Five Things First Time Travellers To Ireland Should Know
- The Irish drive on the left-hand side of the road. If you're coming from a country that does the opposite, make sure you remember this important difference. Otherwise, skip driving altogether to avoid any chance of a car accident.
- The official language is English. This makes communication and navigating Ireland much easier. But the accent can be difficult to understand at times, and the Irish are notorious for speaking at the speed of light.
- You need a swimming cap. If you plan on visiting the indoor pools, you'll need to cover your hair. If you don't have one, they can be purchased for EUR 3 to 5 at most hotels.
- Ireland uses the Euro, and Northern Ireland uses the Pound Sterling. If you plan on visiting both regions, you can either use your card for purchases or exchange money for both currencies.
- You don't need to tip. While it's not a custom, it's seen as a nice gesture. If you feel the service was exceptional, a good rule of thumb is to tip around 10%. But before you do, always check the restaurant hasn't already added a service charge.
Best Time To Visit Ireland
The best time to visit Ireland is during the summer. From June to August, the days are longer; temperatures are warmer, and every sightseeing attraction is open. The only downside is that the good weather also means it's Ireland's high season. Expect long lines and prices to be higher for airfare, accommodation and car rentals.
If you want to make your Euro stretch as much as possible, visit Ireland in the winter. From December to March, you can score some of the best deals on hotel rooms if you can handle horrible weather. But it only makes sense to travel during this time if you're going to stay in the big cities. This is because many of the rural attractions and B&Bs close for the low season.
Ireland's shoulder seasons, autumn and spring, are the best option for travellers who want decent weather without the hefty price tag. While it won't be as warm as summer, the rain doesn't last long meaning you won't lose a full day of sightseeing. Prices are also lower, and the summer crowds have yet to arrive.
Dublin is the capital city of Ireland. While it is a bustling metropolis, it's home to more old buildings than soaring skyscrapers. One of the best ways to explore the city is to spend a day meandering through its busy streets and many cultural highlights.
Some of its top attractions are its historic cathedrals, the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Castle and the many pubs in Temple Bar.
Galway is one of Ireland's most artistic cities. The shops that line its streets are covered in beautiful street art and give the town its bohemian flair.
Weave your way around its charming medieval centre and stop at a pub to enjoy some traditional Irish music. A visit to Galway wouldn't be complete without visiting its many historical attractions like the Spanish Arc or the Hall of the Red Earl.
Known as the "Marble City", Kilkenny is the perfect destination for history buffs and architecture lovers. It's home to many medieval era buildings such as the St. Canice Cathedral and Black Abbey.
Join one of the city's many walking tours to get your bearings. Go on a ghost hunting tour of Kilkenny's most haunted spots or let a local guide show you around the city's most popular historic landmarks.
Top Attractions in Ireland
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher is one of Ireland's most popular tourist destinations attracting one million visitors each year. Located near the city of Galway, the cliffs are 214 metres tall and give visitors a breathtaking view of the Atlantic ocean and the Irish countryside.
Visit O’Brien’s Tower to see the cliffs from above, walk the 8km coastal trail or go on a boat tour for some of best views of Ireland's greatest natural wonder.
Entrance costs EUR 6 per adult. There's also a wonderful on-site museum if you want to learn more about the area's history and the wildlife that call the cliffs home.
The Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland's most visited heritage sites. Located in the heart of Tipperary, it's made up of a group of medieval buildings. Inside the complex, you'll find a 12th century round tower, a 15th-century castle and a 13th-century Gothic cathedral.
It is believed that the High Kings of Munster ruled from here, and for 400 years it was the centre of power in the country.
You can visit the Rock of Cashel throughout the year and entrance is EUR 8 per adult. Guided tours are available, and there are daily audio-visual show and exhibitions.
Trinity College in Dublin is Ireland's oldest university. Founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592, it's full of priceless relics. Its most famous is the Book of Kells, a 9th-century medieval manuscript that's considered to be Ireland's greatest treasure.
Its other popular attractions include the zoology museum and science gallery. But the best way to explore Trinity College is to sign up for one of their guided tours. You'll learn about the university's 400-year old history, its traditions and the history of its buildings.
Tickets cost EUR 14 with combined access to the Book of Kells and Old Library Exhibition.
The Aran Islands
Located off the west coast of Ireland, the Aran Islands are remote, wild and utterly unique. With Gaelic as its first language and a more traditional lifestyle than the mainland, it gives visitors a glimpse into Ireland's past.
The largest island, Inishmore, boasts over 50 different monuments of Christian and Celtic mythological heritage. Its most famous is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dun Aonghasa. It is a 2,000-year-old stone fortress, perched on top of a dramatic 300 ft cliff edge.
Ferries are available to the islands from Doolin from April to October and from Galway all year around.
The Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is Ireland's most scenic road trip. Starting at Killarney, the 160 km route loops around the picturesque Iveragh Peninsula.
The highlights of the drive include Ireland's tallest mountain, a medieval monastery, stone forts and beautiful lakes. The entire journey takes about three hours without stopping, but it's best to break up your journey.
There are tons of things to do in the area such as fishing, horse riding, hiking, surfing and exploring the pristine beaches. Stay at one of the many charming small towns dotted around the coastline and take your time exploring one of Ireland's most scenic destinations.
Major International Airports in Ireland
- Dublin Airport
- Cork Airport
- Shannon Airport