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Two weeks in Ireland, driving a rental car

Birmingham, AL
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Two weeks in Ireland, driving a rental car


My wife and I and another couple will be visiting Ireland in June for two weeks. Based on a quick skim of travel guides, I listed the sights below that I'd like to see. I fully realize that this list is not do-able in two weeks. So I'm asking...what part of this list would you consider "not to miss", and which would you consider dispensable given our time constraints. I may not have the opportunity to return to Ireland, so I want to do as much of "the best" as possible while I am able. Thanks in advance for your help!!


Monastic ruins of Glendalough

Gardens of Powerscourt

Kilkenney/Rock of Cashel

Waterford (Drive through)


Kenare/Ring of Kerry (Willing to omit if it is true that Dingle is the "best peninsular trip").

Dingle Peninsula

Cliffs of Moher  (?Galway bus tour with Burren included)

The Burren


Aran Islands (Inishmore)...am ambivalent about this....low hanging fruit for omission

Connemara (Undecided re: Bus tour from Galway vs. car tour)

Portrush/Antrim Coast/Giant's Causeway/Rathlin Island (PUFFINS)



Derry/County Donegal

Arlington, Virginia
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1. Re: Two weeks in Ireland, driving a rental car

The problem with asking others for their opinions of "not to miss" is exemplified by your notation that you are ambivalent about going to Inishmore. That was one of the highlights of my most recent visit to Ireland and a place that I would rate highly as a "must see" (if I believed in "must see" places.)

You should choose your destinations based on your interests.

Birmingham, AL
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2. Re: Two weeks in Ireland, driving a rental car

Thanks for your frank comment. All of the items on the list were things I thought I would like very much to see. Believe me, I left off many things that I was less clear about. I would like to go to the Aran Islands, but of those things I've listed, I thought that destination was among the lower of my priorities. Would you please elaborate about why you feel I'd be wrong to miss this destination? It would really help me. Obviously, one never knows which of many places they've never seen will wind up being what they will someday recommend as their "not to miss". Just looking for a little help here.

Edited: 14 January 2013, 01:36
Alberta, Canada
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3. Re: Two weeks in Ireland, driving a rental car


Here's my trip report from May. I don't post it because I think anyone should follow my footsteps but because it has some detailed maps that show what's possible in a daytrip loop.

I would base yourself in a few locations & make daytrips in loops. This is advice given to me on this board &, after doing it, firmly believe it is the way to go. Less back-tracking & makes for a less rushed feeling than pulling up stakes & moving every day to new accomodations. Just my opinion.

I don't understand why you'd consider bus tours out of Galway when you have a car. Doing the Connemara Loop by car out of Galway is easily doable & there are many places to stop that no bus tour could/would ever go. Same with the Burren/Cliffs tour.

Waterford, Ireland
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4. Re: Two weeks in Ireland, driving a rental car

There is absolutely no point doing a 'drive through' of Waterford (presume you mean the city). Lots to see if you explore a bit, but just driving through its just another city.

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5. Re: Two weeks in Ireland, driving a rental car

Keith is right,

if you have a hire car it is a bit silly to go on a bus trip, you are paying for the car anyway, use it. Car is much the best way to see rural Ireland. With what you save on bus trips you can afford to have two drivers and take turns.

Calgary, Canada
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6. Re: Two weeks in Ireland, driving a rental car

Hey Neurorad,

I will be visiting Ireland in a couple months, and have never been before, so I cannot give you my firsthand experiences, but based on input I have received from others (on forums, and from friends who have lived/traveled to Ireland), I can offer this advice:

-Dingle Peninsula is a must, especially since you are going in June. Make sure you see the Slea Head while you're there. (Everyone says Dingle is a great place to stay)

-Consider Skellig Michael (to the southwest of Killarney, off the Ring of Kerry)...not to add to your list, but I have done a fair share of traveling to non-touristy places, and I have never come across something like this - unfortunately my travels to Ireland are the wrong time of year for this activity, as the boat guides operate from April-September.

-Have heard wonderful things about Cliffs of Moher

-And of course, if you have time for Northern Ireland, Belfast and Giant's Causeway, I've heard, are also musts. (Derry/Londonderry would also be worth a visit while in the area)... while there are reports of some protesting, etc, people are saying that it's confined to only a couple of streets, and has (so far) been quite peaceful protesting

Sorry I couldn't give you first hand accounts, but this is the info I've gatehred so far :) Have a great trip! No matter where you wind up, I'm sure you'll enjoy the people and places.

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7. Re: Two weeks in Ireland, driving a rental car

Hi Neurorad,

My wife and I are coming back for a second helping this September, so a couple of thoughts on your question.

Do you and your group have an interest in archeological sites/ historical ruins? If yes, then Glendalough and Cashel are must sees. To that I would add Clonmacnoise. In my experience you will not find the like anywhere else. Arguably, their beautiful settings make them worthwhile stops even if you're not that interested in the history.

My wife and I fell in love with Dingle. Can't wait to get back there.

We found the whole Cliffs of Moher experience to be, well - meh. Perhaps it was the fairly intense commercial experience of getting up to the cliff viewing moment along wth a few thousand of our closest friends? There is stunning scenery in so many other places that can be enjoyed in peace and solitude (excepting the odd sheep of course).

Spending more than one night in a place is the best advice you'll get here.

Of all the experiences we had on our first visit, coffee with Mazz O'Flaherty at her Dingle Record Shop discussing the virtues of the uilleann pipes was among the most memorable. This is my way of saying that you may go to Ireland to tick the Book of Kells off your bucket list but you'll come back for the people.

Happy Travels,


Edited: 14 January 2013, 14:17
Little Sutton...
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8. Re: Two weeks in Ireland, driving a rental car

Driving around Ireland can be a slow process so trying to see too much in a visit is IMO a crime,it is too beautiful a place to rush,it would be a real shame if you don't get at least a couple of visits in,we much prefer to take our own car with us,that way you can pretty much take & bring back what you want.

Personally even though you have the use of a car I don't find the bus a bad idea,if you enjoy a tipple or two you obviously don't want to be driving but also I find it relaxing not having to watch the road but enjoying the scenery instead.

Virginia Beach...
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9. Re: Two weeks in Ireland, driving a rental car

I am planning my fourth trip to Ireland right now. We always go in September. I have been to most of the places you have listed. Personally, for me, I would stay in Dublin for a few days. I took a bus tour to Glendalough. It didn't leave out any place I wanted to see and I didn't have to drive. Two years ago we left Dublin, drove to Powerscourt and then on to Kinsale. We stayed there a few days and drove the coast route to Dingle-gorgeous! Toured the dingle on the first full day with Denis Ryan. He is excellent and showed us so much, but is a fountain of information. His cd is great, too. You could stop at the Cliffs and The Burren on the way to Galway. Galway was just a day or two for me-too crowded. Connemara was my favorite of that area. We did part of a day at Kylemore Abbey and Gardens-very nice. We drove the southern loop from Rynvyle to Clifden to Roundstone and around that way one day. Clifden is GREAT! The next day we drove the north circle for us-Leenane, Killary Harbor, Cong, Ballinrobe to Westport, past Croagh Patrick, Louisburgh and down to Doo Lough Valley Pass-one of the most moving places for me. It's where the famine walk took place. This past September we went to Sligo and a took a day trip to Donegal and Slieve League-bigger cliffs than Moher. They are different and not crowded (in Sept). We also went to the Rock of Cashel on our first trip. The trip is certainly doable if you are never going back. I would go back to every one of those places. I am returning to Dingle this year. Have a great trip.

Virginia Beach...
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10. Re: Two weeks in Ireland, driving a rental car

Clonmacnoise is an easy drive from Dublin and also a favorite of mine. I also agree that Mazz at the Dingle Record shop is a gem. Cobh was a nice day trip from Kinsale. Also from The RIngfinnan Memorial Garden was really nice- a tree planted for each of the firemen who gave their lives on 9-11. Three or four days in a few places with day trips is the best way to go. Our trip in 2012 was fourteen hundred miles and it wasn't bad at all. The Sligo area is really beautiful, but then I haven't found a bad part in the whole country yet.