You don’t have to look far to find help when planning a trip to Ireland.
Every Tom, Dick, and Patrick will give you their two cents worth on when, where, and what to do in Ireland.
But what about the things you aren’t supposed to do in Ireland?
The no – no’s.
The common mistakes that people (including me) make when planning a trip to Ireland?
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If you are planning a trip to Ireland in the future (when everything gets back to normal in the world of travel) then you are on the right page.
This backward Ireland tips guide will help stop you from making some of the mistakes that we have made on our past trips to Ireland and to help ease you into the Irish culture nice and gently!
Planning a Trip To Ireland. 20 Common Mistakes To Avoid
Ireland is right up there on my list of unique and underrated destinations in the world and it isn’t until you go for yourself you will understand why.
We have visited Ireland both with our kids and with friends numerous times.
It is true what people say about Ireland; it is the balm of the soul. I love the place and if this is your first trip to Ireland I know you will love it too.
I could talk for hours about this beautiful country and its people and I can also give you lots of tips for travel in Ireland that will tell you everything there is to know about the country.
But this time I’m not here to go easy on you. Sorry.
It’s time to get real about Ireland and what its people expect from you.
Nobody likes to look like a fec*kin eejit, so remember this talk when you begin planning your trip to Ireland and you will travel around Ireland feeling secretly smug and confident.
And don’t forget to check out our awesome international checklist for things to do and our post on what to pack for Ireland before you take your big trip!
#1 Not Trying The Fish ‘n’ Chips
Until I visited Ireland with my kids I didn’t know just how delicious the fish and chips were.
Don’t come to Ireland and expect to be on a diet. No way. The food is far too good. Order the fish, chips with tartar sauce and eat them with your fingers. Delicious.
#2 Moaning About The Weather in Ireland
The weather. It’s changeable. If you want lots of warm sunshine then I suggest you visit California.
Ireland is known to have four seasons in one day so be prepared for it!
You can read my post on what to pack for Ireland or if you need some quick tips then I suggest you did as we did and travel with a stylish and lightweight waterproof poncho. They are perfect for when you get caught out unawares
Do not moan about the weather. Leave that to the English (we do it better than anyone). Whinging doesn’t change the fact that it’s pouring down.
Just make sure you add a poncho and an umbrella to your vacation checklist and you’ll be all set.
Remember, the reason Ireland is called the Emerald Isle is because of its forty shades of green – all made possible by the lovely weather variations!
#3 Forgetting Your Bug Spray
So you came to Ireland instead of California – fabulous! Remember though; just because Ireland has rain and is green and lovely it doesn’t mean that there aren’t lots of bugs that bite!
We found around the cliffs of Moher to be especially buggy, so bring a repellant that works.
#4 Being Offended By Swearing
Don’t be offended by how much the Irish folk swear; it’s who they are and what they do. It’s what makes them beautifully special.
When I first visited I’ll admit, I was shocked. But then again I am an English prude and I wasn’t familiar with the many Irish terms.
Know that the word fecking isn’t meant as the same thing as our ‘f” word so try not to visibly flinch when you hear it said about ten thousand times a day.
#5 Leaving A Tip
Unlike America, it is not obligatory to tip in Ireland, in saying that, if you have received good service then 10% is always appreciated.
If you are dining with a party of 6 people then the service charge will probably be included in the bill. Check before you go and put down any extra.
Know that when you buy a drink in a pub in Ireland it is not common practice to tip the bartender, although if the same person has been pouring your drinks all night then a friendly “and one for yourself” (meaning ‘take the price of a drink and put it into your tip jar)’ will never be refused.
#6 Ignoring The Possibility Of Housesitting in Ireland
You are going to LOVE me for this tip.
We have just spent three months house sitting around Europe with our two kids. we estimated that we saved ourselves roughly ten thousand dollars on accommodation.
I’ll say that again. Ten grand.
On our last visit to Ireland, our family spent three weeks house sitting in this gorgeous farmhouse outside Kilkenny and it was truly fabulous.
Honestly, I can’t understand why more people don’t do this!
It’s VERY straightforward: You join by using my exclusive discount code to save yourself 20% by Clicking here. You make a profile and then twice a day you are sent emails (such as the screenshot from my phone below) listing available properties in Ireland!
House sitting is the perfect way to experience a country properly (and for free). I urge you to look into it if you haven’t already. It is the best. I have also enclosed a screenshot of the email alert that I received this morning (and every day) and you can click here to see all the current housesits in Ireland.
Click here to check out the housesits that are available in Ireland RIGHT NOW.
#7 Not Trying The Guinness
There is no way that you can go to Ireland and miss out on the opportunity to savour this iron-rich brew.
Even if you are not a beer drinker.
Having doubts? What if I told you that Guinness not only has high iron content but it helps make your bones stronger, improves your memory and helps with weight management?
There you go.
