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So many possibilities, so little time.......

New York City, New...
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So many possibilities, so little time.......

We ( my husband and I) are headed to Ireland in July ( hubby just sprung the idea on me!) and I have been reading this forum for days straight and only feel more overwhelmed. I am hoping to have 10 days, so that will leave us 8 days to explore and two as designated airport/travel days. I am certain that I dont want to waste time circling back to our point of origination, so I would prefer to arrive and depart from dublin and shannon, but dont know which would be best for which. We plan on renting a car, and beyond my wish to stay somewhere grand for one night, I am looking at the bandb route, or even a self catering. I would like to see a bit of city life (dublin, maybe cork?), but I am not terribly into touristy type things - ie. I can skip the blarney stone. A little shopping might be nice, but isnt required and I would really like to take a day and rent some bicycles, have a picnic. The aran islands are of interest to me, some historic sites/ruins, and a good place to have a pint and hear some traditional irish music. Anyone have any suggestions? I tend to overplan for trips and end up exhausted. Id like to see as much as possible, without feeling (too)overwhelmed. Any help would be appreciated!

County Clare...
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for County Clare, Aran Islands, Bunratty, The Burren
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1. Re: So many possibilities, so little time.......

"so I would prefer to arrive and depart from dublin and shannon, but dont know which would be best for which."

I would suggest that you arrive into Dublin, and hire a car when you are ready to leave the city. Shannon is a stress free zone and takes the hassle out of a departure.

I would also suggest that you spend some time at the end of your holiday in north Clare; Doolin, Lahinch or Ballyvaughan - and take the ferry over to the Arans and spend a night there. You can also take the option to 'cruise the cliffs' on returning to Doolin.

http://www.cliffs-of-moher-cruises.com/

Doolin and Kilfenora are both reliable for pubs & trad music.

Edited: 05 February 2010, 09:36
Dublin, Ireland
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2. Re: So many possibilities, so little time.......

Some suggestions to get you started.......

Fly into Dublin and out of Shannon. Spend 2-3 days in Dublin - 1-2 exploring the city where there's lots to see and do in a relatively compact area. Then spend 1 day exploring County Meath, Ireland's Valley of the Kings just north of Dublin. The main sites there are Bru na Boinne/Newgrange, 5,000 year old megalithic passage tombs, five centuries older than the pyramids in Egypt, the Hill of Tara - ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland, and Trim Castle. Then leave Dublin heading south or south west (depending on where you decide to go) via County Wicklow, the Garden of Ireland (see the Top Questions about County Wicklow section on the County Wicklow Forum) for suggestions for things to see and do. The most important site in County Wicklow (and one of the most important and most visited in all of Ireland) is St. Kevin's monastic site at Glendalough.

You won't need a car in Dublin and it's not a good idea for lots of reasons (check out the Top Questions about Dublin section on the Dublin Forum for reasons why - click on 'How can I get around Dublin?'). There are lots of transfer options from Dublin Airport to the city centre and elsewhere in the city and it's easy to get around the city centre on foot or by using the extensive network of fairly inexpensive public transport (bus, tram, train). There are also a number of HoHO services operating (we'd recommend the Dublin Bus service if you decide to use one).

You'll find plenty of suggestions for things to see and do in the Top Questions about Dublin section on the Dublin Forum. The majority of the most popular sights and attractions, as well as the best pubs, restaurants etc. are in the city centre, with the majority located in the south city centre so we'd definitely recommend staying in the city centre. There are lots of recommendations for hotels and other accommodation in Dublin in the Top Questions about Dublin section - 'Where can I stay in Dublin?'. Have a read and just post again if you need any more information about a location or a particularly hotel. There are no real 'no go' areas in Dublin city centre but we'd recommend avoiding hotels in Temple Bar (party central for tourists) and Harcourt Street (lots of clubs popular with locals and visitors) where it can be very noisy until very late.

The city centre is compact so while the south city centre has the lions share of sights, attractions, pubs, restaurants, etc. the north city centre is only a stroll away. You'll find maps and information about the scale of the city centre in the Top Questions about Dublin section.

There are a number of companies offering day trips to County Meath and various combinations of popular sights are visited. You can find recommendations for day tour companies if you do a search on the Dublin Forum. You'll also find information about day trips from Dublin in the Top Questions about Dublin section. Staying in a centrally located hotel will also put you close to the tour pick up points in the city centre. If you do want to visit Bru na Boinne/Newgrange (highly recommended) we'd suggest booking a tour with one of the companies which can guarantee you access to the tomb - space is restricted so therefore are numbers and July can be a busy time. You could check out Bus Eireann or Mary Gibbons tours, both of which have very good reputations and receive very positive feedback.

http://www.buseireann.ie/bubble.php?id=174

www.newgrangetours.com/newgrange-tara.html

When it's time for you to leave to Dublin to head off on the rest of your trip, we'd recommend heading back to Dublin Airport to pick up your car. While some car rental (called car hire in Ireland) companies claim to have depots in the city centre, we only know of one (Thrifty in Lombard Street) and the city centre depots the other companies refer to are usually in the suburbs which usually means a taxi ride to pick up your car. There are a number of reasons why it's easier to head back to DUB to get your car:

- there are lots of transfer options from the city centre back to DUB

- virtually all car rental/hire companies operating in the Republic of Ireland will have desks/depots there

- their opening hours are much longer than their city centre or suburban counterparts

- it is much easier to navigate away from Dublin from DUB rather than through the city centre, regardless of which direction you are heading. Dublin Airport is adjacent to the M50, Dublin's orbital motorway (beltway) which has exits to all of the major routes around Ireland. This is a much less daunting option, especially when driving a strange vehicle on the 'wrong' side of the road.

Once you've had a chance to check out the Top Questions about Dublin section, just post again if you need any more advice or help with your stay in the capital.

Manchester, United...
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for County Galway
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3. Re: So many possibilities, so little time.......

For this type of one-way circuit itinerary the best route is always ENTER Dublin and EXIT Shannon for the reasons highlighted already :-)

New York City, New...
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4. Re: So many possibilities, so little time.......

Thank you so much! I hadnt even thought of traveling North from Dublin. Most that I have read just go straight south and towards the west. The tombs definately sounds like something I would be interested in. In a new development, it turns out a family friend actually resides in city center Dublin and has offered up a guest room ( and Dublin tour guide services!!!). This may help my budget into keeping us there the ten days I was hoping for! I still would like to have one night in a nice accomodation at some time during our trip. I am looking for somewhere nice, not 5 star, but decidedly Ireland. I dont want to feel as if I am in the US. If anyone has any suggestions for that please pass them on. As far as accomodations for the Western portion of our trip, I am still trying to determine if having a "home base" in a self-catering would be best, or just hopping around to Bed and breakfast as we go. Has anyone done both? I would love to hear pros/cons. Also, I came across some info on the skellig Islands. Would anyone choose this trip or suggest staying with the Aran isles? While I know I would definately like to see the Cliffs of Moher and do one of the rings ( dingle, Kerry) I dont want to be in line with a string of motorcoaches and tourists so suggestions of anything off the beaten path are appreciated as well. This site is invaluable, and I thank you for the time youve already given to my questions!!!!

5. Re: So many possibilities, so little time.......

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