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Has anyone traveled to Ireland?

lknvrb4

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 1, 2009
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3,737
My husband I would like to travel to Ireland next summer but want to visit the sites. Has anyone gone on a packaged tour vacation? I am trying to dig around and find the best way to go. I don't think either one of us wants to rent a car and drive around the countryside ourselves. Any input would be wonderful!
 

kenny

Super_Ideal_Rock
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No.
 

Porridge

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I'm a native so I won't be much help on getting you here, but I can offer loads of tips on stuff to do when you get here!

ETA I actually just had my friend from New York visiting here for the first time for the last two weeks, so I'm all up-to-date on tourist stuff right now - good timing for this thread!
 

kenny

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Sorry, didn't mean to be rude with my, NO.
It's my dark twisted sense of humor.

Actually, I'm jealous; I'd love to go to Ireland.
Enjoy and go to a pub and have one for me.
 

JewelFreak

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Sep 3, 2009
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Tons of tours available if you like that -- it's convenient in that they take care of everything. Ireland is easy to get around by train or car, though. And fascinating & FUN!
 
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Haven has, I believe.

I WOULD LOVE TO!
But I have a mild heart attack flying just a few hours.. I can't imagine that.

I might make myself go sometime though.

I swear I read that it was having safety issues though?? I dunno?
 

Porridge

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bean|1313702254|2993696 said:
I swear I read that it was having safety issues though?? I dunno?
:confused: Nothing I've heard of. You're not thinking of the recent rioting in England are you?
 

NewEnglandLady

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We did not do the packaged tour, but did see several of the tour buses. I honestly felt that renting a car and driving was much easier than I thought. Driving on the other side of the road became intuitive me quickly, so that was a non-issue. In fact, the narrowness of some streets was more of an adjustment that driving on the other side of the road. In the end, I think either way would be fun because Ireland is amazing no matter how you see it!
 
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Porridge|1313702373|2993700 said:
bean|1313702254|2993696 said:
I swear I read that it was having safety issues though?? I dunno?
:confused: Nothing I've heard of. You're not thinking of the recent rioting in England are you?
Nope! It was way before that... like travel wasn't recommended there for the time being?

Hmmmm... I tend to read news articles late at night and then forget where I read them!
 

Porridge

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bean|1313702585|2993707 said:
Porridge|1313702373|2993700 said:
bean|1313702254|2993696 said:
I swear I read that it was having safety issues though?? I dunno?
:confused: Nothing I've heard of. You're not thinking of the recent rioting in England are you?
Nope! It was way before that... like travel wasn't recommended there for the time being?

Hmmmm... I tend to read news articles late at night and then forget where I read them!
What, really?? I never heard anything about that!
 

zoebartlett

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We thought of doing a package tour when we went several years ago but we ended up choosing to drive ourselves and stay in B&Bs along the way. We did plan our trip out ahead of time though. We felt that we would be in control the whole time, which we liked. We could see whatever we wanted without being on a constant schedule or seeing things we would have skipped had we been on our own. Driving worked for us, but I've heard tours can be fun.

If you're interested in a dong a walking tour, I can ask a friend for info. on the one her family went on. She had a fabulous time and would do another walking tour in a heartbeat.
 

lknvrb4

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Zoe|1313702703|2993711 said:
We thought of doing a package tour when we went several years ago but we ended up choosing to drive ourselves and stay in B&Bs along the way. We did plan our trip out ahead of time though. We felt that we would be in control the whole time, which we liked. We could see whatever we wanted without being on a constant schedule or seeing things we would have skipped had we been on our own. Driving worked for us, but I've heard tours can be fun.

If you're interested in a dong a walking tour, I can ask a friend for info. on the one her family went on. She had a fabulous time and would do another walking tour in a heartbeat.
I like the idea of doing what we want when we want but have it in my head that we will get lost in the middle of nowhere. Did you find it easy enough to navigate around? I have only been out of the US once and it was to Cancun. So going is a huge deal to me.
 

lknvrb4

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Porridge|1313699390|2993636 said:
I'm a native so I won't be much help on getting you here, but I can offer loads of tips on stuff to do when you get here!