You’ll be a skinny genius after a couple of pints.
#8 NOT Saving Money in Dublin
Guess what? Seeing the sights in Dublin needn’t cost you the earth!
If you plan on staying in Dublin then you can get The Dublin Pass. It was the best thing we ever bought. It saved us a lot of money (not to mention that this pass kept my kids VERY happy!)
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.
- 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!
Although the initial outlay for the pass may seem a bit pricey you will not (I promise you; I tried) find a better way to save money and see the things worth seeing.
#9 Confusing The Word ‘Sorry’
This is one of my favourites and applies mainly to our American friends.
When you are talking to an Irish person and they don’t hear what you say or they misunderstand you, they will say “sorry?” as a question.
Don’t confuse this for meaning they have done something wrong and they are apologising. They’re not. It’s simply their way of saying “what did ya say?”
“say it again my love, I didn’t quite catch that”
Sorry. The Irish say it a lot. It’s not always an apology.
#10 Not Getting The Best Travel Insurance
I’m not here to tell you about insurance, but I included this tip simply because when we hired a car in Ireland we saved ourselves hundreds of dollars because we had excellent travel insurance.
Make sure you have excellent Ireland travel insurance.
We travelled the world for a year with our kids, and as you can imagine, my husband did stacks of research on which was the best insurance policy. Take my word for it; this company cannot be beaten.
Whichever insurance you have, make sure that car hire excess is included so that you don’t wind up paying for expensive extra charges when in Ireland.
#11 Calling Musicians ‘Buskers’
I’m sharing this Ireland travel tip as it was a mistake I made when I was in Ireland and I was very embarrassed when I was pulled up on it. So, I thought I’d share – in case you do the same thing.
I was in an Irish pub, and there were two fabulous guys playing instruments and entertaining the crowd. After they had finished, I approached them and gushed: “Wow! That was fabulous! I have never heard such talented buskers!’
You could have heard a pin drop in that pub.
As he took a swig of his Guinness, one of the players looked at me straight in the eye and said (kindly, I might add) “madam. We are NOT buskers. We are musicians”
That was me told. Lesson learned.
Here is a little video we made of those very musicians playing in that pub.
You see me at the end (BEFORE I made myself look like a fool!)
#12 Failing To Shake Hands
It is common practice when you meet a local Irish person to shake hands (a more common practice amongst men it seems).
Offer a nice firm handshake in return (no one likes a willy limp handshake, after all) and know that you should expect to shake hands again once you depart. It will be seen as bad manners if you stick your hands in your pocket and walk away from the conversation.
If you are a smoker about to visit Ireland know that you will be standing outside on the pavement – a lot.
In 2004, Ireland became the first country in the world to ban smoking in the workplace, along with no smoking in bars, restaurants, enclosed public places, education facilities, healthcare facilities and on public transport.
However, smoking is still permitted in prison, so if you find yourself in a spot of bother while in Ireland, rest assured that you can still have a fag in jail.
#14 Not Trying The Black Pudding
You cannot visit Ireland without trying the Clonakilty black pudding. It. Is. Divine.
First made in the 1880s with a recipe that has remained a secret to this day, this delicious Irish delicacy is a must-try.
And for those of you concerned about the health benefits of black pudding, know that Clonakilty black pudding does wonders for those with an iron deficiency.
So after a pint of Guinness and a black pudding breakfast, you should be able to return home feeling like Popeye!
# 15 Trying To See Too Much
If you only have a week or ten days in Ireland try your hardest not to cram too much in.
We have all done it. Made an itinerary, stuck to it rigidly and then returned home feeling as though we needed another holiday to get over it.
Pick your excursions carefully and use your time wisely. Only use reputable tour companies that can offer you the maximum experience for the cost.
This gorgeous Cliffs of Moher tour includes a guided walk and an Irish pub lunch, meaning that you get to see a famous site and also experience a local part of Ireland. Click here for details on the Cliffs of Moher tour.
Remember, Ireland isn’t going anywhere.
Best to spend quality time in three or four locations than it is to zip around the country and say you have ‘done’ Ireland.
#16 Not Seeing Enough of Ireland
The opposite of what I am saying above. (Don’t forget, this is an Irish post so I’m allowed to do things differently).
Ireland is one of the most beautiful places in the world. You HAVE to make the most of your time here So put the map down and get out there and do it!
And don’t use money as an excuse not to see lots of things in the capital.
Don’t be too scared to explore. While it is true that the little town down the road might not be mentioned in any of the guidebooks, you might just arrive and discover the best little local pub in Ireland.
The beauty of Ireland is its sense of adventure and if you are to really enjoy this country as it is meant to be enjoyed then get your brave pants on and get off the beaten track.
Unless you have just a weekend in Ireland, there is so much more to see in Ireland than Dublin.
Yes, Dublin is a beautiful city, but there are far fewer touristy places to see while you are in Ireland. Personally, I think Kilkenny is far nicer than Dublin.
