If you’re in the stages of planning a trip to Ireland, we’ve prepared a few Ireland travel tips to help you out! If you’re looking for one of the friendliest, greenest, and naturally beautiful countries on earth, look no further than Ireland.
There must be something to the rolling green hills, castles, whiskey, rain, Guinness beer, and rugged coastline as it draws millions of visitors to plan a trip to Ireland every year. The country’s small size and accessibility make it easy for travelers of all ages. However, there are a few things to know before heading to the Emerald Isle and traveling to Ireland.
Traveling Ireland? Here Are Our Tips to Know
1. Which Ireland?
One of my top Ireland travel tips is to know the difference between the two Irelands. The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are on the island of Ireland. To clarify, The Republic of Ireland is its own country – while Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom. It’s been like this since the 1920s, and people would appreciate it if the world knew the difference.
Ireland is the British Isles, but that does not make it British. Great Britain refers to the largest islands of the British Isles and represents most of the United Kingdom. The UK comprises England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. It can confuse foreigners, so watch this video to clear it up.
You can travel freely between the two countries. We traveled easily between the two countries many times and were never stopped at a border post or had to produce a passport to get stamped.
Here’s some more detailed information – granted, this has changing rules. Citizens of The Republic of Ireland are referred to as Irish, while citizens of Northern Ireland are Northern Irish.
2. You May Need Both the Euro and the Pound
When you’re planning a trip to Ireland, take note of the currency. Ireland uses the Euro note, and Northern Ireland uses the British Pound.
I wouldn’t suggest changing currencies at a currency exchange, but an ATM to pull out the money you need. You can read more about our travel banking tips before traveling to Ireland.
3. Expect Rain With a Chance of Sun
I’m sure you weren’t planning on traveling to Ireland for a suntan. The country is known for being very green, which means plenty of rain! Rainfall has become a part of Irish life, especially in the west.
The average number of “wet days” ranges from about 150 days to 225 days a year. Your best chance of sun and warmth in Ireland is in the summer months of June, July, and August.
We went in late October and still had a few lovely days of sunshine. What I’m trying to say is to be prepared for all sorts of weather when you plan your trip to Ireland. No matter what, remember to pack a packable rain jacket.
4. There Are Plenty of Rainbows, but no Leprechauns
With all that rain in Ireland, you will undoubtedly see a few rainbows. But I wouldn’t chase them to the end in search of a leprechaun with some lucky gold charms.
Although leprechauns are part of modern Irish folklore, there aren’t any real leprechauns in Ireland – sadly.
5. A Pint Should Cost No More Than €5
If you have traveled to Ireland, you will probably want to get at least one pint of Guinness in an Irish pub. A pint of Guinness at a pub in Dublin or Galway should cost no more than €5-6; if it does, you are more than likely in a tourist pub ripping you off.
We do, however, recommend visiting the Guinness Store House. At €26 a ticket, it may be the most expensive Guinness you’ll ever pay for, but the whole experience and tour is well worth it when you are visiting Dublin and into beer. You can pick up priority access tickets here and skip the line!
6. Chase Your Family Ancestry!
If you’re traveling to Ireland from the US, you may get asked if you are chasing your ancestry. I think we were asked at least ten times what made us plan a trip to Ireland.
Were we chasing our ancestry? Did we have relatives in Ireland? Do we have Irish blood? The truth is we just came for the beautiful countryside, history, and friendly locals. (And I love PS I Love You).
So, we always had to tell our new friends that we weren’t Irish and neither of us had Irish ancestors – at least not that we knew. The reason for the question so often is that there are a lot of tourists in Ireland – specifically a lot of American tourists like us- tracking down their ancestors.
Between 1820 and 1930, 4.5 million Irish immigrated to America. At one point, they made up over 1/3 of the immigrants in the country. So, that means many Irish Americans are floating around today, and many want to chase their heritage!
