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Where Should I visit on My first Trip to Ireland

Updated on July 7, 2013

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,

Why?

..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.


Shannon Airport - where the Irish coffee was invented... !!
Shannon Airport - where the Irish coffee was invented... !!

1st Half - Shannon to Bundoran

show route and directions
A markerShannon airport Ireland -
Shannon Airport, Co. Clare, Ireland
get directions

B markerCliffs of Moher, Liscannor, Ireland -
Cliffs of Moher, Liscannor, Co. Clare, Ireland
get directions

C markerGalway -
Galway, Ireland
get directions

D markerAshford Castle, Cong, Ireland -
Castle View, Cong, Co. Mayo, Ireland
get directions

E markerWestport Ireland -
Westport, Co. Mayo, Ireland
get directions

F markerAchill Island Ireland -
Achill, Ireland
get directions

G markerSligo Ireland -
Sligo, Ireland
get directions

H markerBundoran Ireland -
Bundoran, Co. Donegal, Ireland
get directions

Bunratty Castle

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is close to Shannon airport
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is close to Shannon airport

Durty Nellys

The Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher Images

See the Official Cliffs of Moher website to view images and learn more about their award winning visitor Centre
See the Official Cliffs of Moher website to view images and learn more about their award winning visitor Centre | Source

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, 


Galway images

Source

Ashford Castle

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

Achill Island

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..

Countess Markievicz

one of the true heroines of Ireland..
one of the true heroines of Ireland..

WB Yeats

One of Ireland's Nobel winners and most famous poet WB Yeats is buried at Drumcliff, County Sligo.
One of Ireland's Nobel winners and most famous poet WB Yeats is buried at Drumcliff, County Sligo.

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..

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Belleek 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 :-)

Old Bushmills

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...

Belfast... the good old north

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    • Drax profile image
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      des donnelly 3 years ago from NYC....

      Hi Bill... thanks for that... one of best months to visit is May.. of course it will still rain on the odd and even days but that comes with the green :-)

    • handymanbill profile image

      Bill 3 years ago from western pennsylvania

      Fantastic looking photos and a beautiful looking country. I would like to visit there some day.

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 4 years ago from NYC....

      @cfin... well it is a 1st visit / road trip starting with landing at Shannon and coming up the West coast and across through the North to Belfast... one could very easily then have 3/4 more tours of sub-regions since it is impossible to see it all in one trip..

    • cfin profile image

      cfin 4 years ago from The World we live in

      Just a note: I would surely recommend Dublin airport for those looking for modern Ireland and Shannon for those looking to land back in time :)

      I am more than confused about why you have no pictures of Galway, Cork, Dublin or Kilkenny, but you have a picture of Belfast. Surely, you see some value in showing the beauty of the other great cities? I want some photos!!! :) Nice photo of Belfast though :)

    • Drax profile image
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      des donnelly 6 years ago from NYC....

      Vidy... thanks for the comment, you should be able to good deals here now for car hire accommodation etc since the entire country is on its knees...

    • profile image

      vidy 6 years ago

      thanks for this post buddy!

      this gives a good insight into how Ireland feels like. My wife and I are planning a trip to Ireland so thanks for the info..

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 6 years ago from NYC....

      yes Clinton, I have stayed there... it is very nice... you should join hubpages it is very nice too... :-)

    • profile image

      Clinton 6 years ago

      You should also, if you can visis/stay at Rathmullan House. Beautiful. http://www.rathmullanhouse.com

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 6 years ago from NYC....

      MooreBeauty.. thanks for the comment, Galway is great and a fun city full of music and fun... you will be made welcome.. :-)

    • MooreBeauty profile image

      MooreBeauty 6 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      This is a great hub. I've heard so much about Galway. I can't wait to go over there. I'm planning on studying music over there for a few years so this really helped. Thank you.

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 6 years ago from NYC....

      @ Reptile Blog... great name !!! there is so much to see here like every other place, one has to work hard to really make the effort to see things and to participate.. Thanks..

