We booked our trip to Ireland prior to doing a lot of research, which may or may not have been the best idea. I actually cannot advise this as good practice. We were limited on time, making it a very extended weekend. In total, we were in Dublin for three nights and three days. What I failed to realize ahead of time is the number of day trips you can take from Dublin. People spend two weeks in Ireland! I just didn’t realize this and felt silly once I did. Many things are in different directions, and it can be difficult to combine visiting sites/cities. Ultimately, we decided upon the following:
1. Day in Dublin
2. Private 12 hour Cliffs of Moher Day Trip
3. Day trip to Kilkenny / remainder of day in Dublin
Just to give you a spring board for your research, there is also the option to go to Galway, Blarney Castle/Cork, Belfast, Wicklow Mountains, and the list goes on. We wanted to see castles, the Cliffs of Moher, and Dublin. This is how we decided upon our particular itinerary. After setting our decisions in stone, we spoke with an Ireland native we ran across on another trip. He highly recommended Galway, so this might be food for thought.
If you feel nervous traveling or visiting foreign countries, but you love to travel, Ireland might be the perfect place for you. I have no problem traveling alone within the US, but I would feel uncomfortable traveling alone outside the US. In the future, I would not have any issue returning to Ireland alone. It was very simple to make your way out of the airport and right into the taxi line. The taxis run on a meter and all of the rides we had were in very clean cars. The drivers were very friendly and welcoming. In traffic, it is about a 40 minute drive maximum from the airport to the majority of hotels in Dublin. It seemed a perfectly safe city if you exercise normal precautions. I never felt uncomfortable, even when we walked home after having drinks late in the evening.
There are so many cities now offering direct flights to Dublin. We left out of Chicago and returned through Philadelphia. American Airlines also offers a flight through Charlotte and now a new seasonal addition through Dallas. On the way over, the flight was just under 6 hours. Certainly, things likely changed during the pandemic, but I hope once things improve the regular flight schedules will soon return.
Return to Airport: *** ATTENTION*** I wish I knew this ahead of time. Arrive to this airport plenty ahead of your flight. You will go through immigration in Ireland and the lines were long. I cannot say whether this is the norm, but there were many flights leaving at the same time back to the USA and this created chaos. You will go through security first after checking in. Do not dawdle in the duty free area because if you thought that line was bad, there is much worse to come. We were then directed to a very long line for passengers going back to the USA. It moved, but they allow limited numbers of people downstairs at a time. Once you make it downstairs, you go through another long line and security again. I thought it was over, until I saw the line for immigration. I was in almost shear panic when I laid my eyes on this. It was extremely long, and there were many others that seemed just as shocked as myself. The global entry line was fortunately empty, which meant I walked right through. If I didn’t have global entry, I don’t know that I would have made it to the front of the line without a panic attack because the plane was supposedly boarding. The plane boarded late, so it was of no consequence. Bottom line, get to the airport early. Honestly, I have to recommend based upon my experience, that you arrive 4 hours before your flight. There were people in the immigration line with us that arrived 3 hours ahead of time and were about to miss their flight.