You get a set time at each place
You do not get a say as to how much time you want at each place. Going on a day tour means you have to follow the tour’s itinerary. Time at each place has already been decided before you book. A bus does not wait. (To be fair though, a tour company has put in a lot of thoughts before they finalise an itinerary.)
So, when it’s time to go back to the coach but you suddenly find this cow that you really want to gaze at…
Sorry, you’ll have to go. Byebye cow.
Having said that, it would probably be the same if you are taking public transport, especially if it is a remote attraction, like the Giant’s Causeway or the Cliffs of Moher, where buses are not frequent. How much time you get to spend at the attraction depends on the bus schedule. Read here to see how to go to the Giant’s Causeway by bus/ train.
It is cheaper to go on your own
As long as you do your research, it should always be cheaper if you take the public transport. For example, going to the Causeway from Dublin would cost around €44.00 (Based on a quick Google search. Joining a day tour would be around €50. If you actually spend time and go to page 2 of the search results, you might be able to find an even cheaper way.) Renting a car and share the cost with your friends is another option.
Day tour companies are always about making commission
Have you ever been on a tour that took you to loads of shops and restaurants/ pubs during the day? That is because the drivers and guides make commission from each person they send! Even if they are only making €1 or £1 per person, stopping at 3 places on the tour would make them €180 / £180! Not to mention that some places pay more than €1 / £1 per customer!
“Trust me their hot chocolate is really nice!” “Their Irish Stew is the best you can find.” “We will stop here so you can buy some souvenirs and take home.” — Sounds familiar?
Given that all restaurants and pubs near the attractions are always overpriced, we, Finn McCools Tours, do not see the reason why we should force our passengers to take an expensive meal just so our driver and guide can make some money. Instead, we give you the freedom to choose. If you really fancy a sit-down meal at a nice location, you have more than enough time to do so (as the time allocated for a lunch stop has been added onto the time we stop at the attraction). Or, if you have brought your own packed lunch, you can enjoy more time at the location.
Not all guides are great guides
One of the reasons why someone would choose a guided tour instead of going on the tour by themselves, is for the guide. Yet, some tour companies, especially the ones that have been there for a long time, do not care about the quality of their guides. They call everyone that can talk a guide. A guide is not just an audio version of information that you can find online by yourself. A guide should be entertaining and adjusting their way of presentation according to the group. This is what we believe in. All our guides have to go through at least 2 weeks of training. Read our reviews on TripAdvisor and you will understand.
Falite Ireland gives a badge to everyone that passes their tour guide exam. Don’t get us wrong – it is not an easy exam. You have to study hard and go on training etc to earn the badges, which is why it is one of the most recognisable qualification in Ireland. However, as their test is based on the guides’ knowledge/ time management etc., they would not disqualify a person due to the fact that they are boring. Not all good guides are great guides.