Get out and explore the other parts of Ireland – you won’t regret it.
#17 Not Buying A Round In A Bar
If you make friends in Ireland and are asked to go to the pub for a drink know about ‘the round’ system.
The group of friends gather in the bar and the first person will ask everyone ‘what are you having?” (meaning what do you want to drink?). They will then go to the bar, order and pay for everyone’s drinks.
This does not mean that that person is rich and kind and is offering to cough up for everyone’s drinks for the whole evening, no, they were simply the first in to buy ‘ a round’.
When everyone has finished their drink, the ’round’ now moves to the next person in the group who goes to the bar and pays for everyone’s drink. And so the round continues until you are all either off your face or penniless.
Either way, don’t leave before you have bought a round or you might find yourself friendless for the rest of the trip.
#18 Not Hiring A Car
I have heard so many people advise against hiring a car in Ireland because the roads are so narrow and twisty and it is dangerous.
Yes, the roads are narrow, but please don’t let this put you off or you will miss out on some of the best places in Ireland to explore.
Keep the size of your hire car to a minimum; that way it won’t feel so intimidating when you come to parallel park in narrow streets!
We only ever use this company for car hire in Ireland. They found us the best price and were super easy to deal with.
Click here to see how you can save money on car hire in Ireland.
Why do we always use Europcar?
Free Cancellation Up to 48 Hours Before Pickup. We all know how quickly plans can change (especially with the current travel climate). We love that we can cancel at such short notice and pay nothing.
Best Rate Guarantee. Seriously, we are skinflints, and we do our research thoroughly. You won’t find a cheaper deal (the hours that my husband has scrolled through listings proves it!).
Best range of vehicles. For business travel or holiday travel, Europecar cars include economy, intermediate and full-size classes, plus people movers and minivans for those travelling with a group. For a touring holiday or something special, Europcar offers 4WDs, SUVs, and prestige/luxury cars. You get to pick what’s best for you!
Customer care. Of course, my husband will never admit this but driving for the first time in Ireland was daunting! No need to worry. As soon as we turned up to collect our rental car, the staff were extremely patient and thorough. They gave us lots of tips and reassured us (or at least me!) that driving in Ireland was going to be a pleasure. And it was!
Cost. We paid $22 a day for our little car in Ireland and drove it all over the country – it was perfect! For that price, the kids even get to have an extra big portion of fish and chips!
Looking for the BEST Car Hire in Ireland? You just found it! CLICK HERE to find out more!
If you love to travel but could use a few tips on how to do it more often (for a lot less?), then join me!
#19 Ignoring Road Manners
Remember these tips for driving in Ireland and you will be ok.
Drivers in Ireland are generally courteous and it is common practice (especially in rural Ireland) if another car is coming towards you (and the road is too narrow for both of you) for one of you to pull into a farm gate entrance or a layby (a passing place on the road).
The Irish will say thank you for this kind gesture by waving one finger from the steering wheel or flashing their lights.
I can testify that horse riders in the countryside of Ireland are treated with a great deal of respect and kindness. Cars slow down almost to a stopping point when they see horse riders and drive super slowly until the horses have passed safely. Please make sure you do the same.
Related posts That you May Enjoy
Arrive feeling beautiful. 10 Travel essentials for the plane that you will never leave home without again
8 easy airport hacks to make the journey a tad nicer
Housesitting in Europe. How We Saved Ten Grand.
# 20 Forgetting To Drive On The Left
I’m sure you know this already, but in Ireland, they drive on the left. It’s easy to get confused – especially on the narrow countryside roads where there is only room for one car anyway! Stay slow, keep left, and you’ll be fine!
Ready To Start Planning a Trip To Ireland?
So, that’s it. You are done. 20 big fat common mistakes that people usually make when planning a trip to Ireland. What did you think? Have you been to Ireland and made any of these mistakes yourself?
I would love you to comment below or leave me a message so that we can continue to prevent other people from looking like eejits in Ireland – and don’t forget! If you enjoyed this post, then please share it with someone else who might love it too!
Wonderful advice. Ireland is on my bucket list. I will make it there in the next couple of years. Thank you for the tips.
Thank you Maggie – and what a gorgeous name (I might just have to steal it!)
What if you don’t drink? # 1 I never have – I’m a tea- totalar # 2 I take medications that prohibit the use if alcoholic beverages. # 3 what if you are actually a recovering alcoholic? ( hypothetical in my case).
You do drink. You drink tea. Order what each person likes. In your case it is tea. Your order might be “2beers, whiskey, tea, and a diet coke”. When someone else orders for the table they would order….
