Ireland. You’ve read the blogs and guide books, listened to the stories from your Great Grandfather who was born there, but what is Ireland really like?

If you are visiting Ireland for the first time, then you need some Ireland tips. Some real good old fashioned honest ones.

It throws you a little bit does Ireland.

It’s part of Europe, (Northen Ireland we are talking about here) the people speak in English (well, not quite, but more about that later in the post), and the countryside is comfortingly familiar, yet somehow, the minute you step foot on Irish soil you know that you are in one of the most unique destinations in the world.

Ireland is like nowhere else you will have ever been.

Without sounding too woo and coming over all purple velvet and crystal bally, the famous saying that Ireland is like a balm for your soul is never more real than when you land in Ireland for the first time.

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We visited Ireland in September for a month when we were traveling with our two kids (teenagers actually – they go mad if I call them kids).

It was our first time in Ireland for all of us and although we made some major mistakes while planning the trip to Ireland we LOVED it.

You will too.

Love it I mean. Not the mistake part.

Before you leave for your vacation of a lifetime to Ireland (after you have ticked off every task using our awesome travel checklist) take note of these essential Ireland travel tips and you will be all good to go.

 

Irish countryside and hills. Travel Ireland tips

Are you ready to take your trip to Ireland?

 

Ireland Tips For Those Visiting For The First Time.

 

#1: Weather

 

Let’s get this one out of the way first and then we can move on to the good stuff.

  • Yes. The weather in Ireland. It is changeable. If you are wondering to wear, read my what to pack for Ireland post. It covers all weather possibilities.

 

  • One morning you fling open the shutters to a beautiful soft yellow glow, run outside to pick wild mushrooms and clover leaves and then, the next minute, you find yourself drenched wet through up to your knees in mud.

 

 

Related Post

17 things you will be glad you took to Ireland

 

Mushrooms on the forest floor in Ireland. Ireland travel tips

Know that the weather in Ireland is changeable. One minute you are picking wild mushrooms in the sunshine, the next you are up to your knees in mud

 

#2: Electricity

 

  • 230V/50Hv. The plug outlets are the same as the UK, the ones with the three prongs. Don’t forget your travel adapter!

 

For Pinterest ⇓

 

#3: Getting Sick In Ireland

 

Australia and Ireland have a reciprocal health agreement meaning that Australian visitors are entitled to receive emergency public hospital treatment.

If you are not from Australia then here are your options:

 

  • Go to the pharmacy. These are all over and have the big green cross sign outside.

 

  • Go to the doctors. Make an appointment and pay approx €60 Be aware that the doctors in Ireland (especially those outside big cities) are run on a 9 – 5 Mon- Fri system, so try not to get sick at the weekend.

 

  • If you need the hospital (hopefully this will never happen) you can go to any A&E department in Ireland without a referral from a doctor. Wait to be seen. This service will cost you approx €100.

 

 

 

#4: Saving Money And Getting Around Ireland

 

Staying in Dublin

 

A busy corner pub in Dublin. Ireland

If you stay in Dublin then getting the Dublin Pass will save you a fortune!

 

If you plan on staying in Dublin then you HAVE to get the Dublin Pass.

Am I an affiliate for them? You bet I am – they saved us a fortune when we stayed in Dublin. We bought a 3-day pass and I tell everyone I meet to do the same. Here’s why.

The initial outlay for the pass may seem a bit pricey and you might very well think you can do things cheaper but honestly; if you plan on staying in Dublin for one, two three or even five days you will not find a better way to save money.

(And I know because I am the queen of doing things on the cheap!!)

 

Here’s why you will love the Dublin Pass:

 

  • FREE Entrance to over 30 attractions (we worked this out – it saved us roughly $96 per person!).