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7. The Ship of Dreams
Do you remember that quote in Titanic where Tommy O’ Ryan tells Fabrizio, “It was an Irish ship,” and “15,000 Irishmen built the ship?” It’s okay if you don’t; I have just seen the movie a hundred too many times. The grand Titanic was built in Belfast, Ireland. Which back at the turn of the century was a part of Ireland (which was all still part of Britain).
The ship was built on Queen’s Island, now known as the Titanic Quarter, in Belfast Harbour by the shipbuilders Harland & Wolff. If you know anything about the Titanic, you know it was the largest ship of its time. SPOILER: On the night of April 14th. 1912 the ship hit an iceberg and sank.
However, her legacy has been in movies, books, music, and marine time safety regulations. The latest iteration is the new Titanic Belfast museum. It’s located exactly where the ship was constructed. I’ve been back to the museum twice and have loved it both times. It’s worth a half-day if you find yourself in Belfast.
8. You Can Stay at the Most Bombed Hotel in Europe
On Great Victoria Street in Belfast, you can find a hotel with a fantastic history. Europa Belfast Hotel is a beautiful hotel, which you can quickly see from the outside. But we were shocked to find out that it is the most bombed hotel in not only all of Europe but the entire world!
During The Troubles, the Europa suffered 36 whopping bomb attacks. The most damaging was in 1993, and it closed for refurbishments. Nowadays it’s the best hotel to stay at in the city.
It’s an iconic part of Belfast with plenty of character. We knew we just had to stay on our visit to Belfast. We found the hotel to be charming, comfortable, and beautifully decorated. Check out the piano bar even if you aren’t staying overnight!
9. Love Game of Thrones?
Do you watch Game of Thrones? I don’t, but Cameron does, so he had a field day reliving certain scenes that are on the hit HBO show. Much of the show films in Northern Ireland, and if you are a GOT geek, I suggest renting a car and driving to all the locations in Northern Ireland to see for yourself.
Some iconic locations include the Antrim plateau, the Dark Hedges, Cushendun Caves, Murlough Bay, Ballintoy Harbour, Larrybane, Castle Ward, Inch Abbey, and Downhill Strand. They are among some of the best places to visit in Ireland. If you’re not keen on driving or don’t have a car rental in your budget, consider booking a tour.
10. You Can Travel Ireland On a Budget
Ireland is not the cheapest country to travel; however, it is possible to plan a trip to Ireland while staying on a budget. Hostel dorm rooms will cost anywhere from €15 to €25 a night, while you can also find a mid-range hotel room for €100. We opted to stay in Airbnb’s and had our apartment for €60 a night. Of course this all depends on the time of year you travel.
The good news is that food at the grocery store is affordable. We were able to go to Lidl and spend €25 for three days worth of food for the two of us.
Ireland produces a lot of its food, so the food is not only affordable but excellent quality. Expect to pay between €7-12 for a cheap fish n chips meal. Irish cuisine is very hearty, with some of the staple dishes being Irish stew and seafood pie. See exactly what it costs to travel to Ireland here.
11. You Don’t NEED a Car
I’ve traveled to Ireland three times now. The first time I was backpacking Europe and took public buses everywhere. Ireland’s bus and train system is efficient, affordable, and reliable, with most transport options featuring free WiFi. On our most recent trip, we rented a car in Ireland to get around the island, which is also affordable and reliable.
Having a car is always the more comfortable and convenient option, but if you are just one person, the rental and fuel costs may break your budget. I would suggest checking Ireland’s bus timetables to make sure you can get where you want to go by public transport. Consider renting a car if you are a group of two or more.
Just note that drivers drive on the left side of the road in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and you should know how to drive a manual car as automatics are expensive. Speed limits are in kilometers per hour in Ireland and miles per hour in Northern Ireland – confusing. You can drive the vehicle in and out of Northern Ireland as much as you like without border checks. See my other driving in Ireland travel tips.
12. Ah, Ryan Air
When you plan a trip to Ireland, the first step is to purchase a flight. That’s where you may see the budget carrier Ryan Air pop up. The notorious Ryan Air is an Irish company. If you plan to fly around Europe from Ireland, you may have to fly with a low-cost carrier.
