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12 Night Trip Advice - Food, Culture, Nature, and Walking

12 Night Trip Advice - Food, Culture, Nature, and Walking

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United States
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Group: Community Member Last Active: Sun 3 Mar 2019 9:21 AM Visits: 6
Hey there, everyone,

I've recently booked tickets for a surprise Ireland trip for my mother and me. My family traces its roots back to the Emerald Isle (though we're unsure of the exact location), and my mom has for years mentioned that she's always dreamed of exploring the country. I'm finally in a position to afford this trip, which I'll be springing on her the day before departure -- her birthday, coincidentally.

I'm looking for some help planning this once-in-a-lifetime trip. We'll be in Ireland for 12 nights during the first two weeks of April, arriving in Dublin on April 1 and departing on April 13. I've done some research here on Ireland.com, but I'm struggling to settle on a relatively-adventurous, culturally-packed, non-overwhelming itinerary. Neither of us loves driving, particularly, so I'd prefer an itinerary that doesn't have us in spending most of our days in the car; however, we also want to enjoy all the sites, views, and tastes that we can. Really, I just don't know how to choose!

For some context:
-we're quite active, regularly kayaking, paddleboarding, or walking 10+ miles per day together when on vacation
-we prioritize food above all else, and especially love sweets
-we really enjoy nature, in general -- seascapes, especially, but also rolling hills, forests, etc. -- but also love to admire older architecture -- churches, castles, and buildings in medieval/victorian/gothic styles -- and learn their histories
-we love learning, and are particularly excited about cultural exchange in the form of Irish music and history
-we like connecting with new people, and having experiences that are as authentically local as possible

We plan on renting an (automatic) car in Dublin and staying mostly in B&Bs (for the culinary and cultural experience). Much as I'd love it, this won't be a luxury vacation; I'm hoping to keep costs down as much as possible.

I know this is quite a broad request, but any and all guidance is very welcome. Thank you all, in advance!
Posted Mon 25 Feb 2019 10:57 PM
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Island of Ireland
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Hello Adam,

What an amazing birthday present for your mother! I'm sure it will be a huge surprise. :D

I'd love to provide you with information, tips and suggestions so you can make her once-in-a-lifetime dream trip come true.

April is a lovely time of year to visit, and there are indeed many itineraries to choose from. Of all of the destinations you've looked at so far, what are the ones you absolutely wouldn't want to miss? Sometimes it can help to make a list of all the places you'd like to visit, and plan the itinerary around it. This way you can make the time spent in the car as short as possible. :)

I would also like to provide you with some tips based on your interests. Since you're a big fan of history, Ireland's Ancient East can't be missed. It's filled with tombs older than the great pyramids, Vikings and lots and lots of castles. Most locations are easily reached from Dublin as well, so it would be a good first destination. 

On our green island the coast is never far away, and you can find some recommended trips along the coast here. Below you can find some additional links I think might come in handy: 
  • Food - Everything from the best places to eat to food itineraries
  • Music - The best places for trad sessions and festivals
  • Hidden Gems - Go off the beaten track with insider tips from locals and other members. 
  • Walking - Routes, tips and ideas
Take a look at the vehicle rental page for more information about renting a car, and the accommodation page for all tourist board approved B&B's on the island. 

What have you been able to uncover about your Irish roots so far? I'd be more than happy to see if I can help you find out where on the island your ancestors were from. 

I know this is a lot of information to take in, so please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions. I hope you'll receive loads more tips and suggestions from our other members. :) 

Warm regards,

Melin
Posted Tue 26 Feb 2019 11:35 AM
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Ireland
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Hi Adam,

What a wonderful surprise! I'm sure your mother will be over the moon when she find out. 

We are a company that specialise in small group adventure tours that go off the beaten path. We also only use small boutique hotels/guesthouses for exactly the reason you have stated. It is a cultural experience. We have itineraries posted on our website for all of our tours. We pride ourselves in providing small group tours that are a perfect blend of Irish history, culture, outdoor activities (hiking, horse riding, cycling and kayaking) great Irish scenery, friendly locals, music and pub life.

I will leave our 12 day itinerary here to help you out with a few ideas for your trip. It matches exactly what you seem to be looking for. https://vagabondtoursofireland.com/tour/irish-tours-12-day-giant-irish-adventure/ .

Have an amazing trip to Ireland!

The Vagabond Team 
Posted Wed 27 Feb 2019 2:29 PM
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Ireland
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Hi Adam,
Gosh you will be up for Son of the Year award ;)
By the sounds of it, you would both really enjoy a visit to Doolin and the North Clare region, it would tick a lot of boxes on your list:

Activity
So, how about a https://www.doolin2aranferries.com/boat trip to the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher? That happens to be our specialty!



There is a fantastic walk from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher, right along the edge, you can take this independently or with a local guide, Pat Sweeney, the farmer who owns a lot of the land along the way- this will certainly tick the authentic experience box for you, Pat would talk for Ireland - dont tell him I said that!

Food
Doolin has a great range of options for you foodie types - from high end dining to excellent pub grub and comfy coffee shops (we even have our own chocolate shop. Just sayin.)

Nature/History
Again, Doolin and the Aran Islands really has all of this in spades.  Here are a couple of blogs from our website on some of the local castles, Doonagore in Doolin and Leamanagh in the Burren, and also one on the largest of the forts on the Aran Islands, Dun Aengus

Irish Music
Doolin village is thoroughly immersed in traditional Irish music - there are music sessions in each of the 4 pubs every night. 



Enjoy planning your wonderful surprise trip, be sure to call in and say hi if you do come to Doolin :)

From Joan and all at Garrihys Doolin2Aran Ferries
Posted Thu 28 Feb 2019 11:08 AM
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Group: Community Member Last Active: Sun 3 Mar 2019 7:44 PM Visits: 4
I spent 12 days in Ireland as well. This was our itinerary! We had an incredible time. 

https://rileysroves.com/2019/01/27/ireland-itinerary/

Posted Sun 3 Mar 2019 3:20 PM
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Northern Ireland
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Hi Adam,

Not too long now until you embark on your trip to Ireland!

Reading about the broad range of interests you share made me think that the Causeway Coast and Glens region in Northern Ireland is a place you would have fun exploring together. For starters you can walk the beautifully scenic Causeway Coast Way, which is mostly off road along sea cliffs and beaches. It would probably take you a couple of days at your rate of around 10 miles a day. There is paddle boarding and kayaking at the seaside village of Portballintrae and nearby is the Giant's Causeway for amazing rock formations and strata. Dunluce Castle, is a few miles along the road, perched precariously on a cliff, with its history and stories spanning hundreds of years.

The Glens of Antrim, to the south east, provide the rolling hills and forests you love - maybe even 40 shades of green in one panoramic view! 

Because the area is popular with tourists there is an excellent range of B&Bs and Guest Houses. Great food and drink come high on our list of priorities here and you can enjoy it at some of the many restaurants or pubs in the area. There are also a few local food markets and artisan food producers in the region. Live traditional music features in some of the pubs in Ballycastle, Bushmills, Portrush and Portstewart.

For more information, please visit our web site: www.visitcausewaycoastandglens.com

I hope this turns out to be your mum's best ever birthday present!
Anne

Posted Thu 7 Mar 2019 4:47 PM
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