    • Drax profile image
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      des donnelly 6 years ago from NYC....

      @ Reptile Blog... great name !!! there is so much to see here like every other place, one has to work hard to really make the effort to see things and to participate.. Thanks..

    • Drax profile image
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      des donnelly 6 years ago from NYC....

      @ wannabwestern... sorry missed this comment... thank you

    • profile image

      Reptile Blog 6 years ago

      My wife and I are living in Ireland for a couple months (for my job), and we're loving it. Thanks for all the pictures. Taking the train to Belfast this weekend.

    • wannabwestern profile image

      Carolyn Augustine 6 years ago from The Land of Tractors

      This looks like a wonderful itenerary with a bit of something for everyone. We just moved to Iowa and we have a huge Irish-American population here. Suppose it shouldn't be a surprise because we are only a few hours from Chicago by car.

      Eyre has so much romance and my husband is a medeivalist so all the better. Also have my share of Fraziers and other Irish names in the ancestry, so I better set my sights on this one. Loved your photos, and glad to have found you again here on HP. Regards!

    • Drax profile image
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      des donnelly 6 years ago from NYC....

      Hi jessy... thanks for the comment, May is the best

      month to come, there is a chance it will not rain every day... :-)

    • jessyferari1 profile image

      jessyferari1 6 years ago from New York

      A lovely hub.. love Ireland from what i have read from books, can't wait to visit there really soon...Thanks.

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 6 years ago from NYC....

      @Assassin Fred.. hey that's great, glad you liked it..

      Ps: we need the dollars :-)

    • profile image

      Assassin Fred 6 years ago

      I loved Ireland... we're going back as soon as we can.

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 7 years ago from NYC....

      @brightforyou... thanks for the link, your images of Connemara are fantastic... thanks for nice the comment... :-)

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 7 years ago from NYC....

      @Kavita... yes come, come in May, it is the best month I think... be sure to see the west... it has a different feel and a different pace... thanks for the comment... :-)

    • brightforyou profile image

      Helen 7 years ago from Florida

      Great Hub, thanks! I've just returned from Connemara, Galway and have some fab photos so I put them up on an old hub I had of a previous stay. If you dont mind, I will share the link with you here: https://hubpages.com/travel/Southern-Ireland-stay - my sister has a small B&B in Tonwee, Oughterard and I have fallen in love with Ireland all over again! I loved your hub, thank you.

    • Kavita Trivedi profile image

      Kavita Trivedi 7 years ago from London

      You know, I have always wanted to visit Ireland but never have gotten the chance to just go and explore! My best friend is out there (I think Dublin ) and keeps saying I should come down so that we can explore (not just Dublin of course)

      Thanks for the info - this is definitely next on my list

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 7 years ago from NYC....

      sligobay.. I covered as much of the Free State as possible for a foreign visitor getting off in Shannon going right around the country and back via Dublin..

      It is impossible to do any place justice since as you know a body could spend all their life in the same Province and never really see it all..

      good luck

      Drax

    • sligobay profile image

      sligobay 7 years ago from east of the equator

      Typical N.I. guy- steer the crowd right past Sligo with nary a mention. Both Yeats and the Countess found Sligo yo be "the land of hearts' desire". Well that's OK because I've got Sligo covered. I love Enniskillen and have spent many a day and night there. It's less than an hour door to door. Bundoran is half that again. Donegal Town is less than an hour as well. Galway, Westport and Derry are each just two hours at a safe pace. Limerick,Dublin and Belfast are each three hours without traffic. Sligo is obviously the destination of choice in the whole of Ireland. Cheers, Sligobay

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 7 years ago from NYC....

      Hi Eafblog... thanks for the comment, glad you liked the Hub... the only downside here is the weather, it rains a lot... if you like 10 different kinds of rain then it is paradise.... :-)

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 7 years ago from NYC....

