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First Timer with 22 Days in May - Need Itinerary help please


I'm a first timer to Ireland and will be there for 22 days in May.  Of course I want to see way more than I can fit in.  I've done a ton of research and now just need to fine tune my itinerary and was hoping for some help.  I'm trying to keep a reasonable pace and would like to limit the number of locations I overnight especially if they are only for one night.  My interests are nature/scenery, quaint/quiet little towns, and historical sites/ruins.  Of less interest to me are big cities and nightlife.

Based on all of the things there are to see and do in different areas, does this itinerary seem good for a first visit?

Arrive from Dublin at 6 am and drive to Kilkenny

1 night Kilkenny

5 nights Killarney (Beara, ROK, Dingle, Skellig Michael, Gap of Dunloe, Killarney National Park) - I almost feel like I need another night here

Here's where I start to struggle and really need help:

----------------breaking into more detail-------------

2 nights: Drive Killarney to Lahinch - See Adare, Bunratty, Loop Head, Cliffs of Moher, Burren, Mooghaun, Kilkee, maybe Scattery Island  

I'm considering cutting Loop Head peninsula and going to Galway instead but am not sure if Galway will appeal as much.

Day 9: Drive from Lachinch to Rossaveal visit Inismor then overnight in Clifden (4 nights)

Is it reasonable to do this in one day?

Is Clifden or Westport a better base for this area?

If I stay in Clifden do I change to 3 nights instead of 4?

Day 10, 11, 12 - See Connemara & Sky Loop Road, Killary, Omey Island?, Kylemore, Clifden Castle

Day 13 - Drive from Clifden see Westport and Achill to Sligo (2 nights)

Is it reasonable to do this in one day?

Would I be best to base out of Westport?

Day 14 - Sligo area

Is 2 days in the Sligo area good for a first timer or 1 day here and move a day to another area?

Day 15 - Sligo to Slieve League, Malin Beg, Glencolumbkille to Letterkenny

2 additional nights Letterkenny (3 nights total)

2 nights Portrush

For a first timer would I be best to limit this to one day and shift another day elsewhere?

2 nights Galway

1 night near Dublin airport

Thank you so much for any help you can provide!



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7Travelbug3, I will be following this post as I will be there for 27 days and would like to see how people respond to your post. I like what you have laid out and if it is feasible, I may use that to further plan my itinerary.
tresa

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Hey Tresa. Thanks. Glad to hear this might be helpful to you and enjoy planning your 27 days!

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Welcome to the forum. You have a good long time in Ireland but no matter how much time you have it is never enough.

Arrive from Dublin at 6 am and drive to Kilkenny
1 night Kilkenny * Will you be arriving after an all-night flight? If so, you may not feel like doing a lot on arrival day. Perhaps 2 nights in Kilkenny would be better if you want to see some things in the area.

5 nights Killarney (Beara, ROK, Dingle, Skellig Michael, Gap of Dunloe, Killarney National Park) - I almost feel like I need another night here. * I think I see some extra nights at the end of your itinerary??

2 nights: Drive Killarney to Lahinch - See Adare, Bunratty, Loop Head, Cliffs of Moher, Burren, Mooghaun, Kilkee, maybe Scattery Island
I'm considering cutting Loop Head peninsula and going to Galway instead but am not sure if Galway will appeal as much. * Galway is a large busy city so it does not sound like what you want.

Day 9: Drive from Lachinch to Rossaveal visit Inismor then overnight in Clifden (4 nights)
Is it reasonable to do this in one day? * Would you consider an overnight in Inishmore? It will take you at least a couple of hours for the drive, which will eat into your time in the Aran Islands. 

Is Clifden or Westport a better base for this area? * I think for what you want to see perhaps Clifden.

If I stay in Clifden do I change to 3 nights instead of 4? * Three nights will give you time for your sightseeing.

Day 10, 11, 12 - See Connemara & Sky Loop Road, Killary, Omey Island?, Kylemore, Clifden Castle

Day 13 - Drive from Clifden see Westport and Achill to Sligo (2 nights) 
Is it reasonable to do this in one day? * You can easily spend the whole day exploring Achill Island. Have you considered an overnight on the island? I know a wonderful guesthouse right on the beach.

