Ireland Travel Guide
I have put together this travel guide with lots of useful information about visiting Ireland. I have travelled all over the Emerald Isle and into Northern Ireland over the years. Ireland is full of cool stuff to see and do. Tourism is an important part of the Irish economy, it supports many small and medium-sized SME’s. I have included all the important stuff in this travel guide.
Important Things to Know About Ireland
In this Ireland travel guide, I will give you lots of information about Ireland, stuff you need to know when coming to Ireland on a holiday, a college semester or a business trip.
Ireland is a relatively small county compared to other countries, the population of Ireland is just over 5 million people. Ireland is divided into two-parts the Republic of Ireland which is the 32 countries, and then there is Northern Ireland which is a part of the UK. Ireland is a member of the European Union of countries.
History and Facts
Ireland has an interesting history and a long history, so I’m going to keep it short and sweet! The Republic of Ireland is a state since 1916 officially when there was a civil war in Ireland, the country basically rose up and defended against the English, England kept control of Northern Ireland. There is evidence of humans living in Ireland dating back to and between 10,000 and 12,500 years ago.
Ireland has had a difficult relationship with England over the years and the Northern Ireland Troubles went on for many years. The Northern Ireland Good Friday peace agreement has benefited Irish people and people living in Northern Ireland hugely.
The agreement involved the IRA basically disarming their weapons and pursuing political goals. Northern Ireland remains with some difficulties and it’s still divided into different parts, but much has improved. Ireland has developed over the years and seen huge economic growth.
The country offers a very low tax rate for corporation tax at just 12.5 per cent. Ireland is the fifth largest beef producer in the world.
The potato famine in Ireland during the 1800’s seen the population of Ireland decreased by 2 million, around 1 million died and the other 1 million people emigrated mainly to America. A census in the USA showed that 33 million Americans list their heritage as Irish or partially Irish heritage.
See my post here on Irish History that will explain Irish history in more detail!
There are two languages in Ireland. English is spoken and used all over the island. Irish or Gaelic is the second of the languages used in Ireland. The road signs in Ireland are in both languages, Irish and English. Both languages are taught to children in schools and colleges all over Ireland.
There are two currencies used on the island of Ireland. The euro currency is used, it is accepted everywhere. In Northern Ireland, the currency is the English pound or sterling. The euro currency is used all over Europe and in all countries that are a members of the European Union.
The main power socket used in Ireland is a type G design. The power sockets in Ireland are a standard 230 volts with a standard frequency of 50Hz.
Most Irish people practice Christianity. The Catholic faith is practised all over Ireland. Most towns and villages have churches and mass is on in the churches on a daily basis or on a Saturday and Sunday depending on the town, city or village.
There are other religions in Ireland including some Muslim Mosques and many Protestant churches. In Northern Ireland there are two main religions Protestants and Catholic’s, there is around a 50/50 per cent equal share of both religions there.
There are a number of banks operating in Ireland, the main banks are AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB and KBC bank. There are some investment banks in Ireland also.
All the large cities have plenty of bank branches and some are in smaller towns and villages. All the banks have a bureau de change services and online options. Al the major banks have APPs for carrying out different functions.
ALL Irish bank branches have ATM machines attached and there are around 3000 ATM machines all over the island. Most ATM machines accept all types of cards including credit cards and foreign bank cards. Some fuel stations in Ireland have ATM machines and they offer cashback on purchases, so if you need extra money back when buying something, you can request like an extra 50 euros or so.
Diseases, Vaccines, and Health Information
The coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has effected Ireland and the wearing of masks is required on public transport and in shopping centres. In terms of vaccines, there are a number of vaccines recommended while travelling to Ireland, see this link here for more information. There is no Malaria risk in Ireland.
There is a hospital in all major cities and the emergency phone number is 999 if you require Irish police help or medical help.
Phone Networks and SIM Cards
There are different companies offering mobile (Cell) phone services in Ireland. Vodaphone, Three and Tesco mobile and EIR. Lycamobile offers good prices and rates, they offer excellent rates for International calls in a bundle for like for 10.00 euros for 300 minutes.
If you live in the EU your phone and SIM card will work no problem in Ireland. All the fuel stations sell phone credit and you can top-up online.
The main airports in Ireland are Dublin Airport and Shannon Airport, and Cork Airport. The busiest by far is Dublin Airport. Dublin Airport has a number of international flights. Shannon Airport has a lot of American connecting flights.
Cork Airport only deals with domestic flights and European flights. Dublin and Shannon and Dublin have US Emigration Pre Clearance which is a very handy service travelling to and from America, this service saves a lot of time and hassle.
If you are travelling to Northern Ireland, the main airport is Belfast Airport which is part of the UK but is still on the island.
Tipping in Ireland
Tipping is Ireland is a matter for yourself if your happy you can tip. 10% usually is given as a tip. Some hotels and restaurants add this onto your bill. if you are happy with the service you got, give a tip!
Ireland is a great county for food, meat, cheeses and vegetables. Farming is one of the biggest industries, producing top-quality meats, beef, lamb, pork and chicken. You have to try the Irish streak, it’s really good!! Cheese, butter, great dairy products, we have it all in the Emerald Isle, and it’s all very tasty.