      Jandee... thanks for the comment, great that you came and liked it... there are still remnants of the hospitality left here and there so there is hope for us... :-)

    • jandee profile image

      jandee 7 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

      Went to Dublin from Liverpool and spent weeks discovering the beauty of the places and People,Strange feeling of being home.My advice would be to stay in guest-houses rather than hotels as everywhere we stayed they almost became family and Donegal was my favourite with Dublin close to it, lovely reading and seeing pictures,thanks(this is a definite understatement of the Irish hospitality,brilliant)

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 7 years ago from NYC....

      thanks stricktlydating :-)

    • stricktlydating profile image

      StricktlyDating 7 years ago from Australia

      Great advice starting off at Shannon, lovely part of Ireland the West Coast!

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 7 years ago from NYC....

      Hey Sophs... sorry for not responding, missed a few comments coming in there, glad it was of help... May is the best month to come but well the end of the year is a good time for the pub :-)

    • profile image

      sophs 7 years ago

      Brilliant hub, exactly what I was looking for, I'm visiting Ireland at the end of the year and wasn't sure where to go, this hub really helped thanks Drax! :-)

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 7 years ago from NYC....

      bbpaula888... thanks very much... it is beautiful in a lot of ways and still a place renegades can live :-)

    • bbpaula888 profile image

      bbpaula888 7 years ago

      I've always thought that Ireland was beautiful. Wow!

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 7 years ago from NYC....

      Hi James, thanks for the comment, that's great news :-)

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      I loved this excellent travelogue. Thank you very much for publishing it. I haven't been to Ireland but it just moved to the top of my list for my next overseas adventure.

    • Karina S. profile image

      Karina S. 7 years ago from USA

      Great hub, nice pictures. Would love to visit Ireland!

      Thanks.

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 7 years ago from NYC....

      @ TheSablirab... I'm the same, I have a list of places I want to go so every year I try to go to at least one... :-)

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 7 years ago from NYC....

      Hey Aine it can only get better... :-) !!

    • profile image

      TheSablirab 7 years ago

      Always wanted to go to Ireland and see everything Irish. Alas, for now, I cannot. But I sure hope so in the near future!

    • ainehannah profile image

      Aine O'Connor 7 years ago from Dublin

      maybe if one were to look at it again soon, it might be better craic :-)

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 7 years ago from NYC....

      Thanks Aine, I just find Dublin very expensive, compared to the North and everybody is so busy busy, there seems to be little time to have the craic... but maybe if one was there for a while :-) !!

    • ainehannah profile image

      Aine O'Connor 7 years ago from Dublin

      can't agree with you about Dublin just being another city though. :0) I'm in it.

    • ainehannah profile image

      Aine O'Connor 7 years ago from Dublin

      great feature. Makes me want to head out west (and north :0) of course!)

    • Drax profile image
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      des donnelly 7 years ago from NYC....

      glad you liked them Salt... :-)

    • salt profile image

      salt 7 years ago from australia

      Lovely photos, thankyou!!!

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 7 years ago from NYC....

      Hey thanks Kimberly, come in May, it is the nicest month here and there is a chance it will not rain every day :-)

    • profile image

      lyricsingray 7 years ago

      really great hub! Just loved it mainly because I also really want to get there and your review now makes me want to even more! thanks, kimberly

    • Drax profile image
      Author

      des donnelly 7 years ago from NYC....

      Hi Itakins... thanks very much... no nothing wrong with Dublin but it has become like many other major cities, I think for a first time visitor it is lovely to see the old Ireland where people are a little curious about you and have time to talk and ask you questions ;-) ...

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 7 years ago from Irl

      Drax-

      Bord Fáilte here you come;brilliant hub -eh-about Dublin-well ,would you not agree it's kinda special-no bias here mind you.

    • Drax profile image
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      des donnelly 7 years ago from NYC....

      I'm impressed Tantrum, if you come again come to the North, Argentina is on my list big time...

    • tantrum profile image

      tantrum 7 years ago from Tropic of Capricorn

      Beautiful Ireland ! I've been in Dublin, Galway & Roscommon