We may have been a bit too ambitious with this trip, trying to get everything we could into one vacation. However, as usual, we were trying to make the best of expensive summer flights to Europe. This was an 18 day trip driving all around Ireland, then flying off to Edinburgh, Scotland followed by Copenhagen, Denmark, and ending in Stockholm, Sweden.
Also keep in mind that hotels in Europe are different from those here. If you have three people, you’re likely to book a Triple room which will have three single beds or one double and one single. They’re always more expensive. If you have four people, you’ll have a hard time finding a room at a traditional European hotel. Likely you’ll need an American chain or you’ll want to book two separate double rooms or a “family” room if you can find one.
Here’s our itinerary as it stood prior to arriving:
For more details on our stops, and an example of how we plan and keep track of costs on long trips like this, see here.
When we know that we’re going to be in multiple cities, we tend to pick one hub to go into and out of from the States and then fly low-cost carriers everywhere else. In this case we actually found that it was cheaper to fly into Dublin and out of Stockholm on Delta as a multi-city trip. This is pretty unusual, and it took some looking around on our part, but we got lucky. Just remember when you’re looking at trip into Europe you don’t have to fly from the states directly into the city you’re visiting. Usually it’s way more expensive that way.
The rest of our flights are listed in the image:
We take low-cost carriers like RyanAir and Norwegian all the time, so this was nothing new for us. The best piece of advice I can give you with European low-cost carriers is download their apps. Check in for every single flight in the time frame they tell you to. If you don’t check in online for RyanAir, for example, they charge you 75 EUR per person at the airport to print your ticket.
Use a website like Skyscanner instead of Expedia to search for flights. I’ve found it has the most flights on it and will send you updates daily for when the flight prices drop. You can keep an eye on flights like this, because sometimes they’ll randomly drop to $20-$50 per person but it only lasts for a day.
What we loved:
Every single city we stopped in – they’re all incredible
Free walking tours in Edinburgh, Copenhagen, and Stockholm
The weather – we got SUPER lucky for May and had almost perfect weather. It was so warm in fact that we had to go shopping to buy shorts because we had been warned that it would be cold and rainy
The Stockholm Archipelago by boat
Galway at night
Powerscourt Gardens outside of Dublin
Day trip from Stockholm out to Drottninghom Palace
Staying one night in a castle in Ireland. There are a ton of them – the one we chose fit our driving schedule
Driving the Ring of Kerry – you miss the best parts if you go on a tour bus
What changed while we were there:
We missed a few things in Ireland because we didn’t anticipate closing times. Check this before you set off. Lots of places close at 5pm in the Spring and change to 6pm or 7pm on June 1st
What went wrong:
Our car rental reservation in Dublin – originally booked it through Expedia with a smaller company and bought the insurance through Expedia as well for $91. Turns out Expedia insurance only covers you in the 50 states, which they don’t disclose when you book an international car rental. So, instead of picking our car up the day we got to Dublin, we changed car rental agencies and went back and got it the day we left Dublin. Instead of it costing us about $250 total, we ended up paying closer to $600 because insurance is such a big deal there.
What we may have done differently:
Our Air BnB in Copenhagen was pretty run down – I’d probably book earlier and choose a hotel
Probably didn’t need that extra day in Copenhagen – would rather have had it somewhere else. The city is small and we ended up wandering around and shopping a lot
Would break this into two trips – Ireland and then everywhere else.
Book the tickets to Kilmainham Gaol (Jail) in Dublin in advance – they were sold out and we missed it
Dinner reservations – a lot of places were booked, especially in the smaller towns so make reservations in advance
What we chose to skip:
Giant’s Causeway and Belfast in Northern Ireland – it was too far of a drive in our time limit
The Scottish Highlands – I was told by my Scottish friend to get out of Edinburgh in a car or on the train and go see the highlands and the cities around Edinburgh. However, we just didn’t have enough time. I’d definitely go back and do this in the future.
Taking the boat to Malmo from Copenhagen. It’s more of a summer beach town so I’d recommend it if you go in the summer.
For more details on each specific place we went, see the below links: