Ireland is for sure one of my favorite European countries. The convivial nature of its people, the overall craic, the lush landscapes and rolling hills, incredible history – it all just adds up to a dream for me. Not to mention, Ireland is super-safe and moderately priced. Honestly, I’d move there in a heartbeat!
getting to ireland
If arriving from outside Europe you’ll most likely fly into Dublin or Galway (technically Shannon). Cork has its own airport as well, and flights from within Europe commonly fly to Cork.
Ferries can bring you to Ireland from the UK, France, and Spain.
when to go
Temperatures are never overly extreme in the Emerald Isle. The weather is notoriously unpredictable, though, and you’ll undoubtedly encounter some rain whenever you choose to visit. Peak season is June-August, when the weather is warm and rain is at a minimum.
The perfect time to go to Ireland, in my opinion, is September. You’ll still benefit from the summer warmth, but schools are back in session and the crowds are far less dense. April-May and September-October are the shoulder seasons, when the weather is still fairly good and there are far less tourists. March sees a lot of tourism due to St. Patrick’s Day (prices increase in March because of this too).
what to see
|Dublin||Museums, Trinity Library, Book of Kells, Capital City|
|Cork||Blarney Stone, Shandon Church Bells|
|Galway||Eyre Square, Galway Cathedral, Claddagh, Salthill|
|Killarney||National Park, Ross Castle|
|Aran Islands||Dun Aonghasa, Irish Wool, Seal Watching|
|Dingle Peninsula||Seaside Villages, Gaelic, Mountains|
|Limerick||Medieval Sites, Art Museums|
|Connemara National Park||Mountains, Lakes, Fjord, Famine History|
|Kilkenny||Medieval Village, Local Pubs, Local Arts Scene|
|Doolin||Colorful Village, Gateway to Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher|
|Donegal||Donegal Castle, Railway Heritage Center|
|Wicklow||Mountains, Hiking, Gardens, Parks|
|Clifden||Castles, Ruins, Camping|
|Bunratty||Castles, Cliffs, Chateaux, Middle Ages|
|Lahinch||Surfing, Beaches, Yoga|
traveling within ireland
Ireland is a pretty small island, so traveling throughout the country won’t take you too too long. Trains and buses are both available, though trains tend to be more expensive and take the same amount of time. My preferred way to travel around Ireland is via bus.
Renting a car is also an option, but remember – the Irish drive on the left side of the road! Also, you’ll pay extra for an automatic, as the standard rental will be manual transmission. Don’t forget your IDP (International Driving Permit) in order to rent a car.
detailed ireland articles
Money-saving tip: Don’t input any dates to scan the best available times to go OR simply input ‘Ireland’ instead of a specific airport – you may get a much cheaper flight!
When I travel, I personally prefer to use Airbnb. I book an entire apartment, giving me my privacy and the comfort of home amenities, such as a kitchen and washing machine. Since my dog(s) travel with me, it also allows me to filter based on pet-friendliness without the stress of disturbing hotel guests.
If you’re travelling long-term, Airbnb usually offers discounts for stays of a month or more – the discounts are significant, sometimes 50-60%! It winds up being cheaper than what I would have paid for my apartment rent back in the USA. However, I’ve found that the discounts are not so drastic in Ireland. There are some, but definitely book in advance. There are also less ‘entire apartments’ available on Airbnb in Ireland.
If you’ve never used Airbnb before, you can get a discount by using my link below.
If you’re a budget-savvy traveler and not travelling long-term, hostels are a great option and are abundant in Ireland.
For run-of-the-mill hotel stays, Booking.com usually offers the best deals.
Ireland is one of the safest countries I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. The Irish are a genuinely friendly and helpful group of people, and not once did I feel unsafe or threatened in any way. That being said, there are safe and dangerous areas of any country.
The biggest thing is to trust your judgement and remove yourself from situations in which you feel unsafe.
In Dublin, definitely watch out for common tourist scams in Ireland. While physically harmless, getting screwed out of money is never a good thing. Taxi scams are super-common, so take rideshare services if you need and when they’re available.
Use apps like FREENOW and Lynk so that the route is tracked on your phone. Uber is available in Ireland, but they are not private cars, it’s essentially the same as getting a taxi, just using an app. Apps are always recommended as your route is predetermined and you’re less likely to be taken advantage of.
money saving tips
While Ireland isn’t the most expensive European country, it also isn’t the least. In fact, some things in Ireland (in particular, many standard grocery store items) can be much more expensive than in countries such as France and Germany. But there are ways to save in case you’re visiting Ireland on a budget.
It’s easy to overindulge in libations when traveling in Ireland. Drinking, Guinness & Whiskey, and good ol’ fashioned debauchery are all part of what makes Ireland (and the Irish) so loveable. Your best bet is to go to pubs during designated Happy Hours, where there are some drink discounts. Another option is to drink where you’re staying, and stick with water for the rest of the night.
Accommodations will also be more costly if you’re visiting around St. Patrick’s Day. So mid-March, along with the summer months, are the peak-season in Ireland, so you’re likely to find accommodation more costly (and more scarce) during these times. If you’re set on traveling in March or June-August, however, book your accommodations as soon as possible in advance. As places start to fill up, the prices will climb.
If you don’t already have one, create a Pinterest account! Pinterest is an invaluable resource for travelers. Simply input ‘Free things to do in….’ and see all the great options that come up. There are plenty of free things to do in the major cities.
Speaking of cities, get yourself a city pass if you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing – museums, tours, public transport, etc. are usually highly discounted with the purchase of a city pass.
Remember the tax refund you’re entitled to (as a non-EU resident) when you leave Ireland. You can re-claim this tax that you pay on goods when you’re leaving the country, getting you a bit of cash back (usually 15%) on purchases over 30 EUR.
covid resources for ireland
Before making any travel reservations, be sure to check the COVID restrictions currently implemented in Ireland. Be aware that things are subject to change with no notice and that most travel insurance companies do not cover COVID-19 for cancellations or treatment. Travel safely, wear a mask, socially distance, and follow all local regulations.