Would I be best to base out of Westport?

Day 14 - Sligo area
Is 2 days in the Sligo area good for a first timer or 1 day here and move a day to another area? * Definitely 2 nights or more.

Day 15 - Sligo to Slieve League, Malin Beg, Glencolumbkille to Letterkenny

2 additional nights Letterkenny (3 nights total) * Fine.

2 nights Portrush

For a first timer would I be best to limit this to one day and shift another day elsewhere?

2 nights Galway * ?????

1 night near Dublin airport



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Welcome to Michele's Forum!  biggrin  biggrin

A few brief notes: 

"I'm considering cutting Loop Head peninsula and going to Galway instead but am not sure if Galway will appeal as much"

Loop head might be 'A Bridge Too Far', given your interest in Adare and Bunratty -- and the rest of your 'Wish List'.  You might be able to 'Squeeze it in' at the end of one of your days, but a lot will depend on the routes you take, sites you visit (How many and for how long).

Galway is a quirky, vibrant small city / big town with a youthful and energetic vibe.  I enjoy it, but it is NOT for everyone.  It IS a great base for North Clare, Connemara and the Arans, though.  The ferries and airline even offer a shuttle bus from town center for the Aran Trips.  SEE my note for Day 9.

"Day 9: Drive from Lachinch to Rossaveel visit Inismor then overnight in Clifden (4 nights) Is it reasonable to do this in one day? "  It's possible, but will require an early start and a longish day.  It also pretty much eliminates the option of 'Touring Your Way', as you'll be on a tight schedule, with NO time to meander or dawdle. Fortunately, there's a lot of daylight during mid-May.  The ferry typically departs Rossaveel about 10:30 AM.  You'll want to take the 5:00 PM ferry back, if you hope to reach Clifden before dark. There's also one leaving Rossaveel about 1 PM, but that cuts your time too short to enjoy Inis Mor.  http://www.aranislandferries.com/times_mor.php

An alternative is to FLY, from Inverin: http://aerarannislands.ie/times-rates/  It saves 30 minutes or so off transit time, each way, but their last regularly scheduled flight is at 4 PM.

The drive from Lahinch to Rossaveel is 217 Km along the N67 and you should allow 3 hours, to be safe.  Inverin is only about 10-15 Km shorter, so I would allow the same for drive time.  It will take you 1 - 1/2 hours to move on, to Clifden.

"Would I be best to base out of Westport?"  Not if you want to see the sites around Clifden that you have listed.  Plus, Westport would be a 2 + hour drive from Rossaveel, bypassing ALL of those sites.

Westport is a great base for Achill, though -- and a number of other terrific sites --



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Michele and Bob - Thank you so much for the info. I think what I'm having a hard time with is choosing between things. I recognize that I would love to see everything and I will likely be happy with anything that I see. It's just that not having been there, I don't know which choices to make and what is realistic based on travel times. I'm torn between planning that I will make another trip back and spending time going deeper into certain areas and saving others for a future trip. I think I'm trying to achieve a balance between the two and likely over analyzing everything :)

Any help you can provide in making choices is greatly appreciated and I've provided some below that I've been thinking about. Bob your advice on cutting Loop Head for a first timer is exactly what I need. I will take your suggestion.

An additional thing about my itinerary a bit that I should mention. My husband is required to be on a very restrictive diet (no dairy, starches, grains, wheat, sugar, garlic, onion - essentially can eat mainly meat, eggs, and veggies) that will likely limit our ability to eat out and potentially even eat at a B&B so we are planning we will likely have to do self catering and carry food with us place to place. We thought about cancelling the trip but decided that we will figure out ways to work around it.

 Will you be arriving after an all-night flight? If so, you may not feel like doing a lot on arrival day. Perhaps 2 nights in Kilkenny would be better if you want to see some things in the area.

Yes this will be after an overnight flight. If I were to spend two in Kilkenny, I'd need to take a night out of somewhere else. Need to figure out where. There was plenty around Kilkenny/Cashel that I wanted to see.

