My husband and I are thinking of doing this trip next summer (likely mid-July or early August).
We want to spend 2 weeks: 1 week in/around London then 1 week for Ireland including travel time.
We have lots we want to do in London - I am a huge British monarchy & literary history buff, plus we have some family in Suffolk so I feel like we have enough to occupy us there for a week. Then we were thinking of doing the rail & sail through Wales to Dublin and renting a car in Dublin to cruise around a bit for 5 days. We'd like to stay in Dublin a few nights, want to visit Blarney Castle, the Cliffs of Moher, maybe drive the Wild Atlantic Way, and stay in Galway as well. We'd then have to head back to London as I'm sure it will be cheaper to fly in/out of there.
Does this sound like a feasible trip? Any recommendations you can offer for the Ireland leg - that itinerary is just based on the very basic things I know about Ireland, obviously, so very open to hearing what you all think! Any suggestions for things to do in London, too, are appreciated.
We are planning on getting an airbnb outside the city centre for London and also wondering about affordability of lodgings in Dublin/Galway. Thanks!
You might check airfares using an open jaw, it might surprise you. Just click on multi city. For departure put in your city and arrival LHR, then for the return put in DUB and your arrival city. If your return has you transitting through the USA, you will clear US Customs and Immigration in Dublin, so when you arrive at the airport in the US it is considered a domestic flight, and then if your going on to Calgary, in most cases you will go straight to the gate.
I'd also suggest looking into flying in and out of different cities, generally I find the tickets to be the same if not less especially when you consider the cost of the transport between Dublin and London. Not to mention the extra time. For things royal, look into Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace (open in the summer months to visitors), the Tower of London, Hampton Court, Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's for starters.
A week in London will fly by, you also have the option of taking a variety of daytrips easily by rail or bus so you need not worry about running out of things to do.
Your list for Ireland is not doable in 5 days. Driving in Ireland is not like driving in the US or Canada. It's slow, there are sheep and tractors and single lane roads. Consider allocating a bit more time or eliminate a day in Dublin. Even then you still might have too much. You could take a train from Dublin to Galway and arrange for a daytrip from there to see the Cliffs of Moher. The cities are nice but the real beauty of Ireland is the scenery. Pack as many waterproof items as you can, I swore if I ever went back I'd invest in waterproof pants. Umbrellas are useless in keeping you dry.
I'd shorten the stay in Dublin to a couple of nights and pick up the car only when you are ready to leave. Driving inside Dublin is not fun, especially if you are not used to driving on the left side of the road. Start looking for rental cars early if you require an automatic, they are expensive since most people in the UK drive manual cars.
After a bit more research, I came up with this timeline for Ireland:
Arrive in Dublin by ferry from Wales
-2 nights in Dublin
-1 night in County Kerry (visit Skelligs)
-1 night in County Clare (visit Cliffs of Moher & Blarney Castle)
-1 night in Galway
Back to Dublin to head home
We'll drive along and take in the sights all the way.
Does that seem doable? I will definitely look into flying out of Dublin instead of London and then would even have an extra day in Ireland.
Not familiar with Skelligs but it appears that they are islands so your time table wouldn't work if you have to get out to them by boat. The drive from Dublin to there will not be a short one even if you take the motorway (expressway). There are some beautiful drives in Kerry, we toured the Ring of Kerry which is well known and will be crowded in the summer. We also drove the Beara peninsula which was much less crowded and a more relaxed drive without giant buses behind you.
To be honest Blarney Castle is quite well known but I don't know that I'd make it a priority. We stayed near by and got up early to see it and then the busloads started arriving. You might have a look at Bunratty Castle as an alternative if you can't fit in Blarney.
I'm hoping that some of the folks that live in Ireland or visit more frequently will chime in and give you some additional guidance.
You won't be able to get to the Skelligs unless you allow sufficient time to do so...more or less a whole day if you intend to land on Skellig Michael....and you should be aware that the boats may be cancelled. It is only possible to land on Skellig Michael if weather and sea conditions are exactly right and there is no guarantee of either even in July & August.
Here are some relevant websites:
Do book in advance, though not until you've firmed up your itinerary.
You will find that accommodation costs in Dublin are much the same as in London (though you'll obviously be paying in euro) and in the rest of Ireland they are much the same as in the UK outside its capital cities. You will be travelling at the height of the high season, and during the UK, Irish and other European school holidays, so do book your accommodation well in advance.
