Ireland Travel Guide
GPoulsen (pixabay)

by: Jason Young, Anna Zielazny

Wild nature, old castles, and cities rich in history – all of it can be found in Ireland. This island country is a perfect choice for travelers who want to enjoy nature, take a picture with a dramatic landscape in the background, and taste one of the most popular beers in the world. Follow this Ireland travel guide to discover top things to do in Ireland and more.

Things to Do in Ireland

Take an Unforgettable Road Trip on the Wild Atlantic Way

Cliffs of Moher is a must stop along your trip through the Wild Atlantic Way
Cliffs of Moher is a must stop along your trip through the Wild Atlantic Way – MNStudio (depositphotos)

The best way to fully immerse in Ireland’s splendid nature is by taking a 1600 miles (2600 km) route that goes through the west coast. Admire the wild beauty from a car and stop at the most magnificent spots. Don’t miss the Dingle Peninsula on the way, where you can hear folk stories spoken in the Irish language.

At the westernmost point of the country, at Dunmore Head, you can enjoy one of the most spectacular beaches with raw cliffs. The unique landscape is created by a mix of nature and stone huts which, back in the Middle Ages, belonged to monks.

Find Peace on the Secluded Aran Islands

Cliff at Inishmore, one of the islands at Aran Islands
Cliff at Inishmore, one of the islands at Aran Islands – sktlloyd3 (pixabay)

The Aran Islands were a very secluded, hidden gem of Ireland until 1934, when the fictionalized documentary Man of Aran became popular. Even though it’s a well-known place, you can still taste genuine Ireland there.

With only 12,000 inhabitants and Gaelic as the first language, the Aran Islands can make you feel like you’ve gone back in time.

You can choose from Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer islands. All of them are raw and wild with unique landscapes, flora and fauna. The Aran Islands have a unique archaeological heritage and culture that is a bit different from the one on the mainland.

While visiting this place, you can also see a unique fort, Dún Aonghasa, made of stones that crowns one of the rugged cliffs.

Discover Secrets of Old Irish Castles

Ashford Castle, one of the castles you can actually stay at
Ashford Castle, one of the castles you can actually stay at – Andreas Senftleben (pixabay)

While in Ireland, one cannot miss its secret castles scattered all over the country. This nation has over 30,000 castles, so you can be sure that you will bump into some now and then. And you can be sure that each of them has some interesting stories to be discovered.

You can try Dublin Castle, located in the heart of the country’s capital, drive through empty villages or even upscale your stay by ordering a suite in the 5-star hotel located in the Ashford Castle (County Mayo), whose history reaches 1228.

Lose Your Breath Admiring the Beauty of the Cliffs of Moher

Aerial view of the majestic Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Aerial view of the majestic Cliffs of Moher, Ireland – Kelly L (pexels)

The Cliffs of Moher are on the bucket list of everyone who visits Ireland. Considering their wild beauty, it’s not surprising. An 8 km stretch is a perfect place for hiking, but be aware to not get too close to the edge: the cliffs fall down abruptly into the arms of the roaring ocean.

O’Brien’s Tower marks the highest spot of the Moher Cliffs and on a clear day, you can see Aran Islands and mountain ranges. Although entrance onto the Cliffs of Moher is not free, it’s worth spending a bit of money on this unique experience.

Learn Dark History in Kilmainham Gaol

The interior of Kilmainham Gaol, Ireland
The interior of Kilmainham Gaol, Ireland – Yoav Aziz (Unsplash)

A prison might not seem like a great place to see on a holiday, but if you are into dark history, you cannot miss Kilmainham Gaol. You might even have seen it before as a background in some music videos.

This place plays an important role in the memory of the Irish people. Since 1796, the prison has had a bad reputation. People who committed petty crimes like not paying for a ticket or stealing because of hunger often ended up here. Also in this prison, soldiers from the 1916 Uprising lost their lives.

Because of its horrible history, Kilmainham Goal is considered by the Irish people as a symbol of oppression. If you want to learn more about Ireland’s complicated history in a unique, spine-chilling place, don’t miss this spot in Dublin.

