IRELAND SOLO TRAVEL GUIDE
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO! IRELAND TRAVEL GUIDE 2023
PLAN AND BOOK YOUR IRELAND SOLO TRAVEL
- IRELAND: DID YOU KNOW?
- IRELAND TRAVEL PLANNING
- IRELAND TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS
- IRELAND TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
- CITY GUIDES & ITINERARIES
- HOW TO BOOK IRELAND TRAVEL
- IRELAND ECO-TRAVEL IDEAS
- IRELAND TRAVEL SAFETY
- IRELAND BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
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FÁILTE ROIMH ÉIRINN
WELCOME TO IRELAND!
Hi! I’m Gwen, and my passion is using my 28 years of solo global travel and sustainability knowledge and experience to help the solo over 50’s be and stay adventurous through solo travel with their eco-friendly, responsible travel foot forward. Here is my guide to solo travel in Ireland, all from my travel in Ireland, so you can book and realize your Ireland solo travel. What are you waiting for?
IRELAND: DID YOU KNOW?
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.
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 Activities in Ireland
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.
Best Beer and Brewery Tours in Ireland
IRELAND TRAVEL PLANNING
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.
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.
It’s a complete bummer to spend time and money on the holiday of a lifetime only to show up at a key attraction, or try to access travel or banking resources, only to find them closed due to a national or local holiday.
Therefore, a key activity to do in your early Ireland vacation planning stage is to know the local and national holidays in Ireland.
IRELAND TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS
Travel Documents for Ireland
From the U.S., you will need a valid passport with an expiration date greater than 3 months from your return date to the U.S. It is advised to always check the U.S. State Department in advance of traveling to Ireland for pertinent, up-to-date Ireland travel advisories and information. A travel visa is not required for U.S. citizens who travel in Ireland 90 days or less and within a 180-day period.
Check to see if the Ireland Short Stay visa waiver applies when traveling between the U.K. and Ireland.
If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
Choose from Top Travel Document Holders
Vaccinations for Ireland
There are normally no vaccinations required for Ireland travel. The U.S. State Department provides up-to-date required vaccination information for traveling to Ireland. It is advised to always check for any Ireland travel restrictions and required vaccinations 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 ESSENTIALS
Electronics for Ireland
Want to use your 110V electronics while traveling around Ireland? Ireland’s voltage is 230V, and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. If you do not already have electronics (hair dryer, clippers, curling iron, etc.) made for Ireland’s voltage, you will need to bring a voltage converter to use your electronics. Below are top-rated power converters for you to compare and buy.
Choose the Converter That’s Right For You
Most smartphones, tablets, laptops, cameras and similar electronics don’t require a converter (double-check your device(s) before you leave home), but you will still need a plug adapter.
Traveling to Ireland, Type G adapters will fit Ireland’s electronic outlets. I recommend bringing at least 2 adapters. I do not recommend using those single adapters for 100+ countries. They have been known to break and/or cause a power short.
Be prepared before you visit Ireland. Bring a solid, reliable, and grounded power adapter to safely charge your electronics in Ireland. Below are top-rated U.S. (Type A and B) to Ireland power adapter options, from the only brand I travel with, for you to compare and buy.
Choose the Ireland Adapter That’s Right for You
Type G Adapters
If you are going to another country in addition to your trip to Ireland, check this international travel adapter guide to make sure you’re prepared.
Cyber Security While Traveling
Having a virtual private network (VPN) service and portable WiFi is always a good idea to not just stay connected, but stay connected securely in your hotel and all public spaces, like airports, train stations, and restaurants.
CITY GUIDES & ITINERARIES
It has been many years since I was in the following Irish destinations. If revisit these destinations in Ireland, they will be updated. The more I travel in Ireland, the more that gets added to this Ireland Travel Guide.
Until then, here are my recommended things to do in Ireland (from what I’ve already enjoyed or would do when I revisit).
Best Things to Do in Dublin
Best Day Trips from Dublin
Best Things to Do in Galway
Recommended Things to Do in Kilkenny
HOW TO BOOK IRELAND TRAVEL
It’s important to book the top three travel necessities early: flights, accommodations and ground transportation.
Cheap Flights to Ireland
With the ever-growing demand for airline tickets to Ireland, flights book quicker these days. Find cheap flights to Ireland now.
Don’t Wait to Book Your Flight to Ireland
Places to Stay in Ireland
Second in importance to buying airline tickets to Ireland is finding the best place to stay in Ireland for your solo travel to Ireland. Develop your Ireland travel itinerary now and find the best accommodations in Ireland to knock one more item off your Ireland travel planning list.
Find the Best Solo Travel Accommodations in Ireland
Getting Around Ireland
There are also taxis, of course, and you can easily find a rental car if that better suits your Ireland solo travel itinerary.
Find the Best Deals on Ireland Rental Cars
Ireland also has regional and inter-country bus and train services, so getting around and booking transportation is easy.
Things to Do in Ireland
Here are some more of the top things to do in Ireland to book for your solo Ireland trip.
Best Ireland Whiskey and Distillery Tours
Best Ireland Food Tours & Activities
IRELAND ECO-TRAVEL IDEAS
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.
Air Travel Tips
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.
The best eco-friendly forms of ground transportation in Ireland are public transportation, walking, or renting a bicycle or electric scooter. They are also apt to cost less than other ground transportation.
Explore Ireland Bike and Electric Scooter Rentals
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.
Look for accommodations with the following self and third-party assessed certifications when you book:
Green Globe – 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.
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.
Find Your Travel Sustainable Stay in Ireland
Eco-Friendly Things To Do
Ireland has ecotourism ideas available to explore for your next vacation.
Top Eco Friendly Activities in Ireland
There are more ways to do your part for the planet in your responsible travel, like bringing sustainable and eco-friendly products to protect Ireland’s environment.
IRELAND TRAVEL SAFETY
Before You Go
Always consult your government’s Ireland travel advisory for your Ireland travel destination in the beginning travel planning phase and up to your departure date.
Buy Ireland travel insurance and international medical insurance for your solo trip to Ireland to protect yourself and cover for emergencies.
Safety in Ireland
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 solo and female solo travelers in Ireland 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.
Staying in hostels could save you a lot of money on accommodations in Ireland, especially if you stay in a dorm-style room. Save more money by booking well in advance.
Many Ireland hostels also offer private rooms, which I choose from time to time. Private rooms in hostels could possibly be cheaper than hotels in Ireland – it depends on where you stay and how far in advance you reserve.
Don’t overlook exploring hostels in Ireland if you’re on a budget.
Reserve Your Ireland Hostel
Best Time to Book Travel
Ready to book your Ireland solo travel? The sooner you book your reservations, the more you’re likely to save money and get the best flight, accommodation, and rental car choices and deals.
Don’t miss out and find the best Ireland flight deals. The best time to book travel is now. Bundling flight, hotel and/or transportation reservations may even save you more money on your trip to Ireland.
Do You Know What Ireland Flights and Hotels Cost? Check to See
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 – all the 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.