ETA I actually just had my friend from New York visiting here for the first time for the last two weeks, so I'm all up-to-date on tourist stuff right now - good timing for this thread!
In your opinion what are the best tourist places to visit, something that we should not miss?
 

zoebartlett

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lknvrb4|1313703245|2993721 said:
Zoe|1313702703|2993711 said:
We thought of doing a package tour when we went several years ago but we ended up choosing to drive ourselves and stay in B&Bs along the way. We did plan our trip out ahead of time though. We felt that we would be in control the whole time, which we liked. We could see whatever we wanted without being on a constant schedule or seeing things we would have skipped had we been on our own. Driving worked for us, but I've heard tours can be fun.

If you're interested in a dong a walking tour, I can ask a friend for info. on the one her family went on. She had a fabulous time and would do another walking tour in a heartbeat.
I like the idea of doing what we want when we want but have it in my head that we will get lost in the middle of nowhere. Did you find it easy enough to navigate around? I have only been out of the US once and it was to Cancun. So going is a huge deal to me.
My husband, then boyfriend, did all of the driving, and it was the first time he had traveled outside the US (and drove on the other side of the road). It was a huge deal for him too, and he did really well. We made sure to rent an automatic and that worked well for us since neither one of us drives a standard. It wasn't hard to find our way around. I honestly can't remember if we had GPS or if we just used Mapquest, but whatever we did use always got us to our destination in one piece. The best piece of advice that we got before we left was to take the travel time between destinations and double it. I don't think it was quite that bad, but if someone said that it would take an hour to get somewhere, we planned on it taking 2 hours, just to be on the safe side. That was our experience anyway.

I do think tours can be fun. You'll be able to enjoy the sights on the bus, and I'd assume that an employee of the tour company (and/or driver?) will be there to point out interesting things along the way. You'll also meet people from all over, which would be fun. I can see the benefits of either option. Either way I'm sure you'll have a fabulous time. Ireland is incredibly gorgeous, and the people are among the friendliest I've ever met.
 

Porridge

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lknvrb4|1313703376|2993727 said:
Porridge|1313699390|2993636 said:
I'm a native so I won't be much help on getting you here, but I can offer loads of tips on stuff to do when you get here!

ETA I actually just had my friend from New York visiting here for the first time for the last two weeks, so I'm all up-to-date on tourist stuff right now - good timing for this thread!
In your opinion what are the best tourist places to visit, something that we should not miss?
How much time are you planning to spend here? I'll just write everything I can think of, other people can add to the list and you can pick things that sound most interesting.

I recommend spending the majority of time on the west coast. Kerry is not to be missed. I would start off in Killarney (can recommend hotels etc if you like). A lovely thing to do is to rent bikes and cycle around the national park there. Or you can walk if you don't like cycling. There are lakes, forest walks, a lovely waterfall, a couple of historical sites (the ruins of an old cathedral etc). I love walking around Muckross House and gardens too (this is in the national park). Then I would drive the ring of Kerry. My favourite part is driving through the Gap of Dunloe, it's incredible. But it can be a tricky drive - very narrow and winding road. Look into a tour if you feel you'd be uncomfortable driving. Then I would head on to Dingle and do the Dingle Peninsula drive (particularly love the Connor Pass and Sleigh Head). A trip over to the Blasket Islands would definitely be worth it.

Then I would head for Tarbert and take the ferry over to Killimer, and drive the west coast of Clare. Some nice beaches and seaside towns there (I love Lahinch), ending up at the Cliffs of Moher. I would recommend visiting in the evening, around 7ish - it's quiet, parking is free, and the sun hits the cliffs, gorgeous! Also the Burren is nearby, and the Ailwee caves. Very unusual and interesting landscape - unique flora found here if you're into that.

I would spend a day on the Aran Islands, they're fantastic. Then I'd visit Galway - my favourite city in Ireland. Stroll down Shop Street and veer off left to Quay Street for the best pubs! You might google to see if the Galway Arts Festival or Race Week is on while you're there - lots of fun, but book accommodation in advance. Check websites for tickets. I love nearby Spiddal for pretty beaches.

Then I would head up to Westport. Beautiful spot, very nice little town. Clew Bay is beautiful. From there I'd maybe visit Achill Island. Gorgeous beaches and scenery - especially Keem beach, but the drive there is a little tricky if you're uncomfortable. If you're active, Minaun is a fun hike.

From there I'd do the coast of Donegal. Pick any spot - it's all stunning. I personally love Carrickfinn. Roads can get narrow and windy here however.