I know they’ve received quite a lot of bad and justified press in the past. But we have flown them at least ten times around Europe and have never had an issue with them. Just lower your expectations, abide by all their rules to avoid extra fees, and enjoy your cheap flight – most meals out cost more than their flights!
If you are traveling to Ireland from the USA, you’ll have to cross over the pond. Unfortunately, RyanAir doesn’t service flights between the United States and Ireland; however, Aer Lingus does, and they are a great and reputable airline.
13. What to Pack for Ireland
I have to note in this Ireland travel guide about the weather. Remember when I said that it rains a lot in Ireland? That means you should pack a rain jacket and travel umbrella in your carry-on luggage. I also recommend packing a nice wool sweater, scarf, and hat for those windy days. Even in the summer.
We enjoyed going on long walks and hiking in Ireland, so it’s a good idea to pack a comfortable pair of walking shoes.
Ireland is stunningly green, and all that green doesn’t come from clear sunny skies every day. The wettest months, almost everywhere throughout Ireland are December and January. April is the driest month generally in some places,but in many southern Irish parts, June is the driest. The west coast receives rainfall every few days.
14. Practice Your Language Skills
Every time I have traveled to Ireland, I am surprised that many people still read and speak Irish Gaelic. I found this most prevalent near Galway, but even the road signs around the country are in both English and Gaelic. That’s because Irish Gaelic is the first official language, followed by English.
According to the 2016 Irish census, more than 70,000 people speak Irish Gaelic daily, and about 55% (c. 2,500,000) of people in the Republic claim to understand and speak the language. Of course, everyone will know English, but it doesn’t hurt to learn a few phrases before your trip; you’ll probably even impress the locals!
15. When is the Best Time to Visit Ireland?
When is the best time to visit Ireland, you ask? Although most countries have ‘ideal’ times of the year where visiting is optimal, the best time to travel anywhere isn’t as dependent on the weather state as you might assume.
Instead, a trip is only as good as what you make of it; there are always many things to do in any city, no matter the season. This means that even cold or windy weather can, for many, be the preferred travel condition.
That being said, my favorite time to travel to Ireland is in September when the leaves change color, the air cool, and tourism is slowing down. I have a month-by-month Ireland travel section here!
16. Ireland Has Plenty of Castles to Visit!
It’s pretty hard to visit Ireland and not visit a castle at least once during your travels. But with so many (over 30,000!), how do you know which ones are worth the trip? We’ve broken it down for you with a list of the best castles to visit in Ireland so that you can select from some of the best-known and most-loved options.
Whether you want to explore the ruins of a once magnificent fort or get a taste of medieval life in a well-maintained relic, you can get a little glimpse into the past during your trip to Ireland. From reenacted scenes featuring knights and royalty to elaborate banquet dinners in your own castle, you may want to stay forever and never return to the present!
17. Make Sure to Get Out of Dublin
My top Ireland travel tip is to escape Dublin a bit, even if just for day trips. Dublin is a fantastic travel destination and where many travelers to Ireland will start their trip. It’s the main hub for travel in and out of Ireland. Of course, you will want to spend some time in the iconic capital city, but it’s best not to spend all your time in Ireland in Dublin.
There are plenty of fantastic places to explore, even day trips just two hours away from Dublin. For instance, Kilkenny is beautiful and just 1.5 hours away!
We recommend spending two days enjoying all Dublin has to offer before moving on.
18. Consider Renting a Car to Make the Most of Your Trip
I know I mentioned before you don’t need a car in Ireland, and you definitely don’t with a good bus and train network. However renting a car in Ireland is one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Not only can you get to far off destinations that the trains and buses don’t often reach, but you can stop when you want and stay as long as you would like.
We recommend renting a car in major cities like Dublin and Galway for the best rates. It’s best to rent a car as soon as your plane tickets are booked (you can always cancel later) to avoid high rental fees.
19. Is Ireland Travel Safe
Ireland is considered the world’s third most “peaceful” nation, according to Vision of Humanity’sGlobal Peace Index.
