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 while the country is filled with beautiful landscapes and castles, so it’s hard not to have a good time here. The country’s small size makes it easy to explore regardless of the length of your trip. I absolutely love this country. It’s a magical land full of wonder, history, and fun and I can’t recommend visiting here enough. No one ever walks away unhappy from Ireland and, by using this travel guide, you’ll know all the best things to do so you don’t either. Visit Ireland. It’s phenomenal.
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Ireland
1. Get down in Dublin
2. Admire the Cliffs of Moher
3. The Giant’s Causeway
4. Drive along the Ring of Kerry
5. Wander around Galway
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Spot whales in 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 also popular here.
2. Party on St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick is Ireland’s patron Saint, and as the legend goes, he drove all the snakes out of the country. To celebrate, everyone gets incredibly drunk (though not as drunk as we get in the US). 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.
3. Kiss the Blarney Stone
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. Admission is 13 EUR and it’s open daily from 9am to at least 5pm
4. 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 bring good luck.
5. Hike in 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.
6. 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. It’s open daily from 10am until at least 5pm and costs 4 EUR.
7. 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.
8. Go back in time at 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. Admission is free and the museum is open daily (except Mondays) from 10am-5pm.
9. Be Entranced by Newgrange
Newgrange is a prehistoric burial mound that dates back over 5000 years, even older than Stonehenge. Every year, on the date of the Winter Solstice, a beam of light streams down the perfectly aligned entrance passage to illuminate the interior of the burial chamber. Newgrange has been designed to offer a very interesting, informative visit. Admission is 6-11 EUR and it’s open from 9:30am-5pm with some extended hours depending on the season.
10. Return to the Middle Ages in Killarney
Killarney is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist destinations, mostly for its undeniable medieval charm. Visit Muckross Abbey (a 15th-century Franciscan friary), Ross Castle, or just wander around the town itself. This is also the traditional starting point for exploring the Ring of Kerry.
Food – Fast food items start at around 4 EUR, while a simple meal at a pub will set you back 9-14 EUR. A nicer meal, with a drink, will be upwards of 18 EUR. If you go out early to lunch or dinner, you’ll find many restaurants offer “early bird” specials where you can get good deals. If you cook your meals, expect to pay 50-60 EUR per week for groceries that will include pasta, vegetables, chicken, and other basic foods. For the best value food, visit the pubs! Local meal, with local people, at local prices!
Transportation – Public transportation is first-rate in Ireland! Whether you’re on a bus or train, expect free WiFi, friendly drivers, and timely departures. Bus trips around Dublin cost about 2 EUR for a single journey. Longer bus journeys, such as Dublin to Belfast will cost around 17 EUR. It costs about 45-65 EUR to get to Cork from Dublin by train and takes about 2.5 hours. It costs about 35-55 EUR to get to Galway from Dublin by train and takes about 3 hours. Buses take about the same amount of time but will save you about 10 EUR. Taxis are expensive and, since most cities are extremely walkable, I suggest you avoid them.
Activities – Most museums throughout the country cost about 9-14 EUR. The Guinness Brewery is one of the few I would recommend, but the most expensive, costing 21 EUR at the door. Save 10% by booking online in advance (added bonus – you also get a fast pass to skip to the front during busy season). Day trips around the countryside will set you back 36 EUR or more.
Suggested daily budget
40-60 EUR / $42-63 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!)
Money Saving Tips
- 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 altogether.
- Eat the pub food – Eat at the pubs for good, hearty local Irish food that won’t destroy your wallet.
- Get an 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 main attractions, including most of the castles throughout the country. The card costs 25 EUR for adults. This is a must for people visiting multiple cities in the country!
- Couchsurf – Couchsurfing connects you with locals who will give you not only a free place to stay, but also a local tour guide who can introduce you to all the great places to see. I love this service a lot and highly recommend you try to use it (at least to meet people) while in the country! Plus, free accommodation helps the wallet!
- Rideshare – If you’re flexible in your schedule, use the ridesharing service BlaBlaCar and catch rides with locals between cities (or countries). When I used this service, not only did I save a lot of money, but I got to meet interesting people to and learn about local culture and life. Drivers are verified and it’s perfectly safe (though sometimes rides don’t show up, which is why you need to be flexible).
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Articles About Ireland
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