We’re about one month out from the start of a three week visit to the U.K. and I’m very excited to have gotten into the nitty gritty of planning all the details. Although this blog is not exclusively about travel, I do love to feature our exploits as often as I can. I learn as much about life (or maybe even more) from venturing into other cultures as I do from running or yoga, so I’m always inspired to share where we’ve been–whether it’s near or far.
This time, instead of solely filling you all in when we get back in the summer, I wanted to try something different. I’d like to create a bit of a forum–one that I hope will not only aid me in planning the rest of our activities while abroad, but that will also be available for you all to reference in case you decide to make a similar journey. I cannot even begin to express how grateful I am to everyone who contributed to What to Do: London and What to Do:Scotland. I got so many great ideas from both those posts that I am almost completely done planning that part of the trip–all that’s left is a restaurant reservation or two!
From Scotland, we are moving on to Ireland, starting first in Belfast. While this post is really a solicitation of advice, I’ve got a bit of my own to offer as well: check the calendar for holidays when you are traveling internationally! Since I didn’t for this trip, we are actually landing in Belfast right in middle of one of their more historically controversial holidays, The Twelfth–a Protestant celebration where many take to the streets for parades. We’ve been assured by many locals that it’s no longer a danger to be in Belfast at this time–and that it will actually be an interesting couple of days to experience the city. I’m glad of that, but am bummed that some of the most highly recommended restaurants will be closed the entire three days we are there. There’s also a food tour (our fav thing to do when traveling) that’s gone dark for those three days. So basically, check for holidays or your tummy will pay for it!
We booked Belfast as the first city we’d visit in Ireland because it seemed obvious–just a quick puddle jumper over from Glasgow. I think if we did it over again, we’d fly into Galway, then head to Dublin, then end in Belfast and fly out of there. Another road block we’ve encountered is that you can’t really get to Galway without going through Dublin. Since we’ve done a good bit of traveling through Europe already, I assumed trains would be easy breezy. In planning though we’ve actually found that traveling through the UK and the rest of Ireland is a bit bumpier than other places around the continent. Unfortunately we scheduled our flights and AirBnBs before we got into all these logistics. It’s alright, but it does mean our time in Galway will be quite limited as the first day will be mostly spent on busses and the second will be spent in the car traveling to the smaller towns of our respective families.
With all that said–I’d love love love all your tips and expertise on what to see and do in Ireland. We’ve got a bit planned so far (Belfast is mostly planned because options were a bit more limited with the holiday), but your advice will certainly pull everything together. Please feel free to chime in with any and all thoughts. I’d especially appreciate your help with…
Which Black Cab tour company to use in Belfast? So we’ve heard from many that this is a must do while we are there. The number one rated company on Tripadvisor is Paddy Campbell’s but unfortunately, they have not responded to my inquiries. Should I try reaching out to them again? Is there another company you used and had good experiences with?
Any great breakfast places in Belfast? We snapped up our dinner resys pretty quickly as I mentioned that quite a few things are closed at the time we will be there. This had me pretty bummed because of all the places we are visiting, I have heard that Belfast by far has the best food. Anyway, I think we’ll still eat very well. To help us, won’t you suggest some delicious brekkie/brunch options?
Where should we run in Belfast? I think Belfast is the only place where we aren’t conveniently located near a Bikram studio so we will miss that there. But we’d love to get any tips on great parks or places to run in the area.
Transportation from Belfast to Galway. Through much research, I think I have concluded that the easiest way to get to Galway from Belfast is to take a bus from Belfast to Dublin Airport, and then on to Galway. Would you agree? When I tried looking at trains there seemed to be a lot of transferring (and not the roomiest schedule to make those transfers, which worried me a bit), so it seemed like the bus was the most direct and stress free way to go. Would love if anyone can cast a vote for or against my plan!
What shouldn’t we miss in Galway? Our time here will be very short as the full day we have here will be spent in the car to Westport (where my family is from) and Ballydesmond (the teeny tiny place my husband’s family is from!). If there’s one thing we have to see here–or one dish we have to try, please let me know! (And if anyone knows anything about the two places our families are from, please do tell!)
What are some of your favorite sites or things to do in Dublin? We don’t drink alcohol so although we appreciate pub recommendations if they’ve got great food, we’ll be skipping the famous Guinness tour! We are hoping there’s much more to do in Dublin besides drink–although those seem to be the main type or pointers we’ve gotten so far. We are staying in a neighborhood outside the city center so I am looking forward to checking out some less touristy areas. Locals: any thoughts on where to eat? Travelers: any tours or museums or neighborhoods that really stuck out to you when you visited?
Where should we run in Dublin? Always a question on the list! (P.S. Bikram studio less than a mile from our AirBnB so super siked about that!)
Should we take a day trip from Dublin? Where to? We’ve got four full days to explore, should one of those be spent outside the city? We’ve seen a lot of suggestions for a place called Howth, would you recommend going there? If not, where else might you suggest we wander?
I hope a lot of you jump in here with your suggestions as Ireland is the last (and seemingly more difficult) place we have to plan for. (By difficult I just mean with the travel, I am not complaining here, I am going to Ireland, life is good!) Thank you for helping us make this an incredible trip–can’t wait to share it all with you when we return later this summer! x
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