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I didn’t get around to that many sites, but I went from Shannon airport to Ennis (and a nearby wedding) to Doolin (and the Cliffs of Moher), the Aran Islands, and Dublin on bus and ferry. Galway would also have been easy. The country isn’t that big and pretty much every bus route runs multiple times per day; I got the impression that trains, on the other hand, are more trouble than they’re worth. I think sites like the Ring of Kerry might be harder. Good luck!
It is possible to take buses to the Cliffs of Moher and Blarney Castle. For the Cliffs, you probably have to take a bus/train from Dublin to Limerick, then Limerick to the Cliffs. There is a bus specifically for Cliffs of Moher. You have to look into it more for departure times.
As far as Blarney goes, you take a bus/train from Dublin to Cork. Then you catch a local bus from Cork to Blarney.
This is the bus company you would take from city to city. You need to click on Journey Planner and type in the going to and coming from cities. http://www.buseireann.ie/site/home/
For the Ring of Kerry, you have to take a bus to Killarney. We then took a tour bus. You may want to do that or rent a car. Just know you have to drive stick shift and you sit on the right and drive on the left side.
Hope this helps!
But strangely, the pedals have the same arrangement (clutch on the left, brake in the middle, gas on the right) and the shifter is the same pattern (1st in the upper left).
Or at least that’s what it looked like to me, but I wasn’t driving.
You still sit in the right side of the car. Instead of working shift with your right hand, you would be doing it with your left.
It is definitely possible to see all the great sights without a car. You can take a bus pretty much anywhere you want and from the main tourist areas there are guided bus tours daily. I highly recommend making it over to Galway and out to the Aran Islands. They are absolutely amazing. I know that Blarney castle is such a big tourist attraction but I warn you…the locals pee on it for fun. So visit at your own risk! There are plenty of other beautiful castles in Ireland, just so many in fact that you can see all you want and almost get sick of them.
I would say on average a round trip bus ticket from Dublin to Galway (so all the way across the country width-wise) cost be no more then 18 Euro two years ago. There are also plenty of clean, safe hostels. And it pays to book in advance, so keep that in mind.
Any more questions, just let me know!
The locals say they pee on it to scare people away. They don’t actually do it.
A friend of mine took an organized bus tour that covered all these major sites, but she felt the pace of the tour was too rushed and went back with a group of us and rented a car. That was my first trip and I’m so glad we had the flexibility and convenience of the car, though it was an expensive rental for a week. Part of the expense was that we rented an automatic transmission (nobody wanted to drive on the opposite side AND shift with the left hand). As for an additional place to visit in Ireland, consider the seaside town of Kinsale.
Sure, it is possible. But will it cost you more time? For sure! More money? Likely! Now don’t get me wrong- I’m a huge fan of transportation and on mainland Europe, I often opt for it because it saves time, money and hassle. I don’t think the same of the train/bus system in Ireland in many cases though.
Are you not wanting to drive because you think it’ll be costly? Don’t want to drive on the left side of the road? Or some other reason? I ask only because in my 1.5 years since I’ve lived here (moved from Seattle, WA) it may cost you more to get around by train/bus if you’re here for like a week than hiring (renting) a car. Driving on the other side of the road is bizarre but doable. And I’m not sure you’d get some of the awesome experience of driving around the beautiful small Emerald Isle, stopping in small towns and seeing the beauty beyond the top X tourist attractions that a bus tour might afford.
Check out the train and bus websites for pricing: http://www.irishrail.ie/home/ and http://www.buseireann.ie/site/home/. For example, it costs 61 Euro round trip (or return as they say here) to travel between Dublin and Cork. If I were going for a weekend, that might be ok if you only wanted to see Cork city. But me, I’d rather hire a car and go to Kinsale (amazing, gastro fishing village on the Coast in Southern Cork County) and drive along the coast from Kinsale toward Kerry County. And to hire a car for three days (priced this weekend for an example) it’s 86 euro. So for me, the choice as a first time visitor but knowing what I know as someone who’s had the chance to visit Cork County a few different ways, I’d rent a car and explore more than just the city.
Enjoy- and good luck!
I used the site Viator.com for planning my trip outside of dublin. They have a nice rail tours that last the day. You can easly plan your trip online. They Tour Guides are awesome as well!
Dublin is definitely do-able without a car.
But places like the Newgrange/Bru na Boinne and Hill of Tara will be far easier to see with a rented car.
Without a doubt, I will be renting a car next time I go to Ireland.
Also, if you get a chance to be in Northern Ireland, go to Giant’s Causeway. It was one of my favorite places to see. You are better off taking a car there because it’s about 2 hours north of Belfast.
Tour buses do rush you. I took one to the Cliffs because it took us to other places as well and the bus schedule wasn’t working out. I also took one from Dublin to Giant’s Causeway because all the hostels were booked in Belfast and we needed a way to get there. I wanted so much more time at Giant’s Causeway because it’s so beautiful. We didn’t even eat lunch because we wanted to walk around more.
Renting a car will also help you with the Ring of Kerry. Just make sure you go when it’s not rainy (about 5% chance it won’t rain ha) because it’ll be foggy.
Speaking of rain, don’t bother with the umbrella. It’ll blow inside out anyway. Take a nice rain jacket (not a poncho!)
The town of Cobh was so pretty. It’s where the Titanic last sailed from before it sunk. Our Irish friend drove us there. It’s south of Cork.
Galway is good for a day trip. Then you can head over to Aran Islands for a day. Make sure you get the boat schedule because I think the last boat back to Galway is 5:00.
Only do the factory tour of Waterford Crystal Factory if you are really into that. Otherwise it’s not worth the money.
For cheap places to stay, check out hostelworld.com Make sure you read the reviews so you don’t get stuck with crappy showers!
If you want to visit the rest of Europe, you can get cheap plane tickets at ryanair.com Try to fly out on a weekday. Also, they don’t like to leave on time so make sure you are prepared for delays.
I’ve been to Scotland, England, and Wales so if you are heading in that direction as well, I can tell you what to check out. :)
Yes you can access these places via actual tour buses or my preference through the national bus company: http://www.buseireann.ie/site/home/
Tickets are a good price and you can get to all these major spots via the bus. Also if you were to stay at certain hostels they will sell discounted tickets for certain tours. For instance if you wanted to go to the Cliffs of Moher, you would probably stay in Galway and take a bus OR just stay at a hostel or hotel in Connemara and get there via bus or hitch a ride with someone.
Hope this helped …
P.S. you will want to stay on the Aran Islands (Inish Mor is the most popular) for MORE than a day, trust me. Give yourself a few days to explore and enjoy the peace and fun of the locals.
Well I lived in Ireland last year and found that busses were the easiest way to get around. the train system is not that great there. To get to all those remote tourist locations your best bet is to find some brochures or even look in the internet for companies that do the sightseeing tours, becaus just a regular bus wont take you to some of those places. There are companies that will take you out there, maybe even provide food and definitely some history. you can always go to the ahren islands by ferry and hire a bike and ride it around the islan, very nice and beautiful. any other places that are off the beaten path you will most likely need a car. good luck! and have fun!
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