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Dublin to Cliffs of Moher/Galway (train or car rental?)- Solo Trip

Dublin to Cliffs of Moher/Galway (train or car rental?)- Solo Trip

Old Jul 24, 2021, 11:10 am
  #1  
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Question Dublin to Cliffs of Moher/Galway (train or car rental?)- Solo Trip

Hello!
I'm in the early stages of planning a trip to Ireland this fall (have points) if things hold up with travel of course as I'm transferring to the west coast later this year and have both my shots.

While I'll be landing in Dublin, the main point of this trip is to explore the west coast of Ireland and do some of the Wild Atlantic Way. I realize I can't do the whole thing, but one place I really want to check out are the Cliffs of Moher. I've been to Ireland twice before but didn't have the chance to leave Dublin. Except the north, but that's a different beast. I did enjoy Belfast and Giants Causeway, but I digress.

Anyways, while I do know how to drive standard (learned on the spot when driving in in the jungle in Malaysia), I'd like to minimize driving when possible. My thought was to be based in Galway and then rent a car from there (or take a tour for somethings) as opposed to renting a car in Dublin and then having it for the entire trip.
The main areas I'd like to check out are Galway and the Cliffs, Shannon, a day trip to Limerick and of course a few days in Dublin. On the "would be nice" scale, it would be having checking out Carrauntoohil or Kilkenny Park, Cork and Kilkenny, but from what I can tell, one can do a day trip to Kilkenny by train via Dublin so there's that too.
I realize that this may be a lot to cram into 10 days but can tack on an extra day or 2, but I think it`s doable. Most of the suggestion guides I`ve seen allocate like 3 hrs to eat per meal or make suggestions for things I have no interest in, but they are a good starting point.
I'm also hoping to make a 3-4 days sidetrip in Edinburgh work out as well.
I don't really have an agenda in terms of things to see/do, still researching these portions but it certainly won't be surfing or lining up to kiss the blarney stone.

Back to the original questions though, is it best to have a car for the entire time, or pick it up and then drop it off in Galway?

Thanks in advance!
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Old Jul 25, 2021, 4:31 am
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Originally Posted by iceblueshoes
... some of the Wild Atlantic Way. I realize I can't do the whole thing, but one place I really want to check out are the Cliffs of Moher.
Unless you are the kind of person who enjoys a disneyland-esque simulacrum, all I can say is 'Prepare to be disappointed'. Years ago, the Cliffs of Moher truly were part of a Wild Atlantic coastline and they were an awesome place to go. Nowadays they are a national park, with official pathways, 'safety' barriers and 'helpful' uniformed wardens everywhere to direct you along your way; you, elbow-to-elbow with the 1.5 million other people who go there every year. Now, I reckon that many (or most) of those 1.5 million people do enjoy their experience -- but millions of people enjoy Branson, Mo. too. To each his own. For me it was another sad example of having all the fun enhanced away from a previously spectacular site.

There are still plenty of unspoilt places on the west coast of Ireland. Do a little quiet research and without too much difficulty you'll find your own. And how much more fun it will be!
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Old Jul 25, 2021, 9:02 am
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I would rent a car for your time outside Dublin. So rent/return from a city centre outlet rather than at the airport (depending whether Dublin is at the start or end of your trip).

having a car gives you freedom, and whilst public transport is working, its only at 50% capacity (which may increase by the time you arrive) and is primarily on a hub and spoke to/from Dublin. Public transport along the Wild Atlantic Way isnt particularly frequent.
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Old Jul 25, 2021, 9:14 pm
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Originally Posted by henry999
Unless you are the kind of person who enjoys a disneyland-esque simulacrum, all I can say is 'Prepare to be disappointed'. Years ago, the Cliffs of Moher truly were part of a Wild Atlantic coastline and they were an awesome place to go. Nowadays they are a national park, with official pathways, 'safety' barriers and 'helpful' uniformed wardens everywhere to direct you along your way; you, elbow-to-elbow with the 1.5 million other people who go there every year. Now, I reckon that many (or most) of those 1.5 million people do enjoy their experience -- but millions of people enjoy Branson, Mo. too. To each his own. For me it was another sad example of having all the fun enhanced away from a previously spectacular site.