Avoid Touristy Crowds in Slieve League

Sunset at Slieve League, Ireland - Johny Goerend
Sunset at Slieve League, Ireland – Johny Goerend (unsplash)

Even though Ireland cannot ever be compared to, let’s say, Italy when it comes to the number of tourists, the most popular spots still attract crowds in the holiday season. If you are looking for some calmer and more secluded place, choose Slieve League Cliffs.

Here, the wild Irish beauty can be admired in silence. You can fully immerse into sounds, smells, and tastes without any distractions. These Cliffs are three times higher than the Cliffs of Moher, and the sixth-highest cliffs in Europe.

Take a careful look over the edge, but if you are scared of heights, be aware that you can see the ocean’s waves scattering 2000 feet below.

Feel the Magical World in the Bend of the Boyne

The Brú Na Bóinne, just about an hour by car from Dublin
The Brú Na Bóinne, just about an hour by car from Dublin – yggdrasill (depositphotos)

All fans of historical signs should travel to the Bend of the Boyne (Brú Na Bóinne). The complex of megaliths is older than the pyramids in Giza and historians date it to the 32nd century BC and is listed as a World Heritage Site.

Archaeological research confirms that the people who built the complex must have had a great knowledge of science and astronomy. Stones, chamber tombs, graves and passages create a complicated structure that makes you feel a bit of magic.

You cannot miss this spot, especially during the winter solstice, as on that day the beam of light creates an absolutely unique spectacle. Book your tour in advance, as only 15 people can visit the tombs at one time.

Observe Wildlife in Killarney National Park

One side of Killarney National Park, Ireland
One side of Killarney National Park, Ireland – Manuel-H (pixabay)

Whether you are a nature lover or not, Killarney National Park can take your breath away. You can easily spot red deer and some of the 141 bird species that live here. In the Lower Lake, you might notice salmon, perch, and trout swimming against the flow.

It’s a perfect spot for a good hike, during which you can admire gardens, hustling waterways, moorlands, or even mountains in the distance. Some of the best parts of the park are Torc Waterfall, a castle, Stone Pillars and more.

Taste Genuine Guinness in the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

Guinness Storehouse at Dublin, Ireland
Guinness Storehouse at Dublin, Ireland – Andrew Meßner (unsplash)

Guinness is loved by many, but its quality depends on many factors, including transportation. This is why you should try this popular drink in its factory in Dublin.

Visiting the storehouse is an unforgettable experience. Seven floors that surround a glass atrium in the shape of a pint create a unique construction for this factory. During your visit you can learn a lot about Guinness, including malting, fermenting and brewing. You can also learn more about storing the beer and barrel making.

Of course, you will want to learn everything as it’s a truly complicated craft, but you definitely will feel more knowledgeable while sipping your Guinness at the Gravity Bar with a panoramic view of the capital.

Try Irish Lifestyle in Inishbofin

Biking at Inishbofin, Ireland
Biking at Inishbofin, Ireland – Xavier von Erlach

Inishbofin is an emerald island, just 5 miles away from the coastline. Even though the place is rather small, you can enjoy a lot of things there, including traditional music, fishing, swimming, bird watching or windsurfing. It’s also a perfect place for hikers and photographers that can catch wild species characteristic only to this island with their cameras. After a day full of attractions, you can sit in a local bar and taste some great Irish food.

Take a Great Hike in the Burren

Rock formation at Burren, Ireland
Rock formation at Burren, Ireland – carina_chen (pixabay)

As you have probably noticed so far, Ireland is all about walking. Yet, if you never have enough of hiking, choose the Burren in County Clare.

Not only does it have a great trail but also a unique landscape that you won’t find anywhere else. The Gaelic word “Boireann” means “rocky place” and is a perfect description of this area, where limestone formations grow from the soil. Karst terrain covers about 2500 square kilometres, with more than 45 km of trails.

While walking, look around to spot some flora and fauna. Visit the Burren between April and October when the vegetation is in its full blossom, with colourful carpets covering the area.

