We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

First trip to Ireland, many choices where to start.

Whitehouse Station...
Level Contributor
24 posts
14 reviews
Save Topic
First trip to Ireland, many choices where to start.

This is my dream and first trip to Ireland. I have been reading different forums and Itineraries and still can't decide which direction to start. Here are the facts I have so far. I will be traveling with my husband, in and out of Shannon, I have 11 days to tour, I have rented an automatic to pick up at Shannon, will start my touring Oct 3rd. I def want to see Galway, Aran Islands, Connemara, cliffs, Ballyvaugham and the burrern,Dingle, ROK, Killarney national park and Ross Castle, Kenmare over to Kinsale, Blarney, Cashel, Adare and possibly if time permits Kilkenny and Dublin. I just don't know how to start. Should I go Shannon to Galway and head down the west and around or should I Start Shannon to Killarney do the ROK Dingle, Kinsale, cashel and do Galway at the end. Do I need to book every night at this time of year ? I want to relax on this trip and not have to make a destination because it is already booked. Can I wing it a little. My last night is booked in Burranty that is all I have booked so far. I do know where I want to stay in all the places I mentioned, I just don't know which route to go. Also am I realistic in all I want to see in 11 days. Thank you so much in advance I need a push to get me going so I can finalize this trip.

Moosup, Connecticut
Level Contributor
1,533 posts
123 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: First trip to Ireland, many choices where to start.

My first suggestion would be to get a map of Ireland; pinpoint the areas you've listed and develop a route and timetable. 11 days does seem doable, Try to book at least 2nights/to minimize stress and maximize enjoyment. If you read the posters, it would seem smaller hotels/B+Bs provide more personal experiences.

Then access www.discoverireland.ie Discover Ireland is the Official Site of Failte Ireland the Irish Tourist Board. Tourism Website for accommodation, attractions, activities.

www..heritageireland.ie -Interactive maps and information on parks, monuments, gardens, inland waterways, and national cultural institutions. Also read "Top Questions" on right side of the forum page.

There are far too many tour companies to list but some of the few are www.exploringireland.net, CIE, Vagabound, Wolfhound, Tauck, Brack, Globus,

Cork, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Ireland
Level Contributor
13,393 posts
369 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: First trip to Ireland, many choices where to start.

Heimlich, for the route and most of the places you are proposing to see, the most practical flight arrangements are as follows:

Fly into Dublin and out of shannon. In between you do the U shaped southerly route, taking in Galway on the way which is a little off route but worth it if you have the time, so this would essentially be:

Dublin, Cashel, Kinsale, Killarney (incl Ross Castle & some of ROK), Kenmare, Dingle, Adare, Cliffs of Moher, Ballyvaughan, Burren, Aran islands, Galway, Connemara.

However, I can already see that this will be far too much for eleven days unless you want to spend most of your time in the car. You need to decide now what you REALLY want to see.

Here is what the above itinerary might look like

Dublin 2 days

Cashel, Kinsale 1 day

Killarney, Ross Castle and some of ROK 2 days

Kenmare 1 day

Dingle 2 days

Adare on route to Doolin

Cliffs of M, Ballyvaughan,, Burren, Aran Islands 2 days

Galway and Connemara 2 days

That's a total of 12 busy days. Note, I have not included Blarney Castle as I just can't find a practical place to fit it in. You might fit it into your Cashel, Kinsale day, but then that does not leave you much time to tour Kinsale. Similarly for Kilkenny.

Option 2 would be to fly into Shannon and out of Dublin. Then reverse my busy itinerary as outlined above.

I love all the places you mentioned. You do need to pair back. Are there any places on your list that you could miss this time? Let us know.

Dublin
Level Contributor
1,850 posts
159 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: First trip to Ireland, many choices where to start.

Hi there. If coming to Ireland for your first time is your dream trip, there is a danger that your proposed itinery could become a nightmare. I think you are trying to do too much in 11 days - it sounds like a whistle stop tour "been there, done that", without giving yourself any time to relax and enjoy the places you are visiting.

Firstly, you are landing in Shannon, which is on our west coast. One group of places that you want to see - Galway,Connemara,Aran Islands, The Burren and Ballyvaughan are to the north of Shannon. Most of the others are to the south of Shannon, with Cashel, Kilkenny and Dublin to the east, with Dublin in particular on our east coast.

I think you are trying to do too much travelling in 11 days, some of which would entail backtracking between the places north of Shannon and those south of Shannon - and the roads would not be great, between most of those locations.

You would need at least one full day for Galway city, and to appreciate Connemara you really should spend 2/3 days travelling around it - and you will not be able to go fast on the roads out there.