 

  • They send you the pass straight to your phone and then all you have to do is flash it whenever you go to an attraction (or if you prefer you can collect it in Dublin or they can send it to your home address in a proper parcel)

 

  • Here’s why I loved it the most: When you purchase ANY Dublin Pass you get a FREE 24-hour ticket to ride the hop-on/hop-off bus around Dublin! My kids LOVED this as it meant we could get to know the city properly (we actually spent almost all day just riding around with our coffee and pastries – it was fabulous) You also get a free airport shuttle included in the price of the pass too!

 

So yes. The Dublin Pass. The only way to get discount prices AND a free day on the sightseeing bus (perfect if you have tired legs, little kids or lazy teenagers like me.)

 

#5: Hiring A Car And Exploring Ireland

 

Irish windy road in beautiful countryside. Ireland travel tips

Exploring Ireland is glorious and the best (and cheapest way to do it if there is more than two of you, is by hiring a car. If you are travelling alone or with a friend, consider taking a tour.

 

If you are going to explore a good chunk of Ireland and there is more than one of you, then I suggest you rent a car. It’s the cheapest and easiest way to see Ireland.

The cheapest way to hire a car in Ireland is by using this Ireland car hire company.

They saved us a fortune on car hire because they do all of the hard work for you and compare the best deals. 

We worked out that this car rental programme saved us approx 30% than what we were quoted by other car hire companies in Ireland and that extra cash pays for a couple of pints of Guinness! 

Click here to check out car hire in Ireland.

Hiring a car in Ireland is easy, but remember, don’t hire anything too big!  The roads are pretty narrow and windy, and if you are coming from America, you won’t be used to them.

When I say narrow, I mean narrow.

 

#6: Insurance For Ireland

 

You will hear a lot of people saying how renting a car in Ireland is super expensive due to the waivers they insist you have; this can be true. To get around this, and to save yourself hundreds of euros, make sure that your insurance company allows for this excess waiver.

 

Make sure that you have excellent Ireland travel insurance.

We are travelling around the world for a year with our two teenagers so as you can imagine, my husband researched extensively which insurance company would be the best for us.

This is the company that we use and that we will always use.

They are brilliant in every way.

I hate to admit it, but my husband was right. It doesn’t happen often but I’ll let him have this one.

Seriously. You may have your Ireland insurance already but just make sure that you are covered for car hire excess (and delays, health, dental etc) or you’ll end up out of pocket.

 

a house on a lane in Ireland

Driving in Ireland is easy. The road signs are in English. Yes, the roads are narrow but just slow down if you meet something coming the other way!

 

#7: Coffee On A Budget In Ireland

 

If you are a coffee fan then you are going to love Ireland, but here is a little tip for those traveling on a budget as we were, those who don’t have the money to keep going to cafes (especially with two greedy teenagers!).

 

  • There is a coffee company in Dublin called Frank and Honest. They make the most delicious coffee by using their specially invented all in one machine.

 

  • I know what you coffee connoisseurs are going to say, and yes, I agree wholeheartedly, coffee is best made by the hand of an experienced barista. But.

 

  • Not in this case. We have had coffee from all over the world and Frank and Honest coffee rivals all of them – even those from Italy.

 

And here’s the best part.

Frank and Honest have their machines set up in lots of different convenience stores. Meaning that if you pop into the local grocery store to pick up some Irish butter, you can grab a delicious coffee and some pastries, take them down to the local beauty spot and enjoy your morning coffee fix for half the price of what a cafe would charge you.

 

Man sitting by the canal in Ireland drinking coffee. Ireland tips for the first time visitor

Buy your coffee and pastries from the local store that has a Frank and Honest machine and enjoy a delicious breakfast for the fraction of a cost!

 

#8: Cost Of Eating Out

 

Lots of people warned us that Ireland was expensive. Like SUPER expensive.

Regular readers of this blog will know how annoyed I get when people give you ‘well-meaning travel tips’ because you take the advice that they give you as being true and their travel tips almost always end up being a load of rubbish.

Yes, Ireland can be expensive, but it depends on what you are doing and where you are eating and drinking. Use your common sense.

Look for the places that are slightly off the beaten track, and you will be rewarded with a hearty Irish meal for no more than what it would cost you at home.