Immerse Into the Vibrant Life of Galway

A busy tourist spot at Galway, Ireland
A busy tourist spot at Galway, Ireland – Justin Scocchio (unsplash)

If all you know about Galway is Ed Sheeran’s song, be sure you visit this stunning town while in Ireland. Colourful buildings create a unique city landscape, where you can taste an Irish life. Located right by the Atlantic, it might be a bit windy, but you can be sure that you will get a splendid view.

While in Galway, you can be sure to hear some live music. You can notice buskers playing on the streets and enjoy live music in various pubs. Have a good drink in one of the genuine, dark Irish bars and immerse yourself in the vibrant life of this place.

The best part of Galway is that some of the must-see places in the country, such as the Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands, or the Burren, are just around the corner. Because of that, Galway is a perfect base while visiting this part of Ireland.

How to Get Around in Ireland

Before you book that flight, you must however consider when plotting an Irish itinerary – how to get around the country!

Train

A DART train at Dublin station
A DART train at Dublin station – Eire1138 (pixabay)

While there is relatively few train stations in Ireland (only 147!) train travel is a widely recommended way to get around Ireland due to its user-friendly system and relatively low fares. Irish Rail operates all services in the Republic of Ireland and is a government subsidy. The only drawback is that when compared to other national rail systems Irish Rail can be considered infrequent, i.e. only one train an hour even on some more popular inter-city routes. Check about Rail ticket and fare here.

Examples:

  • Dublin to Cork: €42
  • Dublin to Limerick: €33
  • Dublin to Galway: €20
  • 3 days DART train ticket for traveling within Dublin: €28.

Car

Travel through the off beaten path of Ireland on a road trip
Travel through the off beaten path of Ireland on a road trip – Bildschirmaffe (pixabay)

If you don’t intend on drinking Guinness every night/want to drive on your holiday then renting a car is also a viable option. Many car rental firms are awaiting you at Dublin airport and also in the center with the most popular being international companies like Hertz and Enterprise.

You can also opt to book your car beforehand so you can just pick your car up when you arrive. Use Discovercars to find the one you need and decide where to pick it up and drop it off. A 5 seats small car costs about $110, a 5 seats SUV costs about $135, and a 7 seats van costs about $160/day. Gas costs $1.97 per liter ($7.46/gallon).

If you’re coming from the UK and already hold a full license then you don’t require any international driving permit – even after Brexit. The same is true of American licenses, but be sure to double-check the government website and if your chosen rental company has any special stipulations or requirements.

Bus

As some of Ireland isn’t as well connected by rail services, the bus does become a valued alternative. It is also often much cheaper than the train but does take longer. Bus Éireann operates a multitude of routes to take you all over Ireland – with some available on their premium service Expressway. Other popular bus operator is Citylink, check both operators to find your most efficient trip.

Example:

  • Dublin to Cork: €14.75 (Éireann)
  • Dublin to Galway: €13 (Citylink)

Ferry

While ferries might not be available for all points of interest, they certainly offer a bespoke way to travel to some of the more beautiful destinations within Ireland. Aran Island Ferries recently received accolades for the experiences it offers on the tours of Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher. Of course, all ferry trips are subject to weather conditions – making them much less reliable.

Dublin to Cork

If you’re planning to visit the two most populous cities in the Republic of Ireland then you’re not only in for a culturally blessed trip but also convenient excursion with many routes to make the journey. There are train routes for €42 which takes around 2.5 hours.

If you’re looking after every penny then the bus is also pretty frequent going both ways with many routes serving the cities. Fares typically start at €15 but take close to four hours; so consider what you value more – time or money.

Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher

Even with the geographical difficulties of this itinerary, it doesn’t stop travelers from wanting to explore Dublin and see the Cliffs of Moher – even if the two most popular tourist points are on opposite coastlines of the Emerald Isle.

Hitting the road is by far the most direct method, so if you can drive that is a good idea. Using the same infrastructure, the bus is a good alternative with the 555 route by Dualway running regular services from coast to coast.

