How to Plan an Ireland Vacation

How to Plan an Ireland Vacation
Traveling to the land of Eire can be a delightful experience. The many rolling green hills, old stone stacked walls, windy shores, not to mention the colorful cities full of ancient history, are just some of the memories that Ireland will leave you with. If you plan to rent a car and chart your own route through Ireland, here are some tips.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Road maps of Ireland guidebook
  • Road maps of Ireland
  • guidebook
Step 1
Acquire guidebooks, tourism information and brochures, and browse the web to determine what parts of Ireland you would like to see in your allotted time frame. The more time you have the better, but it is possible to see quite a lot of Ireland in just a week or two if you rent a car. From Dublin to Galway, for example, it is 209 km or about three and a half hours. By using this method you can stop anywhere you like and take a walk.
Step 2
Pick a place to start and end your route. The airport where you land is a good place to start because it is an easy place to rent a car and exchange currency. The same airport or another one is a good place to end your trip so you can easily return the car. With these two points set, you can then fill in all the connecting parts of your route and decide what you will see along the way and how far you will need to travel each day.
Step 3
Choose towns that you are interested in stopping or staying in and plan your route through these. You may wish to plan your route according to the season or activity. It is possible to plan a themed trip through Ireland which focuses on one of the abundant attractions there such as golfing, horseback riding, hill walking, castles and history or arts and culture. More info can be found on Ireland's Official tourism website:
Step 4
Decide if you will be taking any guided walking tours or if you will carry out self-guided tours. There are many guided walking tours in the areas of Connemara, Donegal, Kerry, Wicklow, Mountains of Mourne and Glens of Antrim, for example. Footfalls Walking Holidays, Hidden Trails, Wonderful Ireland and Killary Tours are a few who offer guided walking and hiking in Ireland. Some, such as Killary Tours, also offer other tours such as week-long horseback riding, golfing or bike tours.
Step 5
Make contact by phone or email with bed and breakfasts, hotels or hostels in the towns you intend on staying in to make sure they have availability on those days and to inquire about the town. Speaking to locals is the best way to find out where to eat and what to see while you are there. Accommodations can be found by town in guidebooks such as Fodor's, Lonely Planet and Rick Steve's or online at
Step 6
Note distances and be aware of speed limits on the narrow, winding roads. Many also have sheep crossings, so you may want to plan to drive a bit less each day than it seems on the map. You probably don't want to drive more than three hours a day if you want to get out and see things and spend time in the towns. Always plan for slightly more time than you think you might need to get from one place to another. There is no sense in rushing your days through a beautiful country with many side adventures and discoveries to be had. Driving on the left side of the road is something most drivers need to take time to get used to; you'll also be wise to be comfortable with navigating roundabouts, as they are everywhere. Drive around the airport a few times to get used to your rental before turning onto the main motorway.

Tips & Warnings

As always when traveling in another country, make sure you keep your passport in a safe place and make photocopies of it in case of loss, to speed up the process of acquiring a replacement. Do not use your cell phone in Ireland while driving, as this is illegal there. Passengers are allowed to use phones in the car, but not the drivers.

Article Written By Naomi Judd

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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