Ireland is a very safe country to visit. Crime is low, and almost nonexistent outside of major cities. It’s one of my favorite places to recommend for solo female travelers or first time travelers. Everyone speaks English, signs are English, and you’ll mainly encounter very friendly Irish lads and lassies.
Of course, like anywhere be vigilant at night, and don’t flash around expensive goods.
20. Where Should You Go in Ireland?
The question is, where shouldn’t you go in Ireland? Everywhere is so darn unique and mesmerizing I doubt you’ll be disappointed anywhere.
Of course you should plan to visit some Irish Castles while visiting. I recommend people get out in the countryside rather than spend the majority of their time in the cities.
21. What Are the Best Irish Festivals?
Ireland is the land of festivals and something is going on every month of the year. There is St Patricks Day, on March 17th every year, which is Ireland’s biggest and most extravagant celebration. If you happen to be in Ireland in March, head to Dublin for the time of your life!
Some other notable festivals are the Galway International Arts Festival, Galway Oyster Fest, and Fleadh Cheoil!
22. How Many Days Should You Spend in Ireland?
Do you have a month?
In all seriousness, we would recommend spending at least 7-10 days in Ireland. This will give you ample time to explore the countryside, sit down at a pub with a Guinness, and even plan some hiking!
23. How Much Does a Trip to Ireland Cost?
Any Ireland trip planner should mention the budget. So how much spending money per day should you have in Ireland? Asides from the pre-trip expenses like airfare, luggage, and any Ireland packing list items you’ll want to buy, I believe you can get by in Ireland for under €50 a day.
That’s if you stay in cheap accommodation, don’t drink much alcohol, cook meals, eat paninis, travel outside summer months, and do not partake in costly activities. If you want to travel on a more modest and comfortable budget, plan on spending at least €100 per day per person.
Total Two-Week Trip to Ireland Cost (pp)
|Backpacker||€500 – €700|
|Basic||€800 – 1,500|
|Mid Range||€1,500 – 2,500|
|High End||€3,000 – 6,000|
24. Money-Saving Ireland Travel Tips
As mentioned before in this Ireland travel guide, Ireland is two countries! The Republic of Ireland, which takes up most of the island of Ireland and Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, occupies the Northeast. The Republic of Ireland uses the Euro (€), and the United Kingdom uses the British Pound (£).
Cook Your Own Food
When working out how to plan a trip to Ireland on a budget, you should have a budget for meals. If your accommodation has a kitchen, it’s best to use it. We save money this way when traveling around Ireland. Grocery stores in Ireland are impressive and well-stocked, and one can easily cook a fantastic meal with delicious Italian red wine for cheap.
Drink Tap Water
The tap water in Ireland is wonderful to drink, so best not to waste money or plastic on one-time-use water bottles. Get yourself a travel water bottle and keep refilling it!
Travel During the Offseason
Traveling in Ireland, particularly shrines in the offseason. I don’t like crowds or high prices, so I love traveling between September and May.
25. Quick Ireland Travel Tips
- ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank You’ in Gaelic: “Dia dhuit” and “Go raibh maith agat”
- Currency: Euro – (EUR) – €
- Visa: The Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland are separate countries on the island of Ireland. The Republic of Ireland, known as ‘Ireland,’ grants 90-day visas. Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom, also grants 90 days.
- Weather: Expect lots of weather! Ireland is known for having rapid shifts in and lots of rain – it’s the only reason a country like Ireland remains so green and fertile. See our full packing list here.
Ireland Travel Planning Resources
- Packing Guide — Check out our Ireland Packing List to help pack your bags and ensure you don’t leave anything at home.
- Rent a Car — We suggest most visitors consider renting a car for the best trip possible. Try Discover Car Hire to compare quotes from different rental agencies. Check Price Here!
- Protect Your Trip — We don’t travel without travel insurance, and neither should you. You never know what can happen while traveling, so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Tours in Ireland — Check out our list of the best tours you can enjoy in Ireland!
- Travel Adapter – Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.