The train is fine but you’ll have to change at either Limerick or Galway to get to Ennis and then take local services to the actual cliffside. The beauty of the other two options is that you get much closer to the views and they usually take an hour less.

Dublin to Limerick

Separated by around 200km, both Dublin and Limerick have distinct cultures worthy of experiencing. What’s great is that the two are very accessible with travel times typically around two hours either by car or train. Around 15 trains operate this route each day with tickets ranging from €30-€50. The bus doesn’t usually take much longer but is much more moderately priced on this route usually starting at €15 each way.

How to Get Around Dublin

Navigating Dublin can be a tricky affair if you’re planning to see everything from Grafton Street, St. James Gate, and maybe even escape the city walls for a bit. If your trip is on the shorter side then the DoDublin card freedom ticket is highly recommended. For €45 It gives you 72 hours unlimited access to the ride hop-on-hop-off buses as well as all the public bus services. Given there are over 100 routes, you’ll be able to find a way to wherever you’re going.

The DART train is a nice way to see the outer suburbs down the coastline, while the LUAS tram service glides throughout the center. Both of which are very frequent and inexpensive. If you want to go everywhere then a Leap Visitor Card will be of great value. For €40 you can take advantage of 7 days of unlimited travel on all the above services. Other durations and rates are available.

How to Get Around Cork

Cork is off the grid when compared with Dublin; but is the major hub if you’re planning to visit the Blarney Stone, Kinsale National Park, or just fancy seeing another city after Dublin. The road is certainly the most accessible way to see all the sights – whether you drive or take the bus.

The train system is not without its own pleasures however, while the routes can be indirect – they make up for it with great beauty with stunning vistas and panoramas of Munster’s rich countryside.

How to Get Around Limerick

Limerick’s local government encourages visitors to walk around the city as it tries to combat global warming. Other schemes include the Coca-Cola Zero sponsored electric bicycles found throughout the city. Considering the compact nature of the city, if you’re able to walk or cycle you should seriously consider these options!

If you’re tired however several bus routes serve the city and go a little further out to places including the University of Limerick Campus and Castleroy.

Where to Stay in Ireland

Academy Plaza Hotel, Dublin
Academy Plaza Hotel, Dublin – Academy Plaza Hotel

Choosing Your Accommodation

Choose your accommodation based on your budget and whether you’re coming solo or in a group.

Hostel

A bed in a dorm would be the best budget option for a solo traveler. If you only need a locker to keep your stuff and a comfortable bed to lay your head a night, look no more. Just remember that you’ll be in the same room with other people so bring eye-mask and earplug.

A bed in a dorm typically cost $30/night or you can choose to have a private room for around $100. Keep in mind that hostels are usually available on bigger cities/towns.

Rent an Apartment

If you’re traveling with a friend or in a group, renting an apartment will cut your accommodation cost significantly. A 2 guests apartment at AirBnB will cost about $120/night while a 4 guests place will cost about $200/night.

Hotel

Hotel is as you expect: professionally managed, standardized cleanliness, breakfast in the morning, and maybe a gym or a swimming pool for you to use. A recommended 3 stars hotel costs about $120/night, expect to pay at least $320 for a 5 stars experience.

Bed and Breakfast

B&B is a small inn, could be managed personally by the owner or managed professionally by staff. You will see these establishments more as you travel to smaller towns. The typical cost for a night stay is $100.

Best Cities/Towns to Stay

Dublin

Ranked among top 10 cities to travel in 2022, Dublin is a vibrant city known for its kinetic nightlife, mouth-watering food & potent liquors, and great architecture. One of the world’s business & travel hubs, Dublin is also a great place to fly on a budget Ryanair flight, with tickets from as far away as Riga setting you back just $20. 

To uncover its youthful merry charm head for an evening walk around its picturesque downtown and pop to cult-like places like the Church, a terrace-surrounded Irish bar & restaurant located inside a church, which points to how what once was a Catholic stronghold has become one of the world’s most open-minded cities. 

