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Traveling by train through Ireland

Traveling by train through Ireland

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Posted Fri 3 Jan 2020 10:47 PM
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My husband and I would love to visit Ireland but do not really want a guided tour, hope to tour on our own. Is there a company that would help with planning a train itinerary? Suggestions for best places to branch out from?  I visited Ireland in 1971 with a college friend and we hitchhiked our way across the island!  I would love to see Adare again -have fond memories of it.  Any guidance on how to start planning would be great.  The trip most likely won't be until summer 2021 and would include Northern Ireland. 

Thank you.
Christine Witkowski
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Posted Sat 4 Jan 2020 10:44 AM
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Island of Ireland
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Hi Christine,

Self-guided tours are a fantastic way to see Ireland and there are plenty of resources to help you do that. With you being so early in the planning stage I will suggest 2 to get you started. 

The first is our trip ideas page which should give you some inspiration for your itinerary. You can access it here

The second is actually 2 links. They are both journey planners for trains in Ireland, the first is a journey planner for trains in the Republic of Ireland and the second is trains in Northern Ireland. The 2 systems overlap a little but I am providing both just encase.

Would you consider car-hire? I only mention it as it opens up a lot more destinations for you.

Once you have had a look at these come back and let me know what your thoughts are.
When you have some destinations to work with, I would be more than happy to help you work out the travel in more detail.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts,
G.

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Posted Sat 4 Jan 2020 9:57 PM
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Thank you. I will check those links. I think we would rather take a train rather than hire a driver, but perhaps the train will limit us. At any rate, I will start researching and let you know if you can help further.

Christine
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Posted Sun 5 Jan 2020 1:29 PM
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Ireland
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I highly recommend traveling Ireland by train. If you base yourself in Dublin, most cities are less than 3.5 hours away. Here are some of my recommendations for the best places in Ireland to visit by train. My top picks include day trips to Howth, Maynooth, and Kilkenny and overnight trips to less visited parts of Ireland like County Sligo and County Mayo.

Good luck with your trip planning and I hope you enjoy your visit and travels by train!

Best wishes,
Jennifer (aka Dr. J)
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Posted Mon 6 Jan 2020 11:00 AM
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Hi Christine, 

What a wonderful idea to travel around by rail! I'm sure the suggested tour operators would love to help you plan the perfect itinerary. Have you thought about combining your train itinerary with private day tours as well?

I agree with Jennifer that Dublin is a great place to base yourself, as you can travel anywhere by train from there. How long are you thinking of touring the island? 

Take a look at these suggested rail journeys as well for more inspiration, and keep us posted on your plans! :)

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Posted Mon 6 Jan 2020 11:04 AM
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Island of Ireland
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Hello again, Jennifer! 

Thanks so much for your super helpful suggestion for train trips around the island. I especially love the hidden gems in Sligo and Mayo. I never knew you could reach them by train! This is definitely on my list now. :)

Thanks again!  

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Posted Mon 6 Jan 2020 10:25 PM
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Our trip would probably be for two weeks and would include Northern Ireland. Already I have received some great tips. And yes, day trips sound like a good idea. Now the trick will be to determine which cities to branch off of. Dublin for sure, but others?  
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Posted Tue 7 Jan 2020 6:54 AM
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Ireland
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Hi Christine,

I think Galway is a good home base for travels around the West of Ireland. If you visit Derry in Northern Ireland, you can reach the Antrim Coast and Giant's Causeway plus you'd be close to Donegal and Sligo. Perhaps that's another off-the-beaten-path option to consider.

Best wishes,
Jennifer
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Posted Tue 7 Jan 2020 11:34 AM
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Hi Christine,

Sounds like you're planning a great trip for Summer 2021!  You mention that you would like to include Northern Ireland in your trip so might I share some information about the Causeway Coast and Glens.

The Enterprise train from Dublin terminates at Lanyon Place Station in Belfast.  Perhaps you might like to get off here and explore all that Belfast has to offer, otherwise you can board the train bound for Derry/Londonderry to make your way north.  There is a stop in the town of Coleraine and from here it is possible to explore the Causeway Coast and Glens via bus. 

The 172/402 Causeway Rambler Bus Service which is a hop-on hop-off service departs from Coleraine bus station (beside the train station) and stops at all the major attractions along the causeway coast.  It finishes in Ballycastle before returning along the route back to Coleraine again.  Alternatively, you can also get the train to Portrush from Coleraine Station.  Perhaps basing yourself in Portrush for a couple of days as there is a Rambler bus stop at Dunluce Avenue in the town. 

You can then continue west by train from Coleraine to Derry/Londonderry.  This route was once described as one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world! So definitely worth checking out.

I wish you all the best in planning your trip!

Alison

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Posted Tue 7 Jan 2020 8:29 PM
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Island of Ireland
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You have some great suggestions from Jennifer and Alison there, Christine.

There are loads of options available to you beyond what has already been suggested but rather than just bombard you with further places I thought I might highlight some useful articles for you.

Travelling around Ireland by train
This one is a list of all the major stations and advice on the best way to purchase tickets alongside some other handy hints. 

Five great Irish railway journeys
This article looks at some of the most stunning journeys you can do in Ireland by train, sometimes it is about more than just the destination and these journeys offer fantastic views along the way.

Just as a final thought, you mentioned an appreciation for the hidden gems. the Wild Atlantic Way has quite a few of them so you may want to make it one of those stops. It would also tie in nicely with Alison's suggestions about the causeway.
You can check out some of the Wild Atlantic Way's gems here.

As always if you require anything further, I am happy to help.
G.


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