After blowing off London to extend our honeymoon in Paris, our last stop was Ireland. We flew from Paris to Dublin by way of London Heathrow and it could not have gone smoother. I think it is important, however, to be aware of the fact that you have to go through a second (and more thorough) screening process than on any other connecting European flight, so leave yourself plenty of time.
Keep a close eye on the gate information screens. Our gate was announced and it seemed like 5 minutes later, it was flashing that boarding was closing. We had to connect to an offsite boarding area via bus and go through more security. It was intense – and I’m not going to lie, it made me a little bit nervous. I just kept reminding myself that they do all of this to keep people safe. You just need to pay close attention to your flight because this is one time not to mess around – I think it would be really easy to miss it if you aren’t careful.
Since this was my husband’s dream trip, I really left it up to him to plan our honeymoon in Ireland after I took care of the flights and accommodations. I expected that we would take it easy and wind down but that was definitely not the case! We spent exactly zero time in Dublin and drove over 500 miles through the countryside in search of green vistas, castles, sheepies (sheep), and cows…. so if you’re looking for a city guide, I’m not your girl! That being said, here’s an entire post dedicated to things to know before traveling to Ireland! Without further adieu, here’s everything you need to know about our trip.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for tours and products I love at no additional cost to you. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Tips for Driving in Ireland:
We rented a car (and drove on the opposite side of the road – yikes!) – word to the wise – take the full coverage insurance unless you are familiar with driving on the “wrong” side of the road. You’re going to get charged a crazy deposit and an administrative fee if you don’t AND credit card companies usually have an Ireland exclusion. We NEVER take car rental insurance; this is the time to do it.
We also splurged for the GPS because our international data plan was incredibly limited – and it probably would not have been much help on the backroads of Ireland. Get an automatic transmission because the shift is going to be on the opposite side of the car and who really wants to worry about that when you have so many other things to worry about?! Our $44.00 rental car went up to $300.00 by the time we added all the extras. It was worth it for the peace of mind.
Take an umbrella/raincoat. The weather changed drastically as we drove from place to place. Our hotel had free umbrellas we could borrow and they were sturdy enough to withstand the wind and block the rain.
Favorite Things about our Honeymoon in Ireland
The Rock of Cashel
I think this was one of my favorites! It’s perched up on a hill and overlooks some of the most beautiful green pastures – classic Ireland. They have a great introduction film that gave me a little more insight into the Irish castles. (Newsflash – the castles we visited weren’t what I expected castles to be!) It also has a beautiful cemetery with ornate stone headstones, Celtic crosses, and more. It was absolutely beautiful. We walked down to the Hore Abby and explored it, too…. This was the Ireland my husband had always dreamed of – so it was incredible to see the sheer disbelief on his face. We spent a lot of time wandering around this area! (See more of our Rock of Cashel photos!)
St. Mary’s Cathedral
I loved this one too. It’s still a functioning church and it invoked all the good feelings for me. I really loved the courtyard area and the gothic-style architecture – though it didn’t stretch as tall as Notre Dame – it was still beautiful. Definitely worth the trip and had the easiest parking of anywhere we went.
- Ormond Castle – we drove all the way here, found a parking spot, made the trek to the castle… and found it under restoration. I was so sad. It looked beautiful! Check on these details before heading out.
- Roads are small. Even the large roads are small. Drive slowly and pull over to the side to let people pass. I definitely was the most nervous opposite-side front seat driver ever and my husband did an amazing job – but even he was amazed by how tiny of some of the two-lane roads are. Case and point below. This is a two-lane road.
Where We Stayed on our Honeymoon in Ireland
I had been looking forward to this hotel the most because of its beautiful location. It’s a former Ritz Carlton property located inside the Powerscourt Gardens that overlooks Sugarloaf Mountain. The rooms are gorgeous, the scenery is beautiful, but the service was so disappointing. From the moment we checked in until breakfast on our last morning, I felt like we were a burden on the hotel staff.
