You've done it! You've saved up enough money to go to Ireland.
You're already there in your head listening to traditional Irish music, feeling the sea mists on your face, and smelling the harsh acrid and yet sweat smell of peat smoke. But then you realize, you've not actually made any plans yet.
While it's a small country, about 1/5th the size of Germany, Ireland has a lot to offer the common tourist. From the rich history in Dublin, both ancient and modern, to the natural wonders of the Giant's Causeway and the oft-overlooked cliffs of Slieve League.
But the real question is where do you start? Do you begin in the big city and end in the country? Or do you begin with the natural wonders?
Here's a quick bit of information on the two main Ireland Airports.
Ireland Airports: Dublin Airport
If you're a city person, you might want to spend most of your time in Dublin. Really, you could spend weeks exploring this great city and not see everything.
But the Dublin Airport is just outside of Dublin proper. And Dublin is on the east coast of Ireland right next to the Irish Sea.
Advantages of Flying into Dublin First
Apart from just being a fantastic and comfortable port, there are other reasons why you might want to fly into Dublin first.
If you're a frequent traveler, you understand how painful jetlag can be. You also know how unsafe it might be to drive right after getting off that plane.
Dublin's public transport is easily accessible from the airport. You can catch a bus directly into the city. And once in the city, you can use the DART, city buses, or taxis to get around town.
And really, you wouldn't want to drive around Dublin's busy streets.
Access to Everything on the East Coast
Dublin is basically a transportation hub. You can take the DART all the way down to Greystones and see the coast or all the way up to Malahide or Howth.
Buses and trains leave regularly for Belfast and the North. And if you want to go west, you can take trains and Buses across this fairly small island.
Shannon airport is the choice of most American Presidents when they arrive. Probably has something with the U.S. troops flown through there each year.
But if you want to visit the country, then this is the airport to fly into whether you feel presidential or not.
You've got almost medieval Galway just down the road. There the Ring of Kerry just south. And the famous cliffs of Moher just North.
You could take a bike ride on the Aran Islands or tour one of the many abbeys on the West Coast. And if you are a fan of Star Wars, you can visit one of the most picturesque scenes from the newer films, Skellig Island.
Fun fact: the porgs in the film were invented to replace the thousands of native inhabitants on the island. And those inhabitants are puffins.
Dublin and Shannon are the largest airports in Ireland. If you want to experience the southern coast exclusively, however, fly into Cork. Hook Lighthouse and Waterford are nearby and Cork is known for its traditional Irish culture.
Ireland West Airport
Northwest Ireland is uniquely beautiful. The cliffs at Slieve League slope quickly into the sea (so be careful when hiking near them). They are tallest in all of Europe.
If medieval castles are your thing, then the Northwest is where you'll find them. Donegal castle is one of the most well preserved.
Ireland West sits just outside of Sligo.
Just Choose and Go
Really, Ireland is small enough, you can get to any part of the island from either airport. Just pick from the two Ireland airports and go.