There are two common mistakes people make when planning a trip to Ireland, the first of which is underestimating how much there is to experience on such a small island and the second mistake is when these same visitors end up cramming too many activities, places and things to do into the one itinerary.
There’s many reasons for wanting to visit Ireland. Mine are all based on books. I’ve read so many historical romances set on the emerald isle and my favorite book series of all is set right in Dublin, so needless to say, traveling through Ireland is one of the things on my bucket list.
In case you’re interested, that series is called the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning and it’s about fae and Dublin and all things magical and mystical with a sense of realism mixed in. I’ve read this series over and over and over….
Travelling to Ireland is a very personal encounter and a journey into a modern world with the backdrop of a very ancient history. From the imposing sight of Blarney Castle to the stunning lakes in Glendalough, the Medieval City of Kilkenny to pure romanticism of Dingle Peniin Glendalough and the most harrowing tales in Kilmainham Gaol. Ireland is a destination of magical memories which linger long after you leave the Emerald Isle, and all of this without a mention of the majestic Cliffs of Moher.
Planning a trip to Ireland
Travel in Ireland doesn’t need to be hugely expensive. You can rent a fancy four wheel drive to combat dirt roads and difficult terrain but really, these roads don’t are uncommon in Ireland and the infrastructure is excellent. In this sense even a smart car would suffice and if the budget is tight, there are many alternative ways to travel in Ireland such as the public bus or with a local tour operator.
At this time, the last of these three options is surprisingly the most affordable way to travel in Ireland as tourism is so competitive in recent years the prices are often rock bottom. In fact, it is possible to enjoy a guided day tour from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher in Clare for less money than to take the local bus.
Choosing an organized tour in Ireland
Do you like experiencing a place via a tour company? If you have little time but want to see a lot, are uncomfortable with driving or the terrain, going with a tour is an excellent idea. I’ve done several tours throughout the years in different locations – Germany, Venice, Rome, Pompeii, Hawaii, Caribbean Islands…
The benefits to using a tour company? You won’t get lost. You’ll be on time. Your day will be crammed with a lot of great sights. The tour guide can answer a lot of your questions and essentially, you’ll be taken care of and if you do one of the many Irish bar tours…you don’t need to worry about driving back to your hotel!
The downfall…the set itinerary, the set timeline, not getting lost and discovering new things, talking to local people when you are in desperate need of help…
Many local tour operators will run multi day tours in Ireland which are good for fitting as many attractions or places into a short itinerary but as you may have gathered, this is always at the expense of leisure time as inevitably you will spend more time driving between these destinations than if you decided upon an itinerary with less activities.
- Paddywagon Tours – Backpacker and budget focused. Paddywagon offer highly affordable multi-day tours although these are quite basic and less focused on cultural experiences than other operators. Price range: $25 – $650
- Wild Rover Day Tours – A great option for anyone wishing to travel independently but also take in some locals sights on a guided day trip. All tours depart and return to, Dublin but the reach of these day tours will span most of the country. Price range: $25 – $65
- Vagabond Tours – Small group tour operator which keep an emphasis on local and cultural experiences along the way. Expect to pay a slightly higher price than the operators above but also, to receive a more immersive experience in return. Price range: $500 – $1500
Renting a Car in Ireland
That being said, the absolute best way to travel Ireland is with a rental car and doing so will enable you to choose exactly which attractions you wish to see and how long you will spend at each one. You could drive following a map and discover the quaintest little towns, do your own bar tour, or even…why not go on a lephrecaan sight seeing tour?
- Budget Car Rental – With offices in Dublin airport and every other major location around the country, Budget car rental are perfect in terms of price and access in the event of you needing assistance. Car rental price range – $35 – $100 per day.