Ireland is notable for all kinds of guided tours that come with lots of pros and cons. While some visitors get around the island on their own, others look for help at local tourist offices. Adhering to their services, the latter group agrees to all pros and cons of guided tours in Ireland.
Pros and Cons of Guided Tours in Ireland
Choosing to explore Ireland on the guided tours with all their pros and cons is a matter of preferences. Some people find it relieving to get help with their itineraries from the local tourist offices. Before visiting Ireland, I saw more cons than pros associated with any kind of the guided tours. And thus, my first impulse was always trying to avoid them. The Emerald Isle completely change my perspective. In fact, booking not one, but two guided tours let me explore Ireland beyond Dublin and its surroundings. With that experience behind my belt, I have compiled a list of pros and cons of the guided tours in Ireland.
HERE IS THE LIST OF PROS AND CONS OF THE GUIDED TOURS IN IRELAND:
Pros of the Guided Bus Tours in Ireland
1. Easy Rides
Irish roads are notable to being extremely narrow. In fact, so narrow, that cars coming from the opposite directions need to slow down to almost turtle’s speed and carefully pass by each other. At the same time, each car often also moves a little bit off the road. This way of driving shows respect to your fellow driver, provides enough space for another car to pass by. Moreover, it becomes a necessity to prevents collisions on the narrow rural roads of Ireland.
Add to this the fact that the Irish drive on the left side of the road, and you get yourself plenty of reasons to avoid driving here altogether. In truth, it was the main reason I decided to explore Ireland on the guided bus tours. And I couldn’t be happier observing the madness of the Irish roads from the comfort of my passenger seat.
2. Very Informative
Apart from the carefree rides, the guided tours in Ireland load you with tons of information. Here you learn about the history and interesting facts of the island. Additionally, visitors get to know the most unusual things and details about each and every place they stop at or pass by. Moreover, your drivers-guides throw in personal stories and experiences making you feel like you’re exploring Ireland with a friend.
3. Hidden Spots
Regardless how thoroughly you research a new destination, your itinerary would often lack the most interesting, yet hidden spots. When committing to the guided tours in Ireland, you get to see all the gems in the area that only a local would know about. Furthermore, your guide let you know which restaurant or stores to avoid and which ones not to miss at any cost.
4. Discounted Rates
Signing up for the guided tours in Ireland can even save you money. Majority of places offer a discounted rate for the groups. Moreover, you don’t need to worry about parking fees. Your driver-guide takes care of it.
5. Travel Companions
Another great advantage of choosing the guided tours in Ireland over driving yourself is that you make friends by default. It might be not as relevant to families or friends who travel together as to solo travelers. Besides having a companion to talk to, they instantly get a new friend to help with their travel pictures. Going back to the previous advantage, you end up saving money even on tripod. Assuming that your new travel companion is good at taking pictures, tripod becomes merely an extra item to add weight in your purse or backpack.
6. Additional Savings
Some guided tour companies in Ireland offer additional 5% discount when booking your next tour with them. Just mention the name of your previous driver-guide and see how the price goes down.
Cons of the Guided Bus Tours in Ireland
1. Inflexible Itinerary
Your itinerary is built to suit the majority. It also takes into consideration physical health and strength of an average traveler. Therefore, long hikes that include climbing are out of question when exploring Ireland as a member of the guided tours. On the other hand, tourist companies never discriminate travelers with disabilities. However, not all places you’re going to see provide assistance for wheelchair travelers.
2. No Spontaneous Stops
Not the biggest island in Europe, Ireland entices with variety of landscapes. Its signature pastures with short rocky walls and occasional flocks of sheep represent the simple beauty of the island. Tree tunnels turning into colorful blankets in fall seem to swallow even the largest vehicles on the road. There is beauty in everything and around every corner. And at some point during your journey you want to stop, get out of the car, and simply feel fresh air on your skin. You want to capture this beauty, take a walk, and see what’s behind that hill.
But when on the guided bus tours, you are often limited to only enjoy the landscapes of Ireland from the window of the bus. There is no extra stops to take pictures or see what a random village on your way has to offer. This is by far one of the biggest disadvantages of the guided tours not only in Ireland, but elsewhere. And for somebody like me who keeps her travel itinerary rather flexible, it becomes the biggest drawback.
3. Limited Lunch or Dinner Choices
Inability to be spontaneous with your travel plans when on the guided tours in Ireland also extends to limited lunch or dinner choices. With just one or two hours allotted for lunch, you are forces to stick to only nearby restaurants and café. Even if the food there doesn’t speak to your liking, you’re inclined to buy it. There is no time to go to the other side of the village or city to eat food that suits you palates.
4. Pace of the Guided Tours in Ireland
You’ll be surprised to find out how often you’d prefer to stay longer in one place and shorten your visit in another. On my two guided tours in Ireland, I desperately wanted to spend more time exploring waterfalls and lakes near Glendalough. One the other hand, I didn’t need an hour to walk around Baltinglass after seeing its 12th-century abbey. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any control of the pace and schedule of any of these guided tours. All I could do was just relax and go with the flow.
5. Inconveniences when Traveling with Strangers
While meeting new friends on the guided tours in Ireland seems appealing to some people, others find it inconvenient to travel with the strangers. There are ample reasons to feel this way. Some of these travelers might snore and feel uncomfortable to sleep on a bus full of other people. Others can’t stand loud music or talking. Thus, booking the guided tours can easily ruin any of your trips in Ireland.
6. Being at “Mercy” of your Bus Driver
Usually the guided tours in Ireland don’t deviate from their pre-planned itineraries. However, due to unpredictable weather, the bus drivers are allowed to skip some places if they find them risky at the moment.
I remember the time when I went on a guided tour to the Cliffs of Moher. There were two buses from the same company on that day. On our way back to Dublin, it looked like it was about to start raining. Therefore, the first bus driver didn’t even bothered to stop at the Burren. Phill, our guide, on the other hand, didn’t want us to miss the opportunity to see the most unusual place in Ireland. I can consider myself lucky to be on the bus with Phill. But I feel sorry for people of the other bus to be so close to the Burren, and yet see it only from the window of the bus.
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