You can have carvery, fish and chips, Irish stew for lunch or dinner, then there’s Irish breakfast which will fill you up, it’s a big meal with sausages, rashers (bacon), pudding, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, eggs, and even chips, followed by some good Irish soda bread and washed down with a cup of Barry’s Irish tea, you can’t beat it!!!
See my article here on Whats in the Irish Breakfast here!
Ireland’s 15 Must-See Destinations
Ireland has many great places to visit, the country is full of green fields, farmland, historic buildings, cool old castles and beautiful coastline. There are some place’s that are more popular than others, Dublin being the capital of Ireland gets a lot of visitors each year.
The West of Ireland has some of the most beautiful landscape you will see anywhere. Travelling around Ireland is fairly easy if you decide to rent a car, or take a guided tour.
The county is small compared to other larger countries, so travel times are not to bad! There are a number of super cool driving routes like the Ring of Kerry or the Shea Head drive outside Dingle. The Wild Atlantic Way is the best road trip, its unreal.
1 – The Capital City Dublin
Dublin has a number of very interesting sites and places to see. It’s the capital city of Ireland. There are over 1.3 million people living in Dublin. The city is home to the Guinness Storehouse, the home of one of Ireland’s most famous brands. Dublin is usually more pricer than some other parts of the Emerald Isle.
The Temple Bar area is a cool area to check out with some nice Irish pubs. Phoenix Park is another one you need to see. The President of Ireland lives in Phoenix Park.
See my post here on the Top 5 attractions in Dublin!
Dublin is a good place to start your trip to Ireland. You could base yourself there for a night or two depending. There are a number of hop on hop off tours around the city and walking tours that are very enjoyable.
The EPIC museum is a great place to spend half a day or and the GPO post office visitor centre on O Connell Street is a very cool attraction. Dublin is popular for weekend trips from other European countries, it is a popular destination for stag and hens parties.
The Saint Partick’s Day parade in Dublin is one of the best in the whole of the Emerald Isle, it’s a great experience. Dublin has a number of tour companies offering services all over the city, moving outside the city there are a number of lovely places to visit including Howth which is a big change from the city of Dublin.
2 – Galway
Galway is one of Ireland’s prettiest city’s, full of cool retails shops and interesting sites and attractions, Galway has plenty of warm Irish charm. The city has a nice square called Eyre Square. Galway is known as the city of the tribes, the 14 families of Galway, known as tribes basically ruled Galway back in the day. Ireland used to be run by tribes. The population of Galway is around 80,000 people.
Galway has many accommodation options, it has some lovely hostels for people travelling on a low budget, one of them is the Kinlay hostel right next to Eyre Square, some of these hostels are of a very high standard. Just outside the city is the area of Salthill, it’s a coastal area with some lovely places to stay, nice cafes and great bars.
See my post here on Best FREE stuff to do in Galway!
One of the coolest areas in Galway is shop street, its full of nice pubs and great food spots. Galway is home to the Claddagh ring, its an Irish designed ring that represents, loyalty, love and friendship!
Kinvarra outside of Galway city is a cool little village, you have to put it on your bucket list, there’s a cool old castle there and a lovely little pier full of boats. The scenery in Kinvarra is what Ireland is all about! Moving into county Galway outside of the city is the Connemara region, this is one of the beautiful national parks of Ireland.
Connemara is full of green fields, lakes, mountain ranges and wilderness, great Irish wilderness!!
3 – Cork
Cork is known as the rebel county, the population of Cork is 128,000 people. Cork has some beautiful places to see, and its home to one of Ireland’s great stout drinks, Murphys Irish Stout. The city has one of the largest natural harbours in the world. Cork was originally a monastic settlement and then expanded by the Vikings.
The city is home to one of Ireland’s best indoor markets, The English Market is a culinary delight.
Queen Elizabeth visited the English market on her visit to Ireland, so its fit for royalty! There are a number of cool historic buildings in the city, including Saint Fin Barres Cathedral and Cork City Gaol, an old prison turned into a visitor centre and museum. If its whiskey you want Cork has the Jameson Distillery in Midleton.
See my post her on the Best Things to do in Cork!
Cobh is located about 30 minutes from Cork city, it was one of the places the famous Titanic ship stopped on its first and only voyage. The Titanic Experience in Cobh is a cool visitor centre to visit full of information about Cobh famous connection to one of the most famous ships in the world. The beautiful Wild Atlantic Way route is connected to Cork, this trip is a must if you wanna see some of the bests scenery in Ireland and probably in the World!
You can travel to Kinsale, which is another pure class fishing area and beautiful little Irish village. You can then follow along the route of the Wild Atlantic Way towards Skibbereen and onto Bantry to try the Fish and Chips on route!!
4 – Limerick
Limerick is in the Midwest region of Ireland, the city has a rich history. The population of Limerick is just under 200,000 people. The city has the benefit of close proximity to one of Ireland’s main airports, Shannon Airport in County Clare is just 25 minutes from Limerick.
The city has a huge old medieval castle that is turned into a major tourist attraction. Limerick has plenty of old historic buildings to see. Munster rugby’s home ground is in Limerick, Thomand Park, it’s a big rugby town.
