiness ad, don't worry if you don't have time for it. Dublin was an overpriced let down - in my & my sister's opinion, don't spend too much time there. Edinburgh is amazing. We spent 5 hours touring the castle there - totally worth it. Did a great day tour w/Evan Evans from London to Windsor, Bath, & Stonehenge. They offer a number of other tours, you can check out their website. We enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Sherlock Holmes Pub in London (we ate in their restraunt upstairs; Rick mentions it in his book). A picnic lunch in St. James park (in front of Buckingham Palace) is very nice. Have fun!
I agree with Linda - I'd give MUCH more time to Scotland and London than Ireland. I enjoyed Ireland, but I've only been once...I've returned several times to Scotland and London.
I've been to Ireland 3 times and I'm going back again this year (along with Scotland and London). I stayed in a thatched cottage on the West Coast of Ireland and drove all around the area exploring, and went fly fishing on Lake Corrib. I have not seen the Rock of Cashel nor have I done the Waterford tour. I think to enjoy Ireland you have to get away from the tourist traps and get to know the people.
We did the Guinness Brewery tour last St Pats ('06) and liked it and plan to take our adult-ish kids (18 & 22yrs old) there with us this year.
The Book of Kells at Trinity College is an amazing thing. We would like to take our kids to Glendalough which we enjoyed or Newgrange which we haven't seen.
And I agree about Inverness and Culloden. http://heritage.scotsman.com/timelines.cfm?cid=1&id=39922005
Oh, and right now the Euro (which the Republic of Ireland uses) has a much better exchange rate than the Pound (which is used in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England).
1 Euro = 1.34 USD
1 Pound = 2 USD
So if it is 5 pounds in the UK for a pint, that's $10.
As of today the exchange for the BP is !.96. I would recommend you going to see Blenheim Palace it is fantastic. Winston Churchill was born there. I would recommend you not to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. It's to crowded and hard to see. I would recommend you to take the train from Paddington Station to Windsor and enjoy the changing of the guard there. It's a 30 minute train ride. You could tour Windsor Castle, walk to Eton and tour Eton College, walk down to Windsor Great Park and have a picnic lunch and enjoy the fantastic view of the Royal residents in the Castle. The Long Mile which runs thru the park is the private road for the Royal family, this is what they use to enter and leave the Castle. We have seen many Royals while in the park.
I have been to Ireland 6 times, Scotland twice and England once. In Ireland, I would add the Ring of Kerry, Muchross House, plus the Cliffs of Moher on the West coast. Definitely the Book of Kells in Dublin. South of Dublin is Powerscourt Gardens. South of Cork is Kinsale, a lovely resort town.
If you really want to treat yourself, stay at either Dromoland Castle or Adare Manor (not far from Shannon)for your actual birthday (or just have dinner there). Expensive, but you will feel like royalty. You can off set the expense by staying at B&B's the rest of the trip.
Scotland and England will definitely cost you more than Ireland because of the exchange rate.We stayed in Dunblane, Scotland and took the train into Edinburgh and Glasgow. It was much cheaper than staying in the bigger cities. Look into getting tickets for the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh online. It is in mid August and held in front of Edinburgh Castle.
Don't forget Northern Ireland. Must sees: Derry (aka Londonderry) and their museum about "the troubles" and the city wall; the transportation museum near Belfast (didn't think so much of the folk museum, though.); the Antrium Coast; Bushmills and the rope bridge;the giant's causeway; then take a 1/2 day to dip into Donegal. I spent a week there this past summer and could have spent several weeks - or a lifetime! Have fun!
Think about getting tickets to last performance of year of Edinburgh Tattoo. Really spectacular! My sister and I and a cousin went to this years. But be warned! Tickets are expensive and not easy to get! Also it is late and quite cold!! Transportation from the Tattoo can be a pain because couldnt get cab. Had to take bus and didnt get back to hotel til 3:30-had to catch a 6:00 train. Stay near town. But not at Ardmillon Hotel=was really crappy!! and lied about available ground floor rooms-there are none. Check visitScotland site. Also visitLondon has really good plane fares now because their fares include taxes.
Jameson is still being distilled in Midleton, near Cork/Cobh. I'd vote with those to say to skip the "tour" in Dublin, as well as the Guinness tour. And I would definitely go back to Waterford and Cashel.
Seven days to split between Scotland and London is not a lot of time. Inverness is great, but then you miss Edinburgh. If I only had three days for Scotland I would go to Edinburgh and take at least on day trip. The day trip would be either go to Stirling and see the Castle and Bannockburn and steep myself in the history of Wallace and Robert the Bruce or a driving trip to the Trossachs or into Perhshire. Edinburgh is wonderful--the castle, the museum of Scotland and I love the Georgian House. You can go to Sandy's Bells and here music or as someone suggested get online and book the Tatoo. BTW if you want to do the Tatoo, book it the minute tickets become available. They sell out fast. Personally, I'd do either London or Scotland.
