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sheep in ireland

What You Need to Know Before You Go to Ireland

Posted on 22 Aug 2017


Ireland is a welcoming place.

When you arrive, you meet locals who are always happy to help you find a nice meal, explore the town, or share a pint.

What's more is Ireland is one of the easiest places to explore. The roads are well maintained, the mountains are fine to climb, and the weather is never too extreme.

But, no matter how friendly the locals are or how simple it is to explore, you always need to prepare before you go.

So, we’ve gathered all the facts you need to get ready for your trip to Ireland. This way you can spend more time sightseeing with the locals and less time stressing.

How to get an Irish visa

Yes, we know visas are the dull part of holiday planning that nobody wants to do. But getting it right and doing it early means you avoid frantic application writing and annoying problems at the airport. So here are the key facts:

- Most people from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, USA, and Canada can travel to Ireland without a visa.

- Other countries need to apply for a visa around three months before travel. You can apply at http://www.inis.gov.ie, and a short stay visa costs £60 or more.


Where to fly to

Dublin is a fascinating city of boisterous bars, prominent poets, and lovely landmarks.

And luckily for you, it's the most affordable place to fly to, and flights from all over the world travel there daily.

Flights are cheaper between October and April, and it’s wise to buy as early as you can. The airport is only a short bus ride from the centre of town, and you can find out more about its facilities and services at https://www.dublinairport.com/.

And, if you want to have some fun, you should check out their well-managed Pinterest account.


When to go

Let’s be honest. Ireland isn’t a place for beach-bums and sun-worshippers.

But even though it’s not the sunniest destination, you can travel to Ireland at any time and be safe from extreme weather, see the gorgeous green vistas, and visit the historical attractions.

Between April and October, you have the busy season. The weather is warmer and dryer, reaching temperatures of 20 celsius and higher. The days are longer, so there’s more time to explore. But at the same time, the attractions are more crowded, and the accommodation costs a little more.

Through October to April, you have the low season. The weather is wetter and colder, sometimes going as low as three celsius. The days are a little shorter, and attractions close earlier, which means you’ll spend more time listening to pub tales and less time out exploring. On the bright side, travelling now also means you get cheaper accommodation and can avoid waiting in long lines.

And if you're a bit of a party-fiend, you should try to get to Ireland in March. Because this is when the lucky, green, boozy St Patrick's day parties happen.


How to get around

We believe in travelling sustainably, so we recommend you use local transport or take a group tour instead of a rental car.

Public transport between major cities such as Belfast and Dublin is easy to work out at https://www.transportforireland.ie/. But although public transport is cheap, it'll make it harder to reach the more tucked-away treasures that our driver-guides and mini-coaches can take you to.


Which currency to use

Ireland uses the Euro, which is the currency for most of Europe. If you look at their coins closely, you’ll see an Irish harp. But don’t worry, because even though it looks different, you can still use it in other parts of Europe.

Keep in mind that if you cross the border into Northern Ireland, you’ll have to use pound sterling there. You can see the latest currency rates at http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/.


How much it costs

Maybe you drink swanky €20 cocktails from dusk until dawn, or perhaps you save money by sleeping on couches. But however you spend your money on your holiday, it’s good to get an idea of the basic costs.

In Ireland, a pint of delicious Guinness is often over €5, you can spend around €15 on a meal, and a double room can be more than €65. So, expect to pay at least €70 every day. You can save money by eating picnics in parks and staying in dormitory accommodation.

Tipping is not mandatory, but you should tip if you feel you’ve had good service. And if you do tip, make it around 10% of what you spent. But feel free to go higher if the service deserves it, we’re sure the staff won’t mind.


Safety, health, and insurance

Ireland is easily one of the safest countries for travellers in Europe. Yet that doesn’t mean you can switch your brain off. Be street smart, and don’t leave your items unattended or wander down dark alleyways in remote areas of cities.

You won’t need any jabs to travel to Ireland, and medical care and pharmacies are easy to find within most towns and cities.

We always think you should take out travel insurance before any trip. And if you’re a European Citizen, you may have a European Health Card which grants you the same rights to healthcare as Ireland’s residents.


What language the Irish speak

The main language is English.

And although the Irish accent is easy to fall in love with, it can still be a little hard to understand. So, don’t be shy, simply ask someone to repeat themselves if you don’t catch the meaning the first time. You can also prepare yourself by learning some of their funny phrases at IrishCentral.

A lot of people also speak Gaelic. Although it’s unlikely you’ll understand it, you should listen for it because it sounds beautiful and has a had a fascinating modern revival.


What the culture is like

Polite, friendly, and fun: the Irish character is irresistibly charming. And you see this everywhere you go: from their lively traditional music to their great sense of humour.

It’s Northern Europe, so the working hours are from 9am to 5pm, and the bars and restaurants often close a little earlier than in Southern Europe. So, it’s wise to book ahead and find out the opening hours rather than just turning up.

Also if you're planning to go on a shopping spree, don't forget that a lot of shops are closed on Sundays to respect the Christian Sabbath.

And Lastly…


Pack items, ideas, and inspiration from your own country.

One of the best things about travel is how it can connect cultures. So, bring games, family photos, and delicious recipes. People love learning from travellers just as much as you love learning from the locals.

Find out how you can explore Ireland with us here.

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