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Posted by on Apr 23, 2010 in Accommodation, Budgeting, Links, Reviews, Transportation | 27 comments

Frommer’s Ireland Day by Day – Guidebook Review & Giveaway

Frommer's Ireland Day by DayWhen I’ve talked about guidebooks in the past, I’ve put them into three categories: text-heavy reading material, picture-heavy dream books and the hybrids that try to collide words with thousands of pictures. Frommer’s Ireland Day by Day falls into the last category; and all in all, it does it well.

As expected the photos are gorgeous, and it engages a Top 10 style to focus its information… Best of Ireland, Favorite Moments, Best of Ireland Outdoors, et al. The format works. I especially like that nearly every feature is mapped — that’s key for helping visitors understand the proximity of the sites they are considering.

Things I Loath

  • The Forgotten Midlands: The book is entirely focused on the coasts of Ireland. Only the most popular inland sites get a mention.
  • Hot is Hot: If it’s not one of Ireland’s most popular destinations, it probably didn’t make the cut.
  • The Undrivable Map: The contributors strongly recommend seeing Ireland by car, but their map would prove useless to anyone who gets off the main roads. No attractions are highlighted on the map either (aside from the mountain peaks) — the only advantage is that you can write in your own dream sites.
  • Unmapped Routes: The interior maps do a great job labeling sites, but I’m shocked the suggested drives don’t highlight the route on the map. Instead readers must rely on the written directions… I’m disappointed their designers didn’t spend a few extra minutes adding the routes to the maps.
  • The Obligatory Best Places to Stay and Eat: Hybrid books just don’t do accommodations and restaurants well (unless they stick to a Top 10 list). This one continues the tradition of giving an extremely narrow view of Ireland’s accommodation and restaurant scene.
  • Digital Please: As far as I can tell, this book is not available for portable devices like the iPad yet… sorry Kindle users, this book and it’s heavy use of photos and maps will be of little use to you.

Things I Love:

  • Staying Focused: Day by Day doesn’t attempt to cover everything — I know, I just complained about that above. What they have chosen to cover, they have done well.
  • Generous Maps: Although the pull-out map falls short, the maps inside are in close proximity to the content being covered and provide a good snapshot.
  • Dublin Extra Credit: There’s an abundance of information on the Republic’s capital city.
  • Realistic Travel Experiences: Day by Day emphasizes what a visitor can see in a day, three days or a week. If a traveler follows their advice, they’ll be keeping a very reasonable pace.
  • Travel First: This book breaks away from some of its competitors by jumping right into the travel scene. It includes sections on History and Culture, but keeps those to the back of the book or in small sections.
  • Travel Size: Although portable devices are leading me to leave books at home, the size on this fits nicely into a day pack — it’s not bulky.
  • Real Prices: Thankfully, this guide prints an actual price range of a hotel or restaurant in local currency rather than using an ambiguous $$$ system. Sure you have to convert the price to your home currency, and as the book ages the prices will likely be a little farther from reality.
  • Featurettes: They’re short and sweet, but these articles give the guidebook a bit of a magazine feel.

Emphasizing the points above, I’d give Ireland Day by Day my recommendation. It will be perfect for someone looking for a book to compliment a guided tour or trying to plan a first-time visit. I’d have to say, readers will benefit by teaming it with more comprehensive guidebooks like Pauline Frommer’s Ireland (read my review) or Pat Preston’s Ireland Travel 101 (read my review).

Congratulations to Elizabeth Joyce! She won our review copy of Frommer’s Ireland Day by Day courtesy of Wiley Publishing.

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27 Comments

  1. It always makes us sad when the Midlands are bypassed or only rate a passing mention. Some of our favorite places in Ireland are there!

    Would this book be easy to transport? Some of the guidebooks we have are great for research, but I would not want to have to lug it around Ireland with me.

    Thanks for the review of the book, Corey. We’ll still take a close look at it…we won’t be able to help ourselves!

    Slan,
    Kathy

    (P.S. It isn’t necessary to include us in the drawing. We’d rather see the book go to one of your other fans…)

  2. Reminds me of the DK guide we used to plan our trip to Ireland two years ago. The DK book was great for planning, but a little heavy to lug along. Love the color photos!

  3. planning a trip to ireland in june! this sounds like a great resource to have on hand for flight over and planning! thanks for the review and all the great info on your blog!

  4. We made our first trip to Ireland a year ago Monday. We’ve been planning our return trip since the first day of our arrival. I wanted to visit more of the West, but my husband didn’t want to drive (or cringe in the seat while I did). I can’t wait to return!

  5. It’s almost the same size as the DK guide, but lighter than other hardcore guidebooks. The one thing DK has on this one are the city walks… although Frommer’s does something similar they don’t have nearly as many – also gotta love DK’s cutaways of sites as well.

