First of all, let me begin by saying I have been following these forums for quite some time now, and have learned a great deal of information from many of the regular contributors. I have found this to be an invaluable resource while planning a trip to Ireland, something I have always wanted to do. I am hoping that some of those same folks will weigh in here and give me some personalized advice.
I will be traveling with a companion end of July into early August, and we will be spending 11 days/10 nights in beautiful Ireland. We already have our flights booked, car hire reserved, and accommodations secured. Our destinations and dates are not flexible; however the details of our trip and what we do while in those places, as well as the routes we take between stops are all open for suggestions. What I am looking for at this point is general advice on our proposed itinerary, things to do, places to eat, and any “must-see” destinations that are along the way or not too far off course.
I am an adventurer, and to be honest I would much rather see a hidden gem on the road less traveled than the tourist trap that will be loaded with visitors. I will obviously do the required sights such as the Cliffs of Moher and the ROK, but I could easily be persuaded to see the natural beauty of the country instead of chasing dozens of castles.
I love seeing everything I can, and I have a bad habit of cramming so much into vacations that when I come back I need a vacation from my vacation. I am trying my best not to do that this time around, especially considering how I would be perfectly content getting “lost” in Ireland or having free time to change plans around if we decide to get adventurous. I want an itinerary, but a loose one that will not stress me out if I make a wrong turn and end up in the middle of nowhere.
Ok, enough with that, here is what we’ve got so far:
7/29 – Arrive Shannon Airport
7/29-7/31 (2 nights) – Galway
I love nature and landscape so obviously a trip to the Connemara is in order. At this time I plan on spending the other day in and around the city, but not exactly sure on the details yet. Looking for ideas...
7/31-8/2 (2 nights) – Doolin
Check out the Burren on the way from Galway. One day (weather permitting) I would like to go to one of the Aran Islands, though I am not sure which one yet. I think it would also be cool to see the cliffs from sea, however it seems the only combo trips they have are for Inisheer and the cliffs. From what I read, it seems I would enjoy Inishmore the most out of the islands. Open to suggestions on this. The other day we would likely just check out the town and the Doolin Caves, and perhaps the cliffs from land if we feel like doing that. Obviously both nights will be spent in search of the best pub to take in some of the traditional Irish music I look forward to.
8/2-8/4 (2 nights) – Killarney
I am really torn with what to do here. The problem is I would love to do it all. Being the outdoorsy type I would love the scenic routes to both the Dingle Peninsula as well as along the ROK. We could do Dingle on the way from Doolin to Killarney and ROK the following day, but this would obviously make for a lot of time on the road. We are young and energetic, so I am sure it can be done, but I also feel I would enjoy the town of Dingle and would likely want more time there.
It also just happens that I will be in Killarney for my birthday (8/3), so any suggestions on a good place to check out that night would be appreciated!
8/4-8/5 (1 night) – Cork
Don’t really have much of anything planned for Cork at this time. I know there is a lot to do in this area, but haven’t been able to decide yet. If you only had one day in Cork, what would be the things you absolutely had to do? Keep in mind, I will likely be off to a slow start considering this is the day after my birthday, which do I need to remind you…I am celebrating in Ireland!! :-D
8/5-8/6 (1 night) – Kilkenny
Same deal here, only one day and having a tough time making a decision. I’ve recently taken on a lot of responsibility since beginning to plan this trip, so Cork and Kilkenny is pretty much where I have left off. Open to suggestions on this one as well.
8/6-8/8 (2 nights) – Dublin
Our final 2 days will be spent in and around Dublin. I plan on taking some time to see Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains (we may do this on our way into the city from Kilkenny) and obviously some time sightseeing around Dublin. Most likely will do the Guinness tour as well as other attractions (on the bus tour). Anything else here is appreciated as well.
Any suggestions on any part of this itinerary are greatly appreciated. Also, if you have a recommended route to get between any of these points please share that as well. I am undecided at this point whether or not I will bring a GPS or just buy a road map or both. I would prefer not to use the GPS for the long hauls though, as it likely will just take us the shortest route which may not necessarily be the most scenic or rewarding.
Thanks in advance!!