Travel Guide – Ireland
Where and When to go to Ireland
For the First-Timers & Seasoned Traveler
Deciding just where to go in Ireland for your first trip may be difficult. There are thousands of sites to see around that beautiful Emerald Isle. It’s the size of Maine, after all, and we don’t expect you or want you to try to see it all in one trip. That’s where the difficult decision lies: “Where do I go on my first trip to Ireland?” The answer isn’t easy, as we will surely not get to see everything on your bucket list. The good news is that airfare and accommodation are very affordable in Ireland, so you can go more than once!
For most folks, you have about one week to spend in this wonderful country, so we will pretend you have 7 nights. This is a nice round number to spend on your first visit, though we can always suggest more if you have the time. As for most folks, including ourselves, we believe Dublin is certainly worth 2 nights on your first visit and it’s most likely going to be your first stop as there are many flights in and out of the International Airport to the US and around the world.
If you plan wisely, you will arrive early in the morning and have all day to explore Dublin town. Most hotels don’t have check-ins until 2 PM or later, so you’ll need something to do anyway. Here’s our suggestion for your first day itinerary: take a private transfer to your hotel. There’s nothing like coming out into the arrivals hall to see the friendly smile of someone who know where the heck they are going and what they are doing. Have a driver take you to your hotel and drop off your bags at the front desk. Most likely, you won’t check-in yet, so it’s out into the city you go. If you’ve planned with an experienced Travel Advisor such as JetSetPilot Travel, you’ll have something planned like a hop-on/hop-off bus tour. While a little touristy, it addresses lots of needs such as orienting you to the city, the ability to be dropped off at most sites you’ll want to see throughout your trip and a designated driver if you end up too long at the Jameson Distillery Tour. Sites you can possibly see on day one or day two that we highly recommend:
- Trinity College & Book of Kels (do this with a college student if possible)
- Kilmainham Goal (Jail)
- Guinness Storehouse & Gravity Bar
- Jameson Distillery Tour
- Glasnevin Cemetery
- Irish Emigration Museum
- General Post Office
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral
- Christ Church Cathedral
- The Pubs/Temple Bar & Beyond
The reasons for going to these places are diverse and you can certainly find your niche (history, spirits, family) and follow that trail to your heart’s content. For now, we will leave this varied list and we can discuss what you would want to see when you call us (215-272-3221)!
How to Explore Ireland
There’s no one answer to this question and it may change as you become acquainted with the country, however, there are 3 means in which you can explore the countryside. Each has an upside and downside, but mostly upside!
- Self-Drive: We at JSP would have most rental cars delivered to you at your hotel in Dublin so that you can take it from there and explore Ireland via GPS. The truth is that the city will be a difficult way to start your driving lesson on the left side of the road. The good news is that once you leave Dublin, it’s amazingly easy to get around. We do highly recommend all drivers get CDW insurance for their cars.
- Train: Once upon a time, we would say no way to this option, but now you can get to many destinations with trains including Belfast, Galway, Killarney and Cork. The downside is once you get off, you are more or less stranded.
- The last way is the most expensive, but the easiest and that is to get a hired driver to take you around. Now, it is not as expensive as it sounds and you get your transportation and tour-guide for one price. You also will make the most of your time in Ireland, being most efficient (and again, you have a designated driver if you need it).
As for what you choose, we can have a friendly conversation about what is best when you call the professionals at JetSetPilot Travel.
Ireland for First-Timers
This is so difficult as there is much to see on the entire Ireland. From the Ancient East to the Wild Atlantic Way and Norther Ireland, you can go many different directions. You must come to terms that you most likely won’t see EVERYTHING you want to see on your first trip. (It’s a great reason to come back) So, for you first timers, here is our suggestion for your first time in Ireland:
- A nice stop in Kilkenny, staying one night, getting to know Kilkenny Castle, St.Canice’s Cathedral. This beautiful town has a great personality and great pubs and is the home of Smithwick’s Red Ale. It’s a perfect stop to not be overwhelmed with too much driving the first day. When leaving the next day, visit the Rock of Cashel, a wonderfully set castle on the top of a tall hill.
- You’ll be headed to Killarney, maybe our favorite destination in Ireland. Why? First, the beautiful town in set at the doorstep of a national park with great forests, mountains and lakes for you to explore. It also has some of the best nightlife in the country, boasting many pubs for you to hear some great music. It also is the gateway to the Ring of Kerry, which is a driving route along the coast with some of the most spectacular views. Stay here 2 nights!
- Coming back northeast to stay your last two nights, we suggest one of two special properties that keep you close to Shannon Airport, where an experienced travel planner would have you leave from if possible. Your last stay will be a castle stay/manor home stay. The two suggestions we offer are the newly re-opened Adare Manor or the newly renovated Dromoland Castle. Both are very unique properties and are worth a stay as they allow you the opportunity to drive to see the Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle or simply relax and enjoy a quiet village.
Like we said, you’ll be leaving from Shannon if we can help it. This will keep your driving down and make life easy. Please, call us at JetSetPilot to plan your Ireland trip. We know most of the hotel owners and have key relationships throughout the country that will make your trip that much better!
Ireland for Second….and Third-Timers
Oh, so you’re like us and have been to Ireland 13 times? Want to know our suggested routes and stops and places to stay? There’s new and old sites being developed every day in Ireland. We break the country down into regions here while trying not to get too detailed (we’d be here all day if we did). If you want to start planning in depth, give JetSetPilot Travel a call.
Wild Atlantic Way
This is the rugged west coast of Ireland along the Atlantic Ocean. It starts all the way up north, even further north than Donegal and stretches all the way down to Cork. Some inclusions you may have done before, such as Galway and the Cliffs of Moher, but some sites are relatively untouched, such as the comparable Slieve League cliffs up north, Ashford Castle near Sligo, the newly popular Skellig Islands (famous for its scenes on Star Wars) and popular golf courses such as Old Head and many, many more.
This is a newly formed route for tourism with many attractive inclusions. It surrounds Dublin and shoots south along the Western Coast of Ireland. It includes the majestic Powerscourt Estate just south of Dublin to Newgrange, a Neolithic site along the lines of Stonehenge, there’s Waterford as we move south and the amazing crystal factory and tour as well as JFK’s eternal flame and also an amazing emigrant ship in New Ross.
Starting with it’s capital, Belfast, there is so much to do! The Titanic Museum is an interactive experience rather than a place just to look at artifacts. The Giant’s Causeway is the famous site where the giant, Finn MacCool, made a bridge to Scotland to fight another giant. There’s the new rope bridge (Carrick-a-rede) that takes some guts to cross. There are also many tours in regards to Ireland’s “Troubles” when there was a civil war in the country not long ago (and to this day in politics, but no fighting).
We wish there was more time to elaborate, but you’ll just have to call JetSetPilot Travel to learn more and to start planning your Ireland adventure. You’ll find that Ireland is closer and much less expensive than most of it’s European counterparts!