The city used to be divided by walls that are still standing in parts and can still be seen. The city was founded by Vikings and used to be a walled city. Limerick is a must-see city, the famous Hollywood actor Richard Harris came from Limerick.
See this article on 24 things to do and see in Limerick!
One of the oldest sites in Ireland Lough Gur is outside the city and some really old houses were discovered by archaeologists dating back thousands of years at Lough Gur, the area has some stone circles that are really old.
Limerick is a vibrant city with an old market called the Milk Market where you can try some of Ireland’s great foods, cheeses, breads and organic vegetables. The village of Adare is outside Limerick city, just around a 25 minutes drive, it’s known as old sweet Adare, the village is one of the nicest in Ireland by a long shot, the main street is littered with old thatched cottages.
The village has a number of old buildings dating back hundreds of years. Adare Manor was an old English estate, now turned into an unbelievable 5-star hotel and golf course. Adare Manor won the bid to hold the Ryder Cup golf tournament in 2027. The village is a great area for shopping with a number of fashion boutiques.
5 – County Clare
County Clare is located in the West of Ireland, it is possibly one of Ireland’s great spots that people just love, it’s full of beaches, coastline, Irish castles, cool retro Irish pubs with creamy pints of Guinness, and loads of things to see and enjoy! Clare has it all, its a wonderful place to visit and spend a few days.
See my post here on Best Pubs in Clare!
Ireland’s second busiest tourist attraction is in Clare, the famous one and only Cliffs of Moher, which has an excess of 1.5 million visitors per year. The cliffs are one of the best natural attractions in Ireland, you have to see it. Clare has so many nice beaches, Lahinch beach is perfect for surfing, Kilkee beach for swimming and the beautiful area of Spanish Point is called after the Spanish Amanda.
There are lots of castles in Clare to see, some are turned into top-class hotels. Dromoland Castle in Clare is an old castle turned into a beautiful hotel and golf course. Lahinch has a great golf course if its golf your into, Ireland has a number of top-class golf courses.
If you like history and old building there’s so much to see in Clare, you could check out Poulnabourne Dolmen, which dates back thousands of years, it’s FREE to visit. Clare is full of charming Irish pubs, with great seafood and lots of nice drinks including Irish whiskeys and craft beers.
If its music you want to go to Clare, it’s well known for great Irish music sessions, Trad we call it!!! There will be music playing in the pubs until the early hours with everybody having the Craic (means having fun).
6 – Kerry
Kerry is known as the kingdom, It’s home to some of the best footballers in Ireland. Gaelic football is one of two of Ireland native sports, hurling is played with a timber stick called a hurley similar to baseball but with very different rules and hurling is played much faster.
You will have to attend a match when you take a trip to Ireland. Kerry has some of the best road trips you will see in Ireland. The Ring of Kerry is a must-see with so many interesting things to see and do on the route.
The Ring of Kerry is a very enjoyable route that you will love, trust me! It’s a 179-kilometre circular route that brings you into some charming little Irish villages and towns, and you will see the coast a lot on this route, you then finish towards one of Ireland national parks and towards the lakes of Killarney.
Check out my post here on The Ring of Kerry Ireland!
Killarney is possibly one of nicest towns and everybody just likes the town, it has some great charm. Killarney is surrounded by mountains and lakes, loads of wild deer in the national park area, and then there’s the old Muckross House to see. The town has some great pubs and eating houses full of good grub. Kerry has many places you will like.
Dingle is another one you should add to the bucket list. Dingle is home, to Fungi the dolphin, he swims around Dingle bay and entertains people that travel out by boat to see his swim and jump up out of the water.
Check out my post here on 2 Days in Dingle Kerry!
Dingle has a distillery that is producing Irish Gin, if you are into some Gin, check could it out. The Slea Head drive is a driving route that is a fantastic road trip with some really old beehive huts, plenty of nice sheep in the fields and some of the Irelands world-famous scenic coastal areas.
7 – Tipperary
It’s a long way to Tipperary or is it?? Tipperary has lots to keep you busy. It’s home to the Rock of Cashel. This site is one of the most photographed in Ireland, its super cool old medieval design is a nice photo stop. The rock is located in Cashel, Tipperary and dates back to the time of Saint Patrick.
Legend has it that good old Saint Patrick himself banished Satan from a cave in the local area. The Rock of Cashel has lots of history, it was the seat of the old Kings of Munster for around 700 years. They are a number of cool things to see at the rock and the different stone used to build the buildings is very interesting to look at!
See my post on Things to see and do in Tipperary here!
8 – Kilkenny
Kilkenny is a city located in the south-east region of the Emerald Isle. The city has a population of just under 27,000 people. Kilkenny has a huge amount to see and do.
The city has a beautiful castle Kilkenny Castle that is a major tourist attraction, the building is quite large and in superb condition. The Castle dates back to the Norman times, it is opened to visitors all year round. The castle has 800 years of history stepped in the walls!
Kilkenny has a number of other interesting sites to see, and its the home to one of the best Irish hurling teams in the last 20 years. The Kilkenny hurling team also known as the cats have won loads of All Ireland titles over the last number of years, Kilkenny is a great area for sports and for the GAA in Ireland.
