IRELAND TRAVEL GUIDE

IRELAND TRAVEL GUIDE

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FÁILTE ROIMH ÉIRINN
WELCOME TO IRELAND!

Ireland –the “Emerald Isle”, is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Brú na Bóinne and Sceilg Mhichíl, as well as Guinness (I call it, “the nectar of the gods”), cider, Irish Whiskey, Saint Patrick’s Day, Rugby, Horse racing, football (soccer), U2, Enya, The Chieftains, The Pogues, The Cranberries, The Dubliners, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, Trinity College, the birth of “Halloween”, Pierce Brosnan, Cillian Murphy, Michael Gambon, over 7,000 pubs, the Celtic harp, the Cliffs of Moher, Muckanaghederdauhaulia (say that three times fast), a world-class city and capital, Dublin, and lovely towns that dot the green countryside like Glendalough, Galway, and Kilkenny, to name a few.

LANGUAGES IN IRELAND

The official language is Irish, but most Irish speak English.

IRISH CULTURE

The Republic of Ireland (not to be confused with Northern Ireland), has a parliamentary government with democratically elected representatives and is a member of the European Union. 

Its education system is required for all children with the secondary school system consisting of 6 years of study starting at approximately age 12. An undergraduate degree in the Irish universities are usually free for citizens of Ireland/EU. 

The Irish enjoy a government-funded public health care system with a supplemental, private health care system available. 

The Irish value their Gaelic heritage and identity, and freedom of creativity, expression and religion. The Irish culture, primarily Gaelic, has also been influenced by the English, Anglo-Norman, and Scottish cultures throughout its history. Irish culture is rich in literature, music, art, sport and folklore.  Ireland has produced 4 Nobel Prize winners in literature.  Irish folk music and dance are widely known, and the country’s folklore, like the leprechaun, is known throughout the world.

Almost 85% of Irish identify as Roman Catholic, with the remaining classifying as Church of Ireland (Anglican), Islam, Christian or other.  Old pagan customs as well as Christian traditions, like Christmas and St. Stephen’s Day, are reflected in the celebrated holidays. Saint Patrick’s Day, celebrated on March 17th, is the national holiday.   

Traditional Irish cuisine is mostly meat, potato and vegetable based with dishes like champ (mashed potatoes and chopped scallions), colcannon (mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage), Irish breakfast, bacon and cabbage, Boxty (potato pancake) with beef and squash, Irish Stew, and seafood chowder. Soda bread, wheaten bread and potato bread are also diet staples.  Like other European countries, fast food and other cuisines, such as Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Indian, African and Polish food, have become popular.

Guinness, first brewed for production at St James’ Gate Brewery, Dublin in 1759, is the classic brew served in Ireland either by itself or as part of a cocktail, but the Irish also enjoy other beers, multiple brands of Irish whiskey (there are currently 25 whiskey distilleries in Ireland), Irish coffee, cider and Baileys, to name a few. 

Public houses (pubs) are not just locations, they a mainstay of Irish culture where people meet, relax and converse with neighbors, friends and family, much like cafés serve other countries’ cultures.

POPULAR IRISH ACTIVITIES

Sport is very popular in Ireland leading with Gaelic football, followed by hurling, soccer, and rugby, in terms of audience attendance.  The Irish like to participate in golf, soccer, Gaelic football, billiards/snooker, to name a few activities.

The Irish like socializing in pubs, listening to the radio, watching TV, or going to the cinema, museums and art galleries.  Ireland also has many festivals and farming events, the most widely attended being the St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin and the National Ploughing Championships held every September.

IRISH CURRENCY

Ireland uses the Euro (€).  Exchange rates are usually favorable for Europeans but could fluctuate in the other direction. Check throughout your travel planning phase on any exchange rate changes.

IRELAND TRANSPORTATION

Ireland has Bolt, Uber, Carpoolworld, and other possible regional ridesharing services and apps (research in advance if they are in your destination area). There are also taxis and rental cars, of course.

Ireland also has regional and inter-country bus and train services, so getting around and booking transportation is easy.

TIPPING IN IRELAND

Traveling in a new country is easier when you know the country’s tipping etiquette in advance as each country has its own rules.  That said, country rules and norms can shift, so here is an international tipping resource for over 70 countries to use as a general guideline that I have found is constantly updated. 

What’s not on there is how to tip a concierge, beauty salons or spas, travel or tour guides, etc.  For these extras, it is acceptable to tip 10% at minimum. Remember, tipping is for good service only.

Additionally, you should always tip in the local currency (if tipping in cash), and do not be offended if your tip is refused as it may not be the norm. I feel it’s always better to offer a tip for good service than not, unless I know it will be considered offensive, like in Japan.

IRELAND'S HOLIDAYS

A key activity to do in your early planning stage is to know, at minimum, the national holidays. I so suggest also looking into the local holidays.  It’s a complete bummer to spend time and money to take the holiday of your lifetime and when you show up at one of your key attractions, it’s closed due to a holiday.  It’s also not fun trying to travel and have a hard time accessing travel or other essential resources when no one is around because, yes, it’s a local holiday. So, take just a few moments to look at Ireland’s holidays.

