Ireland backpacking help!
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Jan 8, 2012 11:53 AM Last Post By: finn_nl
Jan 2, 2012 11:42 AM
Ireland backpacking help!Hi, I am a first time traveler and will be traveling solo on this upcoming adventure. I plan on backpacking through Ireland and England in early June stopping in Paris for a couple days. Planning my trip to Ireland has been difficult in that I wish I had the ability to plan day to day while I am there, but do not want to worry about hostels being completely booked and having no where to stay. (Oh, and I will be staying in hostels for the majority of my trip). I fly into Shannon Airport and would like to spend 6-7 days in Ireland before departing from Dublin to head to England.
If anyone has any experience backpacking through Ireland, I would greatly appreciate any tips and tricks on planning my trip.
Thanks in advance!
Jan 2, 2012 1:47 PM
1Well if you're not leaving until June then I wouldn't worry about booking things this far ahead. In places other than Dublin there may not be a lot of hostels around so I'd take more care. But I think in Dublin you'll always find a bed unless it was the St Patrick's Day weekend or something.
My tip would be if you're nervous re hostel availability, keep an eye on hostelworld.com in the weeks leading up to your departure; you can see how many beds are still free so if you see places filling up fast you can book, otherwise you'll have peace of mind.
If you're flying into Shannon, definitely don't miss Galway. Limerick - apologies to anyone from there on this forum - has an awful reputation among many of my Irish friends, so you may want to skip that if you only have a week. Galway is meant to be hugely fun; Connemara, The Burren and the Aran Islands will all live fully up to any expectations of cliffs, mountains,windswept rugged landscapes etc. and Galway will make a good base as well as being an attractive and culturally vibrant student town. I can recommend the other end of Connemara, around Leenane, Clew Bay, Westport and Achill highly as well (though having your own transport may be convenient). If you're into cycling, an new extension to a cycle path from Newport to Achill has just been opened, might not be in the guidebooks yet.
Anyway - Travelling around Ireland is very easy, the only thing is I would be careful to check bus and train services on Sundays especially. And it's not exactly the cheapest place on the planet, but presumably you knew that already (also, neither are London or Paris for that matter).
Jan 3, 2012 2:13 AM
2Travelling throughout Ireland, between major cities and towns, is easy-ish. Smaller places is more difficult. A common six or seven day itinerary is three or four days on the west coast and three or four days in Dublin. While not cheap, day tours from Galway to places like Doolin, The Burren, The Aran Islands, and Cliffs of Moher would be a good use of your time. A day or two looking around Dublin and a day trip to say Wicklow Mtns, Dalkey or Howth would also be a good choice.
Jan 7, 2012 8:06 AM
3Thank you so much for your help! Galway has been the one place that I'm excited to visit and the other places sound like they fit as great things to see.
On another note, do you have any advice on where I can get train routes map and/or bus routes map? I do not want to plan going somewhere and find out later that there is no train or bus that services that particular area.
Jan 8, 2012 7:22 AM
4I've been to Ireland a couple of times, and even though I wasn't "back packing" per se, I did a lot of hiking. I spent my nights in B+Bs because they're everywhere. You can get a copy of "Bed and Breakfast Guide To Ireland" from the Irish Tourist office.
One of the places I've been that I really liked was Killarney. There you can hike up through the Gap of Dunloe. Another of my favorites is Connemara National Park. My wife and I hiked up the Diamond, which is a very scenic mountain. Another place that is very beautiful and a little bit of a challange is Croagh Patrick. Be aware though, it is very steep and lots of loose skree, but well worth the challange.
Jan 8, 2012 11:53 AM
5My advice would be to take a train for a long distance (ie West of Ireland to Dublin) and buses for other travel. That said, I am someone who way prefers travelling by train where possible, it may be the case that taking a bus is easier, at a better time, cheaper or all three at once, and I strongly doubt you'll need to do any trips longer than four hours. And clearly, buses are of a good Greyhound-like standard as you'd expect from a developed, Western country.
Trains are run by Iarnród Éireann, www.irishrail.ie - mind that there aren't very many rail services though and while some routes like Galway-Dublin, Westport-Dublin, and Sligo-Dublin are very convenient for your West -> East leg, there is very little in the way of connections that don't involve Dublin, or hours of detouring. There are no trains in county Donegal, full stop, for example, and despite the proximity a journey from Westport to Galway by rail would have you detour through Athlone.
Tip #2: BUY YOUR RAIL TICKETS ONLINE! It could cut your ticket cost in half.
The national bus company is called Bus Éireann, www.buseireann.ie for maps, timetables, routes etc. Ticket prices won't really be any different from bus stations or the website, unlike the rails. Buses are everywhere and differ only in whether they're Express services or stop at any old one-horse town; generally this difference will be obvious.
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