Ireland Travel Guide
If you’re looking for one of the friendliest countries on earth, then 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 each year. The country’s small size and accessibility make it easy for travelers. We break down the basics in our travel guide to Ireland.
Where in Ireland?
Quick Ireland 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.
- Major Cities: Dublin, Galway, Belfast, Cork, Limerick, and Londonderry
- Weather: Expect lots of weather! Ireland is known for having rapid shifts in and lots of rain – it’s only the only reason a country like Ireland remains so green and fertile.
- What to Pack: A great rain jacket, wool sweater, wool socks, travel camera, & down jacket.
Posts on Ireland
- Things to do in Northern Ireland on Your Road Trip
- What To Pack For Ireland • The Perfect Ireland Packing List
- Travel Banking: These Mistakes Could Be Costing You Money!
- How Much Does a Europe Backpacking Trip Cost?
- Planning a trip to Ireland? Here are 13 Ireland Travel Tips
- Experiencing the Galway Oyster & Seafood Festival for the First Time
Pick up a Guide Book
Welcome to Ireland
Accommodation in Ireland
Hostel (€10 – €30)
Expect to pay around €10- €20 for a dorm bed in most hostels located outside of the city center. Dublin is an exception and basic dorm beds regularly fetch €20+ depending on the season. Hostels have a lively atmosphere as backpacking Ireland and drinking go hand and hand. If you’re traveling mid-summer, near St. Patricks Day, or Christmas be sure to book your hostel well advance as good hostels will sell out.
Private Room (€25 – €100)
We found the accommodation options to be lackluster in most of Ireland. There is the occasional gem we’ve found such as private cottages on a crofters farm or seaside escapes along the coast.
A private room cost around €40-60 in a hostel. Budget hotels start at around €50 and sell for more than €100 in peak season. We used Airbnb in Ireland and were disappointed with the options, but the average room is around €50 while finding a whole apartment is much more difficult and can cost anywhere from €50-€100 a night.
Dublin is a different game, hotels and hostels fetch about double if not triple the rates in the rest of Ireland. It’s also tough to find an off-season so don’t expect to find much of a deal.
Transportation in Ireland
Flight prices to Ireland are affordable from Europe and North America. The majority of flights arrive via Dublin; however, there are three others with Cork, Galway, and Belfast. Norweign and Wow Air offer affordable flights from North America, while everyone has likely heard of the budget air carrier Ryan Air that services most of Europe. The major air carrier for Ireland is Aer Lingus.
We’re big fans of driving our own car in the countryside as it’s often difficult to see all the sights via public transport. You can expect to pay around €25 a day for a standard economy car. So, if you split the cost between multiple people it can be the most cost-effective way to travel around Ireland. At the time of writing fuel in Ireland cost about €1.30 a liter. Just be warned that the roads are narrow in Ireland and your drive on the left side of the road.
Ireland’s bus network is extensive, easy to use, and comfortable. With this great bus system, it’s a big appeal for backpackers on a budget. Prices are about middle of the road and you should expect to pay anywhere from €30-€60 one way for intercity buses. We love to use GoEuro to search for bus times and prices in Ireland. City buses are around €2 a ride and easy to use in the major cities like Dublin and Galway.
Day trips from Dublin, Galway, and Belfast are a popular way for many travelers to explore the Irish countryside. This can be an affordable option for solo travelers, people who do not feel comfortable driving in a foreign country, and those hard pressed for time.
Food Costs in Ireland
We’re big on cooking our own vegetarian meals and found the Ireland supermarkets to be full of affordable veggies. If you cook your own meals you can get by pretty cheap in Ireland. We’d recommend you budget anywhere between €50 – €70 a week for food. We found Lidl to have the best prices to food quality in ‘Ireland.
You can find quick items like doner kebabs, sandwiches, and fast food for around €4 and up. We’re not big fans 0f your standard fast food, but we did pick up some cheap falafel wraps for about €3.
