Every year, my wife and I travel to Europe. On every trip, we usually go through the ritual of booking the beginning of a trip and the end of the trip (accomodation wise). What happens between that is usually up-in-the-air.
Don't get us wrong, we plan accordingly and what I mean by that is we know where we want to be on specific days but as far as accommodations are concerned, that isn't usually done till we are in the country.
It has worked out for us but in the same sense, we don't book completely because we want to have the ability to change our itinerary on the fly without having any issues with any reservations we may have...of course, we have come across many close calls in sleeping in a car..lol.
Nevertheless, Ireland is our next destination. First and last night booked including airfare so I asked everyone here...
For 8 days..
Obviously we will start in Dublin. From there..traversing towards Shannon, what are your recommendations as to what to see in such little time.
I don't want to go too crazy but I don't mind doing day trips with Dublin as a base camp or somewhere else as a basecamp as we enjoy the trip and scenery towards Shannon.
Please take into account the amount of days that one should stay at a given town. I know that Dublin can be had in more days than 3 days or so but obviously I don't have the luxury of time. So what is doable?
Thanks in advance.
Obviously Dublin is great for nice sights, shopping, night life...Gendalough and Powerscourt are also nice scenic places easily done on a day trip from Dublin. There are nice walks in the Wicklow mountains too if that's to your taste.
On the way to Shannon...Kilkenny would be a good place to head for, about 1.5hours outside Dublin, with a nice castle and plenty to do. But if I was you, with such little time, I'd head straight over towards Shannon as soon as you feel you've seen Dublin and sample some of what the west has to offer. The Cliffs of Moher and the Burren are near there, and more than worth a visit. Ennis is a nice town where you could base yourself, close to Shannon and within driving distance of plenty of nice places, or Limerick city if you want a bigger place to stay. If you feel you want to see as much as possible, the ring of Kerry would also be doable, (doable in one day with a car, but a bit of a drive from Limerick), you could stay in Killarney for a night, there's lots to see and do there as well. If you do stay out west, I would recommend renting a car, as it will make travel and seeing these places much easier.
You don't say when you're arriving, we have snow at the moment and some of the roads (especially minor roads) are quite icy and dangerous, but that is not the norm at all . If you do drive, buy a good map and take your time on our small, windy roads.
Well firstly, like Niamh, I'd say the weather and timing of your trip will also determine what you decide to cover.
Dublin is a compact city, easily done on foot / local bus and can be covered in a few days. You won't need a car so I'd suggest picking up one only the day you leave and using that to head south/west. The do not miss things are obviously covered in most guidebooks but go to see the Book of Kells, Kilmainham Gaol, Guinness Brewery and just wander about the city. Most museums / galleries have free entry and you can check online before arrival re exhibitions. National Gallery and National Library are just around the corner from Trinity College, and Museum of Modern Art is beside Kilmainham Gaol.
There are some really good walking tours (depending on time of yr you are here) including a literary one (usually all free, you can check them out online) which are a fun and easy way of getting to know your way around, usually involving a pit stop in one or two pubs. For day trips, the dart is a cheap and cheerful way of seeing some of the coast along the city but the usual trip is down to see Wicklow (Powerscourt etc) or depending on what you are into, some people really enjoy Newgrange.
I'd agree with Niamh as well, Kilkenny is a lovely city and worth a nights stop but I'd be inclined to choose between heading south or heading west and then working back to Shannon. If south, I'd head to Cork, into West Cork and then through / around the ring of Kerry and back to Shannon. If west, I'd head to Galway and work down through the Burren / see the Cliffs of Moher etc and then into Shannon.
The roads are pretty good (in comparison to what they were !) so Dublin to Galway is about 2.5hrs and Dublin Cork about 3 to 3.5 hours so you can cover a fairly substantial amount of the country without too much pain.
Best of luck with planning the trip and remember that rain can come at any time! And also as we're still in a recession here, don't be afraid to bargain and bargain hard with hotels etc.
You MUST see the Cliffs of Moher, it will change your life. When I was there last we spent a few hours enjoying the Cliffs we stayed the night in Doolin (charming little town with lots of live music and several small and quaint places to eat and shop), which is right on the water and we got an amazing sunset with the waves crashing onto the rocks at the shore. If you have an extra day, wake up in Doolin and take a ferry to Inishmore (one of the Aran Islands) - a great places to walk around or rent a bike and see the sights - it's a tiny town and most people who live there speak Gaelic! We had a wonderful time there!
If at some point in between Dublin and Shannon you find yourself down south near Cork, zip down to Kinsale (just south of Cork, about a 45 minute drive) - it's the "seafood capital" of Ireland and a charming town. The drive is beautiful as well along the winding roads. The town itself has a bunch of shops, it's a bit touristy but very nice and with delicious food.
Finally, when you're in Dublin, take the train over to Howth for a few hours - or even just for lunch and a walk along the piers. It's really beautiful...
Dublin city centre is very compact and can be walked within hours (not accounting for time to go in/out different sights of course). So if you can spare 2-3 days, that's plenty. And if you're staying somewhere central, you won't even need a car so echoing what smmb said, pick up a car only on the day you're ready to leave Dublin and save yourself the money for a few days of car rental. Parking fees is not cheap in Dublin either.
My suggested route would be:
Day 1-3: Dublin
Day 4: Kilkenny
Day 5-6: Killarney and Ring of Kerry
Day 7-8: Burren and the Cliffs of Moher
You will have to backtrack a little, from Cliffs of Moher back to Shannon (since you'll be passing Shannon en route to Burren and the Cliffs of Moher), but it's very doable.
As mentioned by the others, things are pending on the weather. The big freeze is gripping the country at the moment, and it's not going to let up in the next week or so, at the very least. This country is not made to cope with snowy/icy conditions, and things are pretty much at a halt in many many ways.
Best of luck and happy travelling!
i love Dublin but would defo take a train to Belfast. 2hours away and has so much history. return train is 20euro if book in advance. ireland has alot of history but no nicer place than belfast and my other favourite place is cork. any questions about belfast....let me know. im living here now!!