Ireland Travel Tips
Ireland is a beautiful country filled with rolling green hills, castles, beautiful sheer cliffs, Guinness beer, and ultra friendly locals. Dublin is a lively city with great pubs and history and the country is filled great rolling hills and castles. It’s hard not to have fun here especially with such friendly and inviting locals. The country’s small size makes it easy to explore regardless of the length of your trip. And despite being on the Euro, the recent economic crisis has made the country much cheaper than it used to be making it a good value destination.
- Accommodation: Prices start at $12 a night for a hostel dorm room, $35 for a single room in a hostel, and from $45 for a night in a budget hotel with a private bathroom. In the bigger cities, expect to pay a bit more.
- Food: Casual meals like pub food and fast food costs around $10 for a meal. A restaurant main dish with a drink will cost from $20. Grocery shopping and cooking your own food will cost about $40 USD per week.
- Transportation: Bus trips around Dublin cost about $3 for a single journey. Longer bus journeys, such as Dublin to Belfast will cost around $19. Taxis are expensive, starting at $7 USD for a very short trip and I suggest you avoid them.
- Activities: Most museums throughout the country cost about $10. The Guinness Brewery tour costs $20 USD. Day trips around the countryside will set you back $40 or more.
Money Saving Tips
- Fly budget - Ireland is extremely well served by budget airlines traveling throughout the UK and Europe. By booking in advance with the likes of Ryanair, Easyjet and BMIBaby, you can get cheap flights from Ireland to the world.
- Student discounts – A valid student ID will get you discounts (up to 50%) to many attractions, museums, and buses throughout the country.
- Drink less – Ireland’s strong pub culture will hit your wallet hard. Temper the cost by visiting happy hours, drinking at home, or skipping drinks all together.
- Eat the pub food – Eat at the pubs for good, hearty local Irish food that won’t destroy your wallet.
- Get a OPW Heritage Card – For those of you that love to tour heritage sites, you should definitely pick up one of these. It guarantees access to any of the sites, including most of the castles throughout the country. The card costs $24 for adults.
Top Things to Do
- Get down in Dublin - Most people who visit Ireland spend time in its capital city, Dublin. Dublin is synonymous with fun. Fans of Ireland’s most famous export (Guinness) will find no shortage of pubs that claim to pour the city’s best pint. The city’s Georgian architecture, music and “craic” have made Dublin one of Europe’s most popular locations.
- Galway – Famous for its horse racing festival every July, Galway is popular with tourists from all over the world. Connemara, where ‘The Quiet Man’ was filmed is a must see, along with Kylemore Abbey, a beautiful Benedictine monastery. Galway City itself is a hub for students, writers and musicians.
- Cork – Cork is a bustling city nestled on Ireland’s south coast. Originally a maritime hub, Cork is now a cosmopolitan university city filled with cheap eats and a lively nightlife. Surfing and whale watching are popular here.
- The Ring of Kerry – Also known as the Iveragh Peninsula, this is one of the most well-trodden tourist trails in Ireland. The Ring of Kerry is filled with winding coast roads, lakes, mountainous terrain and historical forts. Photogenic is an understatement for this area.
- Giant’s Causeway – Cross the border in to Northern Ireland to visit the famous UNESCO World Heritage site of Giant’s Causeway. Myth surrounds this geological wonder of interlocking basalt columns that make you think they might actually be the stairs of giants (Ok, not really but it’s still beautiful). I recommend combining this with a visit to Bushmills Distillery to taste one of the finest whiskeys Ireland has to offer.
- St. Patrick’s Day – March 17th is probably the best day of the year to be in Ireland. St. Patrick is Ireland’s patron Saint and, as legend goes, drove all the snakes out of the country. To celebrate, everyone gests incredibly drunk. Whether you believe the legend or not, this is the biggest party of the year in which everyone is Irish. The biggest parade takes place in Dublin.
- Blarney Castle – Home to the famous Blarney Stone, Blarney Castle sits just outside Cork. Visitors flock to see the Stone, which is said to bestow eloquence on all those who kiss it.
- Cliffs of Moher – The magnificent Cliffs of Moher are a must see for fans of outstanding natural beauty. The view from the rugged cliff tops attract close to a million visitors every year.
- Visit a castle – Ireland is steeped in history and the entire country is covered in castles, all in various states of (dis)repair. From the crumbling ruins of Dunluce Castle to the impeccably preserved Cahir Castle in Tipperary, it’s hard to miss these historical beauties. You can kiss the Blarney stone at the castle that bears the same name. It’s supposed to be good luck.
- Connemara – This national park is an awe-inspiring area. Many people come here for hiking and forest bike riding. There are a few castles within the park as well as an old mining area and a heritage and history center.
- John F Kennedy Arboretum – Located in County Wexford, this garden is home to over 4,500 species of trees and shrubs. There are several tea rooms, a visitors center, and a picnic area. During the summer, there is also a little train that runs through the park.
- Visit the Aran islands – Less than an hour off of the mainland lies the wild beauty of these non-contemporary islands. Here you can get around by bus, bike, or pony trap, whilst you see the various heritage sights, ruins, castles, and more. Tobar Einne and O’Briens Castle are the two major attractions to see.
- Ulster Museum – Just a stone throw away from the Botanical Gardens in Belfast, this museum is host to an odd collection of artifacts and reveals the interesting history of Northern Ireland. There is even an exhibit on local wildlife. It is nice to have tea in the café as well.