Ireland is a lovely country, with friendly people, a vibrant art scene, history everywhere you look, fantastic food and pubs, and writers (so many outstanding writers). I last visited the “Emerald Isle” in 2017, and I barely scratched the surface of seeing and experience everything Ireland has to offer. We started the trip off with a bang, watching U2 perform “The Joshua Tree” album at Croke Park in Dublin. I could have headed home wholly content, but instead, we took the glow from the concert with us as we spent two weeks exploring this amazing country. Here are a few things I learned during my travels about the best way to enjoy your first trip to Ireland.
Stop and Smell the Roses
Don’t try to do too much in one visit. Good advice for all of your adventures, but worth remembering in Ireland. Ireland is small (about the size of Indiana), so visitors think they can see it all in one week-long trip. You can’t.
There are hundreds and hundreds of things to see and do in this magical country. Think about your interests (history, pubs, castles, golf, music, mystical places…you get the idea), then pick 3 to 5 must see/must do places and leave the rest of the schedule open to explore each location (or just kick back and soak it all in).
Related: Stay in the same place for a few nights and use it as a base to explore. Staying put for several days is less disruptive and more relaxing. Plus, you’ll see and do more.
Be friendly and ask the locals for advice about interesting, unexpected places to visit. Related: Eat, stay and shop local when possible. You’ll get a more authentic experience and help the local economy.
There are a lot of uncertainties in life, but one thing that is certain, it will rain in Ireland. Pack appropriately and head to a castle, old Abbey, or lovely pub when the weather is nasty. Remember, summer on the calendar doesn’t always mean warm temperatures. Check the weather before you leave home because you may need a wool sweater more than a pair of shorts.
Remember to go with the flow; there’s nothing you can do about rain or bad weather, so try to have some fun.
Ireland is small but has two International airports, Dublin and Shannon. Consider your plans and goals for the trip when making flight reservations. Flying into one and out of the other might make the most sense for your schedule and budget. If you’re a U.S. citizen flying to the U.S. you’ll go through passport control and a second security line in Ireland, so make sure to give yourself enough time.
If you travel independently (not with a tour) consider renting a car. Yes, driving on the left is daunting (terrifying really), but you’ll miss a lot if you stick with public transportation. Small towns, villages, and striking scenery appear around every turn, and a private car will allow you to discover those special places.
Related: Reserve an automatic transmission in your rental car. Yes, I know you drove a standard in college (me too), but shifting with your left hand is hard. You’ll have enough to think about trying to keep the car on the lefthand side of the road.
Alternative: Hire a driver. Many tour companies offer this service at a reasonable price.
Are you interested in historical and heritage sites? Consider getting an OPW Heritage Card. The card guarantees access to many significant attractions including most of the castles around the country. The cost is €40 per adult.
Look right when you step off the curb. You’ll often find a reminder written on the street, but without one (in small towns or villages) it’s easy to forget (and we all know the consequences).
Remember, the Euro is used in the Republic of Ireland, while the Pound Sterling is used in the north (aka Northern Ireland, depending on who you ask).
You’ll need an adapter for your electronics, so consider also bringing a small travel power strip to charge more than one thing at a time.
Guinness isn’t the same in Ireland. It’s better. Much better.
Are you ready to start planning your next adventure? Contact me here to schedule your free 30-minute vacation exploration session.
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