Dublin or Shannon Airports?

June 19, 2011


We are planning a trip to Ireland next spring, and will be renting a car. Since this is our first trip to Ireland and we will be learning to drive on the left for the first time, we’re wondering which airport is least panic inducing for first timers. I’ve heard Dublin is a “show no fear” airport drive, while Shannon is less so. Our itinerary will be based on our choice of airports.

PS: Love this site and will be bringing more questions as we plan!

14 Answers

  • Lorraine Carolan says:

    Hi I am flying into Dublin Airport in later September. I come in at midnight and will spend the night Then renting a car to drive west(pick my sisters up at ShannonAirport). So the best way to drive(a bit nervous as I will be alone and new to leftside) to Shannon Airport is M7? Any suggestions? then we all three, will tour for 10 days. ideas welcome.

  • Theresa Ayotte says:

    So glad I stumbled upon this info. We are planning our trip for next year. How did your trip go?

  • Margie says:

    My daughter is planning a 10 day tour of Ireland in July of this year. She is planning to fly in to shannon airport and ride buses to Ennis, Kenmare, Kinsale, Cork, Waterford, and Kilkenny, then on to dublin. Does your recommendation to not make reservations, except for dublin, still apply, with her trip being at peak tourist season?

  • nancy says:

    I’ve been following the replies and your questions, and I would just like to make a couple suggestions. Hope you don’t mind, but here goes. Don’t go crazy the first day, or you will be out of your mind with fatigue. Adare is an easy drive from Shannon and it is beautiful. It is a calm little town, perfect for the first night and then maybe head for the Dingle the next day.

    On our first trip, our biggest mistake was trying to cover too much territory in the first day and also the rest of the week. We found we wanted to linger in certain areas, for example Killarney , Kenmare and Bantry, but we had a hard and fast agenda. That was a mistake. The Southwest is a wonderful place to start for a first trip. That quadrant of County Clare down to County Cork will give you more things to see, and do, than you will have the time for in a week. And you won’t be constantly driving. As far as the highways to cut down on time, you can drive on a highway here. Why miss all the charm of the back roads and little towns with castles. The highways are not breathtaking, the lesser roads are.

    If you can’t tell by now, I have to tell you I love Ireland – the people, the land, the history, and, yes, the food!!! Soak in all of it when you are there. Before you ever leave to go home from Ireland, if you’re like me, you will be trying to figure out when you can come back.

    • jamesk says:

      Your suggestions are right in sync with how we want this trip to be. It’s going to be hard, but I think we’ll have a much better time by coming up with a short list and, as you say, linger in a few places, rather than trying to see everything, which is not how I like to travel anyway. Thank you for your suggestions! If I was rich and retired I’d be there right now!

    • Jenn says:

      Hi James,
      What itenerary did you settle with?
      I am trying to plan an 8 day trip (10 total with travel days— Friday-Sunday)
      and it is really hard to figure out the best route to take and places to see.
      We are fast tourists and usually move pretty quickly through places but I don’t want to be on the road the entire time. I would love to know how your trip went and where you would recommend visiting.
      Thank you!

  • Bill says:

    Shannon is definitely easier to start off with ‘driving on the wrong side of the road’ You are in the backyard of Galway (Connemara) and Clare (Burren). A new road was recently opened between Galway and Dublin and you can be there in just over 2 hours with a toll costing approx €5.

    Don’t worry if you get lost, the Irish are very friendly and helpful, and will get you back on track again very quickly!

    • jamesk says:

      Thank you. Bill! It’s unanimous for Shannon! Is it an easy drive from Shannon to Adare? We were thinking that be a good place to recharge after the long flight, then go counterclockwise around the south to Dublin, then back to Shannon before leaving for home. Sounds like we may need to rethink and get to Galway first. Any thoughts?

    • Bill says:

      Hi James,
      Adare or Bunratty would be close and fine to rest after the flight and begin your odyssey from there. There is beauty everywhere in Ireland and certainly the South and East coasts, as you propose, have their fair share of spectacular scenery also.However, Galway, and Connemara in particular, is incredible and it was described by Oscar Wilde as a ‘ savage beauty’. It would be a pity to miss out on this, especially as you are flying into Shannon.

    • jamesk says:

      We’ve got some tough choices to make! We have 11 days, but want to soak it in, and not just do a checklist. If that means we only see the west, or south this time round, that’s ok. Thanks for your suggestions!

  • Katherine says:

    Agree completely with Nancy. I live here and find the drive out of Dublin Airport a nightmare. Shannon wins every time.

    Have you seen this Shannon to Galway itinerary? You can drive out of Shannon Airport and withing minutes be touring your way to Galway. If you arrive on an early flight, it’s a great first day in Ireland.

    Have a great trip!

    • jamesk says:

      Many thanks! Our tentative plan was to drive from Shannon to Adare, then start a counterclockwise coastal tour thru the South, perhaps winding things up in Dublin. Although, we may have to rethink, as so many are recommending Galway. My hope is to keep the backtracking to a minimum, so as to spend the least amount of time driving, and the most actually seeing Ireland!

      My wife wants to see a puffin close up, and from what I’ve read, chances are good in certain southwest coastal areas. Would you agree?

      Thank you for responding! This site has already been a huge help!

  • nancy says:

    Definitely Shannon. My husband and I have been several times and, because you will be somewhat tired and keyed up from your overnite flight, I think Dublin would be overwhelming. Shannon is a small airport, with little traffic to contend with, which is especially helpful when you are starting your “Look right, stay left” journey. I also found the drivers in this area to be very patient. Good luck and have fun.

    Don’t worry too much about getting lost, you will find that those are the side trips you will remember and laugh about the most.

    • jamesk says:

      Thank you for your response! Others have said the same thing, so that’s the way we’ll go. We’re planning a counterclockwise itinerary, with the first day from Shannon to Adare, then on to Dingle, making our way thru the South to Dublin then back to Shannon.

      Thanks again for your input! The site is turning out to be a great clearinghouse of info!

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