The city has so much to see and do, you will not be disappointed if visiting Kilkenny, there are parks and gardens, old cathedrals, fishing, golf and artisan food producers. If that’s not enough you have spas, Irish music, markets and art and culture events. Kilkenny has some charming hotels and accommodation options, its truly a real Irish experience.
9 – Meath
Meath is located close to Dublin in Ireland and shares a number of borders with other countries including Dublin. Meath has a few important sites, some that are unique in Ireland. Newgrange is located in Meath in the Boyne Valley region. Meath has plenty to see, Newgrange is a 5,200-year-old passage tomb.
The passage tomb was built by stone age farmers, on an area of around a one acre of land. The tomb mound is 19 metres high and 279 feet in diameter. The passage area leads into a chamber and aligns with the sun rising on the morning time during the winter solstice period.
There are 97 large stones that surround Newgrange named kerbstones, some of these large stones are decorated with megalithic art. The area is visited by large numbers of visitors each year. The hill of Tara is another important site in terms of Irish History, its a must-see place in Meath. The site was a place of inauguration of the old High Kings of Ireland.
The name Tara means “sanctuary of kings”, it’s a cool place to visit, full of legend and myth of old Ireland when times were very different, the site has links to Saint Patrick in 433, the great man celebrating Easter and lit a Paschal fire in the defiance of the pagan king of Tara. The Hill of Tara is part of the old five provinces of Ireland, modern Ireland nowadays has only four provinces.
10 – Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast in Northern Ireland is a must-see place on your bucket list of things to see on the island of Ireland. The city is technically the second largest on the island of Ireland even tho it’s part of the UK. Belfast has a population of 341,877 people.
It’s a culturally rich city with loads to keep you busy. The city has had some difficult times during the period of the troubles but things have greatly improved, tourism has had a well-needed boost in Northern Ireland in recent years. The city has links to the famous Titanic ship, there is a really good Titanic visitor centre in Belfast.
The city now has much improved and life has improved in Belfast, and there has been a large investment in the city. You can take a black taxi tour, these tours show the important different sides of the troubles and some very interesting sites.
You can get lots of information about the complexed issues that make Northern Ireland unique and the centre of peace after such a long dark period. The Good Friday agreement has been a model for world peace agreements and an example of what can be done by sitting down talking to each other and pursuing peaceful means. Belfast is one of those places that will stir you up!!
15 Best Place’s to visit in Ireland
1 – Cliffs of Moher, County Clare
The Cliffs of Moher is one of those places, that you just look at and say o my god!! It’s just beautiful, eye-catching and just a pleasure to see. The area is full of bird species, flora and wonderful wildlife. The Cliffs of Moher is located in County Clare around three and a half hours from Dublin. The area is a very important site for bird breeding, you will see lots of birds and the famous Puffin birds in the area.
The visitor centre at the cliffs is full of interactive displays, there is a cinema with a virtual reality movie. The cliffs are the second busiest tourist site in all of Ireland.
The place is a must-see when visiting Ireland, and for some people, it’s the most memorable site in all of the Emerald Isle. The area is very scenic, full of coastline, green fields, beautiful coastal walkways, old stone towers and farm animals.
The area can be quite dangerous, and timing can be important when visiting the area because of fog and weather conditions. County Clare has some much to do and see, you could easily spend a week or two in Clare, just travelling around visiting different sites and attractions.
See my Cliffs of Moher Guide here!
2 – Book Of Kells, Trinity College Dublin
The Book of Kells is located in Dublin in Trinity College, the Book of Kells is an old book that dates back to 800AD. The Book Of Kells is one of the worlds oldest books, its located in the old library in one of Ireland’s best colleges in the heart of Dublin City.
The book covers the four gospels and is written in Latin, and its really something to see, the design of the pages is so detailed and the colours are amazing.
The old library has such a cool feeling with the huge amount of books, knowledge and history stored in the library. The Book of Kells is in the top 5 tourist attractions in Ireland. The book of Kells is located within walking distance of many other cool sites in Dublin city.
The old books have historical importance that only a few books have, its in the top 5 of the oldest books known to exist worldwide. The Book of Kells is taught to have been created by old Celtic monks, you just have to go and see it, it’s truly an amazing piece of history.
3 – Guinness Storehouse, Dublin
The Guinness Storehouse is the most visited tourist site in Ireland. The storehouse is located in Dublin, and it’s home to one of the worlds most famous brands.
The Guinness storehouse has in excess of 1.5 million visitors per year, and everyone gets a free pint of Guinness!!! This super cool tourist site is full of information about Arthur Guinness, and the 9000-year lease on the storehouse building, the making of Guinness and the development of the Guinness company over the years that built it up to the powerhouse it is today.
The storehouse has a Guinness gift shop and a few bars on site. To make it even better these bars in the storehouse are full of cool retro beers, for you to try some different types of Guinness craft varieties. You can get a good Irish meal in the storehouse including some Guinness bread which is delicious.
Then after a good feed, you can tour the building and head up to the Gravity Bar at the end of the tour to have a free creamy pint of the black stuff and stare out the glass windows at Dublin’s skyline, its great craic!!!
4 – Blarney Castle, Kiss the Blarney Stone!
Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone in Cork has got it all. The stone is known as the most hygiene tourist attraction in the world, of course, I’m just having the craic.
