I'm looking for some advice. I'm planning a trip to Ireland next February lasting one week, for a group of about 4-8 college students (myself being one of them). We of course want to experience the social scene, but it would nice to see as much of the country as possible at the same time. We ruled out Belfast and Northern Ireland, so we don't plan on visiting there.
Anyway, I found cheap flights from New York to Dublin or Shannon, starting at about $400. We would like to spend a few days in Dublin... then I'm guessing rent a car and drive around... (would we be able to do this, I think the oldest is only 21?) Should we fly into Dublin, depart Shannon? Other way around? Round trip to Dublin? They're all the same price, so I need an idea of what places are "must sees" in Ireland and go from there before making flight arrangements.
We don't want to be rushing around seeing *everything*... we'd would like to leave with a fun experience and feel for Ireland as a country. How should we go about planning the week? Where should we stop/ travel to? It should be by car?
Also, how difficult will it be to get around if we don't rent a car? Should I make hotel arrangements now, and if so, how? Should I forget about traveling on our own, and try to find some organized tour that takes care of travel and accomodations? I'd actually prefer this, but its usually more expensive, they don't have as much freedom as to what we can do, and we probably wouldn't be travelling with many other people in our age group.
Anyway, sorry for rambling on, but if anyone could help out we would all greatly appreciate the advice. Thanks!
Dublin is a great great city. very expensive though.
U should really see Galway though. The West coast is amazing - the Burren and Cliffs of Mohair (I KNOW thats spelt wrong - sorry)
Ide recommend - Dublin (stay at the Avalon house)
- Galway - Ring of Kerry - and back to Dublin - and thats alot for a week!!
I did do an organized tour - which I really dont like to much as it doenst seem like real traveling - but in Ireland i didnot want to rent a car and to see alot of the best celtic/pagan sites u need a tour bus to take you. The tour was great for that bit but it turned into a big aussie party bus. Kinda felt like a Frat Party. and ur right - the average age is around 25-30.
Around Cork is nice too - Cork city i dont care for but Kinsale (just south of Cork City) is the kinda picturesque Irish coastal town with nice castle.
But may i ask - Why not Belfast? the North coast is stunning - Giants Causeway - and Belfast is a fun city. But i guess with a week - u should really see Galway and the west coast.
I just got back from Dublin myself, but only spent about 24 hours there so can't be of that much help. I just wanted to say that if you're travelling with 4-8 college students, you'd probably want to be doing things yourself, as the tours are generally not really geared up around that amount of people. Also, if you have a good deal on the flight, you'd probably lose out on that if you went for an all packaged kind of deal... You might be able to get a bus/accommodation kind of deal. I know there is a company doing this but can't think of them just now.
I'd fly into Dublin and out of Shannon or vice versa. The main reason being that it will definitely 'force' you to see some of the country. A rental car shouldn't be a problem in principle but you'll probably pay a ton if you don't have anyone over 21 driving.
I'll let some of the Irish hop on board and advise further
ps. If you're looking for a place to stay in Dublin, Avalon House has been voted one of the best hostels in Europe by other travellers. I stayed there this past week as it also has privates. It's got a good vibe and location and breakfast included (ordinary, but it beats nothing). No free (wireless) internet though, but that might just be me wishing for the best everywhere I go
Thanks for the tips. I checked with Avalon House and they have nothing available for the nights we'll be there. I did find some other places in Dublin from the link to that booking website, some as cheap as $15/person per night. Is it really that cheap? What's the catch? Do we room with other people or just our group in one room? Is it like that just in Dublin or all throughout Ireland?
Anyway I looked at some car rental agencies, and it looks like its going to be really expensive considering we would not be dropping off the car at the same place we picked it up, and also cause the driver is under 23. Plus the whole inexperience with driving on the left side of the road thing. So we really don't want to rent a car, but I'm not sure how else to work this out..... anyone have suggestions? Escorted tours?
And I'm not too sure why decided not to go to Belfast, haha, its just that we don't have a lot of time and there seemed to be a consensus that we'd like to see the rest of country.
I'd recommend flying into Dublin and then get a bus to Galway. From Galway you can get a Bus Tour to the Burren/Cliffs of Moher and also a Bus Tour to the Connemara. Both of these tours are day tours and they show you two of my own personal favourite areas.
One word of warning though: I don't recommend the Ui Neachtain Tours for the Burren tour, the bus driver was the most annoying person I've ever met and me and my friend ended up plotting to throw him off the cliffs. Imagine somebody who never stops talking and repeats every sentence immediately - 'On your left you can see Castle X - Castle X you can see on your left' - for a full day.
