TRAVEL TIPS FOR IRELAND BEFORE YOU VISIT
From ancient burial grounds to Iron Age fortresses to cosmopolitan cities, Ireland has it all – not to mention a fascinating history.
To get the best advice for visiting Ireland, read on!
Ireland Travel Planning and Itineraries
Oh, where to go?
You have many options in Ireland – but here are a few things to consider.
Dublin is more than just a pub crawl – it is a UNESCO city of literature, thanks to authors such as James Joyce and Oscar Wilde.
To explore the city to its fullest, expect to spend at least 4 days here.
They provide tours for visitors, and it’s a fascinating way to see, up-close and personal, what goes into these masterful pieces.
You’ll get to see the workers doing their thing and you’ll be given the opportunity to purchase goods directly from the factory before you leave.
The factory is also centrally located, as its situated between Dublin and Cork.
If you decide to head south to Cork, you’re in for a treat.
There aren’t that many lists of travel tips for Ireland that include a stop in this traditional Irish city, but it’s a place where you’ll truly see what Irish life is like.
The people are as friendly as any you’ll ever meet, the downtown area is incredibly quaint and lovely and the entire experience is one that’s worth a bit of a detour from all of the better-known areas of Ireland.
For authentic Irish music and to sample some of the best oysters on the planet, head to Galway.
From here, you can explore the Wild Atlantic Way – the longest coastal scenic highway on the planet that spans the entire west coast of Ireland.
It’s got everything from the Cliffs of Moher, to the small towns of Strandhill and the fishing village of Kinsale.
Pro Tip: If you want to center your vacation around the Wild Atlantic Way, you can fly into one of several smaller airports in southwest Ireland, rent a car, drive up the coast, drop off the car at another smaller airport, then fly home, without having to go all the way back to Dublin on the east coast.
Killarney National Park, located near the southwestern coast, is another wonderful destination.
Its distinctive blend of lakes, mountains, waterfalls and woods give the area a special scenic beauty.
One thing to keep in mind when driving around Ireland: don’t expect there to be multi-lane highways where you can zip from one destination to the next.
It’s a small country, with equally small roads, and many of them have twists and turns that will slow you down.
So, take that hint and just savor the incredible scenery!
Also, remember that cars drive on the left side of the road, and most cars run on diesel fuel.
When in Belfast, take a guided street art tour.
Go in knowing a little bit of history regarding the tumultuous struggles of Northern Ireland back in the day – it will make the tour so much more rewarding to know the stories behind the images.
These murals help to heal the country’s wounds with artistic expression.
Ireland has a deliciously evolving cuisine that is one of the most underrated in Europe.
Irish stew, anyone?
Yes, you definitely have to try this delectable concoction made of lamb, potatoes and stout.
When in Rome, right?
For restaurants, the customary tip is 10-12% of the total bill.
Occasionally, they will automatically add the service charge, so be sure to check your bill before you decide to tip additional, but never be afraid to tip a little more for exceptionally good service.
The soul of Ireland is in the countryside.
Think rolling hills, small towns, and peninsulas that stretch out into the open ocean.
When touring these places, get to know the locals, especially in a pub.
They are friendly and willing to have a good conversation with you.
Buy them a round of drinks; it is the customary thing to do in Ireland!
Another Pro Tip: When going on a tour, use a travel credit card that will give you points on every purchase. Over time, that equates to money towards future travel, and is just a smart thing to do.
Best Tips on How to Get Around Ireland
Ireland is an easy country to get to.
If you are a U.S. citizen, you don’t need a holiday visa if you’re staying less than 90 days.
Just your current passport will do.
It is the closest European country to the United States, so there are good deals to be had for affordable flights.
That said, there are also less expensive airlines that fly from major cities to Dublin, such as Aer Lingus (Ireland’s national carrier).
Getting between cities is a breeze.
There are trains connecting all of the major cities in Ireland and are comfortable, with free WiFi and bathrooms on board.
Carriers such as Irish Rail usually offer online booking discounts for tickets purchased in advance.
Public transport or tour buses are also affordable.
For example, for about 20 Euros you can get from Dublin to Galway.
When taking a city bus, you will need to flag them down at bus stops, as they won’t automatically stop for you.
For getting around many of the major cities, consider purchasing a visitor Leap Card if you plan on taking the bus a lot.
They are available as 1-, 3-, or 7-day cards, and are good for unlimited travel on participating bus services.
Taxi drivers are more expensive, but can be useful in a pinch.
They are usually tipped 10 percent of your fare, but this is totally at your discretion.
What you may want to avoid, however, is driving your own rental vehicle if at all possible.
It’s one of the overlooked travel tips for Ireland, but unless you’ve driven in this part of the world before or you’re otherwise familiar with it, driving in Ireland can be hard on your nerves.
For instance, most rental cars are manual transmission models, which means that you’ll be working the stick for perhaps the first time in years.
Not to mention, that shifter will be on your left, as vehicles in Ireland are righthand drive.
All of this creates a situation where you’re going to be doing everything from the opposite direction when you’re behind the wheel.
That’s difficult in itself, but when you’re driving through small towns and the like on surface streets, you’ll find them to be extremely narrow.
Vehicles will pass by you and come within inches of you, but they are accustomed to this type of driving while most of us from this part of the world are not.
Save yourself the stress and find a driver or some other mode of transportation.
When to Go to Ireland
There’s no getting around it.
Ireland is called the Emerald Isle, because it rains.
It rains quite a bit.
If you can, avoid the winter months and go anywhere from late May through October.
In fact, the best time to go are the shoulder seasons of May-June and September-October.
Not only do you get good weather (for the most part), you will avoid the higher costs associated with summer travel, not to mention a fraction of the crowds experienced in the summer.
Having said that, the best advice is to always pack a rain jacket and a good pair of waterproof shoes for great hiking, no matter what time of year you visit.
Dress in layers, as the mornings are generally cool, then heat up as the day goes on.
The ideal outdoor exploring hours are anywhere from 9 am to 5 pm.
After 5, everyone goes to the pub for a pint anyway!
Most lists of travel tips for Ireland include some ideas regarding the weather, and you saw some of that information above.
Yes, it’s always a bit unpredictable when you’re there, as it’ll be lovely one minute and pouring with rain the next, but what you’ll also find is that there are days, particularly on the coasts, where the weather changes several times.
It’s actually a very interesting experience, and if you’re properly prepared for it you’ll enjoy the rapid changes!
These rapid changes only highlight the beauty that is the Irish countryside, so be prepared to experience sights and sounds that you may not hear anywhere else in the world.
Have You Visited Ireland? What are Your Ireland Travel Tips?
If you have visited Ireland before, comment below with your favorite thing about it? Any additional travel tips for Ireland you’d like to share?
And if you have not yet been, we hope this handy little guide has whetted your appetite for the Emerald Isle.
Get your walking shoes, because you’re going to Ireland!
If you are looking for a step-by-step guide to help you plan your trip to Ireland, check out The Ultimate Guide to Trip Planning.
Always make sure your vacation is a life changing experience with Brillini Travels.
If you are still feeling overwhelmed, or simply do not have the time to plan your trip to Ireland, why not let us help you? We will create the perfect bespoke itinerary just for you!