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Small Group Tour of Ireland

artnbarb

1000+ Posts
Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm thinking of doing a short (5 day) tour of the northwest part of Ireland. I missed seeing Donegal, and I'd like to spend more time in Connemara. You all know I'm terrified when driving on the right, and of course Art (who doesn't mind driving at all) really can't enjoy the scenery, so that's how all this came about. I thought it would be much more relaxing and enjoyable for both of us.

I definitely don't want a 40+ person bus tour, but I did find a tour for 16 people on a small bus. (Years ago we toured Turkey with 18 people on a bus for 40+, and that was REALLY perfect!) Of course small group tours are going to be more expensive, so I can't quite decide how much of a premium I'm willing to pay to have someone else do the driving!

The company we're thinking of using is Rabbies. We used them in Edinburgh for a daytrip. The cost is €445 per person (senior discount!) for the 5 day tour. PLUS food. PLUS lodging. Lodging seems possible for $150/night, don't you think? And food for 5 days - is $500 per person reasonable? That would bring the tour total to around $1400 per person for the 5 day tour. Every other tour I've seen for small groups is much more expensive, but maybe even this one, at $1400/pp is just too expensive as well. Have I officially just gotten old? (And even lazier?)
 

artnbarb

1000+ Posts
Yes, you're limited to one bag each. Because we'll be flying to Italy for 3 months after Ireland, we'd probably need to store a bag while on the tour.

I'm still seriously considering this. While I realize 16 people is larger than @Shannon or @Kathy 's groups, I do like the idea of touring with others - normally it's just the 2 of us. Additionally, although Art doesn't mind driving, he's also very open to the idea of letting someone else take the wheel. Food and lodging will be the same either way, so I guess the question is if it's worth €445/person for 5 days of transportation and sightseeing information.
 

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Only you can decide that...

Remember if you hired a car there would be hire costs plus petrol which you can offset againt that €445pp.

I'm probably teaching my grandmother to suck eggs here, but do check the itinerary carefully and make sure it goes to the places you want too go to. Work out how long you spend travelling each day and how much time that will give you at the different places. You may find that on some days you are spending nearly all your time in the mini bus. Driving times in Ireland can be quite slow. If you want a coffee or a meal, check that you will have time for them as well as seeing what you stopped there to see!

Check wording, as words like pass by, stop and visit have very different meanings.
Pass by - see as you drive past (blink and you may miss it, especially if on the other side of the mini bus)
Stop - this is usually a very brief stop to look at something and take a picture. Alternatively it could just be a short 'comfort stop'. (It's surprising how long this can take too if there are 15 and not many toilets...) If you are lucky it might include a coffee break too!
Visit - you do actually have time to explore a town/village or go into the attraction (Check if entrance fee is included and again check you will have enough time to actually see the place especially if you want lunch there.)

Not having done a Rabbie's tour I can't comment on the sightseeing information given by the driver...
 

artnbarb

1000+ Posts
Thanks for all your input. Art really likes the idea of not driving, and there's no chance that I'll every drive on the 'other' side, so this is a definite possibility. Still waiting for my daughter to decide if there'll be a wedding next year, and if so, when. Until them I can't book anything.
 

Joana

10+ Posts
We made a 15 day trip in Ireland and Northern Ireland by train last September, for the same reasons you mention. Previously I had done trip research and booked our own accommodations. A cousin recommended a small travel firm based in Scotland, which we then used. McKinlay Kidd organized the trip for us, booked B and B’s and our train tickets. They were very helpful with suggestions, an app with maps,etc. It was a great solution to our trip; we were based in Dublin, Galway and Belfast. We took day trips to Inishmore by ferry, and bus trips to New Grange and the Giant’s Causeway. You might want to look at their website to see if it could work for your plans.
 

artnbarb

1000+ Posts
We've decided to take an 8 day tour of the NW coast of Ireland and Northern Ireland. We'll spend 2 nights in Dublin pre-tour, then 2 nights post-tour. There are 16 people maximum on this tour, and Art is really excited to let someone else do the driving. After Dublin we'll fly to Rome to pick up our rental car to drive to Umbria.

The tour we choose is the Wild North Tour with Wild N Happy. So far they've been very responsive and very helpful with suggestions for our time in Dublin. Since we were there just two years ago, we're interested in seeing some of the less-visited sites this time. I may even check out the Dublin zoo.

These little mini-vacations before our time in Umbria are starting to be a tradition!
 

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Sounds like a good trip, taking you to some lovely parts of Ireland. I'm very envious of the day trip to Inis Mór.

If you have time at Giant's Causeway, try to walk up behind the Visitor Centre and along the coast as this gives you views down onto the stones and all the visitors scurrying around a bit like ants. It is possible to continue the walk along the cliffs and drop back down past the rock formation called the 'organ pipes' and then back along the shore to the stones themselves.

Details of the different trails with maps from the Visitor centre here.
 

Alex1983

New Member
Hi, for large groups I would definitely recommend to hire a boat from one of those new boat hire platforms or local boat owners. It's a nice way to enjoy the breathtaking scenery in places such as Causeway Coast and it's less expensive than a bus. I tried it a couple of years ago (in the ROI though, not Ulster) and absolutely loved it!
 

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