Ireland is Much More than Dublin: The Best Travel Tips
Friendly locals, beautiful scenery, tasty food, great beers, plus the Irish whiskey.
Numerous castles, 7,000 years of history, rich literature, thriving design scene. No doubt that Ireland is underrated as a travel destination in Europe. It’s much more than its capital Dublin. For travelers departing from the US, it’s one of the easiest countries to reach out with frequent flights from NYC to Dublin. Learning useful travel tips is crucial to having a great experience in Ireland!
Most of the travelers going to Ireland base their trips to Dublin and nearby, forgetting all the attractions in other Irish regions.
There are a lot of things to do and see in Ireland, and a single trip is not enough to see everything. Or be prepared to use just a few of these travel tips for a short stay in Ireland. The best thing to do when searching for travel tips to Ireland is to focus on places and activities you want to do during the holiday.
Although Ireland is a small country, you must observe that most of the local roads are tiny, curvy and one-laned. This means your road trips will take longer than what you may assume by the distance. Remember, you must be careful while driving! The same applies to the Google Maps estimations when moving around Ireland. As said by the YouTubers Vagabrothers, Ireland is easy to get into but slow to get around.
To show that Ireland is not only Dublin, we briefly present a couple of places to visit and travel tips on how to get around the country and when is the best time to go. We will also introduce you to Irish food and give some practical travel tips to help you with preparing for your adventure.
Places to Visit in Ireland
Where to go in Ireland? In order to help you visualize the main places to visit in the country, we share below a map. It describes the most popular attractions in some Irish cities you must consider to visit.
- Cork, on the southern coast, there is a cosmopolitan university city with a vibrant nightlife and abundant options for cheap eats. This city is perfect for travelers who want to do whale watching or surfing. Also, explore coastal landscapes around the Mizen Head or hike around the Gougane Barra while traveling in Ireland. On the outskirts of Cork, you will find the Blarney Castle, dating from 1446, made of Carboniferous limestone – open from 9:00h until 17:00h.
- Connemara is an outdoor park with 30 square kilometers (12 square miles) located in the west of Ireland, facing the Atlantic Ocean. Ideal for travelers who are looking for hiking, forest biking, and scenic views of the lakes, mountains, bogs, and heathland.
- Killarney is one of the most visited places in Ireland by travelers who are attracted by its medieval charm in the County Kerry, in the southwest. There you can visit the Ross Castle and the 15th-century Franciscan friary Muckross Abbey.
- Galway, on the western coast, is the music capital of Ireland. It is the perfect place if you are interested in discovering the Irish music and food, and to taste local fresh oysters. From Galway, you can go to the Wild Atlantic Way, the longest coastal scene and most fascinating road trip in the world. The Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, the Aran Islands, and Connemara are some of the places accessible from Galway.
Flying to Ireland
As Ireland is the home base of the low-cost carrier Ryanair, there are lots of options for cheap flights departing from the main airports in the US and Europe. Aer Lingus is another carrier to check when searching for flights to Ireland. The main airports in Ireland are in Dublin (DUB), Shannon (SNN), and Cork (ORK).
How to move around Ireland?
Renting a car is the best option if you want to move around Ireland and explore the countryside at your pace. Typically, the rental cars have manual gears but for the automatic ones you would have to pay extra fee. Remember that vehicles in Ireland drive on the left side.
Another option for traveling by car in Ireland is to use ridesharing apps such as BlaBlaCar and CarpoolWorld. But what about hitchhiking? It’s also an option! On the website Hitchwiki, you will find lots of tips shared by travelers who have hitchhiked in Ireland.
The main transport in Ireland is the bus! It is often a lot cheaper than taking the train from one city to another. Bus Éireann, Translink, Citylink, and Aircoach are the local companies for booking bus trips.
Public transportation in Ireland works pretty well and the LEAP card is valid all over the country for all the public transport options. It gives discounts of up to 31% compared to the price in cash. Bus tickets in Irish cities cost around $3,50/ €3 for a single journey.
For trains in Ireland, Irish Rail covers the train network in the country. The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) also includes the coastal areas from Howth to Malahide and to Greystones in County Wicklow. It is usually cheaper to book train tickets online than at the station.
