Must-sees and advice for short Ireland-Isle of Man - England visit?
May 25, 2012 10:46 AM   Subscribe

Help my boyfriend have an awesome solo Ireland - Isle of Man - England trip! He's leaving today, and while the major transportation and lodging is figured out, he's looking for suggestions of things for the day-to-day, as well as driving route suggestions.

My boyfriend (30, very outdoorsy, rides a motorcycle) is leaving tonight for a trip that culminates in a friend's wedding. The itinerary is:

Saturday: land in Dublin, Dublin things (Trinity College, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Guinness tour)
Sunday - Monday: driving around Ireland in a rental car (picking up Sat afternoon, return Monday evening in Dublin)
Tuesday: ferry to Isle of Man
Weds - Thurs: Isle of Man, and the practice week of the Isle of Man Motorcycle race.
Friday: ferry to Heysham, England (north of Liverpool) quite early in the morning, pick up rental car.
Saturday: friend's wedding in the early afternoon in Stanstead, England, north of London. Fly back to the US Sunday morning.

He hasn't done much solo travel, and I want him to have an awesome time and not miss out on cool stuff. I've never been to Ireland, so I'm hoping you guys can help him out. He's looking for:

Things to do in Dublin: Anything neat happening Saturday? What would be a good place to get a few beers that isn't too drunken-studenty? Where should he eat? (He doesn't love fish, but I may be able to talk him into trying that famous fish and chips place)

Driving around Ireland: With only 2 days, where should he drive to? Older threads suggest that the area around Donegal is lovely and wild, and I think he would really like that kind of rugged beauty. Suggestions as to itinerary, can't-miss places, and someplace to stay on Sunday are much appreciated. As it's only 2 days, it seems like the northern parts of Ireland are more accessible without spending all day in the car.

Isle of Man: Any suggestions from people who've been there during the TT craziness about where to watch from, places not to miss, and good places to meet fellow motorcyclists? He's bringing a jacket and boots, but hasn't made any provisions to rent a bike there. Other things to see on the Isle of Man?

England: What's an interesting, scenic route between Heysham and Stanstead? Could he squeeze in a quick visit to the Lake District National park? Where should he stay en route that's an easy striking distance to Stanstead? He doesn't want to bank on making good time from somewhere far away in the morning, so as to cut out the risk of missing or being late for the wedding.

posted by foodmapper to Travel & Transportation around Ireland, Scotland (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Cambridge is a very nice place that would be an easy drive to Stansted. Might be wise to book a hotel in advance though as it can get very busy.

Can't help with a scenic driving route - I wouldn't do that trip in a day, but then I'm not keen on driving.
posted by kadia_a at 10:49 AM on May 25, 2012

Response by poster: Quick edit: the wedding is in Little Sampford, Essex.
posted by foodmapper at 10:57 AM on May 25, 2012

Best answer: For places to see in Ireland on a two-day jaunt, I guess it depends on what he's interested in seeing, and how comfortable he feels driving on the opposite side of the road. For example, when my sister came to see me in Ireland, her two must-sees were castles and dairy farms. We went down to Cork as a result.

I'd actually recommend going to Galway. It's two hours' drive, and beyond it is Connemara, which is very ruggedy and beautiful. If he's fussed, he could even catch the ferry to Aran for a couple of hours. And Galway city is famous for its music and good vibe.

As for a place to stay, I have heard very good things from close friends about this place: An Caladh Gearr Thatched Cottage B&B
posted by LN at 11:04 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If there's time Saturday, I'd recommend this walking tour, which is amazing.

For the two day drive, I'd recommend doing something like heading due west across the country to Galway. As mentioned above, it's awesome. He could take an alternate route back, perhaps snaking south through Cork. And if there's time, take a drive around the Dingle Peninsula.
posted by lholladay at 11:49 AM on May 25, 2012

Best answer: Could he squeeze in a quick visit to the Lake District National park?

It'd mean going back on himself, and it wouldn't be quick: driving in the south Lakes takes longer than the map suggests, partly because of Morecambe Bay, partly because the nice roads are usually busy with visitors. I think it'd make more sense to break up the journey by crossing the Pennines via Snake Pass (A57) or Woodhead Pass (A628) which will put him near Sheffield: he'll need to be comfortable driving on the left and have his biker's sense of awareness. Not as spectacular as the Lakes, but still pretty rugged.
posted by holgate at 12:04 PM on May 25, 2012

Does he like whiskey? Because there's a whiskey event on in the Mansion House right near Trinity. (I think is might be 30 euro entry.) The place in Dublin that you might not think to go is St Michans Church near the Jameson distillery; they have mummies in their crypt! You used to get to shake the crusader's hand, but those days are gone.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:26 PM on May 25, 2012

Best answer: Also Donegal is gorgeous (it's where I'm from) and if he stays in Bunbeg or somewhere around there he'll hear Irish and some good trad music, if he's into that. I'd also suggest going to Antrim and the Giant's Causway. Stunning scenery.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:30 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Sorry - this is my last comment! He should stay out of Temple Bar for drinking. I highly recommend Grogans near the Powerscourt Shopping Centre, Mulligans for good Guinness, the Sackville near Clerys. But the best list of Dublin pubs is that on the blog 'Come here to me'; they really cover a lot of them.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:36 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have been to the Isle of Man and my best friends mother was born there. I'm very close to the family and am familiar with the bike race. If you would like, Memail me and I can give you more information.
posted by brittaincrowe at 4:00 PM on May 25, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! He (and I) really appreciate it. He'll be checking this thread from Ireland/the UK, so keep it going!
posted by foodmapper at 5:16 PM on May 25, 2012

Best answer: 2 days isn't much time to drive around Ireland, unless he wants to sit in the car enjoy the passing scenery! ;)

It's 4 hours to Donegal Town, and then you could spend another fews hours just trying to get up to Malin Head (the most northerly point in Ireland).

Here's what I'd suggest, head out the M4 to the N4 head towards Sligo, look for signs for Carrowkeel (it's an amazing and accessible megalithic grave site) just off the N4 before Sligo. There's a Donkey Sanctuary nearby (bring them some carrots). That'a about 2.5 hours from Dublin (barring traffic and getting used to the steering wheel being on the other side of the car).

From there, he could stop in Sligo Town for lunch, then head down towards County Donegal , stopping at Yeat's Grave, then stopping in Bundoran (ask where Tullan Strand is), then on to Rossnowlagh for some surf and more beach. If there's a bit of craic about, he could stay in the Beachhouse hotel, hang out on the beach, drink in the Surfers Bar, have dinner at the Smugglers Creek. Then head off the next day to check Donegal's West coast (and stopping in Donegal Town first to see the Castle and buy a soft-drink from my cousin Maurice's shop on Bridge Street), and see Slieve League (impressive cliffs) or head North up towards Letterkenny and over to Glenveagh before stopping at lesbiassparrow's Bunbeg.

The only problem I see with all that, is the drive back! It could take 5 - 6 hours to get back to Dublin Airport from Northern Donegal.

Alternatively, head to Galway City, find some digs (a place to stay), dump the car, head to the Aran Islands for the day, come back, go on the lash (drinking) make new friends. Enjoy first hangover in Ireland. ;)



Donegal Town (there's a festival on this weekend):

Slieve League:


posted by zaphod at 8:28 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone!

For future travelers - Donegal was a big hit, as was the Slieve Liege. On the Isle of Man the steam train also got a good review, as did just taking in the countryside.
posted by foodmapper at 12:58 PM on July 2, 2012

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