“2 beers, a whiskey, tea, and diet coke”
Thank you Diane. A wonderful solution and one I should have thought of! (Hmm. You have more patience than me…) 🙂
You can order an ‘Irish Coffee’ and ask the barman to leave out the whiskey (they are quite happy to make it for you)
But don’t order a ‘soda’ (especially in the north) or they’ll think you’re asking for bread)
Perfect! Thanks for the tips Daithi 🙂
Not a problem. Easy enough to order a cola or juice or mineral water at the bar. Contrary to the stereotype propaganda that goes around, not every Irish person drinks heavily, a fair few don’t drink at all, and many of us do not like Guinness at all. Smithwicks is from Kilkenny and is way nicer.
Thank you so much! My husband and I are so excited to her visiting Ireland! It has been on FB our bucket list!
Hello Liz. I thoroughly enjoyed your “Do nots” article on travel to Ireland. How are the roads and drivers for cyclists?
We never cycled in Ireland, so I couldn’t comment but judging by how the drivers were for horse riding (we did a lot of riding when we were there) they were super courteous!
Hiya, I’ve been living in Ireland my whole life so here’s a few tips. When riding a bike on a road, cycle with the traffic. In Ireland drivers have to leave atleast a meter between the car and the cyclist and more than half of the time the driver will leave a good bit of space if they are over-taking you. Watch out for tractors (there’s a lot of them here) I would recommend pulling into the side when a tractor is passing as they carry dangerous machinery, if you are on a country road hop onto the ditch if a tractor is coming your way. Also watch out for mud on the roads as it can be slippy
This is brilliant! Thanks so much, Susan!
I love the part where is says,
“I bought an a I tell everyone I meet to do the same. Here’s why!”
In part 16. Don’t know what it means, Don’t know what you bought, but you sure sound enthusiastic about it!
Hi. She was talking about buying the Dublin Pass. She said if you’re staying in Dublin it’s worth it. She didn’t elaborate on what all it covers unless I missed it.
I agree with most…but as far as buying a round for the far…?? It would cost a freaking fortune and I’d have been in dire straights after the first time…there was more then a dozen people!
Haha! TRUE! Iv’e never had more than three friends so I wouldn’t know about that!
We live in Canada, but Irish. My father ordered a ’round’ and he was so put out (this is forty years )later!) that people did not return the favour. There had to be over 20 people at the table, so if they had he wouldn’t have finished them anyway. I tried to explain to him that this was a cultural difference (He was only trying to make himself sound generous, by the way) . And in smaller parties it is something that we Irish do. (Usual caveat -check out the local culture first.) I have great memories of Dublin and its people.
I think one might add – don’t expect to enjoy outside seating anywhere if you’re NOT a smoker. Be prepared to be overwhelmed by smokers outside every pub. In the US we enjoy sitting outside and enjoying a drink. In Ireland it’s all but impossible if you’re bothered by smoke. They need a huge anti smoking campaign. Loved Ireland-hated the constant smoke.
Good point Vicki! Thanks for the input!
Great advice and humour Liz and Sonny s video was lovely xx Vera s here on 29th 😉
Fabulous! Say hello to her Marilynn and a big hug to you too X
We visited Ireland a couple of years ago and loved it! We’re planning a return trip next year. Your tips are great, but would add to make time to talk to the Irish. Some of our best memories of that trip was just spending time with the locals, sharing a pint or coffee and listening to their stories. They love to talk about their lives, village, and country. The Irish are truly some of the friendliest people we’ve met in our many travels.
Absolutely! I second that! The Irish people were some of the most down to earth and friendliest people we met while traveling! Thanks for your comment Sylvia 🙂
Excellent tips! I’ll add a couple more, if you like.
On my first trip to Ireland, I had breakfast near a table of people who were not happy that skim milk, fat free half and half, and turkey sausage were not available as choices.
As you said, “Don’t come to Ireland and expect to be on a diet.” Part of the traveling experience is using your sense of taste, don’t miss out!
On that same trip, and in fact in the same hotel, I had the pleasure of trying a soup I had never before encountered. It was a potato, leek, and coconut milk soup that simply took my breath away. I was so in awe of the combination of flavours, I asked the waitress/publican to see if the chef would share his recipe with me. Out of the kitchens came a lovely man beeming ear to ear and friendly as anyone I ever met. He was so tickled that I enjoyed his creation and happily shared his recipe with me.
So don’t be afraid to fall in love with food, don’t be afraid to ask for a recipe, but if the chef says no, don’t be offended either; he or she might be too busy, or it might be a signature dish with family secrets. Either way, asking for a recipe is a wonderful way to compliment a chef, and it’s important to be gracious with either response.
The other traveling tip I have for Ireland, is don’t be in a hurry to get there; wherever your there is. Take your time, enjoy the views, it’s really why you’re visiting Ireland in the first place, so make it your first priority. If you find yourself stuck in an Irish traffic jam, surrounded by sheep or cows, take a few pictures to show friends what fun it is. Don’t worry the livestock is polite, they won’t scratch your vehicle, but you might want to be careful not to kick up any piles as you leave.
