Planning a trip to Ireland: advices and useful information
Planning a trip to Ireland is not difficult at all but the destination in the summer is in so much demand that unless you plan everything in advance you are likely to spend much more time in searching than you should. This article is not about itineraries and things to see in Ireland but it’s all about organizational stuff to give to you (I hope) all the tools to organize your trip to Ireland without any stress. You can also find other resources and useful articles on Ireland here.
Where is Ireland?
Ireland is located in the Northwest of the west coast of Europe, it is an island and it is divided into two parts: the South and the North. The capital of the Republic of Ireland, the South, is Dublin; the capital of Northern Ireland, ruled from England, is Belfast. I will not bore you with the history of Ireland but I think a good trip may not be such unless it is accompanied by the knowledge of what you are going to see, and why a country is organized in a certain way. For this you should read this book for a jump on Ireland’s recent history.
When to go in Ireland?
Ireland is usually not considered a happy country from the climate perspective: the rain is always on the horizon and, although it is almost never swing but rather persistent, it can be bothersome. Surely the best time to visit Ireland is from June to mid-August but already in July the weather can often get worse. No need to add that this is also the most busy time of the year also because of the longest days.
What do I need to visit Ireland?
- Passport or ID card;
- Driving license;
- Credit card required for the rental car;
- European health card for first aid (if you’re from Europe!) and a travel insurance (especially if you’re not European);
- A list of medications that you can not take and foods to which you are allergic [of course translated into English]
What currency is used in Ireland?
In the Republic of Ireland the euro is used, in the North it’s the English pound; remember this because you need to have pounds if you decide to visit the North.
How should I dress to visit Ireland?
Ireland is a rural country and, with the exception of Dublin, I think you’ll spend much of your time between sea, mountains and hills. Comfortable clothing, hiking boots and possibly waterproof sneakers, a raincoat against the rain, hat and scarf, gloves if desired. The classic advice “dress in layers” in Ireland is more than valid and useful: the weather changes quickly and you need to be prepared. No need to bring an umbrella because the wind could break your tool five minutes after having opened it.
This is Ireland, or most of it, by the way:
Renting a car in Ireland
Ireland is the perfect place for an on the road trip by car also because many areas are accessible only if you have a car. There are many car rentals in Ireland but on summer they’re all busy and very often the prices are also super high: I would advise Hertz and Thrifty because they offer great services and even if the prices are not low at all you are sure to always get some help even in the most difficult situations. Remember: to rent a car in Ireland you must be 21 years old, a valid driver’s license and a credit card (not the Debit Card!) And also that each machine is subject to an inspection when you return so if it is too dirty you’ll have to pay an extra charge. A GPS is not a bad idea because often the roads are absolutely a nightmare. A short detailed guidance on how to rent a car in Ireland will follow up very soon.
Travel around Ireland by bus
There are plenty of companies that organize bus tours in Ireland, starting from Dublin or moving from one destination to another by bus; Kavanagh connects virtually all of Ireland as well as Bus Eireann. It goes without saying that a bus tour could be much more expensive in terms of time and do not allow to reach places that you can instead easily reach autonomously if you’ve a car.
Best places to stay in Ireland
Ireland is famous for the quality of its Bed & Breakfast that are validated from a special National Association and in many cases the B&B offer high standards with an excellent quality/price ratio. I recommend the siteBed and Breakfast Ireland, among the best known and recognized. If you are looking for hotels or apartments, my choice is always Booking, where you can also book without paying nothing until the arrival and where you can also delete within a reasonable time.
Which airlines serve Ireland?
This question is particularly hard because you can fly to Ireland with many many airlines, according to where you’re flying from. You can come directly to Dublin, Belfast or Shannon or have a stop over in the middle of Europe: I recommend Skyscanner where to look for the best combinations of flights for Ireland and the best prices.
How do I choose my itinerary in Ireland?
It all depends by how many days you have but my advice is always to start from Dublin and finish back, circularly, in Dublin. The are several possible routes, including:
- Classic itinerary from Dublin to Dublin via the East and South
- Complete Tour of Ireland
- From Dublin to the West Coast
- Northern Ireland
- Dublin, Belfast, Connemara, Cork
Without forgetting the most niche routes:
- Start Wars itinerary
- Game of Thrones itinerary
How much does it cost a trip to Ireland?
Ireland is not an affordable place even if you go outside of Dublin your expenses will lower a lot. One of the biggest voices when it comes to expenses is definitely the price of housing, and, of course, the food. On average, limiting just in the right way (I’m not considering sleeping in a hostel or cooking your own meals) you can spend (room and food) about 150 euro a day per couple (excluding car and attractions).
I Need a travel guide: can you recommend one?
I think the better one is the Lonely Planet but my advice is to read a lot online, ask for informations to local people like me and, most of all, give space to some freedom. So grab your GPS, a map, your travel guide and all the advices you can find everywhere and then decide yourself what to do, changing plans at your own convenience.
The electrical outlets in Ireland
In Ireland, the energy is delivered in a different way than in other places and the and North and South differ further:
- Republic of Ireland: 220V AC
- Northern Ireland: 240V AC
That’s why you need three pin square headed plug adapters, especially if you decide to sleep in the bed and breakfast. You may also need a convertor depending on the appliance you are going to use.
What about Irish food?
The Irish cuisine is made up of a few products, all very good: potato, meat, dairy products and beer.
Breakfast is one of the main meals and to experience the most of Ireland I recommend a Irish breakfast made of sausage, bacon and so forth.
A lunch is usually light with a toast and a soup or a sandwich as the evening abounds with stews, steaks and fish. In the middle of your day you can not miss a stop at the pub for a pint of order. If you are looking for the golden rules for a Guinness made as it should be, have a read here.
Who would you recommend a trip to Ireland?
Ireland is a beautiful place and if you like nature, this Island will remain in your hearth forever. If you’re more a city-type, probably Ireland will satisfy you just partially. I recommend Ireland to people interested in experience the beauty of the nature, the friendliness of a population and a culture you won’t find anywhere else.
Are you heading to Ireland and do you need more information on things to do, where to eat and drink and tour you can organize? Write me an email or follow me on Instagram and Facebook and do not be afraid to ask for more information or a customized consultation!
[All pictures are copyright of Giuseppe, based in Dublin as well. If you want to have photographic tips on what and where to go to take good pictures in Ireland get in contact with him! Content and Pictures: All right reserved]