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Dublin travel in the winter... Roads? Hotels? Pubs? Advice needed

Dublin travel in the winter... Roads? Hotels? Pubs? Advice needed

Old Sep 10, 16, 9:46 am
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Question Dublin travel in the winter... Roads? Hotels? Pubs? Advice needed

We will be traveling to Dublin, Edinburgh and down to London over the Christmas and New Year holidays for about 3 weeks. I've already booked hotels for Dublin and northern Ireland, but we'll be returning to Dublin for New Year's and want to head either West or South for a few days.

I've read online that winter outside of Dublin can be complete chaos...stores not open and that kind of thing. Does anyone have any personal experience that they can share? Which way would you go for 3-4 days? West or South? Any hotel recommendations (Must offer 2 double beds and not be a B&B, hotel only since we are traveling with the kids). Are there certain highways that have reliable gas stations even in the winter? We don't want to get stranded. Will we still have cellphone service in case of an emergency?

Sorry, but we've never been to Europe, much less when the weather could cause issues, so any assistance is appreciated! Thank you.
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Old Sep 10, 16, 9:58 am
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You may want to check out this area of FT, or by the time you read this message, your thread will have already been moved there:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/u-k-ireland-484/
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Old Sep 10, 16, 10:37 am
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Originally Posted by teddybear99 View Post
You may want to check out this area of FT, or by the time you read this message, your thread will have already been moved there:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/u-k-ireland-484/
Please continue to follow this thread in the U.K. Ireland Forum. Thanks Teddybear99
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Old Sep 10, 16, 11:43 am
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Where on earth have you been reading? If it snows heavily - far from a regular occurrence - you might encounter some minor disruption, the odd closed road and longer journey times. However I can't recall either the UK or Ireland ending up in a disaster recovery mode regardless of what sensationalist press might have you believe.
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Old Sep 10, 16, 4:13 pm
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Ireland isn't ... Alaska or Siberia. Things in winter, except perhaps some seasonal tourist attractions, work much like in summer. Phones work, shops are open, petrol stations sell petrol. Several million people live all over Ireland all year round, they don't retreat behind the giant wall around Dublin in October because WINTER IS COMING!!

Roads may be wet but will be passable. There is some chance of storms which have stronger effects towards Western Ireland, but life still continues. If you do encounter a winter storm warning, follow the meterological advice regarding wind and rain.

The main problem I foresee with going to Ireland in winter is poor weather; it can be cold, rainy, windy. That lovely green landscape you see in the sunshine in the tourist photos taken on a good day in summer? It gets its rainfall in the rest of the year to stay that green. Take suitable clothing and plan indoor alternatives. The many fine pubs of Ireland await you.

Irish rainfall guide
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Old Sep 10, 16, 6:00 pm
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Given that this is the OP's first trip to Ireland, I will add two matters that will seem common sense to those who live in or have traveled to Ireland before but that might not be for a first-time visitor.

First, although the Irish road system has improved since my first trip in 2000, you should be aware that many roads are twisty and narrow--with some of them bordered by stone walls. The days will be short, but I'm going to suggest that you try to do your driving during the limited daylight hours unless your travels take you on the major motorways which look very similar to American interstates. You don't want to negotiate these narrow roads--some of which are still considered major thoroughfares that a GPS will route you along--at night.

Second, outside of Dublin, gas (petrol) stations do not regularly stay open late hours nor are there as many along the roads as you see in the US. To maintain a safe cushion, stop for gas as soon as possible after you get to half a tank.

The remaining points made by the other posters are spot on. I've been to Ireland twice in late November. With the adjustments I've suggested above, I don't think you'll encounter anything close to the problems you seem to have anticipated.

In regards to your itinerary, your desire for a hotel over a B&B may restrict you because some Irish hotels offer family rooms and some do not. If you are not just looking for hotels, but American-style hotels, you're even more restricted because you'll then most likely need to stay in Cork, Galway, Waterford, Limerick, Killarney, or Ennis. The M6 motorway to Galway, the M7 to Limerick, and the M7/M8 to Cork are all roads on which you can make reasonable time. The trip from Cork to Killarney is easily done in a couple of hours. I'm not a big fan of Limerick so I'd suggest that you jump from Killarney to Galway or if you can't squeeze in Galway, take the M7 from Limerick back to Dublin at the end of the trip.

Even with the winter weather, short days, and sometimes tricky roads, I think you'll still love Ireland. Good luck!
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Old Sep 11, 16, 1:25 am
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As with many American visitors to Ireland you may well be planning to cram too much into too short an itinerary.

If you only have 3-4 days I would plan a single location within an easy drive of Dublin and use that as a base to explore and return to every night rather than pack,drive,see,unpack and repeat particularly if it's wet and windy.

If you have kids I'd also choose a holiday rental over an hotel - I'm not sure how old your children are but Ireland in winter is a tough call to keep them happy and a nice cottage with a real fire and a trip to the local pub might be more family orientated than a hotel.Ireland,by the way,is very relaxed with children in pubs till a reasonable hour (9pm).

I'd recommend Homeaway and Tripadvisor for holiday rentals.

As for location I would choose somewhere not too remote - Cork or Galway are good options with excellent road links.

