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Bucket List Trip Itinerary: Ireland

1 Apr
Four Courts and River Liffey, Dublin

Four Courts and River Liffey, Dublin

Ireland has been on my radar ever since I wasn’t able to head over from Italy for a quick weekend during my semester abroad. Ever since then, I’ve been craving a taste of the Emerald Island. It’s no secret that Ireland has been facing some pretty serious financial issues and the outrageous travel deals that have come across my radar the past year is certainly reflective of it. Almost every week, a deal for a 5-7 night trip, including airfare, to Ireland for under $1,000 is featured in the Wednesday sale round ups from Travelzoo and Sherman’s Travel.

In light of these outrageous deals, I’ve been trying to plan a 5-6 day trip but it never seems to work out. I am hoping to get over there sometime late summer or early fall this year. Until then, here is my Bucket List Trip Itinerary for you to use if you decide to take advantage of the current steals available!

Bucket List Trip Itinerary: Ireland

Killarney, Ireland

Killarney, Ireland

Ideal length of time: 56 days (but can certainly make do with a long weekend)

Airports: Fly into Dublin; out of Shannon (or vice versa)

Flights: Ideally, you want to leave at night, or late afternoon, so you can hit the ground running when you land the next day in the morning (you also save a night in a hotel!). Prices for flights vary, dependent on the time of year, but you can often get the best deal by buying a vacation package from Aer Lingus, Dooley Vacations, Sceptre Tours, etc. This is one country that I’m actually supportive of vacation packages– I usually prefer to book everything on my own but there are some great deals out there that offer the traveler almost total freedom for booking what they’d like to do.

Sample of r/t fares from NYC:

In August: r/t Dublin only: $950

Labor Day Weekend: r/t Dublin only: $750

Being that many of these vacation packages offer r/t international flights and 6 nights in top hotels, we say go for those instead of paying more for your flight alone!

Ideal Quick Getaway Breakdown:

–                3 days in Dublin

Northern Ireland Coastline

Northern Ireland Coastline


–                2-3 days in Galway

Hotel Options:


–                O’Callaghan Mont Clare: from $128 per night; website

–                Hampton Hotel: from $124 per night; website

–                Trinity Lodge: from $121-131 per night; website

–                Croke Park Hotel: from $160 per night; website


–     Griffin Lodge B&B: from $75 per night; website

–     Imperial Hotel: from $155 per night; website

–     Jury’s Inn: from $135 per night; website

–     Park House Hotel: from $155 per night; website

Halfpenny Bridge, Dublin

Halfpenny Bridge, Dublin

Getting between Dublin and Galway:

–                Bus: takes about 3 hours

o      Citylink Bus: Costs 14 euros;

o      Bus Eireann: costs 13.50 euros;

o      Go Bus: costs 10 euros;

–                Train: takes 2.5-3 hours

o      Irish Rail: costs 25 euros;

–                Rent a Car: drive is about 4 hours, if you are daring enough to try it! (tip: remember to keep change on you for the two tolls)

Dublin Activities:

Dublin, Temple Bar


–                Visit the Guinness Storehouse: this museum is an ode to Ireland’s finest brew; a visit isn’t complete without a glass of Guinness in the Gravity Bar at the top of the building

–                Stroll Temple Bar: Grab a drink or catch some live music in this loud, touristy, trendy area

–                Dublin Castle: a visit to this 18th-century castle is a must-do activity; free tours available on Sundays and holidays

–                Trinity College: The country’s most famous university is also one of the most stunning areas, equipped with outstanding buildings and landscapes that date back to the 18th century. Be sure to take a peek at Book of Kells, one of the world’s most famous manuscripts, which is housed in The Old Library.

–                Lose Track of Time in Iveagh Gardens: Once known to locals as the Secret Garden, this stunning landscape is located just behind Newman House.

–                Christ Church Cathedral: This is Dublin’s most impressive church and is a famed landmark. It houses the tomb of Richard de Clare, the Anglo-Norman conqueror of Dublin.

–                Kilmainham Gaol: This prison was once home to centuries of pain, oppression and suffering through Ireland’s rocky road to independence.

–                Lounge Out in St. Stephen’s Green: People watch or relax in one of Dublin’s most popular parks.

–                Do some shopping on Grafton St.

–                Listen to some of Ireland’s best live music at Hughes bar on Chancery St.

–                See a football match at Aviva Stadium; schedule here

–                Cut out of Dublin a day early and drive to Kinsale: located 2.5-3 hours south of Dublin, this cute seaside town has some amazing restaurants and charming B&Bs (see Landfall House). Note: if heading up to Galway, you are looking at about a 5 hour train ride from Kinsale.

Galway Activities:

–                Spend a day exploring the city on foot: Galway is a fun, young college town, full of hidden treasures. Get acquainted with this cobblestoned city by mingling with the locals or students in one of its many pubs and checking out some great live music. You wont find many “tourist traps” here so just kick back and relax. There’s no need to rush while in Galway.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

–                Aran Islands: Galway is a great base for exploring the picturesque Aran Islands, located just off the west coast of Ireland. More info about the islands here.

o      Arrange a shuttle/ferry with Galway Tour Company for about 30 euros per person; more here

–                Cliffs of Moher: Stroll along (but not too close to the edge!) the incredible Cliffs of Moher in County Clare. The heart-stopping cliffs will have you feeling a pit in your stomach, no matter how adventurous you are.

o      Tour with Galway Tour Company costs 25 euros per person; book here

Getting to/from Dublin Airport:

–                Several buses are available (see list of bus companies above)

Getting to/from Shannon Airport:

–                Bus Eireann offers a shuttle for 13.50 euros but make sure the bus schedule works with your flight time otherwise you may have to arrange a private car transfer. You don’t want to get stuck in Shannon as there isn’t much there aside from the airport!

Booking Tip: If you are looking to book a trip to Ireland on your own during the summer, you are looking at upwards of $1500-$1800 per person when all is said and done. If you wait until late fall or winter, that price drastically drops. When in doubt, take advantage of some of the amazing packages offered each week via websites like Travelzoo and Sherman’s Travel.

Here are two Ireland deals from this week:

–                6 Nights in Ireland/$899 (+ tax): Including air to/from NYC/Dublin, one night at Four Seasons Dublin, two nights at Glenlo Abbey in Galway, two nights at Adare Manor, one night at The Ritz-Carlton Powercourt, car rental with unlimited mileage; select dates Sep-Dec; book by April 8; More details at Travelzoo

–                6 nights in Ireland/$899: Including r/t air from NYC, six nights in a 3-bedroom cottage at Bunratty Castle Gardens, car rental; travel July-Aug; book by April 8; more at ShermansTravel

Helpful Ireland Planning Links:

–                Top 10 for Ireland First-Timers (Lonely Planet)

–                Top 10 places to see a traditional Irish music session (Lonely Planet)

–                A Weekend in Dublin Slideshow (New York Times):

–                36 Hours in Dublin (New York Times):

–                One Week in Ireland (Frommer’s)

Happy Planning!

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