Blarney Castle and the stone is another place you will love while travelling around Ireland. Kissing the stone will bring you some great Irish luck, by kissing the stone you will get a sliver tongue or the gift of the gab, which means you will be able to talk and talk with a charming tongue, well let’s hope so right!!!
The stone is embedded in the walls of an old medieval castle and to make it even more interesting, you kiss the stone while you are leaning into it upside down, it is great fun!!! The stone has had many famous lips kissing it over the years, Winston Churchill, members of the Kennedy family, Laurel and Hardy, along with many other famous Ireland people.
5 – Glendalough, Wicklow
Glendalough in Wicklow is full of scenic landscape old buildings, beautiful lakes, forestry, great walkways and history. Wicklow is located around an 1 hour from Dublin city centre. The area has a huge amount of stuff to see and do, tis a great spot as we say in Ireland.
Wicklow is home to the Wicklow mountains and one of Ireland National Park areas. Glendalough has one of Ireland’s most interesting and important monastic areas.
The Christian monastic settlement in the area was founded by Saint Kevin back in the days of the sixth century. The iconic image of Glendalough is the stone round tower that is 33 metres in height, the old tower was constructed 1000 years back by monks and used for safety and refuge of the monks that lived in the area.
Powerscourt House is located in Wicklow just 25 minutes from the area of Glendalough, the old house and estate of lands have some stunning gardens.
The area is now turned into a top-class hotel, golf course, and some gifts shops and a restaurant. Powerscourt house used to be the townhouse of the Viscount of Dublin. The site has a lot to see, it’s the perfect place to spend a few hours wandering around the 47-acre site.
6 – The Ring of Kerry, Kerry
The great Ring of Kerry is another famous road trip in Ireland that everyone loves. It’s full of coastal areas, beaches, beautiful churches, great little Irish pubs, golf courses, and Irish cows and sheep.
The Ring of Kerry route is one of Ireland’s best road trips, it’s visited by thousands of people, every year, some people rent a car and drive it themselves and others prefer to hire a tour company or a driver-guide to do the trip.
See my post here on The Ring of Kerry route, its great craic!
The trip involves a cool insight into a landscape carved out of rock during the ice age, it has some Ogham stones, Iron age stone forts, beehive hunts and ancient old monasteries.
The Ring of Kerry covers 179 kilometres of roadway, you can do the trip in a day no problem, some people decide to do it over two or three days and stay at some points around the ring route. The route is littered with nice hotels and bed and breakfasts, with some great Air B&B places to choose from.
See my post here on Best Things to do in Killnarey Kerry!
7 – Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, County Clare
This place is great for all ages, young and old. Bunratty Castle is an old castle and the folk park is a huge area full of lots of Irish stuff you will like. The folk park is full of thatched Irish cottages, old buildings that were taken down and rebuilt in the folk park. The folk park has animals, Irish wolfhounds, pigs and some cows, you will see some Irish deer on the grounds.
In recent times the visitor centre has been further developed its gift shop and visitor experiences. Bunratty Castle is full of interesting rooms and features like a spiral staircase, you can climb up to the top of the castle and see the wonderful view of the local area surrounding one of Ireland’s most famous castles and tourist attractions. There is one of the Irelands well know Wollen Mill stores across the road from Bunratty Castle.
The Wooden mills has many great Irish products on offer, including handmade products, clothing and charming Irish stuff, like retro t-shirts and Guinness merchandise. The castle has medieval banquets held in the evening times where you can experience what it’s like to live in an Irish castle, they is food included and live music and singing by people dressed up in old-time costumes.
One of the best pubs in Ireland is right next to the castle Durty Nelly’s. The pub is the perfect place to grab lunch while looking up at the wonderful medieval building in front of you, while you tuck into some tasty seafood and a craft beer!
8 – The Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland
This route that covers 2,500 kilometres has been described as the best road trips in the world, who am I as an Irish man to argue with that?? I agree 100%!!!!, it’s one of those special areas and routes that will just blow you away with the spectacular views, mountains, coastal areas and historic buildings, colourful towns and charming villages.
The Wild Atlantic Way runs from Cork to Donegal and is a coastal route that is a great asset to Irish tourism. From Kinsale to Miltown Malbay in Clare and onto to Downpatrick the route is full of scenic areas, beautiful Irish pubs with loads of creamy pints of Guinness. Travelling up into the north towards Sligo and into Buncrana, you will see some really great scenic areas that you will love.
9 – The Gap of Dunloe, Kerry
The Gap of Dunloe will give you a real feeling of Kerry. The Gap sees a huge amount of visitors every year. The Gap of Dunloe is a lovely place covered in really nice Irish mountain ranges. The gap backs back millions of years being formed in the ice age.
The Gap of Dunloe became a famous destination in the 1800s when Queen Elizabeth visited Kerry from England. The story travelled far and wide about the beauty of the area, people from all over the world travelled to Killarney to see the gap.
The Gap of Dunloe tour is almost on every guided tour trip to Killarney, it is requested by many American groups to travel to Kate Kearney cottage and then travel through the gap on a horse-drawn carriage known as a jaunting car.