Dabs is absolutely right to say that driving anywhere will take much longer than map or mileage would suggest. Rural roads are often narrow and winding and it is very easy indeed to get stuck behind slow-moving traffic (lorry, caravan, tractor) for miles.
Use the routeplanner here to get route, route info and a reasonable estimate of driving times A to B........and then allow even more time:
(The AA is the major UK motoring organisation).
I personally wouldn't bother with Blarney Castle but that's up to you....and, if you do decide on Bunratty, do be aware that it is likely to be very busy indeed (coach tours, organised daytrips etc etc). The same applies to the Cliffs of Moher. Try to get to all such places as early as you possibly can.
I can't advise much on the Ireland leg but some thoughts about the London week:
If visiting friends in Suffolk, that will take a whole day out of your schedule, as a minimum - it's not far away but by the time you've travelled there and back you need to allocate a day.
Dabs has suggested all the obvious places with Royal connections. For literary ones, I recommend:
British Library (original manuscripts of works by Shakespeare, Chaucer and many others, plus some interesting temporary exhibitions) -
[original link]# & [original VT link]
Globe Theatre - if you can't take in a play the tour is still fascinating and often led by an actor - [original link] & [original VT link]
Dr Johnson's House, where he wrote the famous dictionary - [original link] & [original VT link]
National Portrait Gallery, which has a lot of portraits of famous authors (arranged by century but within that there are themed rooms - see [original link] for a list)
Hunt for Blue Plaques for your favourite writers, using the database: [original link]
Also for literary London, obviously there is a Dickens connection to London, I've never been to the museum but I understand that it is good
If Jane Austen tickles your fancy, a daytrip to Bath is quite easy and she spent much time there. There are guided tours of Jane Austen's Bath. The town is quite lovely even without that connection.
The Globe Theater has been rebuilt but they've got a good museum there dedicated to Shakespeare which Sarah has mentioned. You can also see a play there, I would recommend getting a seat rather than a groundling (standing) ticket since his plays tend to be quite long.
Sherlock Holmes is another, there is a museum at 221b Baker Street naturally. If you've been watching the Sherlock series currently, you can also see the exterior of the 221b Baker Street in the show
And while not historical fiction, there are Harry Potter filming locations all over London, most notably Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross, Leadenhall Market and the Millennium Bridge.
Have you read "Wolf Hall" and "Bring up the Bodies"? Those might be of interest to you in conjunction with some of the Tudor related sites.
I'm sure you've also read some of Phillippa Gregory's books as well then :-)
I wouldn't wait to book accommodation, not only might you not find any vacancy but you will pay a lot more. And if you just roll up and it's later some of the b&bs will have closed down reception. Be very careful when booking to note the check in times, I've made it to a couple of b&bs with minutes to spare!!! Be sure to have a phone that you can call internationally with, I've been taking an unlocked phone and popping in a local SIM card. I think the last time it was £20 at Three, there are lots of locations in London.
Yes, I really would advise you to book all your accomm in advance. Whether a county is small or not is pretty much irrelevant. You are visiting at the height of the high season and if you don't book in advance imo you are taking a substantial risk.
It's no fun finding out that nowhere in X has vacancies when you had planned to overnight there and then having to drive on a lot further to find accom in Y, which may not be convenient, suitable or within your budget.
If you are into the Tudors then you really should try to fit Westminster Abbey, the Tower and Hampton Court Palace into your London week, although all will obv be very busy on your dates. You might also try to pull in Lambeth Palace. Guided tours only:
I don't think you can do the Cliffs of Moher and Blarney Castle on the same day. I did a tour on one of those huge buses that have been mentioned - professional driver who knew the route and with all the hotels pre-arranged. We started out in Bunratty and we had
*1 a day there in Bunratty to see the castle before the tour started.
*2 One day seeing the Cliffs of Moher, crossing the Shannon on a ferry, and driving to KIllarney - there we had a trip in a jaunting cart to Muckross House
*3 One day doing the Ring of Kerry and returning to Killarney
*4 One day Blarney Castle, Cobh (Queenstown), and Waterford. We had a walking tour in Waterford
*5 The next day we went to the Waterford glass factory, and had lunch in Killkenny and ended up in Dublin
*6 Another day in Dublin
So I know this schedule would be possible. (One advantage of being on a bus is that you can see over the hedgerows)