We spent a month traveling in Ireland in May and June this year ('13). With Rick's Ireland Guidebook and a Lonely Planet Ireland, my wife, 21-yr old daughter and I rented a car and traveled all over the island, staying at B&B's; mostly two-day stays, with a few one-night stops and some 3 day rest stops. The driving was challenging for the first few days--left side, ultra-narrow regional roads, twisty, with poor signage on the regional roads, though motorway driving was easy and fast. B&B's were mostly terrific--inexpensive, clean, and with helpful hosts. Irish scenery is beautiful, every community is steeped in history and the arts and culture on this island are incredibly rich, especially if you love music, poetry and the rebel spirit. The highlight, though, was the Irish people: warm, witty, friendly and always ready to chat or help. Outstanding memories of Dublin, Trim, Kinsale, Kenmare, the Dingle Peninsula, Inishmore (Aran Island), the Giant's Causeway, and Derry will last a lifetime. Favourite B&B's: Limestone Lodge in Kenmare, Albany Lodge in Portrush(near the Giant's Causeway), Ardawn House in Galway, Clai Ban on Inishmore, White Lodge in Trim, and Pearse Lodge in Sligo (not in Rick's book, but the Sligo area is worth a visit.)The Sea Gull in Kinsale also had a lot of charm, and Sean at Glenn-na-Smoll in Howth is a charming and helpful host. I'm happy to answer questions...
We reserved at the first B&B (Glenn-na-Smol in Howth)by email, and another one for a few days for Fleadh Nua, the music festival weekend in Ennis (Grey Gables B& B, which was very good. Ennis is fairly close to Shannon and good hiking trails). Otherwise we would phone ahead on the day previous or, if not, the morning of heading for a new place(an Irish cellphone or an Irish chip for your non-Irish one is a huge help. Being able to pay with cash is also helpful) But in May and early June , only a few B&B's were fully booked up. It is said that B&B's fill up more in July and August. By trekking, do you mean hiking/backpacking? If so, I would expect you'll be in a lot of off-the-main-drag smaller villages and towns and the B&B's are less likely to be full, I would think. When B&B's were full, usually the owner could recommend a few others that weren't--and between Rick and Lonely Planet there are plenty listed, plus many unlisted ones are easy to find in Irish towns. And there are quite a few backpackers' hostels in Ireland, too.
Unfortunately I don't exactly have questions yet, since I'm just starting to plan 6 days in Ireland next June. We will do the Shannon-Dublin (or Dublin-Shannon depending on plane fares) trek and hopefully won't have trouble finding B&B's as we go. Thank you for your recommendations on those but did you have reservations before you left home?
Friends who just returned from the last two weeks of July in Ireland made no reservations except for their first night in Dublin. They did same day reservations or just drove village to village. Sounds wonderful.
Hi. I know prices might change, but how much do these BB's cost? Just the minimum and maximum, please. Also how much is a month's rental for a small car? And how much did your gas total for that trip? Approximations are fine. I want to stay a month in the smaller villages in Ireland, see the country side and and get to know the people. I'm not into drinking beer, but I'd love to have dinner in the local pubs. Also, how would you rate safety there? I will not be visiting North Ireland. I may be by myself or traveling with my sister. We are in our early 60's and this will be our first trip there. Thank you for any help.
Hi Mary Rick's Ireland book is a must buy-and-read (and Lonely Planet's a good idea, too). It lists prices for most B&B's, helps you plan and budget a trip, and will save you a lot of money and time. For a person on their own, B&B's range from about 30 euros ($40 U.S.) to about 75 euros ($100)if sharing with sister you might double those figures, as the B&B charge is per-person, usually, rather than per room. (That's because of the big breakfasts offered). We paid, for two, on average, about 75-85 euros($ 100-115) for very clean and pleasant but not fancy B&B's, and the included breakfasts will save you money on eating. Gas didn't cost much for our small rental car, as we got great mileagemaybe $250 for the month(arrange your car rental via internet from the U.S. as you'll get a better rental ratethru Expedia or Priceline or similar companies). Personal safety is excellent, I thinkmuch better than most U.S. cities, especially in the smaller towns and villages; though you might want to check the news if you're in a politically contentious area of either of the northern cities of (London)Derry or Belfast in the evening. If you prepare a bit and follow Rick's general advice (use a money belt, etc) you'll have a wonderful trip!
Mary, you might get more answers to your Ireland questions if you go to the To the North section of the helpline. This particular section is for reports on trips already taken. Good luck.