 I think I see some extra nights at the end of your itinerary??

I have 22 nights and think they're all accounted for but would love to find a way to add a day to Kilkenny or I'm going to need to make some cuts to what I do there.

 Would you consider an overnight in Inishmore? It will take you at least a couple of hours for the drive, which will eat into your time in the Aran Islands.

I've thought about it but am trying to limit my one night stays places. I've considered cutting this island completely out although I'm sure it's great to see. I think this is one of those choices.

You can easily spend the whole day exploring Achill Island. Have you considered an overnight on the island? I know a wonderful guesthouse right on the beach.

Again, trying to prevent too many moves.

 2 nights Galway * ?????

oops .... I meant Belfast :)

 

Here is what I'm trying to decide between:

Are there any of these things that you would choose to cut to make room for one of the other items on the list? Would you choose a second day in Kilkenny over seeing Inishmor for example? I've italicized the items that are already in the itinerary that I could cut to add in something else.

2nd day in Kilkenny

Antrim Coast - Tor Head, Cushendon, Carnlough, Carrickfergus

Additional day in Killarney for either Gap of Dunloe or Killarney National Park

Inishmor

Adare, Bunratty, Ennis, Mooghaun

Sligo area

Ishnowen Peninsula - Malin Head, Dunree Fort

Beara Peninsula

Overnight 1 night on Achill

I'm providing more detail and revisions my itinerary. This leaves 1 day available:

Day 1: Kilkenny (1 night, consider adding a second)

Day 2: Drive Kilkenny through Cashel to Killarney (5 nights - add more for Gap of Dunloe/Killarney NP)

Day 3 to 6: Killarney - Beara, ROK, Dingle, Skellig Michael, Gap of Dunloe, Killarney National Park??

Day 7: Drive Killarney see Adare, Bunratty, Ennis or Mooghaun? to Kinvara (2 nights)

Does locating out of Kinvara help here

2 or 3 nights?

Day 8: Kinvara - Cliffs of Moher, Burren, Galway if time

Day 9: Drive Kinvara to Rossaveal visit Inismor then overnight in Clifden?? (3 nights)

Day 10, 11: Connemara area & Sky Loop Road, Killary, Omey Island?, Kylemore, Clifden Castle

Does basing out of Leenaun area help with Day 13?

Do I add Day 12 here and do one on Achill?

Day 13: Drive from Clifden?? see Westport and Achill to Sligo (2 nights)

Day 14: Sligo area - Carrowmore, Carrowkeel, Ballyshannon, Glencar Waterfall

Day 15: Sligo to Slieve League, Malin Beg, Glencolumbkille to Letterkenny area (3 nights)

Day 16-17: Letterkenny area - Glenveagh, Poison Glen, Dunfanghy, Fanad Head

Day 18: Letterkeny area to Malin Head, Dunree Fort, Derry to Portrush (2 nights)

Day 19: Portrush - Giants Causeway, Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, Ballintoy

Day 20: Portrush to Tor Head, Cushendon, Carnlough, Carrickfergus to Belfast (2 nights)

Day 21: Belfast

Day 22: Belfast through Boyne Valley to night near Dublin airport

 

Thank you again for using your knowledge to help others!

 



-- Edited by 7Travelbug3 on Tuesday 21st of March 2017 10:31:08 AM

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Day 1: Kilkenny (1 night, consider adding a second)

Day 2: Drive Kilkenny through Cashel to Killarney (5 nights - add more for Gap of Dunloe/Killarney NP)

Day 3 to 6: Killarney - Beara, ROK, Dingle, Skellig Michael, Gap of Dunloe, Killarney National Park??

Day 7: Drive Killarney see Adare, Bunratty, Ennis or Mooghaun? to Kinvara (2 nights) * Play it by ear and you can always skip Ennis and Mooghaun.

Does locating out of Kinvara help here * Kinvara or Doolin would suit. 2 nights not 3. 

2 or 3 nights?

Day 8: Kinvara - Cliffs of Moher, Burren, Galway if time * Skip Galway.