During daytime you can visit the likes of Castle of Dublin with its Dubhlinn Gardens, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral or National Botanic Garden, and pay homage to the unique Georgian architecture of the Irish capital. Also don’t forget to pick up a soft-back copy of the Dubliners by James Joyce, or a play by W. B. Yates. 

Recommended accommodations:

Cork 

One of Ireland’s most promising places to visit, Cork has been busily reinventing itself with a spruced-up waterfront, youthful multicultural atmosphere, and scenic townscape, making it one of the best places to visit in Ireland. 

When on a trip here, travel to Cork’s prime landmarks like Corky Gaol, Blarney Castle, Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, and Shandon Bells and Tower, Blackrock Castle or Cork English market, the city’s main bazaar. 

Recommended accommodations:

Galway

A port town, sprawling majestically in the delta of the River Corrib, Galway is not just a scenic town but is also a unique treasure-trove of Irish culture. Here you can benefit not only from the jovial local communities, and the city’s unique cosmopolitan vibe, but also its unique architecture and authentic food & tipple scenery. 

For example, Galway is one of the best cities in Ireland to celebrate Saint Patrick’s day, a national occasion that in the multicultural Ireland of today acquired a distinct new sense, and has spread all over the world, becoming one of the world’s favourite pretexts for drinking cult-like Irish beer, Guinness. 

Other Galway-unique festivals include a week-long literature festival, Cuirt, held on April 20- 25; Galway Art Festival, unfolding between July 13-26; and even the Oyster Festival, so beloved by locals and foreigners alike, occuring on September 25-27.

Recommended accommodations:

Limerick

Limerick is one of the best cities to visit in Ireland. It is known for its stunning St. Mary’s Cathedral and beautiful St. John’s square, surrounded by magnificent Georgian edificies, and great downtown full of eateries with delightful fare. Also, Don’t miss out on the 13th century King John’s Castle, standing on the banks of the beautiful River Shannon. 

Recommended accommodations:

Kilkenny

Little known outside Ireland, Kilkenny is one of Ireland’s most pretty Medieval towns. Dominated by its 1195 grand Norman Castle, it is a veritable spiritual capital of Ireland with its places of worship including the likes of St. Canice’s Cathedral and the Black Abbey Dominican priory dating back to the 13th century, serving as Ireland’s principal landmarks. 

Recommended accommodations:

Kinsale

One of the best places in Ireland to spend a summer holiday, Killaloe is known for its multi-colored facades, large marina, beautiful castles & churches, and a great nature of its environs. 

If you travel during the summer months rent a bike and go for a cycling tour of its environs; pay a visit to the photogenic Old Signal Tower, go sailing, or visit some of Ireland’s best beaches located close to Kinsale.

Also, don’t miss out on visiting the Kinsale Museum, located inside a 16th century regional courthouse. 

Recommended accommodations:

Aughrim

One of the best places to escape the hustle and bustle of civilization in Ireland is Aughrim. Sitting at the confluence of the Ow and Derry rivers, it is made up predominantly of one-storied stone houses and oozes a tranquil rural charm. 

After a lunch in a local pub, like O’Toole’s Traditional Bar, in the company of cheerful locals, go for a hike around Aughrim, or along one of the rivers, and see for yourself why the Irish hinterland was so strong an inspiration for the Irish poets. 

Recommended accommodations:

Avoca

Avoca, a small town in the Irish rural areas, is not what one can think it to be. It is one of the most charming places to go to with your significant other, exuding a serene ambiance that is conducive to nonchalant strolls along its quiet-flowing Avoca River.

Go for a walk along The Avoca River Nature Trail , starting at Lions Park Club and make your trip to Avoca a tribute to pleasure-filled rural promenades. And don’t forget that sunsets near Arklow, a short car ride away from Avoda, are truly mind-blowing especially for couples. 