Thank you so much, Kimberly! This is wonderful advice and thank you for sharing! :))
I actually just got back from Ireland and the one thing I will comment on is the smoking. There is smoking literally everywhere. While it is banned inside, in nice weather, the doors and windows are all open to let in the air (due to no air conditioning) and the smoke is an ever present annoyance. To be quite honest, I was shocked at how many people did smoke!! It seemed to be far more common than here in America……where I live anyway.
The rest is so true. This is a beautiful country that is so underrated. The people are some of the best I’ve ever met and the countryside is STUNNING. There is simply too much to see in just one visit.
Thank you Kari, yes, I noticed that too. it was actually worse in England though… Coming from NZ where it seems not that many people smoke, it was as if everyone was at it! It’s funny, growing up in the 70’s it was weird to NOT see someone smoking so I don’t know why it was such a big shock to me!
I’m leaving for my first trip to Ireland in 2 weeks…….can’t wait! thanks for the tips, esp. the one about swearing…ha, will bug spray be still needed in september? maybe i will buy some there, i live in Wisconsin, i’m used to it, we have lots of flying bugs this time of year here.
Have a wonderful time Sara! Late summer, early autumn can still see mozzies – especially around marshy areas. September is a gorgeous time to visit – have fun and let me know what the bug situation was like! x
We went to Ireland for the first time in June. It was such a lovely place and balm for the soul is so true! One little thing I wish I’d known before is how laid back the waitstaff is almost everywhere. In the US, they will pop by when you’ve said no more to refills and ask if you’re ready for the check. They wait a very long time in Ireland and a few times we finally asked. They are just that laid back and unconcerned with moving you along. We enjoyed sitting and visiting with our adult kids but we might have moved along sooner a few meals had we known it’s not rude to ask for the check. 🙂 I hope we don’t wait too long to visit again!
Yes, you’re right – the Irish are super laid back (very similar to New Zealand) Sounds as though you had a lovely time! Thanks for sharing with me 🙂
This was a great post and definitely helpful! If you ever get the chance to visit us here in the American Southeast, a lot of these same rules apply (like hand-shaking and making friends with strangers and saying ‘sorry’ meaning ‘please repeat that’)! I didn’t realize that! Knowing some of these things make a trip abroad seem a lot less intimidating! Thank you!
Thank you, Caitlyn! I think you will feel quite at home in Ireland:))
Loved this info but would add Northern Ireland..Only 2 hours away from Dublin. Lots to see and do.Enjoy our whole island as it is all beautiful and welcoming.
Thanks for your comment, next time Jess we will make sure we get to you!
Jess, “yes” there are very nice things to see and do in Northern Ireland, but what a backwards and mentally challenged “land, country” or whatever one wants to call it. Traveling through the streets of Belfast it looked like a war zone with walls, political graffiti, barbed wire and curfews – I thought I was in Berlin when the Wall still existed. The petty fighting and grudges held by residents there, based on religious beliefs, governmental beliefs, you name it, are pounded into the children’s heads and they grow up with hatred and continue the cycle with their children. Too bad since it could be a more beautiful place to visit.
Not sure when you visited Northern Ireland Greg, but it’s not like that. Yes there is still some animosity in a very small minority of places but the majority of us are not ‘backwards and mentally challenged’. There are still murals and walls partly to display the history of the place but you’ll find that the communities are more closely linked than you think and most will joke about sectarianism with each other (not necessarily with tourists).
I would recommend giving Northern Ireland a try, its beautiful- Belfast, Derry, Giants Causeway and all of the coast are breathtaking.
Northern Ireland is a beautiful country.but you are talking about the past .come and visit N.ireland and I bet you will be pleasantly surprised ..see ya
As an Irish person these tips were spot on, brilliant! 😂
One thing I would also recommend is having a light sense of humour and a thick skin!! Irish love having a slag with eachother and not taking anything or ANYONE seriously ☘️ Maybe try to check out GAA, our national sport too! Especially around August/ September time when the county finals are playing .. the streets / pubs are buzzing and county colours everywhereee !!
Great post ❤️ Fáilte romhat chuig Eirinn 💚
Loved reading your tips, and envy all your travels with your family! We were so fortunate to visit Wales, England, and Ireland in 2000. All were beautiful countries, but I found Ireland magical! We were fortunate to stay in Dublin with my brother’s in-laws, and even got to visit the Irish White house and meet the President! I loved seeing Cashel where my great-grandmother was born, and visiting Cork and Limerick. I could have stayed forever…and the Guinness Factory, my first taste reminded me of motor oil (HA) but I couldn’t stop drinking it! If only we could enjoy it in the U.S., as the canned stuff doesn’t even come close. It was the trip of a lifetime for us. Thanks for sharing Liz!
