Visiting Ireland had been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, I spent most of my early 20’s in University and, therefore, couldn’t afford a trip abroad. Finally when I graduated in April 2018, can you guess what I did?? Yup.. I sold my car, booked a ticket to Dublin, planned a one week adventure around the southern part of Ireland and then finished with a weekend in Dublin right before continuing through Europe. For convenience, I’ve included links to all the places I’ve mentioned 🙂
Once I finally arrived in Ireland, I was quite surprised to find out that I could actually travel around for cheaper than I had originally expected. And even though I was on a budget, I still was able to do, see, and eat everything that I wanted to. So, because I know I can’t be the only one who enjoys sticking to a good budget, I’ve compiled a summary for how to get around, what to do, and what to eat in Killarney, Galway, and Dublin.
Let’s get started…
I’ll be honest, when I got off the plane in Dublin, I didn’t have any sort of transportation lined up to get me to Killarney (my first stop). Probably, not the smartest idea.. but hey it worked out. So when you exit the airport in Dublin, the bus station is about a 5 minute walk from the main doors (just across the street and around the corner). There are number of different bus companies, but the 2 I used to get between cities while I was there were Dublin Coach and Bus Éireann. There are trains in Ireland (which definitely cut down travel time) but were also about double in price. Since I had recently graduated… this just wasn’t high on my wish list.
From Dublin to Killarney I used Dublin Coach. This cost €30. Btw, if you haven’t “yet” travelled to Europe, BRING CASH! It is not uncommon for places to not accept credit or debit. From Killarney to Galway was a combination between Dublin Coach and Bus Éireann for €35 with change in Limerick. Finally from Galway to Dublin I used Bus Éireann for €30. So for a grand total of €95, I was able to travel over 700km of Ireland.
Also, for anyone that hasn’t yet heard of the website “Rome2Rio“, take a look, it’s amazing! You can see all types of connection options (train, bus, car, etc.) for the route you want to travel and the associated price. I used it everywhere and loved it!
WHAT TO DO/SEE
As I only had one full day in each city (yes.. that was bad planning on my part) I wanted to make the most of it. I did a lot of research before my trip and this is what I came up with for Killarney and Galway.
If you like hiking, biking, or carriage rides through Irish mountain passes, then Killarney should definitely be on your wish list of travel destinations. I chose to rent a bike from a local shop in town called Lyne’s Rent-A-Bike, a little shop right next to the entrance to Killarney National Park. The rental cost €15 and I was able to take the bike all day then bring it back in the evening when I finished. The tour required a hour and a half boat ride from Ross Castle (5 minute bike ride from Lyne’s) to Lord Brandon Cottage, where tea and scones are offered before the journey. The boat ride costs €20 and you can either pay the driver when you get to the boat launch at Ross Castle or online with a credit card. Even the boat trip is an adventure on its own. The boat drivers are very friendly and maybe will even teach you a bit of Gaelic on the way. And the views… well… amazing is all I can say.
Once, you’re on the other side… all there is to do is go and enjoy. 🙂
In Galway, I experienced what I think is the most beautiful view I’ve ever seen… and I’m from British Columbia, Canada! Diamond Hill, in Connemara National Park. The most amazing view, albeit a bit cold at the top, but just stunning. I took the City Link bus for €10 (one way) from Galway to Letterfrack. The drive took about 1 hour and 45 minutes through the countryside and the hike itself only took about an hour to the top. I was really lucky the day I went up, the weather was perfect.
Now for Dublin. Anyone that has been or has any desire to go to Dublin, has more than likely heard about the Guinness Factory. While, I still need to make it here (maybe in February when I return for another vacation), a friend (who met me in Dublin for the weekend) and I decided to go to the Irish Whiskey Museum. This was the best decision ever. We got a full tour and history breakdown of the whiskey manufacturing process, as well as the chance to make our own “flavour” or whiskey at the end. Now, we chose the “Whiskey Blending Experience” which cost €30, there are still 2 other cheaper options, as well as an opportunity to book online in advance and save 15%.
So, in total I spent €85 for the week of activities. And yes, the Whiskey Museum was more of a splurge than a budget expense… Overall, not a bad price for the things I was able to do in Ireland!
NOW FOR FOOD!
For anyone out there named Courtney … (me), Killarney is home to a pub, (which if you were only ever to visit one pub in your life, this would have to be it!!) called……. “Courtney’s“! Amazing right! While, they don’t have food, it’s totally worth it to go in just to say you’ve had a beer in your own pub.
In Galway, I went to a few different pubs in town, which you can more than easily find your faves when you’re strolling through. But what I accidentally stumbled across while waiting to check into my airbnb was Mr. Waffle. Now, this place is awesome. And after talking with a few locals there, I soon realized it was also a hot spot to go for breakfast, brunch, or lunch. An Irish franchise serving crepes, Belgian waffles, and (let me tell you) some of the freshest coffee I’ve tasted. Other locations can only be found in Ireland.
For Dublin, I don’t actually have a recommendation for a specific restaurant, but a specific food… “Guinness Spiked Chili”. I can only describe it with one word – AMAZING! And you can find it in almost every restaurant/pub in Dublin. The friend that I was travelling with in Dublin told me that we HAD to have it. I thought, ‘yeah sure it’s just Chili’. Nope. It was absolutely amazing and a definite must have!
So, there you have it. My favorite things I saw, did, and ate in Ireland. I really hope these ideas help you out! Happy travelling and I wish you the luck o’ the Irish 🙂