Recommended accommodations:

Best Restaurants in Ireland

Mouthwatering dish from Tang Food, Dublin
Mouthwatering dish from Tang Food, Dublin – Tang Food

Irish dishes (and beer) are quite well known and it’s an opportunity to enjoy them where they’re originated. Below are some of the most recommended restaurants at each cities you’re most likely to visit. Not all of them are Irish but they sure will offer great culinary experiences.

  • Dublin: Tang Food, Lovinspoon, The Vintage Kitchen, Davy Byrne’s, SOLE Seafood and Grill
  • Cork: Cafe Spresso, Market Lane, Elbow Lane Brew and Smokehouse, Paradiso
  • Galway: The Dough Bros, McDonaghs Pub, The Quay Street Kitchen, Brasserie On The Corner, Seafood Bar at Kirwans
  • Limerick: The Locke, The Cornstore, Freddy’s Restaurant, Bobby Byrnes, The French Table

Note that price ranges between $7-20 at small café or street food vendor. Expect to pay between $18-30 at a decent sit-in restaurant. If you’re into fine dining at a recommended restaurant, it will cost between $60-200.

Best Time to Visit Ireland

Blue sky over Ireland countryside in summer
Blue sky over Ireland countryside in summer – 12019 (pixabay)

Ireland is known for having some of the greenest countrysides and rolling hills, mostly due to the rainfall Ireland receives year-round. Here is what Ireland is like year-round and the best time to visit.

Spring: March-May

In Spring everything comes alive! With the new spring buds, the locals emerge from their homes more frequently to enjoy the many parks and natural wonders Ireland has to offer. The refreshing spring breeze blows in off the Atlantic ocean and will catch you by surprise.

Spring in Ireland officially begins February first, but most Irish people would beg to differ. The cold, wind, and rain that are frequent in the winter still persist well into March and April. Although the winter chill is still present you will start to see some of the early-bird tourists start to gather at the Cliffs of Moher or the Giants Causeway.

In spring the average temperature in Ireland is 7°C (44°F). Although the prices are very reasonable during this season there is a chance you won’t have the exact experience you expected due to the weather. It is a great time to visit if you don’t mind a little chilly rain and want to avoid crowds.

Highlighted events during this period:

  • St. Patrick’s Dublin Festival (March): This 4- day free festival in Dublin showcases local music, talent, art, and food that culminates in the St Patrick’s Day Parade. It is the perfect way to spend St Patricks Day. Parades also take place in other large cities around Ireland.
  • World Irish Dancing Championships (April): More than 4000 talented Irish dancers, not just from Ireland but all over the world come to compete to take home the championship.
  • Fleadh Nua (May): A traditional dance and music festival, held in Ennis, to celebrate the Irish culture.

Summer: June-August – Best Time To Visit

Tourist season is in full swing by peak summer. You’ll get to hear buskers on the streets of Galway entertaining crowds of tourists and the pubs are bustling with people and pints. On the warmest days, you might find the most people at the seaside for a swim or meeting friends on patios.

If your goal is to avoid the crowds it is best to visit in the late spring or early summer from May-June. Visiting at this time ensures you have decent weather while missing the bulk of the crowds. Most popular attractions in major cities will be busy, but not completely sold out. Expect to pay full or even slightly inflated prices for attractions as this is the busiest season for tourism.

Summer is the best time to see Ireland due to the lack of rain (compared to the winter) and pleasant temperatures. The average temperature in the summer months is 14°C (57°F), however in recent years due to global warming the summer temperatures have increased, sometimes seeing temperatures as high as 25°C (77°F). It is best to come prepared for all kinds of weather, no matter the season you are traveling in.

Highlighted events during this period:

  • Taste of Dublin (June): Irelands largest food festival, showcasing dishes created by top chefs and artisan goods from all over Ireland.
  • Reek Sunday (July): on the last Sunday in July pilgrims from all over Ireland and the world climb Croagh Patrick, Irelands holiest mountain in honor of St Patrick.
  • The Galway Races (July): an elegant horse racing event that takes place in Galway. Locals come and dress up in their fanciest outfits to bet on the winning horse.
  • Galway International Arts Festival (late July): the International Arts Festival brings the art alive in the streets of Galway. See various mediums of art from artists all over Ireland and abroad.
  • Rose of Tralee International Festival (August): the Rose of Tralee festival is a 5-day event full of concerts, horse races, and street vendors in County Kerry that culminates in a televised pageant where the “Rose of Tralee” is crowned.
  • Electric Picnic (late August): named Irelands best big festival every year since 2007, this eclectic music and arts festival will keep you completely enthralled. With acts like pole dancers, tarot readings, and silent discos, how could you miss it?