    Otherwise, this one is as good or better.

  6. Yes, I agree about the midlands. It’s a lovely area, and I’ve found very little about it in planning my next trip through parts of it. Even Kildare, which has several A list attractions, is usually completely left out of such books.

  7. I have older editions, but one guide series I’ve found that includes a fair amount of stuff on the midlands (and on lesser known areas of NI, too) is Let’s Go. for the shoestring traveler, certainly, but has bits about many towns not mentioned in other guides. Rough Guides has some too, depends on edition.

  8. We’ll be going back to Ireland for our 3rd trip in June. This time we’re taking my wife’s sister and brother-in-law. It would be great to give them “their own” guidebook to mark up as they wish!

  9. Most of these guides are only good for the pictures with an occassional good reference. Mostly a rehash of the usual tourist sites.

  10. Have utilized books from people like Pat Preston, but have never found one of the other types to be much more than a photo essay of sorts. If this one is good, I would certainly enjoy having it, and especially since my next trip will feature trips to the Midlands and to Donegal — two places I have yet to visit.

  11. I’m going to Ireland next month on my second band tour. This site has been great to help me plan to get the most out of my free time away from the group.

  12. Er, my birthday is the 29th. And I’m planning at least 4 more trips, one every two years. So it would be appropriate for me….

  13. Yay! I am leaving for my first trip to Ireland in T-minus two weeks!! I am a self-proclaimed guide book junkie. Most of mine are loaned from the library and I have this fear I will ruin the ones I bring with me – although, Guinness stains would actually be COOL on an Ireland guidebook. It’d make it that much more authentic.

    Anyhow, enough of my rambling on guidebooks. I would absolutely love to win this for my first trip to the emerald isle.

  14. Great review!! I would love ot check this guide out. I already have a HUGE collection of Ireland travel books. You know I never even though about haveing travel booking on the Ipad! What an amazing idea! I could have all my travel guides with me on the road without having to worry about carrying a couple hundred pounds of books and only needing 20 pages of info. Thanks for the review!

  15. Excellent review! We’re in the infancy stages of planning our trip to Ireland, and any books would be great at this point!

  16. We used Let’s Go Ireland on our trip and found it quite useful. The only thing I would have preferred was pictures. Sounds like Frommer’s has that covered. We did a driving tour of the southern half of Ireland and found the Midlands very enjoyable and intriguing. Loved it in the small towns we went through. We are already anxiously planning our next visit. My tip for any one driving in Ireland… don’t trust the rent a car GPS! Carry a map with you to verify what the GPS tells you…. you would not believe…. well, we can discuss that later:)

  17. Thanks for the review, Corey! I’m always on the lookout for more Irish-themed reading material.
    On that note, do you know of any good books on Irish history? I’m really interested in finding out more about what made Ireland the place it is today and understanding more of the history of the country. I often find myself lost when conversations move into Irish history and I’d like to change that =)

    Thanks again!

  18. I have never tried a GPS in Ireland, but I will for my next trip, in November. I really am more curious than actually depending on it since I will be going places I am pretty familiar with and don’t need it. But I get lost with the maps anyway…I just consider it part of the adventure!

  19. I am hoping (desperately) that this is the year we finally get to do our Ireland trip, as long as life doesn’t intervene. I’ve already started planning it all out (though I haven’t told my husband yet), but I haven’t gotten any travel books yet. Glad to know they’re worth it!

  20. I love Frommers books, they are my favorite! Anything on Ireland is right up there too~!

  21. going to Ireland with my two oldest children in their twenties for 10 days, having this book to read on the flight over would be great. Been reading alot about Ireland on your blog and the internet.
    Only 7 and half weeks till takeoff on June 16th from Indiana.

  22. I love small guidebooks that are easy to carry with me. I love Dublin and happy to see it got extra space in this book. and I LOVE Ireland – leaving in 27 days for two weeks in Ireland – my 12th trip, but not my last!

  23. Traveling to Ireland next spring. Great blog and tweets

  24. I’ll have to remember this if/when we go back to Ireland for a second trip. We used mostly Frommers & Rick Steves the first time. The Steves book was way off as far as driving time, at least for us – we were taking about 50% longer than the times it listed, which caused some problems. I’m glad to hear this book seems to have a more realistic view as far as that goes.

  25. I’m going out to stand by the mailbox…..

  26. Congratulations, Elizabeth! Perhaps I will have to spare the brass for my own copy.

  27. My husband and I are driving Ireland for two weeks, beginning on Sunday and we used this guide to plan our trip. I will have a better opinion on how well the book helps when we get back!

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