Day 9: Drive Kinvara to Rossaveal visit Inismor then overnight in Clifden?? (3 nights)

Day 10, 11: Connemara area & Sky Loop Road, Killary, Omey Island?, Kylemore, Clifden Castle * You can get away with 2 nights in Clifden. Skip Omey Island. 

Does basing out of Leenaun area help with Day 13? * No.

Do I add Day 12 here and do one on Achill? * By this point you have picked up a day or two making an overnight on Achill possible.

Day 13: Drive from Clifden?? see Westport and Achill to Sligo (2 nights)

Day 14: Sligo area - Carrowmore, Carrowkeel, Ballyshannon, Glencar Waterfall * 2 nights and add Gleniff Horseshoe Drive. Not much to see in Ballyshannon. 

Day 15: Sligo to Slieve League, Malin Beg, Glencolumbkille to Letterkenny area (3 nights) 

Day 16-17: Letterkenny area - Glenveagh, Poison Glen, Dunfanghy, Fanad Head

Day 18: Letterkeny area to Malin Head, Dunree Fort, Derry to Portrush (2 nights) * I would skip the Inishowen Peninsula and Malin Head. 

Day 19: Portrush - Giants Causeway, Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, Ballintoy * I know you are trying for multiple night stays but look at a map. You will have to do a big circle to get back to Portrush on this day. You could consider staying along the Antrim coast rather than backtracking.

Day 20: Portrush to Tor Head, Cushendon, Carnlough, Carrickfergus to Belfast (2 nights) * What do you want to do and see in Belfast?

Day 21: Belfast

Day 22: Belfast through Boyne Valley to night near Dublin airport



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Thanks Michele. I finally feel like I'm getting there. 

Day 1: Kilkenny (1 night)

Day 2: Drive Kilkenny through Cashel to Killarney (5 nights)

Day 3 to 6: Killarney - ROK, Dingle, Skellig Michael, Gap of Dunloe, Killarney National Park (will likely skip Beara and plan for a future southern Ireland trip)

Day 7: Drive Killarney see Adare, Bunratty to Kinvara (3 nights based on Aran Islands from Doolin instead of Rossaveel - let me know if 2 nights would still be recommended)

Day 8: Kinvara - Cliffs of Moher, Burren

Day 9: Aran Islands from Doolin - Let me know if you think this works better. Read about a new high speed ferry from Doolin but need to look into it more.

Day 10: Kinvara through Galway, Spiddal and coast up to Clifden (2 nights)

Day 11: Connemara area & Sky Loop Road, Killary, Kylemore, Clifden Castle

Day 12: Drive Clifden through Westport to Achill (1 night)

Day 13: Achill to Sligo (2 nights)

Day 14: Sligo area - Carrowmore, Carrowkeel, Glencar Waterfall, Gleniff Horseshoe Drive.

Day 15: Sligo to Slieve League, Malin Beg, Glencolumbkille to Letterkenny area (3 nights) If I skip the Inishowen Peninsula and Malin Head would you move a day from the Letterkenny area to either Clifden or Westport area?

Day 16-17: Letterkenny area - Glenveagh, Poison Glen, Dunfanghy, Fanad Head

Day 18: Letterkeny area to Malin Head, Dunree Fort, Derry to Portrush (2 nights)

Day 19: Portrush - Giants Causeway, Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, Ballintoy Will look at places to stay along the Antrim coast rather than backtracking.

Day 20: Portrush to Tor Head, Cushendon, Carnlough, Carrickfergus to Belfast (2 nights)

Day 21: Belfast-Black Taxi tour, Crumlin Road Gaol, City Hall, St. George's Market if open

Day 22: Belfast through Boyne Valley to night near Dublin airport (1 night)

 

Let me know what you think about the change of moving the Aran Islands to Doolin and also if you would move a day from Letterkenny area if I remove the Inishowen.

Just curious, in the Westport area and north of there, besides Achill, I've struggled to find much info on what else is really recommended to see in that area. Wondering if you could give me some ideas of what key sights there are there? I see Ballycroy but wan't sure how that area compared to other areas or if there were other key things I'm missing that might make sense to work in for a future trip.

Thanks again for all of your help. These last few details really had me stuck and this is making me feel much better!



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You should know that the Skellig Michael trip is VERY weather-dependent -- and, NOT just due to rain.  Rough seas, on an otherwise perfect day can result in cancelation of the boats.

The same has also been true for the Doolin based ferries, as well.  Which Aran Islan?  There are three -- Inis Oirr, Inis Meain and Inis Mor.  Most 'First Timers' head to Inis Mor, but they each have their charms.  Inis Oirr is closest to Doolin.    http://www.aranisland.info/   

 



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Thanks Bob,
I am aware of the weather variability that factors in for those locations. I'm hoping that the multiple days will give options to potentially work around this. I need to take a look at the Aran islands further to determine which one and then worst case I could always do the drive up to Rossaveel still if needed to go from there.  

I've been thinking about a more drastic change to the itinerary cutting out the more southern part of the trip - Kilkenny, Killarney, ROK/Dingle/Beara.  While I know these parts are spectacular, and it kills me to cut them, I think that this would allow me to really see more in the areas that I'm visiting and plan a southern trip in the future that would allow me to spend more time in these areas along with the others that I've already cut (Kinsale, Glendalough, etc).  Part of me feels crazy for doing this since I know some people hit all of the major highlights in a two week timeframe and now I'm not doing that in three.  That said though, I do like the idea of going deeper into each area and then being less likely to plan to circle back in the future to these areas to pick up things that I missed the first time.  Seems to make both this trip and a second trip in the future easier.  Based on that thought, wondering how you feel about the below allocation of time, if you would shift any around or if you feel that some of these areas have too much time allocated to them now and if there is not enough to see/do in them to warrant this much time.  It seems like there is but I also do not want to have much down time either.


Sat May 6: Arrive in Dublin in am through Clonmacnoise to Ballyvaughan (4 nights)

Sun May 7: Adare/Bunratty

Mon May 8: Aran Islands from Doolin

Tues May 9: Cliffs of Moher/Burren

Wed May 10: Ballyvaughan through Galway up coast to Clifden (3 nights)

Thurs May 11: Connemara Area

Fri May 12: Connemara Area

Sat May 13: Clifden to Westport/Achill area (3 nights)

Sun May 14: Achill

Mon May 15: North of Westport

Tues May 16: Westport through Sligo (3 nights)

Wed May 17: Sligo Area

Thurs May 18: Sligo Area

Fri May 19: Sligo through Donegal/Slieve League to Letterkenny area (4 nights)

Sat May 20: Glenveagh/Dunfanaghy

Sun May 21: Fanad Head area

Mon May 22: Inishowen peninsula

Tues May 23: Letterkenny through Derry to Portrush area (2 nights)

Wed May 24: Giant's Causeway, Carrick-A-Rede, Dunluce, etc

Thurs May 25: Portrush coast towards Belfast (2 nights)

Fri May 26: Belfast

Sat May 27: Belfast to Boyne Valley - overnight near Dublin Airport (1 night)

Sun May 28: Depart Dublin in am



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There is NO right or wrong Ireland route.  It has been my long-held belief that there is NO place in Ireland that isn't worth a visit -- but, it's YOUR trip and only YOU can decide what sites are important.  The sad truth about extended trips is that they merely increase the difficult process of CHOOSING.  You can never 'See It All'. 

My last trip was 18 days on the ground and I only visited Galway, Cork, Killarney and Dublin areas.  After more than 20 visits (each between 8 and 28 days), there are still parts of Ireland that I haven't visited and more than a few that I've given only passing attention to.  Remember that Ireland is a whole island, roughly the same amount of square miles as the US state of Indiana --  filled 'chock-a-block' with a history that stretches back over THOUSANDS of years.

It's the reason why so many on this Forum are repeat visitors.  biggrin  biggrin

As Michele often says, "You won't miss what you don't see".  This is particularly true if you rush through, just trying to check off a location from a list -- and fail to enjoy what you DO get to see.



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