Hey everybody! My 7-day Ireland itinerary is perfect for planning what to see and do in this beautiful country. We’ve also covered general travel tips before, like how to pack light and how to pack for a road trip, as well as some travel essentials for women, all of which apply here! Still, there are some Ireland-specific aspects about the country’s culture that first-time visitors should know before they go. Here’s a list of my essential 15 travel tips for Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Let’s get started!
- Check Your Currency
The island of Ireland is split in two: Northern Ireland, which is still a part of the United Kingdom, and the larger, sovereign Republic of Ireland. In Northern Ireland, you’ll need to convert to the British Pound, whereas in the Republic of Ireland, you’ll be spending euros. Check with your bank ahead of time and minimize foreign transaction fees, then withdraw cash directly from local ATMs. I went so far as to change banks before diving into my nomad lifestyle so that I wouldn’t keep getting hit by those fees.
- Invest in a Heritage Pass
Crucial for those who want to trek all around Ireland, an official Heritage Pass only costs 40 euros. This card gets you into all OPW heritage sites, such as castles, abbeys, forts, national parks, and more! Check ahead of time if your travel itinerary includes more than one of these sites, and if so, this card will pay you back in just a few stops!
- Pack Layers
The weather can be unpredictable in Ireland, even in the summer. So don’t depend on the months of July or August to bring only sunshine! Be sure to throw in some extra layers when you’re packing, plus an umbrella and a rain jacket, so you’re prepared for anything.
- No Uber in Dublin
If you’ve been indulging in a few extra Guinnesses in Dublin, Galway, or anywhere on the island, you can’t depend on Uber for a ride home! The app exists only for airport pickups and other specialized circumstances. If you need an individual ride, use one of the local taxi apps instead, like FREENOW or just flag down a taxi driver from the side of the road.
- Tax-Free Tourism
Visitors in Ireland who’ve come from outside the European Union can go on a tax-free shopping spree! Check with the retailer you’d like to purchase from, then show proof that you’re in from out of town (passport, plane tickets) to skip out on the local value-added tax.
- The International Peace Wall in Belfast
This one isn’t so much a travel tip as it is a recommendation— add Belfast to your road trip if you’re a history buff or if you are a fan of the hit show Derry Girls. This is where you’ll find the International Peace Wall, which commemorates the decades of violent conflict in northern Ireland known as The Troubles.
- Flag Down That Bus!
In Ireland, a bus won’t slow down for you if you’re just standing by the stop. You’ve got to give it a wave! So don’t forget to hold your arm out when that bus is passing by, or else it will roll on down the road without you.
- Cliffs of Moher: Open 24/7 (Sort Of)
If you’re planning on hitting up the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher on your trip (which you absolutely should!), there aren’t technically opening and closing hours. The visitors center and parking kiosk may shut down, but you can stroll along the cliffside at any time! You might luck out on smaller crowds if you come by in the evening, but watch your step once the sun goes down!
- English is All You Need
While the Irish language is still spoken by a little over a million people in Ireland, you’ll get along just fine speaking plain old English. Of course, if you want to impress a few Irish people out and about, it wouldn’t hurt to pick up a few terms! Sláinte!
- Rent a Car – But Don’t Crash!
If you want to get the most out of Ireland, I’d highly recommend making a road trip out of it. In that case, car rental is your friend, and there are plenty of services to choose from: Hertz, Alamo, Dan Dooley, Irish Car Rentals, and more. If you’re not comfortable driving with a stick shift, make sure the car you rent has automatic transmission. Don’t forget to keep on the right side of the road, or else you’re heading for trouble!
- Be Careful On Those Irish Roads!
Doubling back on that “don’t crash” aspect, here—the roads in Ireland can be a bit narrow, especially out in the country. So if you did opt for an Irish road trip and you’re trekking from Cork to Kilkenny, be careful! At the end of the day, if you’re not confident keeping on the right side of rickety roads, there’s no shame in going for Coach buses instead!
- Tip Your Bartenders — Or Don’t
This article is all about Ireland travel tips, but what about Ireland travel tipping? Do you slide a couple euros across the bar after a Guinness or not? Well, tipping is a bit different here, as servers are fully compensated for their work. So you don’t have to tip as you would in a country like America, but it is a nice gesture to throw in 10%. However, if the restaurant or hotel added its own service charge to the bill, then there’s no need!
- Verify Your Adapter
Frequent travelers will know that you always need to bring the appropriate adapter with you, or more than one if you’ve got lots of things to charge! In Ireland plugs are type G, same as the UK.
- Ask Your Host
Want that local point of view? Ask around! This goes for any country you visit, but in Ireland especially, you’re surrounded by friendly people. Check with your Airbnb host for their favorite local pub or ask a waiter, a taxi driver, or another local for hidden gems!
- Take It Slow
Especially if you’re coming from another continent, it can be tempting to try to see all of Ireland in one go. After all, it’s an island roughly the size of the US state Indiana! However, if you’ve only got a week or so to spare, you’ll get a much better feel of the place if you focus on a couple of locations. Slow down, catch your breath, and savor the laid-back Irish culture!
I hope these 15 travel tips for Ireland have given you a good idea of what to look out for when you go!
If you’re looking for more budget-friendly options, check out my list of the cheapest places to visit in Europe. Happy travels!