Q: I would like to take a seven- to 10-day trip to Ireland this summer with my 20-year-old daughter. We plan to stay about three days in Dublin (a self-tour we think we can manage), but we’d also like to travel around the country a little without renting a car. Are there short-term tours available that wouldn’t be geared toward seniors?
TRAVEL CONCIERGE: The bus tour does tend to attract a certain non-texting demographic shall we say. So why not continue the DIY theme beyond Dublin with day tours catered to your interests that are sure to attract a more mixed bag of travellers?
Exploring Dublin – from Trinity College to the Guinness Storehouse – is indeed easy with a Dublin Pass ( dublinpass.ie) or the hop-on/hop-off bus ( www.dublinsightseeing.ie), says Andrea Gannon, marketing and publicity assistant for Tourism Ireland. Travelling between major towns and cities is straightforward too by bus or train, she says. (Check out these links: www.buseireann.ie and www.irishrail.ie)
As to where to go next, I asked Globe columnist and author John Doyle, who grew up in Dublin. He suggests you make Galway City, about two hours from Dublin, your next base.
“Galway itself is lovely,” says Doyle, author of A Great Feast of Light. “There are great old bars, plenty of traditional music sessions and it’s a little wild, unto itself.”
Sightseeing hits from Galway include the medieval walled town of Athenry and the village of Aughrim, the site of an important and bloody battle. From Galway, the Aran Islands are a 90-minute ferry ride (or splurge on a helicopter ride).
“The islands are magical, placed as they are in the Atlantic, the last outpost of Europe,” Doyle says. “It’s as Gaelic as all get-out.”
On Inis Mor, the largest island, you can explore the wildflower-rich landscape, rent a bike or settle in for the night at a family run guest house. (Plus, you can pick up matching mom and daughter knit jumpers.)
Doyle also recommends seeing the beaches, bogs, rivers and mountains of Connemara. (Check out discoverireland.com for links). “Connemara is truly special too and anyone visiting Galway must take a bus tour around it. The landscape is astonishing, bleak, beautiful, and the light is unlike anywhere in Europe.”
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