Then I'd go visit the Giant's Causeway in Antrim, and spend the night in Belfast. It's an easy drive from there to Dublin.

You'll probably either start or finish in Dublin. Fun things to see there are: the Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College, Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin Castle, Phoenix Park... bee* is the expert on Dublin, hopefully she'll take over here.

If you like to get active and outdoors, Glendalough is less than an hour from Dublin and is definitely worth a daytrip. There's historical sights, gorgeous walks, and a beautiful waterfall.

If you prefer cities, Cork and Kilkenny are great. Limerick has a bad rep (media hype) but it is actually a lovely city, and nearby Bunratty Castle and folk park is one of the best castles to visit in Ireland, in my humble opinion. You could check to see if the Cork Jazz Festival would be on while you're there, that's loads of fun. There are beautiful scenic spots outside Cork city too, I particularly love Bantry, Courtmacsherry, Fota Island, Clonakilty... there's a ton of pretty places nearby.

Well, that turned into an essay, but those are my highlights. I've left stuff out but others will definitely contribute. If I think of more I'll post again, and of course if you have any questions fire away.
 

Haven

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
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Messages
13,166
I've been to Ireland!

Here's the link to my PS trip report and some pictures:
https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/back-from-ireland-pictures.144263/

Here's the thread I made looking for tips, and I was not disappointed!
https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/one-week-in-ireland.139542/

As for planning your trip, I think you really have to figure out what type of places you'd like to visit and go from there. DH and I prefer rural to urban places when we travel, and we NEVER go on organized tours, so those things shape a lot of the decisions we make.

Are you an American? If so, I highly recommend Rick Steves' Ireland book. He writes the best travel books, in my opinion, and they're written for an American audience.

I find the Fodor's Forums to be incredible sources of information, as well. If I were you I'd spend some time digging around the Ireland forum. Look for trip reports, and threads looking for itinerary help first. They'll give you great information.
http://www.fodors.com/

I want to strongly recommend you do anything BUT an organized tour. I personally believe that organized tours function to maintain a separateness between you and the country and culture. It's just my opinion, of course. But think about your reasons for traveling, and if they include *experiencing* a new place, please consider planning and navigating your own trip.

Driving around Ireland was super easy for me because DH is the one who did all the driving. He hadn't driven a manual car for years and years before our Ireland trip, and he did really well with it. It took some getting used to for me in the front passenger seat, however. I constantly thought he was going to drive right into the wall, I won't lie. I got over it after the first couple days, though. The roads in Ireland are so well marked that we only got turned around once, and it was great because we found a random little town and made new friends. I bought a Michelin driving map on TGal's advice, and it was wonderful. (I still have it, I wish I could send it to you!)

My can't miss place would be Dingle. Deco was the one who first recommended it to me, and I fell in love with it. I actually want to move there, but that's for another thread.

All that being said, I think it's IMPOSSIBLE to have a bad time in Ireland, so whatever you do, you'll love it.
 

zoebartlett

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We'd love to see the southwest part of Ireland the next time we go. When we went, we flew into Dublin and spent a few days there. Then we drove south a little ways to...Wicklow, I think. Then we headed back to Dublin and then drove west to Galway. We spent a few days traveling around that area, and it was our favorite place. Galway is a gorgeous city, easy to get around in, and it's on the water. We also spent one day on the Aran Islands, too, which was nice (I'm drawing a blank on which island we visited). We ended our trip in Shannon and flew home from there. We did Bunratty Castle on one of our last days there, and I wasn't impressed, honestly. It's very touristy and although I've heard from others that it's a great place, I could have skipped it.

Oh, yes, the roads can be a little scary unless you're traveling on a highway. You'll swear there's not enough room for 2 cars to be on a road but you'll make it. You'll most likely run into sheep, which is kind of fun.

There are so many things I love about Ireland. I want to go back RIGHT NOW.
 