There are still plenty of unspoilt places on the west coast of Ireland. Do a little quiet research and without too much difficulty you'll find your own. And how much more fun it will be!
I feel like I sort of have to go. I mean, the photos look really nice and I'm ok with going on a path (I mean get too close and you fall off the side) but since it is a popular attraction, and I prefer to avoid crowds, I tend to travel in the shoulder season.
If it was summer (and one could even travel now), I'd agree that would be packed.
I do hope Mickey Mouse doesn't come out or something... if so I might toss him over the edge!
Originally Posted by Kgmm77
I would rent a car for your time outside Dublin. So rent/return from a city centre outlet rather than at the airport (depending whether Dublin is at the start or end of your trip).

having a car gives you freedom, and whilst public transport is working, its only at 50% capacity (which may increase by the time you arrive) and is primarily on a hub and spoke to/from Dublin. Public transport along the Wild Atlantic Way isnt particularly frequent.
Thanks, I think I'll rent and return the car to Dublin and just bring it along then.
Or perhaps in/out of Galway?
Does Ireland do 1 way rentals?
Within that being said...I do need to look into the entrance requirements more, although I'm now double vaxxed.
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Old Jul 27, 2021, 1:43 pm
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There's no doubt that the Cliffs can be overrun with tourists, but that still doesn't change the dramatic scenery. I wouldn't bypass it, but I would consider trips around Belmullet to the west of Sligo or up in the coastal areas of Donegal or even the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland.

I agree you will not need or want a car in Dublin, a city overrun by cars but somehow not really built for them. You could even consider renting from the airport, using one of the express buses. I believe that the Airlink service is up and running again and is an inexpensive and relatively quick way to get to and from the center of Dublin to the airport.

Renting a car in Ireland has many advantages--I've done it on all but one of my nine trips to Ireland--but there are a lot of other things to know, especially about insurance. Take a look at this thread: Car Rental Insurance in Ireland -- Very Confused. The TL/DR version--unlike many other countries, it's possible that you will take full insurance coverage on a rental in Ireland, which includes even another level of coverage beyond the collision damage waiver called Super CDW or Super Cover, which you should seriously consider because Ireland presents many interesting challenges to a driver that can easily lead to damage to your rental, potentially placing you at a risk for thousands of dollars of exposure and a real hassle when you return the rental car at the end of the trip--which you're likely to do with some but not much time to spare before you need to be at the terminal for check in for your flight. As a result, the cost of a rental car in Ireland, with full coverage, can be very expensive. In addition, some of the rental companies still do not include the cost of these extra insurance levels in any price quote and make it somewhat difficult to determine the exact cost for your rental because it is unlikely that you will be able to leave the rental lot with your car without paying for this extra coverage. To give you an idea, I looked at taking a trip to Ireland in August and rental prices, with the full coverage that I always take (while declining CDW and relying on my credit card coverage in most of the rest of the world) the price was almost $800 for eight days with the smallest car I could find.
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Old Jul 27, 2021, 11:26 pm
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Originally Posted by lwildernorva
There's no doubt that the Cliffs can be overrun with tourists, but that still doesn't change the dramatic scenery. I wouldn't bypass it, but I would consider trips around Belmullet to the west of Sligo or up in the coastal areas of Donegal or even the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland.

I agree you will not need or want a car in Dublin, a city overrun by cars but somehow not really built for them. You could even consider renting from the airport, using one of the express buses. I believe that the Airlink service is up and running again and is an inexpensive and relatively quick way to get to and from the center of Dublin to the airport.

Renting a car in Ireland has many advantages--I've done it on all but one of my nine trips to Ireland--but there are a lot of other things to know, especially about insurance. Take a look at this thread: Car Rental Insurance in Ireland -- Very Confused. The TL/DR version--unlike many other countries, it's possible that you will take full insurance coverage on a rental in Ireland, which includes even another level of coverage beyond the collision damage waiver called Super CDW or Super Cover, which you should seriously consider because Ireland presents many interesting challenges to a driver that can easily lead to damage to your rental, potentially placing you at a risk for thousands of dollars of exposure and a real hassle when you return the rental car at the end of the trip--which you're likely to do with some but not much time to spare before you need to be at the terminal for check in for your flight. As a result, the cost of a rental car in Ireland, with full coverage, can be very expensive. In addition, some of the rental companies still do not include the cost of these extra insurance levels in any price quote and make it somewhat difficult to determine the exact cost for your rental because it is unlikely that you will be able to leave the rental lot with your car without paying for this extra coverage. To give you an idea, I looked at taking a trip to Ireland in August and rental prices, with the full coverage that I always take (while declining CDW and relying on my credit card coverage in most of the rest of the world) the price was almost $800 for eight days with the smallest car I could find.
Thanks for the suggestions on Sligo, Belmullet and Donegal, but they're in the opposite direction of where I'm focusing on. I've been to the Giants Causeway before. While it would be nice to see again, I only have so much time sadly.
The only Donegal, I'll be going to is a suit shop to get a tweed suit!