 

The menu from a cafe in Ireland. ireland travel tips on how much it costs to eat out in Ireland

You may need to zoom in, but this should give you an idea of how much a delicious fish’n’chip supper is going to cost you

 

 

#9: Food in Ireland

 

Everything you’ve heard about the food being good in Ireland? Times it by 10. The food is amazing. Wholesome, earthy, delicious. Yum.

If eating Irish food doesn’t remind you of being at your Granny’s on a Sunday afternoon then I don’t know what will.

Here’s a very brief summary of my favourite food in Ireland and what you can expect when it arrives:

 

  • Irish Stew. Made with Lamb, potatoes and vegetables. Sometimes made with goat or beef and sometimes has a can of Guinness thrown in for good measure.

 

  • Bacon and Cabbage. Exactly what it says on the label. The bacon is chunky and salty, the cabbage is green and fresh, and usually, thick delicious gravy is poured over the top. I am actually drooling while I write this.

 

  • Irish Soda Bread (also called brown bead).I can’t describe to you how good this bread tastes as my mouth will start to water and I can’t have moisture on my keyboard, but know that so Irish soda bread is delicious. Toast it and slather it with Irish butter and marmalade. Damn it. Now my mouth is watering.

 

  • Colcannon. Another potato dish and the perfect comfort food. Potatoes mashed with plenty of butter, salt, pepper and kale. Great for vegetarians and for those that like to tell everyone how much superfood kale they consume in a day.

 

 

#10: Going To A Real Irish Pub.

 

  • Please. Pretty please. When in Ireland, visit Kilkenny and go to one of the little pubs hidden down amongst the side streets. You won’t have to look far, Kilkenny is packed with historic alehouses. I haven’t got time now, but I will write a post just on Kilkenny. It is far more beautiful than any other Irish city we visited.

 

  • Now, back to the pub.

 

  • Going into a pub in Ireland for the first time can be somewhat daunting. Honestly, I get you. I stood outside an old pub in Kilkenny for about five minutes with my two teenagers before I was brave enough to open the little goblin sized front door and enter inside.

 

  • But do it. Please! Because once inside you will feel as though you have stepped back in time or onto the set of an Irish film. A really cool one.

 

  • Say hello nicely to the bar person, find yourself somewhere to sit, order a Guinness and a pot of stew and take it all in.

 

You may get lucky as we did and happen to catch a couple of musicians entertaining the crowd. Avoid the tourist places – pluck up the courage and go local. I’m the biggest scardey cat out there and if I can do it, so can you. 

 

Check Out Our Video Of A Real Irish Pub!⇓

 

Street full of Pubs in Ireland. Ireland tips on what to expect the first time you visit

See the little red and white pub looking so inconspicuous? Inside there was one hell of a party happening! Be brave and go local!

 

Talking about friendly locals.

 

#11: Friendly People

 

  • The Irish people are lovely. Really lovely. We didn’t meet anyone that wasn’t keen to stop for a chat and ask us about our travels. Know that the Irish people are some of the friendliest folk you will meet in the world.

 

  • Don’t hesitate to ask someone for directions or help; yes you may get their life story, but that’s ok. We like that.

 

Musicians in a pub in Ireland. Ireland tips for your first time here on vacation

The local people are very friendly in Ireland. These two musicians entertained us while we ate our Irish stew in the local pub!

 

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Ireland Travel Tips

 

#12: The Language

 

Yes, the English language is spoken in Ireland which makes going on vacation to Ireland a tad easier, but,  there’s a slight catch. Apart from the rambling Irish accent which leaves your ears straining (especially if you are having a conversation with an older ‘out of town’ person), you will have to face up to the fact that in Ireland…

 

#13: In Ireland, They Swear. Quite A Bit Actually

 

Just be prepared. If you are a prude like me, then it may come as a bit of a shock. When you are stood talking to the butcher about the price of a lamb neck, and he suddenly comes out with a dozen fecks and sh*tes, it takes you back a wee bit.