Colltee

Rough_Rock
Joined
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Messages
80
Porridge|1313705595|2993745 said:
lknvrb4|1313703376|2993727 said:
Porridge|1313699390|2993636 said:
I recommend spending the majority of time on the west coast. Kerry is not to be missed. I would start off in Killarney (can recommend hotels etc if you like). A lovely thing to do is to rent bikes and cycle around the national park there. Or you can walk if you don't like cycling. There are lakes, forest walks, a lovely waterfall, a couple of historical sites (the ruins of an old cathedral etc). I love walking around Muckross House and gardens too (this is in the national park). Then I would drive the ring of Kerry. My favourite part is driving through the Gap of Dunloe, it's incredible. But it can be a tricky drive - very narrow and winding road. Look into a tour if you feel you'd be uncomfortable driving. Then I would head on to Dingle and do the Dingle Peninsula drive (particularly love the Connor Pass and Sleigh Head). A trip over to the Blasket Islands would definitely be worth it.

Then I would head for Tarbert and take the ferry over to Killimer, and drive the west coast of Clare. Some nice beaches and seaside towns there (I love Lahinch), ending up at the Cliffs of Moher. I would recommend visiting in the evening, around 7ish - it's quiet, parking is free, and the sun hits the cliffs, gorgeous! Also the Burren is nearby, and the Ailwee caves. Very unusual and interesting landscape - unique flora found here if you're into that.

I would spend a day on the Aran Islands, they're fantastic. Then I'd visit Galway - my favourite city in Ireland. Stroll down Shop Street and veer off left to Quay Street for the best pubs! You might google to see if the Galway Arts Festival or Race Week is on while you're there - lots of fun, but book accommodation in advance. Check websites for tickets. I love nearby Spiddal for pretty beaches.

Then I would head up to Westport. Beautiful spot, very nice little town. Clew Bay is beautiful. From there I'd maybe visit Achill Island. Gorgeous beaches and scenery - especially Keem beach, but the drive there is a little tricky if you're uncomfortable. If you're active, Minaun is a fun hike.

From there I'd do the coast of Donegal. Pick any spot - it's all stunning. I personally love Carrickfinn. Roads can get narrow and windy here however.

Then I'd go visit the Giant's Causeway in Antrim, and spend the night in Belfast. It's an easy drive from there to Dublin.

You'll probably either start or finish in Dublin. Fun things to see there are: the Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College, Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin Castle, Phoenix Park... bee* is the expert on Dublin, hopefully she'll take over here.

If you like to get active and outdoors, Glendalough is less than an hour from Dublin and is definitely worth a daytrip. There's historical sights, gorgeous walks, and a beautiful waterfall.

If you prefer cities, Cork and Kilkenny are great. Limerick has a bad rep (media hype) but it is actually a lovely city, and nearby Bunratty Castle and folk park is one of the best castles to visit in Ireland, in my humble opinion. You could check to see if the Cork Jazz Festival would be on while you're there, that's loads of fun. There are beautiful scenic spots outside Cork city too, I particularly love Bantry, Courtmacsherry, Fota Island, Clonakilty... there's a ton of pretty places nearby.

Well, that turned into an essay, but those are my highlights. I've left stuff out but others will definitely contribute. If I think of more I'll post again, and of course if you have any questions fire away.
I'm Irish, from Dublin and what Porridge suggests is bang on. Don't miss Kinsale in Co. Cork - I think it's the prettiest town in Ireland. If you need any straight up advice from a Dubliner, let me know.
 

lknvrb4

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Thank you all so much!!!!! My DH and I talked last night about it and we have decided not to do an organized tour. We want to take it all in at our own pace and get a real feel for the people and culture. Porridge, I am going to print off your list and plan our vacation from that.Haven, we looked at your pictures last night and it made us even more excited, thanks for your insight.
 

nfowife

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Joined
Mar 15, 2011
Messages
544
We went to Ireland last May with our 2 little ones. We spent a week. It was wonderful! We flew into Cork, but out of Dublin. We did rent a car and it was not as difficult as you would think to drive. It's so much easier and the way the country is set up it's really essential to have transportation. Here's my report I wrote on Tripadvisor last year after we returned:
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186591-i88-k3614369-l26054224-Trip_Report_Dingle_Doolin_and_Dublin_with_2_little_ones-Ireland.html

If you do an organized tour, really carefully think about where you want to go, see, etc. I HIGHLY recommend Rick Steve's guidebooks and he might even run tours over there. Awesome travel guides with the basic things you need to see and what to avoid.