Kate Kearney cottage is a focal point, as the story goes many great things start with a drink and the story of Kate Kearney cottage is this type of story. Kate distilled a fairly potent drink called “Poitin”. She called the drink mountain Dew, it was so strong and potent, it couldn’t be consumed without 7 times its equal amount to dilute it. This stuff was savage, it could warm you up fast!!!
10 – Doolin, County Clare
The village of Doolin is a wonderful little place to visit for a few hours or an area to base yourself for a few nights in the lovely County Clare. Doolin is located about a 15-minute drive from the famous Cliffs of Moher, it has a beautiful pier with ferry boats that travel out to the mystic Aran Islands.
The Aran Islands is a cluster of three islands off the Clare coast full of interesting sites and landscape. It’s a place you should add to your bucket list, I hope that bucket list isn’t getting too long!!
Doolin is a famous area for great Irish music sessions in the pubs. The area has some great campsites, Nagle’s campsite is overlooking the pier and you can see the Cliffs of Moher in the distance. Its a really nice location for a campsite and caravan park, they have camper van slots (RV vans) available. Doolin is another place you will want to come back and visit again and again.
See my post on 2 Days in Clare!
11 – Kinsale, County Cork
This little fishing town is outside Cork City. Kinsale is around a 30-minute drive from Cork, the town is a colourful fishing town with lots of different types of boats in the harbour.
Kinsale is known for great food, cafes, bistros and top-class restaurants offering great Irish seafood, from mussels to oysters, Salmon to seafood chowder with some fresh brown Irish soda bread. Its the perfect place for fishing, and there are boat trips and tours available too book. If you like Fish and Chips Kinsale won’t disappoint.
Kinsale has a very interesting old fort called Charles Fort just outside the town that has connections to the Willamette war. The fort was built in 1677, it was used to protect against the French and Spanish armies. The fort has a cool design and there is a visitor centre you can visit to learn the history of Charles Fort.
12 – Howth, Dublin
Howth is located outside Dublin, there is a train service called the dart from Dublin to Howth. The village is around a 40-minute drive from the city centre. Howth has some historical buildings, Howth castle, a medieval Abbey called Saint Marys Abbey.
The Martello tower features an old radio museum. Howth has some lovely coastal views. Howth has some beautiful walking trails and routes. The village has some great food to choose from, with loads of cafes, and organic foods, cheeses, olives, nuts and delicious chocolates to try.
There are some tours by boat to Howth Island, plenty of fishing options in Howth also. Howth bay features lots of sailing and motorised boats. Howth is definitely a must-see place, it’s perfectly located just outside Dublin, so add it to the list!!
13 – Connemara, Galway
Connemara in Galway is another one of Ireland’s National parks, it’s a magical spot. The Connemara region is located outside Galway city, depending on traffic it could take one hour and 30 minutes to get to Clifden from Galway city.
The Connemara skyline is dominated by magical mountain ranges over 50 in total. Some of the big ones are Partry, and the Twelve Bens, Maum Turks. There has been evidence of early farmers found in Connemara that dates back thousands of years.
Connemara has plenty of things to see and do, great food, cool pubs, sheer natural beauty all around you this area is unreal. Kylemore Abbey is located in Connemara it’s one really nice Benedictine monastery, it dates back to 1920.
See my post on Best things to see and do in the Connemara region!
The abbey was founded by nuns back in the day, the nuns came from Belgium to Ireland during World War One. Kylemore Abbey is nowadays is a major tourist attraction and visitor centre.
It’s a must-see spot!!! Connemara has many other beautiful places to visit and drive through, Leenaun and Louisburgh are wonderful places to travel around, these are areas in Ireland you see on a postcard, Connemara is definitely a place you want to add to your travel plan!!!
14 – Cobh County Cork
Cobh is located outside Cork city, around a 30 minutes drive from Cork, and this colourful charming little town has many things to offer the hungry travelling visitor.
Cobh is a port for cruise ships and boats. Cobh was one of the places that the Titanic ship stopped on its first and only voyage. The ship left Cobh in 1912 headed for New York and later was hit by a huge iceberg and shank.
The Titanic Museum in Cobh is another cool place to visit, its full of information about the Titanic and items related to the famous ship. Cobh has a strong connection with Irish Immigration throughout the famine period in the 1800s.
Cobh is still used for large cruise ships nowadays, the ships dock in Cobh sometimes for short periods and people come off the cruise ships to take a day tour of Cork and Cobh on a coach or smaller bus.
15 – Dingle, County Kerry
Dingle in County Kerry is a small port town located on the Wild Atlantic way route, travelling through Connor pass on the way to Dingle is a mighty experience showing Ireland at its best. The roads are hard going but that’s just part of it. Dingle is located about 50 minutes from Tralee and 1 hour from Killarney.
Dingle has one of the best driving routes in the whole of the Emerald Isle, The Slea Head drive. This route is full of stuff to see and do, with some cool old beehive hunts, unbelievable scenic areas, and plenty of sheep smiling away at you as you pass them by!! Dingle is home to Fungi the Dolphin, This Dolphin has lived in the waters in the Dingle Peninsula for many years.
Fungi has been the source of much research and studies, he seems to be a fan of Dingle like many others. Fungi have resided in Dingle for over 35 years and he is officially the oldest living solitary Dolphin on the planet a marine study found.