There are three islands in the Aran Islands group, so you are likely just going to be able to see one of them - that will be a full day trip anyway. You can get to the islands by ferry from either the Galway coast or from Doolin (which is the nearer to Shannon and the Burren) on the Clare coast. You would need to check which islands are serviced from each location.

So, you could opt to go north from Shannon, see the Burren, Cliffs of Moher, get the ferry from Doolin to one of the Aran Islands, call in to Ballyvaughan, continue to Galway city, then out to Connemara - and you really are talking about 8 days for that - if you really want to enjoy it and embrace it. From Galway city, you can easily get across to Dublin by motorway (some of it is tolled) in 3 hours, and spend a few days in Dublin. To get back to Shannon from Dublin, there is a motorway (some of it tolled also) to Limerick (allow 3 hours travel time), which is only a short distance from Bunratty, where you are staying on your last night.If you wished, on the Dublin/Limerick journey, you could take a different route, so that you could visit the Rock of Cashel, but in that case you would not have motorway all the way to Limerick, but nonetheless it is a reasonable journey.That would take up most of your 11 days.

Likewise if you opt to go south for Dingle, ROK, Killarney etc, you could easily spend 7/8 days taking those in. Adare would be on your route to Kerry, in my opinion, it would not require a lot of time, it is a small place. The ROK is a full day trip - if you are doing it, go in an anti clockwise direction, as that way you will not be coming up against the tour buses and having to pull in all the time to let them go by you, and personally, I think the views from the anti clockwise direction are better. Dingle and the Dingle peninsula require at least 2/3 days. Killarney, a day. Then you will need a day for Blarney and a day or two for Kinsale and the surrounding area. When you are in Blarney/Kinsale, Cork city would be nice to visit for a day also. Depending on how much time time you would spend in this area, getting to Dublin, might not work, unless you are leaving from Cork city, in which case there is motorway( again, partly tolled) that would have you in Dublin in about 3 hours.

I think I would say to you, to forget about Kilkenny, as it is not really convenient from either of the areas that you would like to visit.

I think if you try to do everything on your list, you will be fairly tired after all your travelling, and will need a holiday to recover!!. But more importantly, you would only be glossing over each of the places - which might be all that you want, and that's fine, but if this is your first time to Ireland, I would suggest that you pick either north or south of Shannon, so that you will be able to see things at a more relaxed pace - and want to come back to Ireland again, and again, and again.

Where would I go - I honestly can't say which is better than the other, there are all worth a visit. I hope I haven't confused you too much, but I do think that 11 days is not enough time to see and enjoy all the places on your suggested itinery.

I hope this link will open for you. I planned you entire journey on Google Maps - it will give you an idea of where the various places are, that you would like to vist, in relation to each other -

http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Shannon,+Ireland&daddr=Doolin,+Ireland+to:Ballyvaughan,+Ireland+to:Galway,+Ireland+to:Spiddal,+Ireland+to:Clifden,+Ireland+to:Galway,+Ireland+to:Dublin+City,+Ireland+to:Cashel,+Ireland+to:Limerick,+Ireland+to:Dingle,+Ireland+to:Killorglin,+Ireland+to:Waterville,+Ireland+to:Kenmare,+Ireland+to:Blarney,+Ireland+to:Kinsale,+Ireland+to:Cork,+Ireland+to:Shannon+Airport,+Shannon,+Ireland&hl=en&ll=53.884916,-8.267212&spn=2.114255,5.795288&sll=52.596375,-8.267212&sspn=2.17887,5.795288&geocode=FVdNJAMdh4R4_ylFNVuM1EFbSDGgeTGXqccACg%3BFfD1KAMd1Ohw_ylL9fPjWQdbSDGw_jGXqccACg%3BFa-CKgMd8Wl0_ymvNeVOZaFbSDGw1zGXqccACg%3BFcXkLAMdfOF1_yn_Wy1alZNbSDGBUkkKRBsrAw%3BFUlxLAMdKvpx_ynXgSuMVrpbSDGQIjKXqccACg%3BFeYtMAMdUxpn_ynpYu9KsyRaSDFwljGXqccACg%3BFcXkLAMdfOF1_yn_Wy1alZNbSDGBUkkKRBsrAw%3BFWj3LQMdml2g_ykvrCfqgA5nSDGgcTGXqccACg%3BFehXIQMdHZeH_yln5SMM6MtcSDHA6TGXqccACg%3BFTGWIwMdq118_ykTUVQfYVxbSDEwczGXqccACg%3BFfakGwMdFVBj_ymRSZwkx_tPSDEAzDGXqccACg%3BFWcjGwMdP59q_ykjlnN3wkVFSDFgezGXqccACg%3BFerSFgMds8lk_ymzvwXOnY5PSDGAyzGXqccACg%3BFc6TFwMdZb9t_ykZnfwIq2xFSDHwFzKXqccACg%3BFalmGAMdIEd9_ynzwXfibpFESDFAyDGXqccACg%3BFUj6FAMd2vF9_ykrAdKY-2FESDFw7zGXqccACg%3BFRDmFwMd0b1-_ylhub6RCJBESDHQxTGXqccACg%3BFUsHJAMdxN53_yHc-CSwBcPzaw&mra=ls&z=8

Whitney, Texas
Destination Expert
for Ireland
Level Contributor
12,492 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: First trip to Ireland, many choices where to start.

i agree with the prevous posters...you are trying to cram in way too much for only 11 days....i would suggest skipping blarney, kinsale, cashel, dublin and kilkenny this trip....

otherwise as was stated your dream may turn into a nightmare of the first order....even eliminating those i mentioned still leaves you a dozen plus places on your wish list.....

remember, in ireland, less is more....of course you have to decide if you want to "see" some of the places on your list, or if you just want to spend your time in the rental car so you can say i was here, here and here and not have time to take a deep breath and soak up this wonderful country and have time for a chat with irelands best assest, the people....

sorry!

Whitehouse Station...
Level Contributor
24 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: First trip to Ireland, many choices where to start.

You are all so right on the money and I needed to hear it. I know this is why I haven't booked anything solid. My flight is already booked in and out of Shannon, at the time I didn't think I could fly in and out of 2 airports at a reasonable rate and I got a great rate in and out of Shannon. So I know now I should drop Dublin this time around, I also should really drop Galway, Conn, and the Aran Islands. Originally I was just planning on doing South of Shannon and then I got carried away. What I think I will do is the South of Shannon DIngle, Cliffs, Rok Kenmar, Kinsale and work my way up back to Bunratty and if I find I do have some extra time I will head up to Galway just for the City and take it from there. I am so glad I posted because what you are all telling me is what I really was feeling and needed to hear. Thanks again

new york
Level Contributor
957 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: First trip to Ireland, many choices where to start.

I'm sorry that you are going to be cutting Galway out of your trip... It is a lovely city. Perhaps, you can drive up your first night, explore the city then head down along the coast road, see the Burren, Cliffs of Moher, down to Kilrush and cross over on the ferry and head south from there. I'd think about it anyway... The drive up from the airport is an easy one so you can get your bearings on driving on the opposite side of the road.

Anyway, that is my two cents. How did you get such a great airfare to Ireland during that time of year... I've been searching for months! Nothing less than $850...from NY

Whitehouse Station...
Level Contributor
24 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: First trip to Ireland, many choices where to start.

I do really want to see Galway so what you just mentioned is what I think I am going to do. I am going to drive to Galway and hit a few spots along the way, stay at the Park Hotel and live it up that first night. I just hope there is music on a Monday night. My husband is a musician and would really love to see good music, I do have 11 days so I think Galway is a must, but I will prob pass on the side trips and head on down the coast. Just did yellowstone and Glacier last year so I did get a good appreciation of a National park. I got a great fair of $423 each round trip from Newark non-stop, with taxes it came up to $750 each. If I went a day earlier or later it was over $100 more, just lucky the days I wanted the fair was decent . Thanks again

Cork, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Ireland
Level Contributor
13,393 posts
369 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: First trip to Ireland, many choices where to start.

Heimlich, here is a suggested itinerary for you to think about:

Day/night 1 and 2 - Galway city and Connemara. There are a number of circular drives in Connemara that can be taken depending on how much time you have.

Day/night 3 and 4 - Ballyvaugan or Doolin (in County Clare) Consider a Burren Hlllwalk with Shane Connolly while there, also the cliffs of moher, ailwee caves, Doolin cave, and a coastal drive will be beautiful

Day/night 5 and 6 Dingle, County Kerry

Day/Night 7 - Kenmare, County Kerry, While there a little of the Beara Peninsula (in adjacent County Cork) can be explored.

Day/Night 8/9 - Killarney County Kerry

Day/Night 10/11. Kinsale, Blarney, Cobh, Cork city.

On the way back to Shannon from Cork City (90 mins drive), you could visit Adare, also be aware that Blarney Castle is on the road from Cork city to Shannon, so Blarney could be visited on your Cork to Shannon day.

Just a suggestion of course and can be easily tweaked. Why I recomend at least two days at each place is that it will give you time to settle in get to know your hosts and wll save you time in terms of packing/unpackiing, checking in /out etc.

Edited: 06 August 2011, 07:30
9. Re: First trip to Ireland, many choices where to start.

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 07 October 2012, 20:18