Most introductions to Irish food will be a meal out at the local pub. A decent fish and chip meal or shepherds pie in Ireland typically run between €8 – €15 and they’re generous portions for a reasonable price. A nicer restaurant can run upwards of €20 a meal.
For a pint of Guinness expect to pay between €4 -5 which you’re obliged to have at least once if you’re in Ireland.
Things to do in Ireland
Take photographs on the Ring of Kerry
This is one of the largest tourist attractions in Ireland and for good reason. The Ring of Kerry is a series of coastal roads that wind around lakes, mountains, and castles. It’s one of the most beautiful regions in Ireland and well worth a visit.
Play King at Dunluce Castle
This is was the most beautiful castle we saw in Ireland. It’s not much of a surprise as it’s one of the most visited sites in Northern Ireland. It’s only ruins now, but its setting and sheer scale are still impressive, to say the least. As it is one of the most photogenic spots along the coast make sure to arrive with early for good light and bring your favorite travel camera.
Smooch the Blarney Stone
The Blarney Stone in the Blarney Castle is just outside of Cork city. It’s considered a right of passage to hang upside down and kiss the stone. After kissing the stone it’s said that you will receive the gift of gab!
Peer over the Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most visited natural tourist attraction. They are series of dramatic cliffs that tower over the Atlantic Ocean at heights up 200 meters. The cliffs are jaw-dropping but remember to watch your step if you choose to venture off the marked path.
Follow in the footsteps of a giant at Giant’s Causeway
It’s our vote for the most beautiful spot in Ireland. If you know any of the natural landmarks of Northern Ireland it has to be Giant’s Causeway. Almost 60 million years ago the Giant’s Causeway was formed from an ancient volcano eruption and this series of basalt rock columns is Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO world heritage site. This is the one destination that you can not miss on a road trip in Northern Ireland. It’s world famous destination and after visiting we could see why.
Go on a Bushmills Distillery Tour
In the town of Bushmills, you can find the birthplace Ireland’s most well-known whiskey producer. The distillery is still in operation offering visitors a chance for a tour and to sample some of their whiskeys. The whiskey actually dates back to 1784! I’m a big fan of whiskey and always jump at the chance to learn some more about the spirit. Tickets for a distillery tour are £8 per adult.
Catch the Irish spirit on St. Patrick’s Day
It’s probably the best holiday party in the world and there is no better place to celebrate it than in Ireland. St. Patrick is Ireland’s patron Saint and even rid the country of snakes! Throughout the country there are celebrations, but the largest occurs in Dublin with a massive parade.
Tasha loved this one so much she’s now been twice! Belfast was the birthplace of the doomed Titanic and shipbuilding, in general, has long been associated with Belfast. The building design is truly unique. Some refer to the actual museum as a metal iceberg while the architect drew inspiration from ship hulls being built in the Harland & Wolff shipyards right next door. The museum stretches back through time celebrating Belfast’s industrial heritage to the discovery of Titanic’s final resting place in the modern era. It’s largely interactive meaning that both adults and children can have a lot of enjoyment moving through the exhibits.
Drink, Drank, Drunk on a Pub Crawl
Some could say this is for the young of heart but in Ireland everyone drinks. We regularly found ourselves amongst all manner of people in Ireland’s traditional pubs. Young or old, rich or poor, everyone finds a home in one Ireland’s pubs. They’re focal points for Irish culture and the best way to experience Celtic music. A pub crawl involves a tour across a collection of different pubs. Some of these tours target backpackers looking for a party while others focus on history or live music. It doesn’t matter what city you choose to do this in as you’re sure to have a great time.
Take the ferry to the Aran Islands
It’s only an hour long ferry ride from Galway to these islands off the coast of Ireland. They’re a lovely slice of the Irish countryside that remains simple, with visitors traveling via bikes and hiking. The rocky islands still have a strong Irish spirit and remain raw and wild. A true gem of Ireland for those looking to get off the beaten path.