From the capital city of Dublin to the craggy Cliffs of Moher, Ireland is bursting with charm. Small yet mighty, the lush Emerald Isle is known for friendly people, enchanting castles, verdant landscapes, and of course, Guinness. Whether it’s your first or fiftieth time visiting, the beauty of Ireland never ceases to amaze. There may be a lot of rain, but there are also plenty of rainbows to make it all worth your while.
Here’s our full Ireland travel guide, including tips on the best time to visit Ireland and the must-see spots to add to your list.
Best Time To visit
If you want to visit during peak season, schedule your Ireland vacation in the summer. Summer is when all the festivals take place, including Hinterland (June), Longitude (July), and the Kilkenny Arts Festival (August). The weather during this time of year is generally warm and pleasant, and it is sunny for 16-18 hours per day. You can sleep in the winter!
The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are the next best option, and if you want to avoid the crowds, these months are the perfect time to visit. Ireland experiences all the seasons, so you can take full advantage of watching the flowers bloom to life in the spring, and the leaves change colors in the autumn.
What to expect
Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, with most of the tourist destinations, including Dublin, the Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle, and Killarney National Park, located in the former. Primarily, the main reason you’d visit Northern Ireland would be to go to the city of Belfast. If you travel between the areas, keep in mind that they are technically different countries, so you’ll need to exchange currencies. Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom, which uses Pounds (GBP) as currency, whereas the Republic of Ireland uses Euros.
If you speak English, you should have no problem getting around Ireland as this is the most commonly spoken language. The locals are known for their welcoming demeanor, so don’t be afraid to ask for directions. In many ways, Ireland is still a pretty traditional country, which is excellent for preserving cultural heritage but not ideal for those who want something other than traditional food. Irish cuisine is characteristically hearty and typically features meat, vegetables, and of course, the humble potato. Shepherd’s pie, Irish stew, and bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes) are dishes commonly seen on menus.
Despite not having many vegetarian or vegan options, Ireland ranks highly for sustainability on the world stage. They ranked 12th on the MIT Technology Review 2022 Green Future Index, which rates the top 76 countries for sustainability. Additionally, Ireland is the first country to ever commit to third-party-verified, 100% sustainable food exports. The heavy rainfall in the country is a blessing to their agricultural industry as it means that they waste fewer resources on growing crops and raising livestock.
When you visit Ireland, you’ll get a taste of how remarkable their scenic landscapes are. Outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and horseback riding are very popular activities throughout the country. On a cross-country journey, you might stumble upon everything from Celtic castles to natural waterfalls. Don’t forget your raincoat!
Things to know
Ready to pack your bags and jet off to Ireland? Before you go, here are some essential facts about this beautiful country.
Language: Ireland has two national languages: English and Irish. Irish is also known as Gaelic.
Time Zone: Ireland is one Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which is the same time zone as London and 5 hours earlier than New York.
Currency: The Republic of Ireland uses the Euro (EUR), while Northern Ireland uses the Pound Sterling (GBP).
Credit Cards: You can use Visa, Mastercard, and American Express credit cards in most places throughout Ireland.
Plugs + Voltage: Ireland uses Plug Type G and has a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz.
Airports: The international airports in Ireland are Dublin Airport, Cork Airport, Shannon Airport, Knock Airport, and Belfast Airport.
Common Gaelic Sayings:
- Dia duit – Hello
- Fáilte – Welcome
- Slán – Goodbye
- Sláinte – Health (Common saying to toast to)
- Tá – Yes
- Níl – No
Organic Groceries: Less than 2% of agricultural land in Ireland is being used for organic crops. There isn’t a great demand for organic groceries from the Irish people, which holds back their organic farming. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find organic options in-country. Especially in big cities like Dublin, there are co-ops and small organic food stores. You can also find some organic products at the leading grocery chain, Dunnes.
Vegetarian/Vegan: Traveling through Ireland as a vegetarian or vegan is possible, but you’ll need to look up restaurants in advance to know where to go. You’ll have no problem in larger cities, but there might be few or no vegetarian and vegan restaurants in smaller towns. Check out our Travel Guide to Dublin here
Safety: Overall, Ireland is a safe country to travel to, but there are some hotspots for crime in larger cities like Dublin.
Opening hours: Most stores are open during regular working hours from 9 am – 6 pm Monday – Wednesday and 9 am – 8 pm Thursday – Saturday. It’s the law that shops can only open for 6 hours on Sundays, so they typically close early.
Sites: Dublin, the Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle, Killarney National Park, Rock of Cashel, Kilkenny Castle, and Powerscourt House and Gardens are among the most notable places to visit in Ireland.
how to get around
Ireland is a relatively small country that is easy to traverse. Here are the primary options for transportation in Ireland.
Buses: The main bus operators in Ireland are Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus, both of which stop in the major cities and many rural areas. You’ll need to buy a Leap card, which can also be used on trains and trams throughout the country. There are also plenty of Ireland tours that travel by bus that can be booked in advance of your trip.
Trains: Faster than buses, Irish Rail trains offer easy passage across the country. This is a popular method of getting from city to city, but there are few options if you want to go to more rural areas.
Rental Car: Renting a car is a great way to get around Ireland if you want to explore the countryside and take in all the beautiful sights.
Taxi/Uber: If you are going short distances in a city like Dublin, you can hire a taxi or Uber.
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