When I was growing up in Dublin I used to see the Paddywagon Tours van parked up the road on my walk to school. I was so curious. What was this bright green bus with leprechauns painted on the side? Where did it go? What kind of people got to venture out in it? Well, finally, I can answer these questions! Get ready for an honest, thorough Paddywagon Tours review from this Irish native.
Paddywagon Tour Review – Dublin to Kilkenny Day Trip
What is the Paddywagon?
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First things first, The Paddywagon resembles what I imagine the love-child of a bus and a leprechaun would look like. It is a bright green bus with orange curtains that shuttles tourists around Ireland showing them the highlights of this beautiful country. This bus is captained by a jovial (well, that can be a tad hit or miss as you’ll find out later) Irish person with inside knowledge of all the best spots. Sounds cheesy? Well, simply put, it kind of is. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing!
What Kind Of Tours Are Paddywagon Tours?
Paddywagon tours offers all kinds of trips to suit all budgets. Daytrips are available from Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Belfast, Killarney and even London and start at 20euro. There are also longer trips available ranging from 2 to 9 days. So whether it’s a day on the Paddywagon you want, or a week, it’s no problem. From the legendary Cliffs of Moher, the breath-taking Giant’s Causeway or the incomparable Ring of Kerry, Paddywagon has you covered.
What Kind Of People?
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Naturally Paddywagon tours are aimed at tourists wanting to see the best of Ireland. But of course, locals are more than welcome. The Paddywagon tours are suitable for all age groups. Though, due to the winding nature of a lot of the roads in Ireland, I would HIGHLY recommend some travel sickness tablets for children and any adults that usually suffer.
On my bus a toddler was sitting down the back of the bus (stupid move to begin with) across the aisle from us and, of course, once we hit the mountain roads the child threw up all over itself. ALWAYS sit at the front if you have a child with you, the back of the bus is the worst place for anyone sensitive to motion sickness.
With regards to nationalities, it seemed to be a fairly good mix. Obviously there was a slight majority of Americans but that is to be expected. They seemed to be having a great time and were by far the most responsive when the driver requested any sort of interaction from the group.
Myself and my friend (Sarah) were the only Irish people on the bus which made us somewhat of a novelty.
So What Paddywagon Tour Did I Do?
Myself and Sarah spent a day on the Paddywagon for the Glendalough, Wicklow Mountains and Killkenny tour. At 25 euro for the day the trip is incredibly good value for money. You would spend much more on petrol if you did the drive by yourself. For me, this is a major selling point.
Glendalough is a historic place in Wicklow full of ancient graveyards, a round tower and some of the most beautiful views Ireland has to offer. The Wicklow mountains are full of bright yellow gorse and famous movie locations including THAT bridge from P.S I Love You.
Finally, Kilkenny is a beautiful town famed for it’s Hurling team. An old stone castle rises above the town overlooking everything. It’s a beautiful place to enjoy a meal by the river and wander around the little boutique shops. Paddywagon Tours have all the best bits covered.
What’s The Schedule?
The Paddywagon has three different pick up spots in Dublin; The main office (Paddy’s Palace) on Lower Gardiner street, O’Connell Street just beside the Savoy cinema and Suffolk Street just beside the Molly Malone statue. We got picked up from O’Connell street at about 9.10am on a Wednesday morning, unsure of what awaited us aboard the infamous Paddywagon.
This tour gives you 1hr and 30mins to explore Glendalough, a couple of short photo stops across the mountains and around 2hrs and 30mins in Kilkenny town.
Now, for me, this was perfectly adequate. I knew my way around Glendalough from family visits in the past. There was no need for me to spend 15mins trying to find the bathroom. I didn’t stroll leisurely towards the lake and then suddenly realise I only had 30mins to get there, take pictures and then get back to the bus.
However, any regular tourist would have found 1hr and 30mins quite a rush in Glendalough. It simply isn’t enough time. 2hrs in Glendalough and 2hrs in Kilkenny would be a better solution.
That aside, the schedule is pretty comprehensive and includes a lot. I was impressed with the amount you could see in one day. When the tour is finished you are dropped back at your choice of the 3 collection points I mentioned above. We got back into town about 7pm which is a bit later than scheduled, so be flexible and don’t make dinner reservations.
How was the Driver/Guide?
Now, this is the part of my tour that was really just a bit odd. Our driver, unfortunately, seemed to have woken up on the wrong side of the proverbial bed. His mood was more changeable than the weather, and in Ireland that really is saying something.
In fairness to him, he made a few decent jokes and he did attempt to get some interaction out of the bus. The Americans and myself were probably the only ones playing along for most of the trip. He also dazzled us with some wonderful tales of Irish history.
However, the real problem with our driver was that he seemed so fed up with us all before we had even gotten on the road. He was barking orders about making sure we were back on the bus at the right time, then explaining the consequences if we weren’t and generally treating us like primary school kids on a class trip.
GOD help you if you wanted to go to the bathroom between stops. He was NOT impressed with one lady that insisted we pull in at the next possible place so that she could avail of the facilities. It was all a bit ungraceful on his part. Honestly, I started rationing my water after that episode because I didn’t want to have to deal with his attitude if I needed to stop the bus!!
Now, I know drivers on these sorts of buses must get very fed up with late people and unscheduled stops, but in fairness, if you’re not going to put a bathroom on your bus it’s always going to be a possibility.
All I would say is, if you have a bladder problem but want to spend a day with Paddywagon tours then I recommend you let the driver know before you get on the bus. Then there’s the obvious tips like making sure you go to the bathroom before you get on the bus and at every stop as well as limiting your fluid intake on the bus.
Hopefully you get a nicer driver than we did, but no guarantees!
Any Last Words?
Ok, so that’s all folks, pretty much! My final recommendation before we come to the end of my Paddywagon Tour review would be to make sure that you bring plenty of snacks for the bus and a raincoat/umbrella just in case the Irish weather kicks in.
Oh and don’t let my qualms about the driver put you off. The Paddywagon employs lots of different drivers and the odds are you’ll get a different one from the gentleman (questionable) I had. Plus, even if you did have the same driver as me, maybe I just caught him on an off day. Everyone has bad days!
Soooo grab your best green clothes, your leprechaun catching nets and your Guinness and join one of the Paddywagon tours!
** Paddywagon provided me with a complimentary tour. However, the opinion expressed in this post is, as always, my own.
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