We loved Ireland, had a fabulous time there!! One of the favorite places we visited while living in Europe!
 

zoebartlett

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Messages
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lknvrb4|1313763061|2994216 said:
Thank you all so much!!!!! My DH and I talked last night about it and we have decided not to do an organized tour. We want to take it all in at our own pace and get a real feel for the people and culture. Porridge, I am going to print off your list and plan our vacation from that.Haven, we looked at your pictures last night and it made us even more excited, thanks for your insight.
That's great that you've made a decision. I don't think you'll regret it. There's SO MUCH to see and do, and I really think you'll love going at your own pace.

I had written about this in the thread that Haven linked above, but if you have time and are on the west coast, Kylemore Abbey in Connemara is worth it. The drive there alone is gorgeous.

http://www.kylemoreabbeytourism.ie/
 

Porridge

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Joined
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Messages
3,269
Colltee|1313720377|2993933 said:
I'm Irish, from Dublin and what Porridge suggests is bang on. Don't miss Kinsale in Co. Cork - I think it's the prettiest town in Ireland. If you need any straight up advice from a Dubliner, let me know.
Oh hi Colltee - nice to have another Irish person around here :wavey:

I can't believe I forgot Kinsale!! Definitely don't miss Kinsale. I did the boat tour of the harbour there last year, it was lovely.

Glad I could help Iknvrb4, hope ye have a great time. I loved having a visitor here last week and now I'm seeing the place through new eyes so I may be a little overenthusiastic about people coming to visit :halo:
 

bee*

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Joined
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Messages
12,170
The places that Porridge has mentioned are definitely ones to visit. Also in Dublin maybe go to the coast and go to Dun Laoghaire, walk the pier and get a Teddys icecream (they're so delicious). You can go for a drive around Dalkey and Killiney which are lovely places to get lunch and have a look around. Or you can go the other direction and go to Howth and get delicious fish and chips.
I'd definitely recommend Dingle and also if you drive the Connors Pass, definitely go to Cloghan and then onto Brandon-there's the tiniest little pub on the pier in Brandon and it's brilliant. DH also says it serves the best Guinness in Ireland. DH and I go down there on our holidays with our dog every year and we only got back to Dublin last week from Kerry. I love Kerry! Personally I'd skip Killarney and Tralee (never been a fan of either). If you're driving to Kerry from Dublin, stop in Adare-it's such a pretty little town.
This year DH and I stayed in a B&B in Ballydavid, Kerry for one night and it had the most amazing fish restaurant so if you like fish definitely stay for a night-it was called "the old pier". Don't order starters-seriously you should see the size of the dishes!!
I've just been on two weeks rotations in Wicklow and I was driving around with the vet for the whole 2 weeks and I'd forgotten how gorgeous Wickow is, especially if you're into walking. Glendalough is a great place to visit and you can see the round towers.

I'd definitely rent a car yourselves-it's easy enough to get around Ireland and you'll miss out on passing through so many little towns if you're going on an organised trip. My favourite tourist attraction in Dublin is Kilmainham Gaol. The Viking Splash tour is great fun and my friends and I have been on it a couple of times. If you're looking for a good pint in Dublin, the littlest pub (Dawson Lounge) does a great Guinness.
 

Blackpaw

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Joined
Jun 26, 2008
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2,469
Yay im glad you're not taking a tour :appl: ireland is super easy to travel, you'll have such a great time =)

Ive been a couple of times on account of my SOs family being Irish. They're from Westport, and ill second Porridge's recommendation for that area, its beautiful and oh so charming! Other places ive really enjoyed are Kinsale (i wouldnt miss it! and from there you can drive up the coast to the dingle peninsula, into county clare etc), the cliffs of moher, Achil Island, ooh like bee* said Adare is really gorgeous, and the ring of kerry of course...

Hmmm so here's what id do in order (just an idea of course! and assuming you have a week to two weeks):

Dublin (im not a huge fan so personally i wouldnt spend more than a day there, two max)
to Kinsale (id skip Cork, its nice but there are so many places to see!)
Drive through Kenmare up around the ring of Kerry, through Adare
Do the Dingle peninsula
Into County Clare, cliffs of moher
Maybe stop in Galway depending on time
Then by Kylemore Abbey up to Westport
Achil Islands if you can fit
And then back to dublin, or to save time if you could fly out of Knock that would be more convenient, the drive from west back to Dublin is bleh...

I dont tend to see much on each trip because we spend time with family, but next trip im hoping to get to the giants causeway so maybe thats a place to add if you have time/inclination!!
 
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