See my post with 8 Things to do in Kerry!
Sorting Your Visa For Ireland
Travelling to Ireland from the European Union is simple if you are a citizen of an EU member state, you don’t need a visa, you travel freely all over Europe.
If your travelling to Ireland from a country outside the EU, you may need a visa, there are different rules for different countries please see this link for further information.
See this link here! for a full list of countries that require a visa while travelling to Ireland.
How to Get to The Emerald Isle
The main airports in Ireland have flights from a large number of countries and destinations.
A huge amount of people fly into Dublin or Shannon Airport. These airports are serviced by major airlines. If you are travelling from Europe one of the most popular airlines is Ryanair because of there low fares, and rates. Ryanair offers some really cheap prices for flights within Europe, their prices are unreal.
There are a number of websites that offer low prices on flights from all locations around the world. Belfast Airport in Northern Ireland is in the UK but on the island of Ireland.
There are some smaller airports in Ireland that only have flights from a small number of European countries.
Ireland’s Main Airports
The main and largest airports in Ireland are Dublin Airport, Shannon Airport, Cork Airport and Belfast Airport which is in Northern Ireland. The only airport that doesn’t have international flights is Cork Airport. Belfast Airport has flights to and from the United States.
See this Dublin Airport Guide website for all relevant info!
Travelling to Ireland by Ferry is an option, it is easy to drive to Ireland via a ferry. There are a few ferry ports in Ireland. I have travelled on the ferry a few times before myself from the UK to Ireland, it’s a great trip to make with some beautiful scenic areas to enjoy. The ferry can take a few hours, you can sit back and relax, its a very enjoyable experience.
Travelling Around Ireland
Ireland is a relatively small country, its easy to get around and travel times are not too bad. Depending on your budget and requirements there are lots of options to move around the Emerald Isle.
Some people just love renting a car and just driving around Ireland, this can be a challenge for some people, the roads can be narrow in some parts and require a bit of experience, but it’s very manageable.
Driving around the Emerald Isle is a great way to see the beauty that makes Ireland some famous, tis the way to go! Ireland has a huge amount of car rental and hire companies to choose from. Getting out onto the roads in the West of Ireland, you won’t be disappointed.
Once you have your driving licence and credit card, renting a vehicle is relatively hassle-free, you will need to allow enough journey time because you may be driving on the other side of the road, compared to what you usually used to!!! but you will be fine.
All the Airports have car rental desks and depots just next to the Airport grounds. It’s a good idea to shop around for prices, car rental prices can be a good bit cheaper in the offseason compared to peak season, so shop around.
Hiring a bigger vehicle up to a 9 seater (MPV) can be done on a normal car driving licence in Ireland, anything over 9 seats requires a minibus or coach licence. Electric vehicle charging points have become available and Hybrids like the Toyota Prius are popular in Ireland. Charging points are scattered all around the Emerald Isle.
Camper Van Rental
Driving a campervan around Ireland has many advantages, you can move around stopping here and there, and in some cases, you can stay in scenic spots that you couldn’t do without a camper van.
Driving a camper van can be great fun, you can pull into different campsites, parks and car parks. It’s the way to go if you want to plan your trip and take your time exploring Ireland yourself. There are a few companies that rent camper vans, see this link for more info.
Buses /Public Transport
Using public transport in Ireland can be a cheap way of touring around the whole country, and still seeing the green fields, and scenic spots. One of the main companies in Ireland that operate bus services is Bus Eireann, they have a large network of routes all over the country.
All the Airports in Ireland have public bus services. In Dublin city centre the Luas runs all over Dublin, its an overhead tram-like train, its a great way to move around Dublin.
Bus Eireann operate routes nationally and local bus services in cities, towns and villages. Some other companies operate bus routes around Ireland, Citilink and Dublin Coach are some other companies that run services nationwide.
Travelling on a tour bus can be great fun especially if you have a good driver-guide or driver and guide. There are a lot of companies offering services around Ireland.
This can be a cheap way to see some greats sites and get a good Irish experience. Some of the companies offering services are Paddywagon, Darby O Gill tours and Dublin tour Company.
Galway tour company have services from Galway. Seeing Ireland on a bus tour is the way to go especially if your on a budget or don’t want the hassle of driving to certain areas. Tickets can be booked online with some companies and most day tours take around 8 or 9 hours depending on the distance involved.
Private tours have become very popular in recent years, some small groups plan their own trips, and hire a company to provide a vehicle and driver and guide in some cases to show them around Ireland. Private tours offer more flexibility.
There are a number of companies offering private tours all over Ireland, they can help you plan out an internity. A huge amount of people do golf tours in Ireland, we have some excellent golf courses in Ireland.
Ireland has a good rail network run by Irish rail also called Iarnrod Eireann. Trains services are available to all the major cities and some towns and villages. Travelling by train can be quick and easy. Tickets can be booked online. See this link here to the Irish rail website!
Ireland has some beautiful hotels, B&Bs, glamping sites, campsites and self-catering accommodation and retro hostels. Some old Irish castles and manor houses are turned into hotels, these hotels are usually 4 or 5-star rating.
Depending on your budget, you may want to stay in a hostel or a 5-star castle hotel. Loads of companies like booking.com offer accommodation options in Ireland, it just depends on your budget and how much you want to budget for each night.