As others have said Ireland is a modern country that functions just like any other in winter time but it is still a piece of rock in the Atlantic that can but not always get stormy.

A great country to visit though.
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Old Sep 11, 16, 8:06 am
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Originally Posted by lwildernorva View Post

In regards to your itinerary, your desire for a hotel over a B&B may restrict you because some Irish hotels offer family rooms and some do not. If you are not just looking for hotels, but American-style hotels, you're even more restricted because you'll then most likely need to stay in Cork, Galway, Waterford, Limerick, Killarney, or Ennis. The M6 motorway to Galway, the M7 to Limerick, and the M7/M8 to Cork are all roads on which you can make reasonable time. The trip from Cork to Killarney is easily done in a couple of hours. I'm not a big fan of Limerick so I'd suggest that you jump from Killarney to Galway or if you can't squeeze in Galway, take the M7 from Limerick back to Dublin at the end of the trip.

Even with the winter weather, short days, and sometimes tricky roads, I think you'll still love Ireland. Good luck!
Thank you guys so much! This is all very helpful advice. The reason I mentioned a hotel is basically just because we are traveling with three older children. We are so used to being able to get a room here in the states with two queen beds and a cot, but over there it's been very difficult to find any within our budget. We didn't realize that when we booked our $300 airline tickets for 3 weeks. We've got a couple of lightweight air matresses that we plan to bring just in case, but that was the main reason we thought a hotel would be a better choice.

We have 8 days where we will be visiting Dublin and Northern Ireland, but only 3 -4 days after that to go west or south of Dublin. After that we fly to Scotland and to London for the rest of our vacation before heading home.

Last edited by TravelingNomads; Sep 11, 16 at 8:12 am
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Old Sep 11, 16, 9:33 pm
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Originally Posted by flwrlover1 View Post
Thank you guys so much! This is all very helpful advice. The reason I mentioned a hotel is basically just because we are traveling with three older children. We are so used to being able to get a room here in the states with two queen beds and a cot, but over there it's been very difficult to find any within our budget. We didn't realize that when we booked our $300 airline tickets for 3 weeks. We've got a couple of lightweight air matresses that we plan to bring just in case, but that was the main reason we thought a hotel would be a better choice.

We have 8 days where we will be visiting Dublin and Northern Ireland, but only 3 -4 days after that to go west or south of Dublin. After that we fly to Scotland and to London for the rest of our vacation before heading home.
European hotel rooms tend to be very small. During my recent visit to Scotland, I stayed at Greywalls in Gullane. My room, designated as the "Caddie's Closet," was much bigger than a closet, but certainly could not have handled more than two people at the max unless you were willing to drop inflatable mattresses in the bathroom. And I doubt that Greywalls or many other European hotels would allow that.

Based on the additional information in your last post, I'm with Clint Bint's recommendation that you seek an apartment or holiday home and base your travels from there. Although many rentals are only available during the summer tourist season for a full week's rental, you may be able to find a rental for three or four nights in December/January in many small towns in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Much more budget friendly than trying to find a hotel.
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Old Sep 12, 16, 12:30 am
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Originally Posted by flatlander View Post
The main problem I foresee with going to Ireland in winter is poor weather
The main problem is short daylight hours
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Old Sep 12, 16, 6:28 am
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Originally Posted by alanR View Post
The main problem is short daylight hours
Ugh, I had no idea about this. I just looked it up and it looks like daytime hours will be from 8:40am to 4:15 pm. I really hope it's not the same issue in Scotland and London. TY for mentioning this. We will definitely need to come up with some entertainment options for the evenings.
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Old Sep 12, 16, 6:35 am
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Originally Posted by flwrlover1 View Post
Ugh, I had no idea about this. I just looked it up and it looks like daytime hours will be from 8:40am to 4:15 pm. I really hope it's not the same issue in Scotland and London. TY for mentioning this. We will definitely need to come up with some entertainment options for the evenings.
London will be slightly better, Scotland will be slightly worse.
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Old Sep 12, 16, 7:00 am
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Originally Posted by flwrlover1 View Post
Ugh, I had no idea about this. I just looked it up and it looks like daytime hours will be from 8:40am to 4:15 pm. I really hope it's not the same issue in Scotland and London. TY for mentioning this. We will definitely need to come up with some entertainment options for the evenings.
Now you know why Northern Europeans spends so much time in the pub ...

This is where your chosen location is important.Somewhere like Galway,Cork or Kilkenny will have cinemas and indoor swimming pools.
If you're in the back of the beyond then TV and board games become your next option.
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Old Sep 12, 16, 7:47 am
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Originally Posted by flwrlover1 View Post
Ugh, I had no idea about this. I just looked it up and it looks like daytime hours will be from 8:40am to 4:15 pm. I really hope it's not the same issue in Scotland and London. TY for mentioning this. We will definitely need to come up with some entertainment options for the evenings.
Remember that Europe in general is much farther North than you'd think from the climate (hence long summer days and long winter nights). NYC is the same latitude as Madrid, and Dublin's as far north as Saskatoon. Edinburgh only gets around 7 hours a day of true daylight in late December.
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Old Sep 12, 16, 9:06 am
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And London lies somewhere between Adak in Alaska and Calgary in latitude terms.
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