Reader Question: If you had to choose one side of the island for your first visit, which would it be?
This is a great question, though it is much like asking a parent which child is their favorite. I love it all!
So which ‘side' of Ireland for a first vacation?
That may be entirely dependent on your flight. The majority of flights to Ireland land in Dublin, on the eastern side of the country. Dublin is a terrific base for day trip to places like Newgrange, Glendalough, and even as far as Kilkenny.
If your flight arrives in Shannon you are perfectly placed to explore the western side of Ireland – the Burren and Cliffs of Moher, Galway & Connemara, and down into the Ballyhoura Region of Limerick & Cork.
If you are very fortunate, you have planned your flight into Dublin and out from Shannon (or vice versa) and can cross the center of the country with stops like Birr Castle and Clonmacnoise in County Offaly.
But still, I'm evading the question, aren't I?
My Recommendation for a First Time Ireland Vacation
For first time visitors who do not have Dublin listed as a ‘must visit', I recommend the west of Ireland, in particularly the Southwest- Counties Clare, Limerick, Kerry & Cork. Everything visitors come to Ireland for can be found in these counties.
- Stunning coastal vistas
- Great food
- Traditional Music
- and lots of craic!
A Sample Ireland Itinerary in the ‘Sunny Southwest'
10 Days Based on flights in/ out of Shannon Airport
Day 1: Arrive Shannon early am. Pick up rental car and drive to the Burren. Get out and explore to combat jet lag. Visit the Cliffs of Moher in the evening (if possible) to miss the crowds and view a great sunset. Turn in early tonight!
Day 2: More explorations in County Clare. Be sure to enjoy live music in a pub!
Day 3: Leave County Clare via Shannon Ferries, entering Kerry, and drive toward Killarney. Explorations in/ around Killarney this afternoon.
Day 4: Choose a peninsula – either the Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula. You'll find plenty to keep you occupied!
Day 5: Leave County Kerry for Cork. Choose a country break or a city break.
Day 6: Exploring into the southern regions of County Cork along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Day 7: Head into the Ballyhoura Region of Cork & Limerick. So many outdoor activities to keep your family entertained.
Day 8: County Limerick explorations – Adare village, Lough Gur, Foynes, Limerick City.
Day 9: A few more Limerick explorations this morning, then head to Bunratty Castle this afternoon. Enjoy the castle & folk park then close your Ireland vacation with an evening at the Medieval Banquet, Traditional Irish Night, or great food and craic at Durty Nelly's, just outside the castle walls.
Day 10: Depart Ireland – and plan your return on the flight home!
Use the interactive map to help plan your trip – from lodging to attractions to dining, you'll find loads of tips and information.
Do you have a question about Ireland travel? View the Ireland Travel FAQs page or email your question to Jody(at)IrelandFamilyVacations(dot)com. I will reply directly to you as well as add your question to this page- because if you need an answer, it’s likely someone else does, too!
That is a lot of driving over 12 days- I’m so glad you have terrific memories! You’re right- there IS something special about Ireland!