If you're going to be in the west, Doolin in county Clare is well worth a stop for one night, or even two. It's a teeny little town (doesn't have its own bank, a travelling bank in an RV with a satellite dish pulls into town on Thursdays) that's renowned as THE center for traditional Irish music (flutes, bodhrans, drums that had to be "hidden" as potato baskets when traditional Irish anything was outlawed). The server at the bar had an American accent so we asked her where she's from: N Dakota. She and her husband are there for three years while he works on his dissertation on Irish music. The only thing to see or do in Doolin is to hear music, but it's located near the Cliffs of Moher, Galway, the Burren, etc. Check it out http://www.doolin-tourism.com
You also might consider an overnight to the Aran Islands--rugged, beautiful, holds a sad history of native Irish.
Another suggestion for Ireland: try to find a ceidligh (pron. KAY lee). It's a community dance--as in event, not a set of steps to music. We saw a flyer at a grocery store and, since it was that night, we decided to go.
It was at a free-standing community hall in the middle of nowhere. We had to drive past fields that had fog settling into them, with a nearly-full moon rising behind. It was a fund-raiser for a new steeple--never did find out if it was the Church of Ireland or England, oh well! The hall was filled with community members aged 5 to 85--we stuck out has strangers but not for long! They did dances in sets of four--four reels, then a break, four waltzes, then a break. We had NO idea what we were doing but joined anyway. At halftime, they brought out tea (china cups and saucers, no styrofoam nonsense) and homemade pastries.
You have to be on the lookout for these--completely untouristy and local and worth it. It was the high point of my trip.
Kerry, This is hard isn't it with only 2 weeks. It can take a long time to see Ireland there is so much to see. If you're at all Irish Dublin is a must. Trinity College, The G.P.O., Kilmainham Gaol. The Guiness tour is only necessary for those of us who consider Guiness one of the food groups. Have a drink at The Crown. The Rock of Cashel is a must. Powerscourt Gardens are just south of Dublin. Plus I agree with a previous poster about Muchross House. Cobh and Kinsale are also lovely. If you're planning to go any further north than the Cliffs of Moher by now you're running out of time. I love Edinburgh. Love it. During the Festival it is really busteling. Be sure to see the Castle, it's worth half of a day at least. For a great and not inexpensive dinner, dine at the Witchery just outside the castle. Walk the Royal Mile, visit the gardens and Greyfriars Cemetery and the Former Yacht Brittania. If I was only going to be in London for a few days & wanted a day trip as well
part II I'd go to Windsor. The Castle is wonderful and after, have tea at the Crooked House. In London the Sherlock Holmes is one of my favorite pubs and I was glad to see that Sarah and her sisters had been there recently. About this time a year ago, it was shut. I have eaten both in the restaurant and in the pub and prefer the pub as much for the price as for the company.
Kerry, have you traveled before? if you have you are choosing the MOST US visited sites for your journey. do you want to feel these countries, or just walk around like you are at 'Busch Gardens'? DO NOT MISS the Ring of Kerry. Read up on all the places the others have recommended then make your choice. Of course you have a must see list - but beer is beer, whiskey is whiskey, and so are those tours...they eat up your time. Read the Go guides, Ricks guides and Lonely Planet. Watch this blog.
** recommend in Ireland: Ring of Kerry; Waterford, Cobh [aka Queenstown - where from the sounds of your name your ancestors may have departed Ireland for the US from]; Dublin; and Belfast.
*** recommend in Scotland: of course a day hop on hop off Edinburgh. The castle; Princess street; Leith Walk with all the wonderful seafood resturants; Stockbridge [in New Town] for the true flavor of the city. A day trip to Stirling; and some time for St Andrews [besides golf a wonderful small city for
for all] Several of the distilleries are now run by women in Scotland - Glenfidich for instance. A great tour.
The Tatoo is probably just about sold out for 2008 by now - housing is at a primo in August so you may want to look into a self catering flat in town. then you will not have to worry about 3 meals out each day.
Happy travels, and happy birthday - you will be on the 'other side' now.
Tattoo tickets go on sale in December 2007 for the 2008 performances. Thus, there is still time to get them, but you've got to move quickly.
If you are in Dublin, book a tour with Mary Gibbons to go to Newgrange/Knowth, the megalitic burial tombs. They are older that the pyramids and Stonehenge. To stand in the tomb at Newgrange, knowing others stood there 5,000 years ago is a powerful feeling.
The national museum in Dublin is fascinating. The craftsmanship displayed there is amazing.
We took a tour of Glasnevin Cemetary. Many of Ireland's heroes are buried there, such as Michael Collins, and Countess Markewicz. The many victorian carved tombstones and memorials are fabulous.
"Jameson & Bushmill & Guiness factories along with pubs in the Dingle Peninsula & of course the Waterford tour"
With the exception of Dingle Pen, avoid the rest. Lots of tourist traps in Ireland. Sore feet and not too interesting. Get off the beaten path and explore - that's where you find the real Ireland. On the path? Kilkenny, Dunmore East, Kinsale. Dingle pen-, Cashel, Glendalough. Some new areas that are interesting are in County Carlow. Every town seems to have an old church and castle