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Trip Report: Heart of Ireland

We did this shorter Ireland tour back-to-back with the Best of Scotland. It was excellent as our sixth RS tour, but I'd recommend the longer Best of Ireland tour for people who want a broader experience in the country. Three nights in Dingle was the best part of the tour with great food, music, and the wonderful peninsula landscape. There was less time to see Dublin, and people should add some days there to see the important sites. ONE BIG COMPLAINT was a very short time allowed to go through Trinity Library, which is often very crowded and almost requires aggressive behavior to see the Book of Kells in a very small space. Recommend your tour guide get there at the opening to beat the crowds. The following Dublin walking tour was rather bland when there are plenty of historic sites in the city.

Bill in SoCal

Posted by
106 posts

Thank you for your report. Did you like the Best of Scotland tour? Did you take the ferry or fly to Scotland?? I am thinking of doing this same tour combo. Thanks.

Posted by
43 posts

We took a couple extra days in Edinburgh and flew to Shannon for the Ireland tour. That fit with the schedules of the tours and was necessary to really see more of that city. You could also do it in reverse and spend more time in Dublin. Two nights in an important city is obviously not enough. We also spent time in London for a couple days before and after these tours and took a leisurely train trip up to Edinburgh that was a fun and relaxing way to watch the English countryside roll by. Booking early for the Virgin train made the price quite affordable and we stayed in walking distance from Kings Cross.

The 10-day Scotland tour was quite enjoyable and a good introduction to Scottish history, the conflicts with England, Brexit issues, etc. We generally prefer the longer tours that let you bond more with the tour members and get a deeper look at each country. The full Edinburgh day was focused on the castle and Royal mile, with dinners and walks in the New Town (Georgian) area. I thought the stop in Culcross was uninspiring and would have preferred more time in St. Andrews where there were three sites on my list, plus lunch. The Kenmore visit was a nice quiet spot compared to the city and included our own bagpipe and haggis introduction. Unscheduled, we also saw bagpipes and kilts at two local weddings and later from a high school group in Oban. The time in the Highlands was the best part of the tour with sheepdogs, Loch Ness, Culloden, and Cawdor Castle as highlights and the rough country around Glencoe giving a good feel of the countryside. Oban on the west coast had a fun whisky tour, great seafood, and the boat/bus ride to Iona. The time on Iona was limited, so you should be content with grabbing a very quick lunch. Some tour members stayed on for more time on their own to see other places, in particular if they had Scottish ancestry. We had a couple more nights in Edinburgh to see Holyrood Palace, the Parliament, etc.

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43 posts

Not having Scottish or Irish ancestry, we were content with these two shorter tours as introductions to these two lands, but anyone with an Irish focus would probably prefer the Best of Ireland tour.

Bill

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920 posts

We are doing the same two tours in april 2018. 10 days in each country (Ireland / Scotland)

tour April 15 to 22 for Ireland and April 23 to May 2 for Scotland.

Looking forward to both of the tours.

Posted by
69 posts

we are deciding between the scotland and ireland tours. other than length of tours do you have any suggestions? seems like you can offer apple to apple comparison. thanks.

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43 posts

Unless you have an ancestral connection to one place or the other, I’d favor the longest tour your budget and schedule will allow. This gives you a deeper look at the people, land, and history, and a better connection with the people in your group, which is one part of the overall experience. We enjoyed the Heart of Ireland tour very much, but it was over very quickly, covered a limited part of the country, and we were still learning some names and faces in our group. While only two days longer, the Best of Scotland covered more ground and gave a better view of the country and history. The 14-day Best of Ireland tour would be best, if Ireland is your choice. Whichever you choose, I’d recommend more days on your own in Dublin or Edinburgh to see the important sites that aren’t on the tour. Enjoy!

Bill