Buses & Rail Passes in Ireland
There are various bus and rail passes that can make your life easier if you plan to travel around Ireland. Explore these deals to help you to save money on transport.
- Irish Explorer: 5 days of unlimited use of Irish Rail out of 15 consecutive days for $180/ €160.
- Trekker Four Day: unlimited travel on Irish Rail within 4 days from the date of issue on the ticket for $120/ €110.
- Open Road Tourist Travel Pass: 3 days of unlimited travel out of 6 consecutive days on Bus Éireann for $60/ €70. There are options from 3 up to 15 days.
Sunday Day Tracker: 1 day of unlimited travel on Translink buses and trains in the north of Ireland for $10USD/ £8.
When is the best time to visit Ireland?
From June to August is the warmest period in Ireland but is the high-season, when it is mostly crowded and the prices are inflated. Temperatures during this time are around 15-20ºC/59-68ºF. If you want to skip the high costs and the crowds, the periods from March to May so as from September to November are excellent. But keep in mind that rainfalls are more frequent at these times.
What to pack for Ireland?
When going to Ireland, always pack a rain jacket. The weather is likely to change from sunny to rainy along the day. Other essential items to pack are water resistant footwear and an umbrella. The adaptor used in Ireland is the same one use as in the UK, the type G with three square prongs, and the standard voltage is 230 V.
What to eat in Ireland?
If you think that Irish food is only potatoes, it’s one more reason to travel to this underrated destination. Despite not diverse as Italian and Portuguese cuisines, Irish gastronomy has an exciting combination of simple dishes and ingredients.
The Irish stew is a traditional dish made of root vegetables and lamb. Still, the ingredients may vary using mutton, potatoes, parsley, onions, or carrots. Found at local restaurants and pubs. If you’re cooking meals yourself, it’s easy to make it.
Ireland also has one of the best fresh seafood in the world. You must taste the local oysters, especially when visiting the coastal cities. Also, the seaweed that has been reinvented for different kinds of dishes at the trendiest restaurants.
While Ireland may not be known for producing cheese, you can find excellent quality cheese produced in rural areas. Available at local cheese shops, farmers’ markets, and supermarkets.
Drinks and alcohol in Ireland
Since Ireland is worldwide famous for the Guinness beer and pub culture, there is no trip without passing by the pubs and tasting this beer. Never hesitate to ask the Irish people where to find the best taps. You will find better places than the pubs that you find in every travel guide.
Another drink to taste in Ireland is the Irish whiskey, which is triple distilled and a little softer than the Scotch whiskey. Jameson and Bushmills are the most famous brands, and at the whiskey bars, you will find a wide selection of varieties.
Irish coffee is another worldwide known drink. You can make it from Irish whiskey, hot coffee, and sugar, topped with cream. Result out of the creation of Joe Sheridan when preparing a drink to warm the freezing passengers on a cold night.
When going to pubs in Ireland, be aware that groups usually pay for the whole turn when drinking instead of paying for only their own drinks. It’s not difficult to meet Irish people at the pubs. Then ignoring the paying-the-turn etiquette is considered to be rude. Despite the pub culture, it’s forbidden to drink in public in Ireland and driving drunk takes you straight to jail.
How much do I need to travel to Ireland?
Ireland is neither cheap like Eastern Europe nor expensive like Scandinavia and Switzerland. A minimum budget is $50/ €45, if you stay at a hostel and cut your expenses. To cut expenses you can cook your meals, use public transportation and minimize partying and drinking. A comfortable budget in Ireland would be between $100/ €90 and $150/€135 a day.
Meals in Ireland cost around $22/ €20 for lunch and about $33/ €30 for dinner. A smart travel tip for eating outside in Ireland is to skip lunch and go for a reasonably priced place for dinner. If you are traveling on a budget, a pub is a good place where to have dinner. Alcohol is expensive in Ireland, so if you are on a tiny budget, the best thing to do is to buy your drinks at the supermarket.
Remember that Ireland is part of the European Union. The currency used there is the Euro. However, Northern Ireland is part of the UK and uses the Pound. ATMs are mostly available and you can use credit cards almost everywhere. Be careful, local businesses like pubs accept only debit cards and cash for payment. Let these travel tips inspire your next vacation in Ireland!