If you still have time, the Ring of Kerry is very scenic, and I am sure they do Bus Tours from Killarney.
I think these are the highlights of Ireland and should not be missed.
As for the Hostels, usually they have dorm rooms for about 10 people, but they also do 4 bed rooms as well. But considering the time you will be there, they'd probably have enough space and if you're a group of 8 you could very well end up having a dorm to yourselves.
But you'd do well to check with the hostels first if they are open outside the season, some of them only open from May till September.
mY first amazement, traveller8, is that Avalon house is already booked for Feb! I guess with 4-8 peeps - but even their regular size rooms hold 12! wow - but it is Feb Vacation for americans from Uni - right? crazy anyway - and further - 15$ a nite is somethin to behold in Dublin - ide be careful with that place! seems like a too good to be true!
But good advice on the airports - Fly to Dublin, fly out of Shannon!
great move. Dont rent a car, its a waste of money - parking and left side of road is too much hassle. Buses are fine.
and while ur in Dublin try my friend Bob's pickup line he used on a irish lassie!
Bob - "you must be Irish?"
Irish girly we met in the Foggy Dew - "Why do you say that?"
Bob - "Cause my P***S is Dublin'!!!"
get it? Dublin = Doubling? its all in the Phonetics....ugh... sorry
Wrong time to go to Ireland as unless you like getting drunk in Pubs the 6hr daylight,rain,sleet,snow,fog is not good for sightseeing or driving.
al de bes;bring plenty of winter woolies.
If you followed that link I sent you and then found Avalon house full, it might be because the property just hasn't uploaded availability for that time of year yet. Check for a few weeks later and if they don't have any availability then either, it is most likely that that's the reason rather than that they are fully booked out (it's big so I would doubt that!!). Something around 20 euro is more likely to be a standard price for a decent bed in a decent dorm room in Dublin (center) me thinks...
Heres an itinerary i suggested to a fella another time, i stand by it as being one of the best routes.......
Depends where you want to go.
5-7 days isn't a lot. In that timeframe you'll need to choose. I'm assuming that youre flying in from the UK (if you are, go Ryanair)...
Some people would tell you to spend a couple of days in Belfast and a few in Dublin and maybe try to get to Cork for a little while. All great towns in their own right, but you'll miss out on the whole idea of Ireland in my opinion.
If i could go back for a week i'd do this (West Coast Tour!).
1,Fly to City of Derry.
2,Hire a car for the week, one that you can take one-way (i.e. an airport rental company)so you can leave it in Cork.
3,Drive over the county border to Donegal and head either directly to the coast or south towards Bundoran (also at the coast), Killybegs is a great wee place to stop.
4,Head down through Sligo (stop in Drumcliff for the grave of W.B Yeats at the foot of Benbulbin mountain), visit Mullaghmore, a gorgeous little beach town (the food in the Beach Hotel is brilliant, try the surf n' turf!)take a boat trip (you'll meet someone in the pub thatll take you out cheap.
5,Make your way to Achill Island and tour the Atlantic Drive and make sure you get to Keem Bay (in my opinion, the most beautiful place in Ireland), and when in Mayo go to Westport and to Matt Molloys pub (Google this pub and you'll be dying to get in for a night of Guinness and some of the finest traditional music in the country).
6,South to Galway. Galway is a cracking little town with cobbled streets in many areas, great pubs and music. If you have time, get the little ferry out to Inis Mor (the largest of the Aran Islands) and take a trek up to the fort of Dun Aengus (as old as the mountain it stands on with some of the most beautiful cliff views around).
7,South to Clare, try to do a whistlestop tour of The Burren and the Cliffs of Moher, spectacular stuff.
8,Continue south to Kerry, the coastal areas of Dingle (see the porpoises!) and the mountain drives around Killarney.
9,Cork, Clonakilty for some black pudding(!)and another night on the Guinness in a pub called De Barras (i think!), its run by Jimi Hendrix's old bass player (whos name i keep forgetting and the music there is brilliant.
Fly back to the UK from there. Christ im jealous!!! I wanna go home!!!
p.s. If you have an extra day, fly into Belfast instead. Spend the day at The Giants Causeway and you could still make it to the coast of Donegal in a few hours.
If flying into Dublin I would recommend staying for one nite and one nite only. Do a bus tour of the city and leave. Its too expensive and not a true picture of Ireland. Get the City Link Bus to galway( cheaper bus service from o'Connell Bridge)
From Galway you can do day trips to Kerry, Connamarra etc. However Mayo and Donegal are also a must see so if you could rent a car in Galway and head for westport or achill then that would top off a great trip.
best of Luck.