Start planning your perfect trip to Ireland with these easy tips and tricks. These tried and true recommendations will help make your Ireland vacation full of adventure and memories.
While our thoughts to turn Ireland in March because of St. Patrick’s Day, the Emerald Isle is a terrific vacation spot throughout the year. Whether you define Ireland as the Republic (an independent country) or as Northern Ireland (part of the U.K.), we have some tips and recommendations for planning your perfect trip to Ireland.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the world was still under a variety of social distancing restrictions. Check with individual businesses and destinations to see what is currently open and restrictions (reservations, masks, capacity restrictions, etc.) that apply.
Planning Your Perfect Trip to Ireland: Easy Tips & Tricks
If you can't get to Ireland anytime soon, you can let a little bit of Ireland come to you with a visit to the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco. Or learn the secrets to making an Irish Coffee at home.
The Buena Vista lays claim to America’s first take on Irish coffee. People come for the restaurant’s reliable American fare but also come for the signature Irish coffee. Let’s take a look at the history of this cocktail and how it came to be a part of mixology history.
This Irish whiskey cocktail uses bright and tart lemon juice, some sweet honey, and the bite of tonic water for something you could sip on all day. The River Boyne Fizz is perfect for a day by the pool, chillin’ on your deck and dreaming of when you can visit Ireland.
Renting a car and driving in Ireland is one of the best ways to explore the country, especially if you want to discover a few off-the-beaten-path gems. But it also takes some getting used to, especially if you are not used to driving on the left. Here are some tips for driving in Ireland
Dublin’s excellent collection of bookstores is an outgrowth of its literary history. Dublin is a UNESCO designated city of literature and it’s full of libraries and literary sites. These well-preserved traditions have fertilized an environment that is conducive to ideas…and there’s no better place to find new ideas than at a bookshop.
This guide will share why each store is unique and you can plot your own bookstore tour using Google Maps.
There are a variety of explanations (legends) circulating about the origins of the colorful Georgian doors of Dublin. There are two that are the most plausible, that it was in conscientious objection to British rule, and that it was an easy way to find your way home after a few too many pints at the local pub.
Museum dining can truly be an expression of art and culture, adding to the tourism experience. The Kitchen Café at the Galway City Museum in Ireland offers fresh, local, quality food prepared with a variety of international flavors. Coinciding with museum hours, the restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday for breakfast and lunch, and on Sundays from Easter through the end of September. Closed Mondays. No dinner service.
The Galway City Museum is free and definitely worth 2-3 hours of exploration.
About 30 minutes south of Dublin, the Powerscourt Estate is located in County Wicklow, also called the Garden of Ireland. While Dublin offers many cosmopolitan attractions, from theater to dining, and even wine bars, Powerscourt offers what many travelers think of when picturing Ireland: the vibrant green countryside and incredible views.
The Ritz Carlton Powerscourt is at the center of this estate. Beyond its spa, the five-star hotel has plenty more to offer including a Gordon Ramsay Restaurant (the only one in Ireland) and incredibly scenic walking trails for those visitors who want to experience the Irish countryside on foot or by bike. An active day is a perfect excuse to retreat back to the spa afterward.
The cliffs of Moher are one of if not the most visited attractions in the whole of Ireland. Their distinctive outline graces web articles and travel magazines as the quintessential Irish landscapes and a stop to admire their windswept beauty is a staple of any good Ireland itinerary.
Visiting the cliffs is easy and a highlight for many, however, weather conditions and crowds can hinder your experience. This guide will help you make the most of your time at the cliffs.
Sceilg Mhichíl, also known as Skellig Michael, is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Ireland. Built on an island called Great Skellig, it's located 15 kilometers west of County Kerry. The site was inscribed in 1996 as a cultural and religious structure, particularly linked with the Christian religion. The site consists of an early monastic complex that is situated on a steep rocky island that is difficult to access and remote.
Situated along the northern-most section of the Wild Atlantic Way, a road winding up through some of the most breathtaking coastal views in Ireland, Donegal is everything that you imagine Ireland to be. If coastal views are what you are looking for there are miles upon miles of rugged Atlantic coastline. If you are more interested in quaint Irish villages, or ancient castles, there are plenty.
The Seafari cruises through Kenmare Bay where you will be able to see wildlife on the coastline of the Iveragh Penisula. From eagles, goats, and the largest seal colony in Ireland it is an adventure you need to experience.
Clonmacnoise is an ancient monastic site dating back to the mid-6th century AD. It was founded by St. Ciaran around 544 AD and became a major center of learning, religion, craftsmanship, and trade during the Golden Age of Learning in Ireland (roughly 6th through 9th century). Scholars from all over Europe visited the monastery during this time period. Because of this, several famous historical texts were written here as well, particularly in the 11th and 12th centuries.
For many, Tralee is the gate to Kerry. As Tralee is one of the only cities in the area with a train station, Tralee is the end of the line for many Kerry travelers. But did you know that there is a lot to do in this beautiful city?
Ireland's Ancient East encompasses 17 counties and has hundreds of attractions ranging from Neolithic sites, to castle and covers over 5000 years of Irish history. This makes Ireland’s Ancient East more of a touring region rather than a touring route like the Wild Atlantic Way.
The region has been divided into three very unique areas: the Historic Heartlands, the Land of 500 Dawns, and the Celtic Coast.
The Aran Islands are remote, rocky, and barren. There are also two smaller islands in the archipelago – Inishmaan (Inis Méain) and Inisheer (Inis Oírr). After time in the busy hubs of Ireland cities and attractions, the remoteness and rugged beauty of the Aran Islands may appeal to your sense of adventure.
Located in two old seed warehouses, the Malmaison Belfast has retained some of the original features, including iron pillars, beams, and carved stone gargoyles. The boutique hotel has 64 luxury rooms and two suites. The rooms feature mood lighting, flat-screen plasma televisions, upscale toiletries in generous sizes (you’re encouraged to take them with you), and FREE wifi. Giving a hat tip to Belfast’s maritime connection, the Malmaison Belfast features subtle shipbuilding décor features in its common areas.
Are you excited to plan your Ireland vacation?
Here are a few other things to keep in mind:
The Republic of Ireland uses Euros as its currency, Northern Ireland uses British Pounds. There are some ATM machines that let you choose which to dispense.
The four major airports in Ireland are Dublin, Galway (Shannon), Cork, and Knock, with smaller regional airports around the country. If you are returning to the United States from Dublin, you will clear U.S. customs and immigration at the Dublin Airport. The international airport in Northern Ireland is in Belfast.
Traffic in both Irelands drives on the left.
Get in the spirit of your Ireland vacation by reading up on the country before heading off. Sure, you’re going to need a guidebook, but why not dig deep into Irish culture, family, and traditions with a novel about Ireland. Our book recommendations:
Angela’s Ashes – A Pultizer Prize-winning memoir by Brooklyn-born Frank McCourt about growing up with his Irish immigrant parents.
Circle of Friends – Prolific author Maeve Binchy sets many of her books in Ireland. This one is set in Dublin and Knockglen.
A Shameful Murder – First in a series of murder mysteries set in 1920s Ireland by author Cora Harrison.
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