In saying that, I did my homework so that you don’t have to, and although the word ‘feck’ is used prolifically in the Irish language (by young and old) you shouldn’t take too much offence. According to an Irish friend of mine,  the word is considered the same as saying damn.

Hmmm.

As my mum used to warn us: say it again, and I’ll wash your mouths out with soap.

Moving on.

 

#14: Cell Phone Coverage

 

I thought I’d put this one in here, especially if you are travelling to Ireland with kids as we did.

My 17-year-old son is addicted to his phone, and I can safely tell you that he only looked up from his darling device about four times in the whole month that we were in Ireland, which means that throughout Ireland, the cell phone coverage is obviously excellent.

 

#15: Taking A Tour in Ireland

 

Guinness Factory

 

If you are in Dublin, you can NOT miss taking a tour of the Guinness factory. I’m sorry, but it’s the law. Even I who can’t stand the stuff enjoyed discovering the fascinating history (and my free pint at the end!).

Make sure you book your tickets in advance though – it can get busy in peak season. If you are taking kids don’t be put off. We have taken our kids on tours in some of the best cities in Europe and my son still raves about this one!

If you purchase The Dublin Pass entrance (and skip the line) to the Guinness Factory is FREE but if you don’t want to splash out on the pass then I suggest taking a tour.

 

Cliffs Of Moher, Burren & Galway

 

If you appreciate the calmness of Ireland and want to spend a peaceful day being taken to see stunning scenery by a local guide, then you will love this tour of the Cliffs of Moher, Burren and Galway. It’s an all-day tour, and for what you get, the price is fantastic value.

Sometimes, I find it is more relaxing to sit back and listen to a guide while I look at the scenery rather than having to try and entertain the kids all day!

 

Woman on hillside in Ireland. Ireland travel tips for the perfect vacation

There is no better place than Ireland to let your eyes stretch and your mind to open!

 

 

#16: Accommodation in Ireland

 

I can’t help you out much here as when we were in Ireland for a month we were Housesitting. I know this isn’t for everyone but we loved it and it saved us thousands of dollars on accommodation, literally, $$$’s.

We stayed in an apartment in Dublin and a farmhouse just outside Kilkenny. Both were beautiful.

If you need to know more about house-sitting in Europe please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will help you whichever way I can, we have done loads and loads of house sits and cannot recommend it highly enough for discovering a country or city at your own pace.

If you don’t fancy house sitting but still want a homely-I-feel-like-I-live-here experience, check out the many fabulous Irish Airbnbs

There are some amazing houses for far less money than a fancy pancy hotel.

Mother and daughter on horses in Ireland. Ireland tips for those who ra elooking to House sit in Ireland

My family and I spent a month house sitting in Ireland and it was simply perfect. I highly recommend it!

 

 

Do You Love To Travel But Tend To Put It Off Year After Year?

 

 

 

And last but not least…

 

#17: Be Open Minded And Ready For Adventure

 

  • The best way to see Ireland for the first time is to go there with your eyes wide open and your sense of adventure intact!

 

  • There are so many opportunities for impromptu fun in Ireland that you really do have to be flexible and ready.

 

  • Be open-minded and ready to go with the flow in Ireland, talk to people, walk up streets that are not on the tourist map. I promise that you will be rewarded with a memorable experience.

 

A narrow street in Kilkenny Ireland. Ireland travel tips for that first time vacation

Who knows what you will find at the other end? Be open for adventure in Ireland, sometimes you will find it in the least expected places!

 

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Planning a trip to Ireland. 20 BIG mistakes most people make

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Ireland Tips For The First Time.

 

 

That’s it!

I hope you enjoyed these Ireland tips and can use some of them when planning your big first trip to this beautiful country.

Remember, if you have any travel tips for Ireland that you would like me to add, please comment below or send me an email. And lastly, if you know of anyone that would love this post as much as you did, then please SHARE!!

 

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