10 Days in IRELAND in the middle of winter...?!
At the beginning of the year, I decided to go on a 10 day trip to Ireland, with one of my friends, Sarah. It was a trip that we had been thinking about for a long time but finding the right timing for both of our busy schedules was difficult. So on one of the many occasions that we got together, we decided to search for flights to Ireland on a whim and see if there were any good deals. Well we were in luck because there were some amazing deals to travel from Chicago to Ireland in early January, and we decided to take the plunge. We booked two seats on Aer Lingus from Chicago to Dublin for January 2nd and we had only a few months to throw together an itinerary of how we were going to see as much of Ireland as possible, in only 10 days and of course on a budget!!
Now this is not an easy task! I had already travelled to Ireland before with my family in August 2016, which definitely helped me to have a general base knowledge of the country and how we could get around. However traveling to another country with a friend, rather than your family, is a completely different situation. You are now solely relying on yourself and your friend to make everything happen. It was a great learning experience and I definitely wanted to share the itinerary and some helpful hints that we picked up, so that when you plan your next trip to Ireland, you will have some questions answered!
** The choice to travel to Ireland in early January was a risky one, because the chance of having poor weather is very high, we happened to get extremely lucky with the weather and almost every day the sun was out! We took the risk when we booked the flights because we were both on a budget, and that is the first thing I would recommend to anyone who wants to plan this trip! Try and go to Ireland during the off season, because you will save loads of money!**
10 DAY ITINERARY:
DAY 1: Arrive in Dublin and pick up rental car
Drive an hour to Powerscourt Hotel and Spa (Enniskerry)
Explore the Wicklow Mountains
Spend the night at Powerscourt
DAY 2: Have breakfast at Powerscourt and then drive an hour and half to Kilkenny
Check into Butler House Hotel and visit Kilkenny Castle
Restaurant choice: Kyteler's Inn (trust me there is an interesting story at this place)
DAY 3: Spend the whole day visiting Kilkenny
Restaurant choice: Matt the Millers (amazing music)
Day 4: Check out of Butler House and drive an hour to the Rock of Cashel
Drive another hour and half to Cork and check into the Maryborough Hotel and Spa
Visit the Blarney Castle and Stone in Cork
Day 5: Check out of Maryborough and drive a couple hours to Dingle
On the way check out Killarney National Park and Muckross House
Arrive in Dingle and check into Greenmount House
Day 6: Spend the day exploring Dingle and driving the Slea Head (trust me it is a must see)
And pick up some of the best ice cream ever at Murphy's Ice cream in Dingle
Day 7: Check out of Greenmount House and drive (3 hours) to the Cliffs of Moher
Check into the Falls Hotel in Doolin (would not recommend staying here!!)
Day 8: Drive another long drive to Connemara
Check into Ballynahinch Castle Hotel (this is one of my favorite places we stayed at!)
Explore the beautiful grounds and estate of Ballynahinch
Day 9: Spend the day checking out all the views of Connemara National Park
Visit Kylemore Abbey
Day 10: Check out of Ballynahinch Castle Hotel and drive 3.5 hours back to Dublin
Check into Clontarf Castle Hotel (Also would not recommend to ANYONE)
Day 11: Check out of Clontarf and return rental car and jump on flight back home
Driving in Ireland under the age of 25
If you are under 25 and want to rent a car, make sure to do your research! Almost all of the companies will turn you down except for Sixt which has a minimum driving age of 21. I personally had heard some not so great reviews of Sixt and didn't want to use their rental car services, so I had to do some more digging. Were there any exceptions to this rule??
Now I just want to let you know that I am 24 years old and about to turn 25, but in any case the companies did not care that I was a month away from the legal age?!
So I decided to do some more digging and it turns out that Avis will let you rent a car from them if you have had your license for 8 years, even if you are not the age of 25. This happened to work out perfectly so I called Customer Service and reserved a car over the phone with one of the Dublin Airport Avis employees. When we did arrive at 6am in Dublin there was a whole conversation about how that was technically not allowed to have happened but they ended up giving us the car, and we took full insurance. If they would have ended up saying that it was not allowed to rent the car from them, Sarah and I would have walked over to the next counter which happened to be Sixt and rented from them.
So I would just highly recommend that you do your research. Also I should point out as well, that Sarah is 23 and was also legally not allowed to drive the vehicle, so all the driving was done by me. We also rented an automatic car (thank goodness) but it was definitely a long haul of driving for just one person. The price of renting an automatic car, and getting full insurance because of our ages, ended up being one of the most expensive things we paid for on the trip... but I will always highly recommend it everyone that does a trip in Ireland!
I really hope that this post was helpful, and also inspired you to travel and explore this gorgeous country. I have been there twice now, and I still have an itch to go back, it is so beautiful and there is so much I still have yet to see.
Please feel free to leave any of your tips and advice in the comments below as well.
I would really like to hear what you thought about traveling to Ireland.