Most of Ireland’s hotels offer breakfast included in the price, and different services like room service, taxi services, airport shuttle bus, and health clubs (Gym) and swimming pools. Hotels are rated from 2 star to 5 star in Ireland.
Ireland has a large amount of B&B’s operating all over the Emerald Isle. B&B’s offer a warm, cosy feel with a delicious breakfast included in the price. Some B&B’s are owner-operated, the owner can be a source of great knowledge about the local area, history and services. B&B’s offer good value for money and some are located in very special locationsin Ireland.
Ireland has a good amount of hostels, some hostels are superb, they are almost like hotels. Hostels in Ireland are cheap and cheerful. They offer the budget traveller a nice place to stay, some private rooms are available to book for just one or two people with larger private rooms available also.
Breakfast is included, a continental breakfast usually, some hostels go a bit further than that! Most Irish hostels have cooking facilities, so you can make your own meals. Dormer rooms can cater for large groups.
Ireland has lots of campsites, caravan parks and camper van parks, these campsites offer really good value for money. Irish campsites have games rooms, electricity points for camper vans and caravan, shops on-site, laundry and shower facilities. Some campsites are in coastal areas or next to a beach which has many benefits.
Self Catering Accommodation
Air B&B has become very popular in Ireland, they are lots of unique places to rent on Air B&B. Ireland is full of interesting self-catering places to stay. You can hire out old castles to stay in, timber pods by the coast, beautiful Irish Thatched cottages, there is a huge amount of places to choose from.
Food and Drink In Ireland
Ireland is full of good food, we have some great beers and whiskeys to choose from after all Ireland is the home of the black stuff, Guinness how bad! Ireland has many great food producers, making cheese, and dairy products. Ireland is home to Kerry gold butter, its creamy and delicious. If you like bread, the Emerald Isle has many great breads, and scones to try.
Irish scones come with plenty of butter, jam and cream in some cases. Irish beef is something you will have to try and our bacon and cabbage dish. A huge amount of pubs in Ireland serve food from beef and Guinness stew to roast beef with potatoes and vegetables, and tasty soups and sandwiches.
Some places serve an all-day Irish breakfast. Ireland has some great food, and organic foods are widely available. There are many different types of foods on offer, Italian foods in Italian restaurants, fast food, Mc Donald’s, Four-star pizza, kebabs and Turkish style meats.
Ireland has a large network of fuel stations and grocery store chains like Spar. These outlets have deli’s which serve hot foods, and sandwiches, rolls and wraps. Aidi, Lidl, Tesco and Dunnes Stores are the largest grocery companies offering everything from toilet paper to frozen prawns.
Ireland’s pubs are world-famous, Irish pubs serve food, drink, and have live music. Most pubs have craft beers which have become very popular in Ireland in the last few years. Ireland has many good whiskeys that are produced in Ireland, like Jameson. The Emerald Isle has a number of stouts to choose from.
Some distilleries are tuned into visitor centres, these can be a great way to pass away a few hours and try some good spirits at the same time. You will see many beautiful pubs all over Ireland, and it’s part of Irish culture, you will hopefully have the Craic inside some pubs!!!
See my post on Best Pubs in Cork!
Most hotels have bars, and some hostels do not have bars but some serve some beers in the reception area. Off-licences are located all over the country and the legal age to drink alcohol in Ireland is 18 years old.
Average Cost of Travelling around Ireland
Transport – from 15.00 euros up to 30.00 euros or 40.00 euros for trains depending on the distance you are travelling.
Fuel – About 8.00 euros per person between two people travelling together, again depending on distance.
Food – Groceries – 5.00 euros to 10 euros per day
Eating out – 10.00 to 20.00 per day (can be 15 to 20 for a meal in some places)
Tourist sites – Some are free!! some cost from 7.50 to 15.00
Bus Tours – From 25.00 euros upwards
Private tours – Can vary a lot
Hotels – From 49.00 to a few hundred per night
B&B’s – From 39.00 to 150.00 depending a few factors
Hostels – From 12.00 euros upwards
Self-catering – it’s best to shop around especially if you are travelling with a group or large family as you can get some very good deals
Car Rental – 40 euros per upwards
Beer – from 4.00 per pint
Off licence – 4 x budget style beers 5.00 euros and wine from 7.00 euros
My own personal favourite parts of Ireland!!
- Cliffs of Moher
- Guinness Storehouse
- Giant Causeway
- Ennis County Clare
- Poulnabourne dolmen
- The Ring Of Kerry
- The Slea Head drive
- Mizen Head
Ireland is a great place to visit on holidays, or a business trip if you have some spare time to travel around or on a college semester. The Irish are known for being friendly and having the craic and you will experience that when you visit Ireland.
You can easily travel on a budget in Ireland. Ireland has some beautiful places to visit, picturesque little towns and villages, great food, and beautiful views. Ireland has thousands of years of history, old sites, castles and tombs. You will enjoy Irish culture if you come to Ireland and get to understand the “cead mile failte”. I hope you enjoy your trip to Ireland.
Check out my post here on Irish Leprechaun Folklore History!
I hope you find this article useful, I welcome any recommendations or suggestions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
All Things Ireland