After a week in London we were hopping over the Irish Sea to discover what Ireland had to offer.
We had more people to see in Ireland and it was exciting to finally get to see my cousin, we only have a three week age gap between us and we hadn’t seen each other in quite a few years. We would also be able to meet her Irish husband.
We knew we would be returning to London so our friend Natalie kindly stored our larger bags and we just took carry on luggage with us. From Gatwick Airport to Dublin it was our first experience flying with Ryan Air and we were only delayed about an hour, probably pretty good compared to some Ryan Air stories you hear. Four tickets cost us a total of £148/$297 NZD and for a quick flight, less than an hour long, it was no drama. Upon arriving at Dublin we could of course walk straight through without waiting for bags and we headed outside to the clearly marked rental cars transfers area. We didn’t have to wait long for the correct company van to arrive and take us to pick up our rental car just a couple of kilometres away. We used SIXT Car Rental and they were quick and efficient and we were soon on our way to our hotel (read our review here). Our car rental for 10 days cost a total of €189/$322.02 NZD, and this included at €34/$57.93 NZD charge because we would also be travelling into Northern Ireland.
We tucked away our British Pounds for now and found ourselves using Euros for the first time and learning yet another currency exchange rate.
Chantal and Stephen hadn’t done a couple of Dublin touristy things so we meet up and visited them together –
- EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum – We purchased tickets online from their easy to navigate website and the cost for our family of four was €33.30/$56.14 NZD. It was incredibly well done with lots of interactions as they claim to be the first fully digital museum in the world. Here you will discover the far reaching influence of Irish history, and the impact the 10 million Irish men and women who left Ireland had on the world. You receive a ‘passport’ when you enter and you can collect stamps throughout the museum at each section, another great concept that our boys enjoyed and a nice souvenir.
- Guinness Storehouse – During our pub lunch we purchased some online tickets (total cost €50/$85.18 NZD) to do the tour, which includes a complimentary drink. Different days of the week and times during the day have different prices, we were visiting on a Saturday during the afternoon so we paid a premium. Your entry is at a certain time but then you can visit the large operation at your own pace. It wasn’t quite what we where expecting and there were hundreds of people there weaving their way through the seven level, century old, brewery building but it was interesting to learn of the history and brewing process of this famous drink.
A few interactive activities and of course we stopped by the tasting room before heading to the top floor and the ‘Gavity Bar’ for our free pint of Guinness (soft drinks for the boys) and expansive views over Dublin. It was very crowded and there aren’t many chairs or leaners, so we got our drinks and headed one floor down to find some spaces and seats. After a few refreshments it was closing time so we headed back to our hotel for a few extra nightcaps.Throughout the day we passed many buildings and people decorated with pride rainbows as the Pride Parade was on through the streets that afternoon.
In 2015, Ireland was the first country to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote.
- Glendalough Valley – from Dublin we drove south, just over an hour, through the Wicklow Mountains National Park to Glendalough Valley, one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. This early Christian monastic settlement was founded by St Kevin in the 6th century and from this developed the “Monastic City”. Being a Sunday and a reasonably nice Irish summer day (between the light showers) there were plenty of people about but we enjoyed the walk along the boardwalks and trails, around the lakes and exploring the remains of some of the stone buildings and structures. It is free to visit this area, you’ll just have to pay for parking, ours was just €5/$8.43 NZD.
From our hotel in Dublin the drive west towards Doolin and our first stop, the Cliffs of Moher, was 270 kms and took around three hours of driving time with a stop in Limerick for some lunch. After our visit to the cliffs we continued just 8 kms to our accommodation for the night, Nagles Camping & Caravan Park (read our review here).
Doolin is the closest village to the cliffs and there isn’t too much around, so best to go prepared.
- The Cliffs of Moher – We had seen some pretty amazing images of this part of Ireland so we wanted to include in during our trip. The parking for the cliffs is on the opposite side of the road to the vistors centre and coastline, we had no problem purchasing tickets on our arrival, a family pass was €16/$26.97 NZD. We were there on Tuesday in early July but during peak summer months I would suggest pre-booking tickets online through their very good website, you can chose from three different time slots (morning, afternoon or evening). The cliffs and their landscapes were incredible and we were surprised we didn’t get blown off the edge, but the weather was actually pretty good out on the Atlantic coast that day. After we reached O’Brien’s Tower we continued around the cliff edge, and with no barriers we were being very cautious of the 200 metre drop. But it was a fantastic experience and there were hundreds of seabirds (and people) enjoying it with us. We had a look through the visitor’s centre on our way out and there are also a few souvenir shops built in under one of the hillsides. If we had more time I would have liked to have done a few of the local trails.
- Doolin Cave – Hosts the longest free-hanging stalactite in Europe (and third longest in the world) at 7.3 metres long. Our tour guide, Jim was great. He kept us well informed of the history and geology of the cave and it’s features as he took us 70 metres underground. First discovered by two 20-year-old English guys in 1952, the stalactite is an incredible formation of nature, formed from a single drop of water over thousands of years. Overall the tour lasted nearly an hour and cost us a total of €36/$60.69 NZD, book a tour time online for these cheaper ticket prices. Wear study shoes and something to keep warm, the cave is about 10°C
We had a great few days in Ireland and we did quite a few higher priced tourist activities and socialising than we might normally, but sometimes there are occasions when it’s ok to have a little blow out. Also, our nightly accommodation cost in Dublin was nearly our whole daily budget. From Doolin Cave we continued our road trip and we were crossing the border into Northern Ireland.
Average Daily Spend for 5 nights – $359.31 NZD ($129.31 over budget per day).