Thanks so much, Sherry, Ireland is just gorgeous, isn’t it? It reminded us of home (New Zealand) in so many ways – apart from the Guinness! I also thinks it makes a huge difference when you get to stay with a local – they always give you the best tips!
Ps: I made you a private video and emailed it to you – please don’t think I’m a weird stalker – I am – but regardless of that it is something I like doing for new subscribers to the blog!
Better late than never as they say-we just returned from our first 2 week trip to Ireland on November 2 & I’m just now reading your blog! We had a truly magical trip to Ireland and loved learning about our genetically ancestral country! We actually ended up doing everything that you suggested with the exception of planning too much – I realized right away that was the case, so we picked the highlights and scratched the rest of the days itinerary to savor and soak in every experience! We enjoyed it so much, including the narrow road driving, that we are seriously considering returning permanently!
Sounds as though you had an amazing trip Robyn! Oh…I just love Ireland…there is something magical about that place that stirs the soul; I will be super envious of you making it your home (although New Zealand takes some beating and has quite similar scenery) Let me know if you do emigrate (are you from the US?) I always like talking to ex-pats 🙂
We’re hoping to get to Ireland this summer. So many spots we want to see! Unfortunately, due to my husband job, he can’t choose vacation time until March for the summer. I’m afraid we’ll have trouble finding accommodations.
No. You’ll be absolutely fine. We left everything until the last minute and to be honest we got better deals by doing so. Just try not to panic – take a deep breath and start planning Jackie :)) — Exciting!! (let me know when you come back how you went on). liz
Here are another good manners driving tip. If you find yourself driving downhill on a single track road it is good manners to pull-in and let the vehicle coming up the hill proceed. You might also note the same’unofficial’ rule applies in rural Scotland, Wales and England.
Ohh yes! I should have known that growing up in Cornwall in England where the lanes are diddy! Thank you Charles, I appreciate it! 🙂
I’m trying to plan a trip to Ireland for either 2021 or 2022. Thanks for the advice. I do have a question about food though. I have some sever food allergies, is it rude to ask what’s in something if it’s an unusual dish or should I try to stick to foods that I know for sure are safe? Thanks! I can’t wait to get to Ireland. My grandfather’s grandparents came from Ireland to the US and I want to learn as much as I can about that side of my heritage.
I don’t think that it would be rude in any way at all 🙂 The Irish people are so warm and friendly that they would be more than happy to help you choose dishes. The food in Ireland is delicious and I would hate for you to miss out, so YES! Go ahead and ask Eileen!
I am so excited for you! Are you travelling with family or on your own? I would love to know your plans and if there is anything else I can help you with please don’t hesitate to ask (I thought that it was just us Brits who were too polite to ask stuff??!! haha!) Thanks for reaching out Eileen and I look forward to hearing about your plans.
I’ve been to Ireland twice. Once with a friend and once alone. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about Ireland. Your tips are spot on. I always say “sorry” when I don’t hear someone- I loved reading that part. According to Ancestry.com I’m 33% Irish lol but I always say I’m sure it’s 100%. I just want to say while I enjoyed your tips, your kind responses to everyone were my favorite. You seem just lovely! I will find more of your posts to read.
Thank you so much Sheila, I appreciate you taking the time to write such a lovely comment and your words were so kind – it means a lot to me.
My daughter tells everyone she is Irish (even though she was born in Bath in England?!) She claims that because her Great Grandmother was half Irish that she can “feel” the Irish blood running through her veins! I adore Ireland…everything about it stirs something deep but somehow I can never seem to find ‘just the right word’ to describe what it is (maybe we should keep returning until we find it?!)
Have a wonderful day Sheila and thank you once again for taking the time to reach out 🙂 Liz x
Hello Liz, I’ve only been there once and that was way back in ’85, I chaffuered my Mother and Aunt around. We flew into Shannon Airport, and oh my goodness, I couldn’t believe how green it was and how many shades, just beautiful from the air.
We were there 10 days and of course tried to see too much, I drove up the west coast and back down the east. But had a great time, I’m hoping to get back one more time while I can still walk around. We always stayed in B&B’s, it was a great way to actually meet some of the kind folk who live there. Visited a relative in a little town called Molly, I believe it was in County Roscommon. Driving on the left side of the road was a bit strange, but driving a car with the steering wheel on the right and shifting with me left hand took a bit to get used to. Well thanks for the tips, anyone going to the Eire should definitely read them, take care now!
Thank you so much David – your trip sounds as though it was wonderful. What fantastic memories – it sounds as though the country made as big an impression on you as it did me. 🙂
I am sure that you will make it back there and when you do it will be all the more exciting because you have waited so long!
Take care David and thank you once again for taking the time to share your lovely Ireland experiences.
