On my recent trip to Ireland I did something that is not normal for me to do. I went on three different organized bus tours. I usually do not like organized tours because you are on their schedule and do not get to take things at your own pace. I decided on the tours because I did not want to rent a car this was my only good option to get to the places I wanted to see.
The tours were to different areas of the country and involved seeing some of the natural wonders of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The main highlights of the tours were the Cliffs of Mohr, The Giants Causeway & Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and The Connemera Region. Since there is a lot of competition the tours were very reasonably priced and ranged from $25-$35 for the day. There were also some additional fees at the attractions that were not included in the tour fee.
I used three different companies to take these tours and the experiences were varied. There are many companies that do the exact same tour so you basically have to just pick one and hope that you got a good one. Reading the online reviews may help you choose but good reviews in the past do not always translate to the tour that you are taking. The one tour that came most highly recommended was the worst one that I took. The biggest factor in what makes the difference between a good trip and a bad trip is the driver/tour guide. I was lucky enough to have good tour guides on two out of the three tours.
One of the things that I observed on all three tours is that we skipped attractions that were advertised in the brochures or had less time than we needed at the big attractions. I often found myself hurrying to see what I wanted to see because we did not have enough time. I was disappointed that the main attractions of the tours were rushed because we had to keep to a schedule. This happened at the Cliffs of Mohr and the Giants Causeway. These are two places that deserve more than the time that we had.
If you have not taken a organized bus tour before I have listed some of the pros and cons below.
Reason to take a organized bus tour
- You do not want to drive in a foreign country
- You want relax and see the scenery while someone else does the driving
- The price is usually reasonable for the experience that you get
- You want to visit places that would be difficult to get to on your own
- Tour guides can provide valuable information about the local culture
- You get to meet other travelers from different countries
Reasons not to take an organized bus tour
- You like to move at your own pace and do not want to be confined to a schedule
- You want to see what you want and not the things that do not interest you
- You do not want to spend all day in a bus full of strangers
Overall I did enjoy the tours that I took and will consider taking other bus tours in the future.