When you have a low budget like me and you did not want to spend too many uncomfortable hours on a bus or train, did you already thought about renting a car and sharing epic moments with your companion(s)?
I have rented the car by Europcar in Limerick. It is placed at the street Dock Road which is quite near to Arthur´s Quay. It was easy to rent it because my boyfriend is 25 years old, otherwise as under 25 you must pay probably 50-100€ more. What I did not know before is, if you really want to see the Northern Ireland, for example I booked an Airbnb in Belfast and I wanted to see the Giants Causeway, get in touch with your renting company!
Europcar tracks your car while renting and you must pay an extra insurance for the Northern Ireland because it belongs to the United Kingdom (which I knew, but I did not know about the extra insurance).
However, the company did not let us drive to Belfast which changed a bit the schedule, but still Sligo and Galway were on the list to drive to.
The start was a bit unsure because the driver drives always on the right (the right, of course, and nothing different!) side, not like here on the left one. When I first pictured myself about having a road trip through Ireland, images popped up from a bright countryside, green nature and a lot of sheep. Well, Ireland did not disappoint me at all!
The duration from Limerick to Sligo by car is about 3-4 hours, it depends how fast your never-ever-used-to-left-driver can get. Nevertheless, the hostel we stayed was called Surf ´n´Stay Strandhill Lodge and it was cheap, each of us payed around 24€ per night (incl. delicious breakfast).
Strandhill is a small part of Sligo and you can sleep thanks to the hostel directly next to the waves and the beach. What you should not miss when you visit Strandhill, is the Knocknarea. It is a beautiful hill who is 327 metres high and it offers wooden brick stones to hike around the whole. You experience a hike amidst magnificent trees and the view of being on top of it takes your breath away. Make sure that it will not rain this day like I had to experience it, I got directly sick.
The duration of the journey to Galway by car is 2 ½ hours until our booked hostel. Unlucky, there have been a system error made by the webpage and they did not have a double-room for us.
The good thing was, that they directly changed our reservation into a private Bed and Breakfast around the corner and the price was the same (each 23€ per night, incl. breakfast). We could experience against that how lovely it is to stay in a private B&B! The old lady Betty took so much care about us and in the morning the breakfast was wonderful.
We met new people from France there who could also recommend some spots in Galway. Good for us, in Galway is a parking lot for 5€ for the whole day (it is centred behind the retail park and in the near of the Cathedral).
If you never have been to Galway, forget the Spanish arch – you must see the beach. Just wander from the Spanish arch all the way down to the beach and soon you will find wonderful spots to relax. Also, if you are hungry, the best place to eat pasta is at pastafactory. You can make your own dish of different kinds of pasta. One of the best pubs I have ever seen is the Skeffbar.
I had the pleasure to go there three times with different people and every time was awesome. The pub has many stairs, which gives it a special touch and three levels to go to. Once I was there at a live music event and it amazed me, that Irish people like so much their own national songs. Just go ahead and sing with them, then you will not stand up!
All in all, the journey by car was a cheap way to see a lot in nearly 3 days. If you have a chance and you turned 25 years or soon you are, let´s rent a car and try that crazy left-sided driving. I swear, you will get fast and near to nice spots instead of driving by bus.