When I first started planning my time in Ireland the top things that I wanted to see were countryside and castles. I wanted to see nature and natural beauty and lush greenness. After researching the top things to do in Ireland I knew that getting over to the west coast to see the Cliffs of Moher was a definite must-do. And from there my plans for Galway Ireland started to fall into place!
The Transportation Dilemma
Since seeing the Irish countryside wouldn’t be possible without some mode of transportation I decided that a tour bus was my best option. Renting a car for one person wasn’t as cost effective plus navigating random country roads by myself did not appeal to me at all. During this trip I wasn’t brave enough to attempt driving by myself in a different country but now that I’ve done it I wouldn’t hesitate to do it in Ireland when I go back. I have however heard that navigating some of the country roads can be quite an experience!
Initially I was a bit leery of the tour bus option since it seemed so touristy and lacking in flexibility, however this specific tour ended up being one of my favorite parts of my entire trip. I booked a two day tour package through the Galway Tour Company. You have the option of starting the tour in Galway or for a few extra bucks they’ll pick you up in Dublin. Since I flew into Dublin I was thrilled to have an easy way to make it over to Galway and have it all be part of the same package.
The Benefits of Going The Tour Bus Route
It’s about a two hour bus ride from Dublin to Galway and I spent the time peacefully napping on the comfy tour bus. I also quickly found out that taking a tour bus is ideal when you’re traveling alone. I met two girls who were traveling together and eventually met up with them in another city in Ireland later in my trip. I met a group of six girls who were traveling Europe together for multiple weeks and hung out with them quite a bit. I also met a girl who was staying in Dublin for a month and she and I hung out at the Cliffs of Moher and took pictures for each other. So not only was the tour company itself wonderful but it was a great way to connect with other travelers.
Also, after doing all of my own planning for every little detail of the trip, it was really nice to sit back and let the tour company do all the work. I just had to get off at the right times, and the rest of the time I got to sit back and watch the Irish countryside go by while listening to fantastic bus drivers who were immensely entertaining.
I got to see a lot of cool things during the two tour days, way more than I could hope to cover in a blog post. I’ll try to cover some of the highlights though.
The Cliffs of Moher
The most important thing is that I discovered my favorite place on earth during the first day of the tour. It had been overcast all morning but when we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher in the afternoon we got a glorious dose of sunshine. Sadly I was only able to spend two hours there but it was hands down my favorite two hours of my entire trip. I am in love with that place. The natural beauty is stunning and none of my pictures can truly do it justice but here are some pictures anyway.
See those tiny little people in this picture? That gives perspective to how big these cliffs really are.
Other Stops During The Tours
The Burren – amazingly unique landscape.
Cong – An adorable and very tiny town that’s completely surrounded by rivers.
Kylemore Abbey – this is a pretty classic Irish tourist destination and it’s absolutely stunning.
Included with the bus tours was a 1.5 hour walking tour of Galway itself. Like both of the bus drivers I had the guide for the walking tour was awesome and I loved every minute of it. I also loved every part of Galway that I go to see (although I’m sure I saw mainly the touristy part).
Random tidbit: Galway is pronounced gaul-way (like gallbladder). I was saying it wrong for the longest time before some of my co-workers from Galway taught us the correct way to say it!
I went to a pub that was recommended by one of my co-workers prior to the trip and ended up being there on a night with a fantastic band and some great Irish dancers. I absolutely loved the music. The pub is called The Kings Head and I highly recommend it if you ever have an evening to spend in Galway!
Amusingly enough the hostel that was included as part of my two day tour package ended up being my favorite hostel in Ireland. I spent hours upon hours researching all the hostels for my trip and the one hostel that I didn’t actually pick myself ends up being one of my favorites. Funny how things like that work out!
I stayed at Snoozles Galway and would recommend it for anyone looking for hostel accommodations in Galway!
Galway (and Ireland in general) is currently my favorite city/country that I’ve ever been to. I can’t get enough of the green lush beauty and the amazingly nice people. A good Irish accent is absolutely wonderful from my perspective. Hopefully someday I’ll get to pay another visit to my (current) favorite country!
It was also during this trip that I learned that taking bus tours can be a fantastic way to experience a country despite the obvious limitations on flexibility and despite the fact that they stick to the pretty touristy places. But let’s be real – most of the time I end up going to the touristy places even when I plan out all the details myself! I greatly enjoyed being able to sit back and enjoy the (gorgeous) view while someone else did all the work. ;)
Next stop in Ireland – Dublin!