Also thanks for the insurance link. While I do work in insurance, which helps with the terminology, I get that the laws are different.
I've unfortunately been hit with a surprise repair bill at the airport in Germany, but my credit card took care of it. Good thing too because it almost €3000!
Are rental cars generally cheaper outside of Dublin? I know airport locations are generally cheaper..

I'm leaning towards not having a car right off the bat since I'll be exhausted from flying on little sleep and will just want to get to the hotel to crash.

What was your car rental so expensive? Did you have a larger SUV or something?

Last edited by iceblueshoes; Jul 27, 2021 at 11:31 pm
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Old Jul 28, 2021, 2:18 am
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I believe rental prices are so high right now as companies have basically sold their fleets over the last year and have low stock. Worth remembering weve had effectively zero international tourists for almost 18 months (although summer hotel prices are high and availability low due to a very strong domestic market, but that cohort doesnt need rental cars).
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Old Jul 28, 2021, 2:44 am
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Yes - car rental prices are high just now but, if your CC doesn't offer you full CDW, you can reduce costs quite significantly by declining the top-up CDW offered by the rental companies and taking out stand-alone cover with any of the many companies offering this. Just google car rental standalone cdw for examples.

Edinburgh is doable as a side trip from Dublin or Cork if you wish. Plenty to see and do there. If you are staying in the city, you won't need a car - frequent trams and buses from airport to city centre. Make you choice based on which drops you off closest to where you are staying. There's a good public transport service that can take you to St Andrews, East Neuk of Fife, Glasgow shoud you want to do side-side-trips to any of these places.
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Old Jul 28, 2021, 7:53 am
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Originally Posted by iceblueshoes
Thanks for the suggestions on Sligo, Belmullet and Donegal, but they're in the opposite direction of where I'm focusing on. I've been to the Giants Causeway before. While it would be nice to see again, I only have so much time sadly.
The only Donegal, I'll be going to is a suit shop to get a tweed suit!

Also thanks for the insurance link. While I do work in insurance, which helps with the terminology, I get that the laws are different.
I've unfortunately been hit with a surprise repair bill at the airport in Germany, but my credit card took care of it. Good thing too because it almost 3000!
Are rental cars generally cheaper outside of Dublin? I know airport locations are generally cheaper..

I'm leaning towards not having a car right off the bat since I'll be exhausted from flying on little sleep and will just want to get to the hotel to crash.

What was your car rental so expensive? Did you have a larger SUV or something?
Nope, as my post alludes, it was the smallest car possible. Right now, costs are probably higher because of the combination of a rental with full coverage and some of the shedding of inventory that occurred during the pandemic. On the other hand, on one of my trips in 2012, I only needed a rental for a day, and the cost worked out to about $125--again with the smallest car possible. Keep in mind that outside of the major motorways built in the last 25 years, a SUV is generally a liability in Ireland because of the narrow, twisting roads. I rented a very small SUV once when I was traveling with someone I knew would carry a lot of luggage--and I was right--but normally, I rent just above the entry-level range of cars. Parking, outside of massive surface-level parking lots built adjacent to some supermarkets, can be difficult, and you might be surprised at how low the ceilings are in many parking garages.