Autumn: September-November

As the leaves start to fall from the trees and the cool weather approaches again, peak tourist season dies down. You will see visitors and locals alike leaning towards more indoor activities like museums, theatres, and shopping centers as opposed to outdoor activities, but this is still a great time to see more natural attractions as the crowds have significantly died down.

Visiting in the autumn will is also a great option if you don’t mind cooler temperatures in favor of smaller crowds. On the warmer drier days you will still see lots of people at the popular attractions, and the buskers will still be out in full swing.

The average temperature in autumn is 10°C (50°F). Autumn is a great time to visit if you enjoy shopping as most stores have sales to reduce summer stock after tourist season.

Highlighted events during this period:

  • Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival (September): parades, yacht races, and art exhibitions help to welcome in the World Oyster Opening Championship in Galway.
  • Dragon of Shandon (October 31st): this once-a-year nighttime parade happens in Cork, Ireland to celebrate the Gaelic festival of Samhain, what we know today as Halloween. Thousands of locals and tourists flood the streets dressed in spooky costumes and arts groups parade by with elaborate floats and statues.
  • Dublin Marathon (October): cheer on the marathoners as 22,000 runners take to the streets of Dublin to complete the marathon. Applicants from outside Ireland are also welcome.

Winter: December-February

Winter is a unique season in Ireland, as it never gets cold enough for the rain to freeze and become snow but it is not warm enough to spend all day outside. In winter the rain increases and in December and January you will see the countries wettest months.

It allows for a great opportunity to see Ireland from a local perspective. After most of the tourists are gone and as the summer hustle and bustle dies down the locals settle into their routines again. If you like to chat and meet people, most Irish people will be curious about why you chose to come and visit in this weather and they will be glad to have a chat in the nice warm pub.

It is also the perfect time to travel on a budget as prices for attractions, travel, and food return to normal. The average temperature is 5°C (41°F) so definitely bring your warm clothes and boots.

Highlighted events during this period:

  • Cork Film Festival (November): Ireland’s oldest film festival featuring many international independent films.
  • Dublin Docklands Christmas Festival (December): a Christmas extravaganza that takes over this Dublin neighborhood with a festival packed with Christmas spirit.
  • Killarney Christmas Market (December): Killarney is home to the region’s best Christmas markets, showcasing local artisan goods and crafts.

Covid Update

The Covid situation is fluid and can change direction at any given moment. Check reopen EU to find out the current requirements to enter Ireland from your country.

Ireland Trip Cost

Don't forget to bring your Euros
Don’t forget to bring your Euros – Markus Spiske (pexels)

Below are cost for each item you’ll spend your money on your trip, you can estimate your trip cost based on the kind of travel experience you want.

Transportation

Train, bus, or rental car are the best way to travel between different cities & attractions in Ireland.

Train: you can find the fare and other information at Irishrail, typically between €20-40 per trip for adult. For example Dublin-Cork is €40, Dublin to Galway is €20, and Dublin to Limerick is €33

Bus: make sure to check both Éireann and Citylink when booking your ticket as one might have more direct routes that other doesn’t offer. For example Dublin to Cork is €14.75 while Dublin to Galway is €13.

Rental Car: find one when you land there or book in advance before you go at Discovercars. A small 5 seats car cost $110/day, an 5 seats SUV cost $135/day, and a 7 seats van cost $160/day. Gas cost $1.97 per liter ($7.46/gallon).