IRELAND ELECTRONIC ESSENTIALS

Besides money, required ID and your ticket, Ireland voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz, so bring a Type G adapter (I recommend bringing 2) for Ireland outlets and research if your electronics require a voltage converter, if not already included in the adapter; or, you can bring electronics already adapted for Ireland outlets or wait to purchase them there (I recommend just bringing the adapters with converter).

Remember, most smart phones, tablets and laptops don’t require a converter, but double-check your device(s) before you leave home.  If you are going to another country in addition to Ireland on your trip, you can check the global adapters list to make sure you’re prepared. I have also provided suggested adapters below for your convenience.

Ceptics - Type G Adapter, 2 in 1 Input US to UK Plug Adapter, Ultra-Portable Ceptics Travel Adapter, UK Power Adapter for Dual Voltage, Universal Travel Plug, Pack of 3
4,109 Reviews
Ceptics - Type G Adapter, 2 in 1 Input US to UK Plug Adapter, Ultra-Portable Ceptics Travel Adapter, UK Power Adapter for Dual Voltage, Universal Travel Plug, Pack of 3*
  • Charges More Devices at Once - Conveniently plug your gadgets with Ceptics Type G adapters. Our 3-pack Type G plug adapter supports standard 2 and/or 3-pronged flat pin plugs, so you can charge 2 devices simultaneously or 6 devices for all 3 adapters.
Ceptics Travel Adapter with Types A-M Plugs, Travel Plug Adapter Set Compatible with Power Sockets in All Continents, Compact World Travel Adapter, International Plug Adaptor Kit, Set of 12,GP-12PK
471 Reviews
Ceptics Travel Adapter with Types A-M Plugs, Travel Plug Adapter Set Compatible with Power Sockets in All Continents, Compact World Travel Adapter, International Plug Adaptor Kit, Set of 12,GP-12PK*
  • A Powerful Set of 12 Adapters - Our all-in-one international travel adapter set features 1 universal input socket that allows you to connect a plug from almost any country worldwide, including the 2-prong and 3-prong North American plugs.

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS FOR IRELAND

From the U.S., you will need a valid passport for your entire stay in Ireland. Visas are not required. The U.S. State Department always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to Ireland.  It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave.  If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.

VACCINATIONS FOR IRELAND

There are normally no vaccinations required for Ireland travel. The U.S. State Department always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to  Ireland.  It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave.  If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.

IRELAND TRAVEL BOOKING

IRELAND ECOTOURISM TIPS

There are ways to reduce your eco and carbon footprint through air travel, accommodations, tours, and activities in Ireland. To help avoid greenwashing businesses, here are some eco-friendly or sustainable travel (also called responsible travel) tips and resources, you can use to book your travel.

ECO-FRIENDLY AIR TRAVEL

Skyscanner provides a ‘Greener flights’ filter highlighting flights that emit less CO2.

Purchase carbon offsets through your airline or through a third party, like MyClimate.org, Carbonfund.org, or terrapass. Carbon offsetting allows you to buy a certificate to reduce carbon emissions, a major contributor to climate change, which in turn contribute community projects across countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

ECO-FRIENDLY GROUND TRANSPORTATION

Try to avoid renting a car in Ireland by using regional and inter-country bus and train services.

When booking a rideshare in Ireland, select the Bolt Green or Uber Green options instead of a traditional rideshare to support the use of electric cars and carpooling for cleaner transportation in Ireland.

Bolt also has electric scooters to rent in the Ireland for faster and cleaner commuting. Search Bolt for select city availability.

ECO-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATIONS

Look for accommodations with the following self and third-party assessed certifications when you book:

Green Globe certifies hotels, resorts, conference centers, transportation, attractions, tour operators, and other tourism businesses globally on sustainable operations and management. Look for Ireland Green Global members.

Green Key Global is an internationally recognized environmental certification for the lodging and meetings industries, including hotels and hostels, campsites and holiday parks, restaurants and attractions in 65 countries. Search for Green Key awarded sites.

Living Building Challenge – if you want to stay in a true, sustainable building, find one certified by the Living Building Challenge. LBC’s certification directory shows all project types globally. Hopefully they will put in a filter soon to allow searching by hotels or hospitality type.

LEED Certified – the USGBC’s LEED Certified label on buildings, like many of the Marriott’s hotels, are those that have verifiably employed multiple and varying green building strategies to improve human and environmental health. Search the LEED directory for Ireland certifications.

Green Lodging Program – Audubon International has an environmental stewardship certification through third-party verification. Search its certified members directory.

GSTC Certified – the Global Sustainable Tourism Council provides global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, as well as international accreditation for sustainable tourism Certification Bodies. Booking sites that offer GSTC certified sustainable are bookdifferent, EcoHotels, and Transat.

Another way to find an establishments implementing eco-friendly or sustainable practices, certified or not, is through Booking.com in which you’ll need to find and review each establishment’s ‘Sustainable Initiatives’ within the booking process. Starting 2022, however, you’ll be able to filter searches for accommodations with the Travel Sustainable badge. Finally!

ECO-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES

Ireland has ecotourism ideas available to explore for your next vacation.

Search Green Global and Green Key awarded members for eco-friendly activity providers in Ireland. Some may also have the GSTC Certified logo.

MORE ECO-TRAVEL TIPS

There are more ways to do your part for the planet in your responsible travel.  Read my 10 Easy Eco-Travel Tips and view my suggested Eco Travel Resources to learn more.

IRELAND SAFETY TIPS

HOW TO TRAVEL IRELAND SAFELY

Ireland is considered a very safe place to visit for any tourist, solo or not.  Beyond theft or pickpocketing in possible tourist or transportation areas, which could happen in most countries to be honest, there is nothing I can recall from Ireland making it more of a “safety concern” than traveling in my own home country, so my standard tips for female and solo travelers are:

  • always carry photo ID with you; if you don’t want your passport on you at all times, at least carry a copy of it.
  • always be “street wise”.
  • always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you feel the need to imbibe or feel the need to “let loose” – you’re on vacation so have fun!
  • never leave your food or drink unattended.
  • keep your belongs on your person, or at least in your view in close proximity, at all times.
  • be open to meeting and talking with new people – that is where a lot of the travel experience lies – but be careful on how you divulge personal information.
  • research places in advance, if possible, so you know what to expect (i.e., “have a familiar view” – I like to Google the street view of new addresses I’m going to first).
  • if something, someone or someplace makes you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut – leave.

IRELAND BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS

BEST TIME TO VISIT IRELAND

Like other countries in Europe, Ireland’s high, tourist season, and most expensive time, is the summer (June to August).  Crowds are not as heavy in the shoulder tourism months of April, May, September and October, and prices in these months are lower with mild weather available that could last into the evening.  The least expensive time to go to Ireland would be the winter months of November to March.  For overall best weather and prices, try booking well in advance for the shoulder months mentioned and pack so you can plan to wear layers.

PERSONAL STORY

Ireland, home to some of my ancestry, was at the top of my bucket list countries to visit outside the U.S.  I really wanted to experience its architecture, music, countryside and Guinness, which I call the nectar of the gods. 

I started my Ireland travel in Dublin, with my new mate from Australia, enjoying a lot of the town’s history, architecture, and pubs, not to mention touring the Guinness Storehouse. You get two free glasses of Guinness at the end of the tour!

Working off a EurRail pass, we headed next to Kilkenny, a medieval town southeast of Dublin. It has the Kilkenny Castle built in 1195, which is very nice to visit. We enjoyed day of bike riding around the local countryside seeing old churches and Roman ruins, stopping into pubs for pint along the way. Naturally.

Last was Galway, a nice harbor town on Ireland’s west coast.  From there we took a day trip to see local castles and the Cliffs of Moher (pictured at top of page), which are spectacular but don’t stand too close to the edge or a strong wind could blow you off!  Seriously. Point to note:  you could see many pictures of John F. Kennedy in Irish establishments.  In fact, Galway has Eyre Square, which was officially named “John F. Kennedy Memorial Park” in 1965 after Kennedy made a speech there in 1963.

I consider the Irish some of the friendliest people on earth.  No matter where I went, people would offer to house me and show me around their lovely town.  One night in Dublin I ventured out with others from my hostel and found myself separated with my group no clue where I was late in the evening.  A nice couple found me lost and offered to drive me back to my hostel – way across town!  They saved me. Now, how nice is that?!

Additionally, nothing beat music in the pubs where the late afternoon would start with one or two musicians at a table that eventually grew to ten musicians jamming traditional Irish tunes until the pub closed. Awesome.

IRELAND PHOTOS

IRELAND & EUROPE BLOG POSTS

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Europe Solo Travel 2021: How I Traveled During Covid

How did I navigate the EU travel restrictions and successfully travel 7 European countries as an American traveler?  Check out my travel tips and what I did to prepare for travel during Covid-19, and traveled safely during Covid-19, on my 2021 Europe solo travel to make your Europe 2022 trip planning easy.

Read More »
Ceptics - Type G Adapter, 2 in 1 Input US to UK Plug Adapter, Ultra-Portable Ceptics Travel Adapter, UK Power Adapter for Dual Voltage, Universal Travel Plug, Pack of 3
4,109 Reviews
Ceptics - Type G Adapter, 2 in 1 Input US to UK Plug Adapter, Ultra-Portable Ceptics Travel Adapter, UK Power Adapter for Dual Voltage, Universal Travel Plug, Pack of 3*
  • Charges More Devices at Once - Conveniently plug your gadgets with Ceptics Type G adapters. Our 3-pack Type G plug adapter supports standard 2 and/or 3-pronged flat pin plugs, so you can charge 2 devices simultaneously or 6 devices for all 3 adapters.

Like this? Share it with others!

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