Recommendations on booking an affordable quick trip to Rome, Italy or Ireland?

Herman_Snerd

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It's a milestone anniversary year for my wife and I, and I'm looking into a long weekend trip for just us (not incl the kids - rare for us) to Rome or Ireland in July or August. Short one - like 4 days/ 3 nights since she is apprehensive about international travel but wants to go. Each website I'm finding that advertises cheaper trips is like a bait and switch to a much higher cost - like oh we only have that price in November 2025 silliness. Any recommendations on sites/ tips?
 
Ireland is the much shorter journey and less exhausting travel legs. We almost always fly United nonstop from Newark (take Amtrak from BWI airport station near Annapolis to Newark airport station, walk right onto airport tram rail to international terminal) to Shannon in the west of Ireland. Overnight flight, fly into a great airport not set in a metropolitan area, ideally located for either drives to the northwest, southwest or southeast.

We rent a car. I navigate. He dodges lorries on the secondary and tertiary roads.

Given your timeline, I suggest heading for 1 location and making day trips out from there.

We have carved up Ireland doing this because I loathe packing and unpacking every night. So we either cruise or do our hub city/town adventures.

With Shannon as a base airport, a sampling of what we have done:
- Drive south and east to Cashel. Take your time, enjoy the scenery, have a good breakfast or pub lunch on the way. Stay there. See the castle ruins there. Visit Kilkenny, Waterford, Blarney Castle.

- Drive south and west. We stayed in Kenmare. Drove the famed Dingle Peninsula Ring and the Beara Peninsula just south. There are three other famous southern peninsulas - all stunning with rolling hillsides. Crashing ocean waves, stark cliffs, islands. The others are Iveragh, Sheep’s Head and Mizen. Local places to stop for a Guinness or Harp and some local cheese. Kinsale as a day trip - reminded me of Annapolis, small boating town on a beautiful harbor.

- North toward Galway, stopping at the iconic Cliffs of Moher on the way. See The Burren enroute. Plenty of scenic drives. Visit Kylemore Abbey and Gardens. We stayed at Ashford Castle that trip, as it was a milestone event trip. We did the half-day falconry course there at the Ireland School of Falconry. Ventured into the Gaelic-speaking far northwest to visit an ancestral clan castle ruin.

Where to stay: Lots of choices. Castle hotels and country estate hotels to B&Bs. We have had great experiences using Irish Board of Tourism site to book farmhouse or B&B stays.

There are UNESCO heritage sites, castles, henges, country estates, gardens, abbeys, cathedrals, prehistoric sites - anything you like.

As much as I research on the internet, I still buy an old-school paper driving map that shows all the fun ways to get someplace and is handy where there is no phone coverage. The more numbers in the route name, the smaller the road and more serendipitous. I also have the Michelin Green Guide so I can know exactly what is in the area.

We have done similar things flying into Dublin in the east, and either driving north, south or central to our hub town. That’s a whole ‘nother bunch of writing, those trips. The National Stud of Ireland! Newgrange!

Of course, I was stationed in Italy for just under 3 years. You could travel weeks and weeks there and never get it all.

All that said - July and August are horrible times to travel to either country. Tour buses clog the Dingle Peninsula. Crowds everywhere at the major sites. Italy is hot and it’s the vacation month for people there. We typically travel Europe in the shoulder months pre or post summer season.

A last note on Shannon - unless it has changed, you can clear U.S. Customs right at that airport. Saves time in U.S. Shannon also has a great duty-free shipping area. No VAT tax. Buy your gifts there. Caveat: I love the artisanal shops in Kilkenny, beautifully set in the former mews of the Butler family great house. I dislike tourist schlock. Give me handmade woolen socks in the local pattern every time!

A final thought - if you don’t want to drive, fly to Dublin, taxi to a center city place to stay. Get out and walk. Jump in the hop-on-hop-off bus for one daily fare to visit the main sites at your leisure. Eat well.
 
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@Capt MJ coming through again with great advice. DW and I are looking at Italy in 2026. Celebrate 30 years of wedded bliss :). We have also discussed the need to cross the pond for some long weekends to see Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales.
 
Our usual hotel in Dublin is The Westbury. Lovely lobby bar to sink into after a long day of touring, great location with people-watching windows, killer afternoon tea, good food, helpful staff, included full breakfast.

There are accommodations at all price points, well-known chains and independents, center city and a bit further out.IMG_6131.jpeg
 
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@Capt MJ @unkown1961 @LT360 @AF6872

Advice has been terrific and is appreciated - thank you.

We are likely now going around the weekend of June 8th, just for a few days. Maybe avoid the tourist rush and hottest points of the summer. Finding some great airfare deals through both newark liberty and even better ones from JFK, so may take one of those (searched from Baltimore to Boston). I did confirm that my spouse does NOT want to drive/ rent a car, so if we go Ireland, we'll go the Dublin and bus day trip route.

Quick question - If we go to Rome, I'd like a neighborhood that's close to a subway, maybe close to something touristy like the Trevi fountain, and overall with more pedestrian / walkup options for food as we'll do a couple of fancy dinners but most meals would be simple - probably breakfast at the hotel, then walkups/ gelato break etc. Anything come to mind with those goal?

Again thank you for the information shared -it's been most helpful.
 
Good choice by your wife for Ireland. The problem with rental car there is driving on the for us wrong side of the road is the driver never gets to see anything but narrow roads and oncoming traffic.
 
Good choice by your wife for Ireland. The problem with rental car there is driving on the for us wrong side of the road is the driver never gets to see anything but narrow roads and oncoming traffic.
For the record, DH, who bravely handled that in all past trips, has said he is off that watchbill now, he does not want to be in the passenger seat with me driving because he would probably be a terrible front seat passenger driver, and I would probably kill him, which is not covered by travel insurance. He has decreed we will do a car and driver tour or executive bus-sized tours (12-14 pax) for all future opposite driving motorway countries. The worst is driving opposite with a manual. Both of us can and have done it, but it overloads the brain, fighting muscle memory tooth and nail.
 
Officer in the passenger seat of the Deuce and a Half. Ease out into the oncoming lane on the right side and he would slap the dash if it was clear to pass. I drove on the left side of the road for a year came home and drove about fifty yards on the wrong side before the brain corrected.
 
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