I also agree with most. We did a 28-day road trip around the coast of Ireland. The customs and immigration officer at Dublin airport asked me what the hell are you going to do in Ireland for 28 days. That made me worried especially if you can drive from Dublin to Belfast in 2 hours. At the end of the 28 days, I felt we could do with at least 4 more days. Halfway through our trip, I thought there just can’t be anything new or exciting to see because it was so overwhelming up to that point. But Ireland did not fail to be an excellent experience for the entire trip. Your item number 15 “Trying To See Too Much” is important and I suggest you spend more time in Ireland or plan multiple trips.
We mainly made use of Airbnb accommodation and our best stay was on a farm in Wexford. My suggestion is to engage with your host, they are friendly people and likes to chat as they are a nation with a rich history.
Another high point was the annual celebration of Irish music, song, and dance. Don’t miss it if you can work it into your plan.
The West Coast of Ireland includes some of Ireland’s most iconic sights and is a must on a short visit but the east coast is beautiful with a completely different vibe.
Ireland should be on every traveler’s bucket list
Thanks so much for this wonderful insight – I laughed when you said the customs officer asked what the hell you were going to do for 28 days?! That’s the trouble when we stay in the same place for too long, we forget to appreciate where we live…
Thanks so much Gert, your trip sounded amazing!
A couple of things NOT to do:
Don’t announce(in a New York, Texas or wherever) accent that you’re Irish. The chances are no-one will actually say anything but we do sort of think “I am – you’re not”
Don’t expect automatic refills on your coffee – you pay per cup.
Try to avoid singinmg ‘Danny Boy’, ‘I’ll take you home again, Kathleen’, ‘Mother Machree’ and similar – we actually HATE those (and none of them are Irish anyway – even ‘Danny Boy’ – that was written by an Englishman).
Republican in Ireland does NOT mean the same thing as in the US.
‘Crack’ (which was originally a pure Belfast expression that was adopted into Irish as ‘craic’) has nothing to do with drugs – it’s good company and conversation
This was so funny. I can’t wait to visit. Who knew Guinness had iron?
Great suggestions from someone who obviously gets Ireland. So many English people (who don’t have Irish relatives) miss out on their neighbour to the west but like Scotland it is familiar but different. As to the bugs at the Cliffs of Moher, consider yourself honoured. Irish bugs only get to bite when it’s not windy – so it’s a rare thing to not have a windy day at the Cliffs of Moher, so consider yourself honoured! Most also are midges, so evening in early Autumn is the danger time. Great work and hopefully when this pandemic is over, you can come back and visit us again. Try the new Irish Whiskey and brewing industry to keep a smile on your face!
Thank you, Patrick. It is an honour to have the approval of an Irishman! I cannot WAIT to return to Ireland, my aim is to see every season in Ireland. Thanks so much for your comment and have a lovely day, Liz 🙂
I’ve been to Ireland twice. Your tips were great! My advice would be to always ask the locals where to go or eat or listen to music. When you ask people who live there, you might find some very hidden gems. We once asked locals what pub they would go to. They told us and when we got there, the sign was all faded and the outside of the place was very unappealing. We opened the door, and, absolutely beautiful! Dublin is a good destination, but the smaller cities are far more enjoyable!
Thank you, Mary, this is fabulous advice! Thank you for sharing 🙂
Hi Liz, just a hint for beginners trying Guinness for the first time and finding it a wee bit…well..sharp. Ask the barman for small drop of blackcurrant juice in it. A Black on black. I do it all the time and I’m Irish and have lived here all my life! However I try not to stand too near a serious Irish Guinness drinker when ordering. These boyos can judge by depth of head,creaminess etc the taste before touching their lips. Go into a serious Guinness pub the discussion can be how clean the lines are, where is the keg situated as regards distance you think weather is our only conversation…. Nah!!
Fabulous advice Kate! Thanks so much! Liz x
My husband and I are planning our first trip to Ireland next year (2022). Can you suggest a tour group or company? Thanks.
Don’t call anyone “cute”. My first trip over I told a relative that their daughter was “so cute” which in American English means adorable. In Irish English it is , I think, short for acute, a slur which means cunning or dishonest! Fortunately my relative realized I wasn’t denigrating her beautiful little one!
Great tip! Thank you! 🙂
Hello Liz, my daughter and I are planning a trip next year (June 2022) to visit Paris, London and Ireland. Any tips you can give for an adult that uses a wheelchair for mobility?
This has been my lifelong dream to visit Ireland and hopefully we will be able to!!
Thank you so much for reaching out to me Marcia Ann, your trip sounds as though it will be a dream come true…travelling with your daughter will be magical. Unfortunately, I do not have the experience to give advice but I think you will find this article helpful:https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/trip-planning/travelers-with-disabilities Please let me know how your trip goes, I would love to hear more from you both!
You should have added that you shouldn’t accept the rental car company’s offer for an upgrade to a larger vehicle! They pushed the “comfort” factor, but disregarded the petrol prices and narrow roads!
That’s a great point Diana, thank you!
