I'm currently sitting at my computer trying to decide on where is the best places to visit in Ireland and how long I'll need to do it in. And I thought getting some advice from those of you who can give it would be the best place for me to start!
I'm thinking of spending about 10-14 days in Ireland and Northern Ireland during July or August. I want to do the main city's BUT I also want to go off the beaten track a little and discover the rural side of Ireland too.
So Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Belfast for sure! Londonderry?? Killarney??
Really, I'm in the reaseach and planning stage of my trip and any advice you can give me would be really appreciated!!!
Thanks a lot,
HI Kay - welcome to Ireland!
it;s hard to know where to start - but i give you a series of ideas/.thoughts - you can explore yourself on google etc - and then decide
first of all a couple of travel points - the island is actually quite small by international standards! - and it has a good rail and motorway system. - so railways can get you from one big city to another quite quickly. -
car hire is expensive though - and that's peak tourism time - so check that out/be aware of it - you dont need a car to get around the island - but if you want to get around the more rural parts you do.
You can divide the island into three parts
a) dublin - worth a visit and lots of things to do /see like any city - some history - a viewing tower at the guinness store -where you can sip a guinness and look out over the city.
there's a suburban rail system called the DART - this goes around the bay - and both ends of the bay are worth a visit - bray and howth or even further to greystones.
b) the west of ireland - galway a vibrant city - lot of buzz and close to connemara ( to the north of it - places like Cong etc, islands nearby - "aran islands" and south of it is the BUrren - a flat landscape - unusual flora and fauna - glaciers scraped away all the soil/land - so limestone based - , ferries to the islands etc etc - all good.
c) cork/kerry - cork is the major city - and kerry is the spectacular scenery ;
come prepared for any kind of weather - at its warmest probably mid 20s celsius - but it might well rain while you're here!!
if you're a diver - the west coast (galway) etc has some good sites
a walker - then dublin is between the dublin/wicklow mountains and the sea - theres a walk called the wicklow way which is pretty spectacular
powerwcourt waterfall, town house, djouce mountain - all worth investigating.
lot of music - both pub based - and theres an organisation called ceoltas ceoltoiri eireann - which is the place for traditional music.
there are local sports -hurling - played nowhere else ( apart from Irish emigrant locations in the US and UK) and gaelic football - so its worth going to a game if you';ve any interest in that - also a way to see the community at work - its very much parish based, amateur sports GAA is the organisation - their website will tell you more.
there';s a place close to dublin - which is an old burial mound/ground - one of these places where they constructed it so that the sun comes through during the solstice http://www.newgrange.eu/stonelight20.htm
well worth a visit.
Trinity college - Book of Kells - worth a visit! - dublin
Belfast /northern ireland - also worth a visit
the tourist hop on hop off bus worth doing - gives you a sense of the history of the city - including the titanic quarter etc - and also teh history of what we call the "troubles".
small city - easy to see.
it has the combined british/irish culture - so you get a sense of that when you're there.
mountains of mourne are south of belfast - that;s i suppose the go to place nearby
theres a valley called "silent valley" where there's a big reservoir - not spectacular but a nice place.
anyway - that's probably enough to start with!! - good luck with your research - and come back if you;ve any more specific questions
[ Edit: Post was automatically flagged but will allow the links in this case. ]
Burren National Park is worth seeing - spectacular landscape
The Cliffs of Moher near Galway need to be on your list too.
In Northern Ireland, Derry is definitely worth a visit. A don't forget the Giant's Causeway as well.
For reference, my itinerary in the two Irelands was
Dublin - 1 night
Galway - 1 night
Tralee - 1 night
Dingle - 1 night
Cork - 1 night
Kilkenny - 1 night
Dublin - 1 night
Derry - 1 night
Belfast - 1 night
Dublin - 1 night
That was waaaaaay too fast!! I didn't have much time and was trying to cram in as much as possible while I was there. The route I took covers a big chunk of the two countries though, which might give you something to work from.
If you add in an extra night here and there you'll easily fill 14 days.
yes good point by talesbackpack - the Cliffs of Moher definitely worth a visit - that fits with the Burren/Galway city area/visit. - and Clare - the county that has the Burren in it , is one of the homes of good music! -
For me the outdoors and the countryside is the best part of Ireland - the cities are nice but not the main attractions.
As said already, the cities are very accessible by public transport; the rural areas not so much, however. There are day trips to most of the main attractions from the cities and bigger towns by lots of different companies. But if you want to see the countryside at your own pace, and get away from the beaten track at all, then renting a car is the only way to go. The roads in the country can be windy and narrow, but any difficulties are worth it in my opinion!
The main tourist spots are definitely worth visiting - most have been mentioned already - Giant's Causeway, Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, Connemara, Ring of Kerry.
I never tire of the west coast.
Any of the Kerry or Cork peninsulas are remote with dramatic Atlantic scenery, but you'll always find a B&B or a pub with a fire and a hot bowl of seafood chowder to warm you up if it rains! In west Cork I'd highly recommend night-kayaking, incredible phosphorescence in the water (Union Hall, Lough Hyne) around the time of your trip - I went with this company http://www.atlanticseakayaking.com/.
Further north, the Western Greenway is a newly opened cycle route (no traffic) from Westport to Achill island - beautiful scenery - you can design your own trip. http://www.greenway.ie/
And if you're on the west coast you have to try surfing - Lahinch in Clare (near the Cliffs of Moher, great place to stay for a night) is good for beginners. If you're in Donegal/Sligo (Sligo has beautiful beaches, a good literary history and a good nightlife, Bundoran is near Slieve League http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slieve_League), the owner of this hostel - http://www.turfnsurf.ie/ - is one of the nicest guys you'll meet - he also rents surfing gear.
Any more specific questions ask away!
Not to be contradictory, but having both visited and lived in Ireland, I think renting a car is the way to go unless you are trying to be very budget friendly. In my opinion, you'll get more out of your time if you rent a car.
Also, I'll give you my two favorite areas of the island:
1. The North Antrim Coast
- Glenariff Forest Park
- Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge
- Giant’s Causeway
- Dunluce Castle
- Balley Castle
2. Killarney/The Dingle Peninsula/Dingle
- the towns themselves
- Gap of Dunloe (We biked it which was fabulous)
- Slea Head and the Blasket Islands
Best of luck!