Planning a trip to Ireland? Ireland is one of our favorite countries. We have been there many times and each time we can’t wait to go back. Here are some tips and suggestions to help make your Ireland experience better.
- If you are planning a self-drive holiday which involves renting a vehicle, be aware that many credit cards do not cover collision damage (CDW) in Ireland. Check with your credit card company prior and request a document showing proof. The rental car company will require this document if you deny coverage through them. CDW coverage will double your rental price. Most rental cars are manual. Ireland drives on the left-hand side of the road from the right front seat of the car. This can make driving a manual a bit more difficult. You do not need an international driver’s license – just a driver’s license from your country. TIP: Be prepared for narrow roads when you are not on a national road, especially in the smaller cities. It is not unusual for one car to pull into a ditch to let the other pass. Roundabouts are plentiful.
- Ireland’s currency is the Euro. It is very easy to withdraw funds from ATMS. Credit Cards are accepted for most purchases. Most B&Bs prefer cash payment.
- If you depart Dublin to return to the US you will go through US customs at the Dublin airport. Allow ample time for this. We suggest you arrive 3 hours prior to your flight. This will also give you time for dropping off your VAT refund and doing any last minute souvenir shopping.
- When shopping, ask the clerk about the VAT refund. Ireland’s standard VAT rate is 23%. Many shops provide a VAT card (Horizon) that you process through a kiosk at the airport on departure. Keep your items and receipts with you. We find that due to the VAT, Ireland a good country to buy luxury goods such as Louis Vuitton.
- Whenever possible stay at a B&B instead of a hotel. Ireland is known for their B&Bs. It’s a perfect way to have an authentic experience and learn about the culture. The cost is usually around 30 to 40 Euro per person.
- If time is limited, fly into Shannon and out of Dublin. Start with the Cliffs of Moher and work your way down through Galway, Limerick, Dingle, Killarney, Cork/Cobh (Cobh is pronounced Cove), Waterford, and finish in Dublin. Time permitting add a few stops along the way. Stop at the Glen Bar in Glenmore right outside of Waterford for a pint and chat with the locals before heading back to Dublin. Break up the trip between Glenmore and Dublin with a stop at Brownshill Doman Tomb. The picture of the group in front of Dolman was our group celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary last year.
- Be prepared for cooler temps and rain. We don’t think you need your Wellies, especially if you stay in the cities, a good umbrella will do. Most of the time the rain is more of a mist. Do take a jacket as it can get chilly even in the summer.
- Irish people are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Be sure to engage them in conversation wherever you go. You won’t meet a stranger.
- Don’t leave Ireland without enjoying a pint of Guinness or some Jameson’s Irish whiskey. You will find plenty of beer and drink choices. Many pubs have Budweiser on tap. Try a bottle of WKD which is very popular.
- A must is a full Irish Breakfast which consists of the following: A grilled tomato, grilled mushrooms, pork and beans, eggs, Irish bacon which is like Canadian bacon, black and white pudding, potatoes, and sausage (similar to English bangers). Black and white pudding consist of pork meat and fat, suet, bread and oatmeal. Black pudding has blood added giving it the black appearance and sometimes called blood sausage. Irish sausage links have a different consistency than American sausage links. The filling is loser making it a little mushy. You won’t find bacon like American bacon in Ireland.
- Order Chicken Goujons – ok they really are just chicken tenders but you will find them everywhere.
- When drinking in a pub a tip is not expected. If you are served in a nice restaurant then 10% is sufficient.
- When in Dublin hit Grafton Street. You can take in a couple streets acts and then do some luxury shopping at the Brown Thomas.
- After Grafton street stroll through the Temple Bar district and have a pint at the famous Temple Bar.
- Finish the day in Dublin with dinner at the oldest pub in Ireland the Brazen Head.
- If you are spending a couple days in Dublin we recommend StayCity Apartments on Saint Augustine. It is right around the corner from the Brazen Head. It is a 20-minute walk to Grafton Street and a 10-minute walk to Temple Bar.
- Just north of Dublin is Skerries (Ballbrigan). Visit the Man-O-War Pub. It is a thatched roof pub with a great atmosphere and wonderful food.
- Close to Waterford, stop in our favorite pub the Glen Bar in Glenmore and meet the owners Pat and Geraldine – you will be drinking with the locals and not tourists. This is actually our favorite pub in Ireland.
- Stroll through Waterford and do some shopping and grab lunch after. Waterford is known for Waterford Crystal. Stop by the factory to see some breathtaking pieces.
- Stick your toes in the sea in Tramore and while you are there visit Bobby at Bobby’s bait and tackle (tell him Nick and Dina sent you)
- Kiss the Blarney stone at Blarney Castle and do your souvenir shopping at Blarney Woolen Mills. Grab lunch and a Guinness while you are there.
- While in Cork at the Blarney Castle hop over to the Jamison Middleton Distillery for a tour and some whiskey tasting.
- Instead of driving the Ring of Kerry stay in Dingle for a night and enjoy the local music. Be sure to show up early. The music usually stops around 9pm. You will be able to see the Ring from Dingle.
- Visit the Cliffs of Moher.
You may not go to Ireland for the weather but you will return for the people and the scenery.
Couple of other honorable mentions for Dublin:
- Guinness Storehouse
- St Patrick’s Cathedral
- Christ Church Cathedral
- Trinity College & Book of Kells
- Chester Beatty Library
- Dublin Castle
- St Stephen’s Green
- Leinster House Irish Parliament
- Kilmainham Goal
If you plan to see a lot of sights in Dublin checkout the Dublin Pass
Here is a good attraction map from PrettyUsefulMaps