Most of the list of “mistakes” are pretty lame TBH. For a start there are thousands of smokers in Ireland so I doubt that they would find it “hilarious” that someone would want to smoke in Ireland. Also given that not being able to smoke in a pub is very widespread in the world no visitor would be surprised that it is also in Ireland. Not using the word “busker”. A couple of pretentious types might not like it but the word is common in Ireland. Just look at “Sean with a busking update from Grafton Street” where a guy with a strong Dublin accent talks about the buskers in Grafton Street.
I’m sorry that you thought the post was “lame” Peter. I hope that you find what you are looking for elsewhere. Have a nice day. Liz
100% agree with the car hire. I can’t imagine we would have enjoyed our full tour of Ireland (up to and through Scotland, too) if we didn’t drive it. My hubs was a champ driving on the wrong side of the road, on the wrong side of the car, and shifting with his left hand! Finding many lesser known, uncrowded ruins, abbeys, and villages was the BEST!! We were completely alone, with the exception of a few cows or sheep, at many of them. That being said, the car hire was the only issue we ran in to. I ordered and paid for it online before we left the USA and got a great deal. Unfortunately, the clerk at check in took complete advantage of language differences and ended up charging us double, even though he promised the ‘extras’ he was ‘including’ would “…not cost more than already paid”. What he meant was that it would cost about that same amount again, but he said it in a way he knew could be explained away as a language barrier. We fought the charge and didn’t win, but we will never use that carrier again!
That’s annoying Maureen, I’m glad that you didn’t let it taint your holiday. Thanks so much for sharing!
We are planning a trip to Ireland next year when after our twins graduate from high school. These tips are great and will be very helpful, thanks for publishing them. We have a week to spend in Ireland (and another week in England) and our strategy is to fly into Dublin and spend a day there and then stay in Dingle for 3 days and then the Cork area for 3 days. We plan to make day trips from those 2 bases. We realized there is no way to cover everything in a week, so we felt just enjoying the people, food and culture would be a wonderful way to experience Ireland.
Sounds wonderful Ron. “we felt just enjoying the people, food and culture would be a wonderful way to experience Ireland”
Spot on. Have a fabulous time!
Our first trip to Ireland was in 2001 and it seemed EVERYONE smoked INSIDE in every bar and cafe – were just gearing up to “no smoking” in New Zealand and it was a shock. When we returned in 2010, we could not believe the difference; it seemed Ireland had embraced the smoking ban even more than at home.
As we are planning another trip, next year, driving a car, does anyone recommend either booking accommodation or not booking? B n B’s or pubs? Hiring a campervan (I wonder about the narrow roads with those)?
Oh and please don’t miss the Giants’ Causeway in the north – a really impressive natural phenomenon with a whimsical Irish story.
All great tips! My only thought is please don’t ever call a musician a busker. Even being an amateur musician takes a dedication and level of diligence that makes the term ‘busker’ insulting. In any and every country.
Thank you so much for this post, and I really enjoyed all of the comments. On a trip from the USA my parents and I had 5 days to see London and whatever else we could fit in. We spent the first 3 days in London (not enough time), and rented a car to visit a friend in Birmingham. After seeing the friend there was no reason to stay longer so we decided to drive to Wales (Americans driving manual on the “wrong” side of the road, unable to get out of the round-a-bouts was hilarious). We just followed the signs for Wales stopping at interesting things along the way, and after crossing a bridge we ended up at a bed-n-breakfast in Holyhead, Wales. It was a great place. While we were checking in my mom spotted a brochure that said, “Ferry to Dublin”. She picked it up and asked the person checking them in if that was a possibility, and they said, “Yes”. The next day was Father’s Day, so we got up early and caught the ferry to Dublin. It was awesome! To call it a “ferry” is a bit of a misnomer because some of them are like cruise ships. One day was not enough in Dublin, but I agree with you that the City Tour Bus is a great option. We took the ferry back to Holyhead that night, but it definitely helped me fall in love with Dublin. I hope to go back with more time in the great country of Ireland.
Thank you so much for sharing this story Mel, what a wonderful adventure you had! I hope that you are able to get back to Ireland some time and when you do please tell me all about it! (And I’m so glad to hear that you aren’t still whizzing around that roundabout in Wales Hehehe!)
I’m glad I came across your blog, it definitely answered quite a few questions. My friend and I are planning our 1st trip for possibly September 2023 or October 2023. So thank you very much.
This was a wonderful list, full of great tales and helpful tips! I’ve to be in Ireland for 2 weeks for work and visiting some family I’ve not seen in a longtime, so I shall need this post as a reference. 🙂
My husband and I will be visiting Ireland in July 2023 but will be on a cruise ship. I know we have day stops in Dublin, Belfast and Cork. Any suggestions on must see locations at each port? My husband wants to go to a museum about Titanic history in Belfast. Thanks for any help you can provide and thanks for the tips!