Ireland/Ireland First Timer
We're going to Europe for the first time next summer and are currently planning our itinerary. We only have six days-seven days in Ireland and two we are spending in Dublin, two in Clare where we have family. But on the let couple of days we're a bit conflicted on if we want to visit Killarney, Galway, Mayo or Cork.
Any ideas on which is best for a first timer?
Welcome to Ireland and thank you for your interest in spending time beyond your family commitments and visit to Dublin. There is an increasing trend for visitors to avoid the more Westerly part of our Island.
My first elimination from the list is Cork. The city element of your visit will be well represented in visiting Dublin. Many spectacular views can be experienced in the Western part of County Cork but by virtue of their distance from Clare, I would suggest equally dramatic scenery in your other suggested destinations would be more rewarding; you would have less travel time and more opportunity to wander quietly in the beautiful surroundings.
Killarney is justly famous World-Wide. My favourite places there are Muckross House, Muckross Lake, Torc Waterfall, muckross Abbey ruins. There are walks to suit all abilities and preferences. There are Jaunting Car rides and Boat Trips on the lakes including visit to Ross Castle. These activities provide insight into the history of the region in a light-hearted friendly delivery. Hotels are excllent and many are reasonably priced. Particularly the Lake Hotel near Muckross is a family (Huggard Family) managed facility where I have spent many happy days with my wife. The Gleneagle in the same area is a large well-run destination with extensive entertainment capability. A wide range of price/quality variety in hotel choice is available in Killarney. I do not have any Killarney hotel on my list of "For sure do NOT go there!"
Galway is the favourite destination for my Wife and Me since 1964 (only 51years!) My favourite hotels are The Twelve at Barna, Ardilaun at Taylor's Hill, Jury's Inn near Spanish Arch, Maldron Hotel near Oranmore and Meyrick Hotel in Eyre Square. If you wish to experience a spectacular hotel far from the city noises, one of our (My wife and I) top three hotels in all of Europe is the Leenane Hotel at Leenaun, on Killary Harbour some fifty miles West of Galway City. Leenane Hotel has modern rooms and a really good kitchen.
Mayo is a large county and has many attractions. Our favourite places are Céide Fields near Kilala , Westport and the surrounding area, Cong in the East of the county and Achill. Cong is a lovely spot and The famous Ashford Castle Hotel is a very interesting overnight stop if expense is not a consideraiton. My Wife and I spent a very happy couple of days there in 2013 before the recent refurbishment and the most recent increase in prices. The Castle Court Hotel in Westport is a modern, very welcoming hotel with very welcoming staff. We stayed there in June of this year.
So the question of how you will decided on which destination remains. The mode of travel you employ will have some bearing but I will assume you are travelling by hired car. The issue of which is your departure airport also is a factor. If Dublin is the departure point I would suggest Day 1 Morning in Galway city experience the atmosphere, wander through Shop Street, muse about the Cathedral built on the site of the old prison, visit St Nicholas Collegiiate Church where Columbus is reputed to have prayed before going West to find america and have lunch very simply mabye in the Galleon restaurant in Salt Hill. Have a quick brisk walk along the Salthill promenade drinking in the beauty of Galway Bay and then drive West to Leenaun. This is a leisurely drive and you might stay overnight in the Leenane Hotel. Book well in advance their rooms tend to be heavily in demand. Day two drive around the Connemara area choosig maybe Kylemore Abbey for Lunch and finding your way back to stay overnight in Galway city where there is enormous choice in restaurants and hotels. The motorway drive back to Dublin Airport is very direct and convenient. I will be very glad to fill in any further details you may need.
I wish you great joy in your Irish visit