I definitely recommend avoiding driving a rental the first day unless you're doing the majority of your driving on one of the major motorways. I've found that the trip from Dublin to Belfast is easy enough, taking less than two hours and mostly on the motorway from the airport north of Dublin into the city. Sligo, Galway, and Cork are also easy enough with most of each of those trips on motorways and less than three hours in non-rush hour traffic. I certainly understand not overextending yourself on the number of places you visit, especially since once you're off the motorways, it's difficult to make great time on the highways along the coasts that connect the motorway spokes out of Dublin. On the motorway, it's easy to maintain 70 mph; on the highways, despite a 100 kph (62 mph) speed limit generally, I've found around 40 mph is a more reasonable average.
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Old Jul 28, 2021, 9:56 pm
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Originally Posted by Kgmm77
I believe rental prices are so high right now as companies have basically sold their fleets over the last year and have low stock. Worth remembering we’ve had effectively zero international tourists for almost 18 months (although summer hotel prices are high and availability low due to a very strong domestic market, but that cohort doesn’t need rental cars).
Well I'm hoping things settle down a bit by the fall. I hear prices are generally cheaper for smaller manual transmission cars. Luckily I can drive manual.

Originally Posted by superscot
Yes - car rental prices are high just now but, if your CC doesn't offer you full CDW, you can reduce costs quite significantly by declining the top-up CDW offered by the rental companies and taking out stand-alone cover with any of the many companies offering this. Just google car rental standalone cdw for examples.

Edinburgh is doable as a side trip from Dublin or Cork if you wish. Plenty to see and do there. If you are staying in the city, you won't need a car - frequent trams and buses from airport to city centre. Make you choice based on which drops you off closest to where you are staying. There's a good public transport service that can take you to St Andrews, East Neuk of Fife, Glasgow shoud you want to do side-side-trips to any of these places.
I'll certainly call my cc provider (AMEX) to see if it's covered but I also do have a CIBC as well that's also an option.

In terms of Scotland, unfortunately even fully vaccinated Canadians have to quarantine regardless of which vaccine they go. while I'm likely not going to be booking anything for 2-3 weeks, unless something changes beforehand, I likely won't be able to go to Scotland.
With that being said, I will have a little bit of leeway with Scotland, but it looks like it'll probably be something closer the travel date if it happens.
Originally Posted by lwildernorva
Nope, as my post alludes, it was the smallest car possible. Right now, costs are probably higher because of the combination of a rental with full coverage and some of the shedding of inventory that occurred during the pandemic. On the other hand, on one of my trips in 2012, I only needed a rental for a day, and the cost worked out to about $125--again with the smallest car possible. Keep in mind that outside of the major motorways built in the last 25 years, a SUV is generally a liability in Ireland because of the narrow, twisting roads. I rented a very small SUV once when I was traveling with someone I knew would carry a lot of luggage--and I was right--but normally, I rent just above the entry-level range of cars. Parking, outside of massive surface-level parking lots built adjacent to some supermarkets, can be difficult, and you might be surprised at how low the ceilings are in many parking garages.

I definitely recommend avoiding driving a rental the first day unless you're doing the majority of your driving on one of the major motorways. I've found that the trip from Dublin to Belfast is easy enough, taking less than two hours and mostly on the motorway from the airport north of Dublin into the city. Sligo, Galway, and Cork are also easy enough with most of each of those trips on motorways and less than three hours in non-rush hour traffic. I certainly understand not overextending yourself on the number of places you visit, especially since once you're off the motorways, it's difficult to make great time on the highways along the coasts that connect the motorway spokes out of Dublin. On the motorway, it's easy to maintain 70 mph; on the highways, despite a 100 kph (62 mph) speed limit generally, I've found around 40 mph is a more reasonable average.
Oh, I want the smallest car possible. I'd take a smart car if I had the option. I've driven them on Canadian highways and they're fine.
Anytime I see European fuel prices, I remind myself to not complain about prices here in Canada.

Besides the highway/motorway, I'm in no rush to get around. Since it's a holiday for me, it'll be a "I'll get there when I get there" sort of thing.

Seems Ireland is letting in vaccinated Canadians in with a pcr test...yay.
Looking promising!

Last edited by iceblueshoes; Jul 29, 2021 at 7:12 pm
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Old Jul 29, 2021, 2:15 pm
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If you dont want a car straight away, the bus service from Dublin Airport to Galway is good. IIRC, there are 2 operators, but gobus.ie is the one weve used a few times. Fairly cheap and comfortable, and youre there in the centre of Galway in three hours. If youre going from Dublin City centre, then you can either pick the bus up there or get a train from Heuston station (about 2.5 hours).

If you do want to drive, the road from Dublin Airport to Galway is long, straight and boring / easy!
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