Where Should I visit on My first Trip to Ireland
1st Visit Mini Tour West/North 4/5 Days
This is a loose itinerary for a 1st visit / 4 or 5 day road trip starting with landing at Shannon Airport and proceeding up the West coast and across through the North to Belfast... one could very easily then make 4/5 more tours of sub-regions since it is impossible to see it all in one trip.
There is a lot packed into this and you could easily just visit one place here and spend a week there exploring that region.
Day 1 - going to be a long one...
Well if you are coming from the US you may have a choice of flying into Dublin or Shannon, I would recommend arriving 8am Shannon,
..because there is a good bit of the old Ireland still alive in the west, out on the wild Atlantic shore. Dublin is an excellent major European city so you will see lots there but at a price.
If your flight arrives at 6am go into Limerick, have a look around then head back towards the airport and go to Bunratty Castle / Durty Nellys. Bunratty Castle (they open at 9) and beside it the most fantastic pub called Durty Nellys
Head north from Durty Nellys towards Ennis, Co Clare, be sure to go and see the highest sea cliffs in Europe, the Cliffs of Moher - maybe go back and stay in Ennis or Galway, Galway is one of the best and most vibrant cities in Ireland.
Leg #1 Google Map
1st Half - Shannon to Bundoran
The Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre
- Cliffs of Moher Tourist Attraction in Ireland, Things to Do in Ireland
The magnificent Cliffs of Moher top the list of places to see and things to do in Ireland, and are Ireland's most visited tourist attraction. Soaring 702 ft above the Atlantic coast of County Clare in the West of Ireland.
Cliffs of Moher Images
Day 2 plus...
So Galway, now after a day or two in Galway, be sure and go to Salthill and ask about the Gaeltacht.. if you really are out to spoil yourself then you have to go to Ashford Castle,
- Flickr: ConMcG's Photostream
Excellent images by ConMcG for Galway Tourism
- Galway Ireland | Galway Accommodation, Things To Do, Places To Visit, Tourist Information and Events
Galway Ireland | Accommodation, Things To Do, Galway Guesthouses, Hotels in Galway, Hostels, Activities, Sightseeing, Events & Travel Guide
Depending on how you like this end of the country so far then next stop from Ashford Castle go west to Westport, out on the coast and take a side trip to Achill Island...
This is the problem, you could easily spend a week based at any one of these locations and then explore the surrounding areas. As someone born here I would recommend that you do that, especially if this is your first trip. When moving around in the high season you definitely need to make some forward plans for accommodation - ditto in the low season, to be sure they are actually open.
Westport, Co Mayo
after that head to Sligo, have a look around, spend a day or a night then move on North heading for Bundoran. Stop at the fabulous statue of Countess Markievicz beside the main road... and of course at the grave of WB Yeats at Drumcliff,, about 1 mile up the road from the Countess. In Bundoran stay at the Great Northern Hotel... check out the surf, play a round of golf or go horse riding on the beach..
Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran
When you are there be sure and go to Tullan strand, 5 minutes walk from the Great Northern, after that head north to the town of Belleek, where there is a large pottery..
A Choice - West or North
You have a major choice now;-
A. to go West into Co Donegal and come back next year and do the North, you could spend a month in Co Donegal
B. continue on via Enniskillen, the Ulster American Folk Park via Omagh, Derry, the Giants Causeway and then finish at Belfast. Again depending on your time you could spend a few days in the beautiful glens of Antrim.
After Belleek you have a choice to double back and north into Donegal or head a little east into Co Fermanagh to the town of Enniskillen, it is a lovely old town and there are a couple of great hotels, the Lough Erne Golf Resort on the way in or the Westville in the town !
Harvey's Point Hotel Donegal
So now depending on the time available - you Must go on to Donegal, you could base yourself at Harveys Point, loads to do, but not a city in sight :-)
The Final Leg... what day is it :-)
After that head to Derry, a lovely old small city in the North, from there plan to drive to Belfast via Bushmills and maybe the Giants Causeway... then to Belfast..
Belfast is nice, cheaper than Dublin, you could fly back to Shannon or to Dublin from Derry, check the car return policy because this is a very small airport. If you do go to Belfast then you can return your car there and fly to Dublin / Shannon, or take the train to Dublin. So this is a west and north trip, there is still a lot more of Ireland to see... next time...