There was no one to help with bags, no directions to our room, and no platinum arrival gift. One night, we ordered dessert from room service and they called back 15 minutes after we ordered to ask “What do you want again?” It took another 45 minutes to get a cookie and ice cream delivered. We asked for towels to be sent up because they didn’t service our room throughout our entire stay – the towels never showed up. My husband went down to breakfast where he was told “he wasn’t on a list” and instead of being allowed to sit while they figured it out, they made him stand and wait for 15 minutes in the empty restaurant.
Breakfast is a lavish spread of fruit, pastries, and some hot foods, but I’m not sure how much I would pay for it if it didn’t come with your room rate, which the front desk staff so graciously pointed out at check-in instead of letting me know that it is, in fact, a platinum benefit for us. Lastly, they double charged us for the room – which was only rectified through a series of emails.
I brought the issues to the attention of Marriott International, who turned it over to the property, and I got a half-hearted apology that was so insincere that I wish I hadn’t reached out at all.
I know they were hosting Toshiba while we were there, but that’s no excuse for poor service for your “regular” guests.
The hotel is a short drive from a small town that has a couple of restaurants and a mini-market. We were there in off-season, so most things closed early. We had to plan our meals very carefully.
Be Prepared for the Dublin Airport
Remember when I told you security was intense flying to Ireland? Well. Departing from Ireland is also intense.
GIVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME.
We left with plenty of time to check in two hours early, but we got turned around when we were trying to turn in the rental car. It was raining. We convinced the shuttle driver to drop us off first and ran to the American Airlines check-in desk which was almost closed – like they were walking away closed. Thankfully, a kind soul saw us and got to work getting our bags checked in. Her colleague tried to charge us for overweight bags, but she pointed out that we were flying business class so we should be fine. Our bags went standby and she told us to RUN to security.
We waited behind the SLOWEST people and no one would fast-track us despite the fact they kept calling our flight. Once we cleared security line number 1, we ran to security line number 2. After security line number 2, we had to sprint again… only to find out that Dublin has Pre-Clearance for US Customs… and it wasn’t until we waited for a seemingly long time that someone told us that we could use our global entry to clear customs at a kiosk.
From there, we ran to the gate. Thankfully, we made our flight; I’m pretty sure we were on the last flight to the US that day. Getting stuck would have been a mess!
So. GIVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME.
It’s INTENSE and so different than anywhere else I’ve flown out of in the EU.SaveSave
Biana @Blovedboston says
I have to be honest and say that Ireland has never really been on my must see list, but it’s 100% on my husbands! After this post I’m ready for a trip there! It looked incredible! xo, biana –BlovedBoston
SMD @ Life According to Steph says
So weird, I spent yesterday evening plotting out the Ireland part of our trip next year. We are spending some time in Dublin so my Dad can see it, but not a lot. Dublin is a city, just like cities all over the world. Ireland lies in the countryside.
Such a beautiful country! I can’t wait to visit some day. Too bad about that hotel though. I can’t believe they were so rude!
I have never been anywhere in Europe and I’m dying to go. I have countries I’d obviously like to see more than others, but really I’d go anywhere given the opportunity! Ireland looks absolutely gorgeous. What an awesome honeymoon you had!
its just so green and gorgeous. and just gah. i LOVE IT. and might have to add ireland to the list of places we need to visit!
Katie Elizabeth says
Love love love. Ireland is the only European country that appeals to my husband to visit (sigh…) so I may use this to convince him that it’s time to book a trip 😉
So beautiful! Would love to visit there one day 🙂
My husband and I visited Ireland over Christmas break last year and loved it! We too did a TON of driving while there, but only managed to have one scare. Thanks for bringing back my own memories of the Emerald Isle 🙂
Click here to read about own own adventures in Ireland! http://www.submergedoaks.com/blog?category=Ireland
All the sights you saw are so gorgeous! The cliffside views are amazing! We have been talking about maybe tying Ireland in with London and I’m loving this information!
looks like you guys went to some awesome places!! but ahh london – one of my fav places of all time!
Ash @ The Nashvillian says
Absolutely gorgeous photos! What a lovely honeymoon.
Wow! This is so much good advice! We are renting a car, too and want to make sure it will be automatic since we’re dealing with the other side of the road. So good to have the advice about extra time at the airport, too! Thanks!