Getting around in Dublin: Use either DoDublin Freedom ticket for €45 or choose one of the options at Leap Visitor Card, ranges between €10 to €40. You can also opt for only the Hop On Hop Off bus for €29

Flight to Ireland: If you’re not from any neighboring country then you’re most likely coming in a plane at Dublin airport. Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find the best deal and date to depart.

Accommodation

You can choose to spend the night in a hostel, apartment, hotel, or B&B, each with their own pros and cons. B&B might be the only choices if you visit more rural areas.

  • Hostel: $30/night for a bed in a dorm room, $100 for a private room. Find one at Hostelworld.
  • Rent an apartment: $120/night for a 2 people place, $200/night for up to 4 people. Check your option at AirBnB.
  • Hotel: a room in a 3 stars hotel cost $120/night, at least $320 for a 5 stars one. Find one at Booking.
  • Bed & Breakfast: around $100/night.

Food

  • Small café or street food: $7-20
  • Decent sit-in restaurant: $18-30
  • Fine dining: $60-200

Entertainment and Attractions

Many of the attractions in Ireland are nature related and you can enjoy them for free once you get there. Below are some that you might be interested to spend money on:

Staying Safe at Ireland

Stay safe when enjoying Ireland's nature
Stay safe when enjoying Ireland’s nature – Daniel Jensen (unsplash)

Ireland is rated 1.33 on the global peace index, meaning it is a very peaceful country and safe to travel to. It is famous for its rolling green hills, hearty stouts, and the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. From the neighborhood pub to the Ring of Kerry you are bound to meet a friendly local who would love a good chat and you can have confidence in asking a local for directions or assistance, they are always eager to help.

Even though traveling in Ireland is generally regarded as safe for everyone there are a few situations regarding safety that every traveler should be aware of when traveling abroad.

Be aware of theft

When traveling in major cities like Dublin, Belfast, or Galway it is important to keep your belongings close to you in crowds, public transit, or during major holidays like St Patrick’s day. Ireland is not immune to the pickpockets of Europe and travelers are their prime targets.

It is also a good rule of thumb to keep important belongings, like a passport, cash, and cards, in separate places. That way if something does happen to get stolen, you are not losing everything. Keeping a photocopy of important documents back at your hotel can also help in the event something does get stolen.

Know how to get back

Taxies can be unreliable outside of the big cities so if you are traveling off the beaten path, make sure you have a plan for how to get back to your hotel.

Most taxis (if they are running in that city) will be sparse or nonexistent at night and although Ireland’s smaller towns are generally safe to walk at night, it can still be very cold even in the summer, and the streets of some of the more Medieval cities like Galway can be confusing to navigate.

Always make sure you have a charged phone, and know the number of your hotel. In the event you need help, they can arrange transport for you.

Be informed when enjoying nature

Ireland is also famous for its wild and rugged coastlines, with stunning cliffs, pristine beaches, and crashing waves. It is important to keep high and low tide in mind and make sure if you choose to go swimming it is in a designated swimming area. Many people are injured or need rescue every year due to the changing tide, riptides, or large waves. It is always a good idea to take extra caution near unfamiliar waters.

The cliffs are another danger to be aware of, especially at popular attractions like the Cliffs of Moher. Although there is a barrier that separates people from the cliff edge it is not uncommon to see people hop the fence. Always stay in the designated areas when visiting these types of attractions to stay safe.

Be sure to have travel insurance

Getting travel insurance is the best option to keep you fully protected on your trip abroad. It can cover you in the event you have a flight canceled, lose your luggage, or are a victim of theft. For more adventurous trips many travel insurance companies also include medical insurance or emergency evacuation. Travel insurance will help with the high cost of a potential medical emergency abroad and give you peace of mind.

Taking these precautions while traveling in Ireland will ensure you have an enjoyable and safe visit.

Conclusion

Whether you are a dedicated hiker, birdwatcher or adventurer, Ireland is a perfect choice. Because of its rich history and wild nature, you can be sure that you can have an unforgettable experience. With unique culture, music, and even the native language that is still alive in some parts of the country, you can be sure to have a holiday like no other.