What’s not to love about Ireland! The people are so friendly and laidback. If you like the hustle and bustle of the city, then the capital of Ireland is just one of the places to visit. But the best part, is getting out of the city and exploring the beautiful country side and drinking proper Irish Guinness. If you like the sound of this, then buckle up, because before you book your trip, there are some essential things to know before travelling to Ireland.
Before any trip, you should always research the country, including how to stay safe, the currency, the language and so much more. With these Essential Things to know before travelling to Ireland, we help you have the best holiday, while staying safe and on a budget.
Table of Contents
When to travel
The weather in Ireland is seasonal. During the winter, the weather is cold and wet, but will be the quietest time to travel.
We would always recommend travelling in the shoulder months of March to May or September to October. The weather is ok, with sun and rain, yet tourism is quiet.
Summer months in Ireland are the best for weather, with warm days, with the occasional downpour. But is the busiest time for travel.
You do not require any jabs or vaccinations before travelling to Ireland. However, we might recommend that you are up to date with your booster jabs.
Health care is readily available, should you require medical treatment. Standard over the counter medical supplies such as painkillers, cold and flu remedies etc., can be purchased in pharmacies.
We would recommend obtaining an EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card) before you travel. EHIC cards can only be obtained by European citizens and covers for most medical care and non-emergency treatment.
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Most nationalities will require a visa to enter the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland. To find out more about visa’s and if you require a visa, head over to the Republic of Irelands Immigration Bureau website. For information on Northern Ireland Visa’s, proceed to the Northern Ireland Home Office Website.
If you are a European citizen, you will not require a visa to visit. Also, citizens of Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and South Africa can visit Ireland without obtaining a visa, but can’t take up any work. You can stay in the Republic of Ireland for up to 3 months, and in Northern Ireland 6 months.
Ireland is separated by a border between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is an independent country, whilst Northern Ireland forms part of the UK (United Kingdom). You may need to consider purchasing two currencies if you are to cross the border.
The Republic of Ireland’s currency is the (€) Euro, whilst Northern Ireland uses the (£) Pound.
We would recommend purchasing the currency before travelling to Ireland and always make sure you have enough for your trip and in the event of an emergency. Please check with your bank prior to departure about using a debit/credit card and if any charges will apply. It may turn out that using an ATM or your cards whilst travelling in Ireland may not be that expensive, just as we found out.
Packing is essential when going on holiday, but you have to be smart about what to pack.
Depending on the time of year, you’ll need the right clothes, such as summer, you’ll want nice cool clothing, but in winter, you’ll need warm if not thermal underlayers.
It isn’t just the clothing you need to consider; you’ll need to pack the correct documents such as passport and visa if this is required.
Why not head over to our post on What to Pack for Ireland. In this, we provide an extensive list of all the important things to pack. You can also download, a check list to help you pack the right things and never miss an item.
The official language in Ireland is Irish (Gaelige). Although this is only found to be spoken in pockets in rural Ireland. Majority of Irish nationals speak English and some can only speak a few words of Irish.
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Before any trip to Ireland, you will need to set a budget, this is so you do not overspend, you can keep control of your finances and don’t return home with a hefty bill to pay back.
In our experience, we found that Dublin was expensive, especially when it came to accommodation, yet outside of Dublin, the cost was a little more reasonable.
To get a better idea on budgeting costs, we have included a table to help you to budget.
Ireland Travel Costs
Staying safe in Ireland
Overall, Ireland is a safe place to visit. But it would be wise to continue vigilance at all times.
Always make sure that you keep in contact with a family member or a friend throughout your trip and provide them with your itinerary. If something happens to you while you’re travelling and they don’t hear from you, then your family member or friend can raise the alarm with the authorities.
There are some areas of Belfast where Sectarian is rife. Do like many of the Northern Ireland residents do and avoid these areas especially during Orange marching season in July. This also leads onto researching the safe and unsafe areas of Ireland. You don’t want to be walking through a gang related area risking your life (unless you’re up for an adventure).
Make sure you keep all your personal belongings safe, including your passport, money, important documents, etc., A bum bag is a valuable bit of equipment while travelling! You can keep your belongings in your bum bag, around your waist and beneath your clothing, which will prevent them from being stolen.
Be careful when it comes to tourist scams and tourist traps, do research on any scams or traps that could put you out of pocket or put you in danger.
Drink responsibly! Yes, that’s right, a holiday is a time to have fun and party on a night out. But you don’t want to get so drunk that you can’t make your way home and compromise your safety. Make sure you watch your drink being made and don’t leave your drink unattended. It is still possible to have your drink spiked.
If you are getting a taxi, make sure you book the taxi in advance and make sure a friend or family member has the date and time, including contact details for the taxi firm.
The list really could go on, when it comes to staying safe while travelling to Ireland. Using a common-sense approach, while travelling to Ireland and you will stay safe, but critically you’ll have so much fun.
In our opinion the best way to get around Ireland is via car on a road trip. We did a short road trip to Co Wicklow (County Wicklow) and due to its rural location, a vehicle is a must. But there’s plenty of public transport, connecting with different parts of Ireland. Here are the types of transport available.
There are ferry services between England and Scotland with the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, with easy connections to the city.
The Republic of Ireland has a number of International Airports, including Dublin, Shannon and Cork, whilst Northern Ireland International Airport is located in Belfast.
As we mentioned before, we could not recommend this enough. The road infrastructure in Ireland is fantastic, making travelling around Ireland easily assessable. Rural areas will be challenging to navigate via limited public transport, so a vehicle may become a requirement in some areas.
For more information on hiring a vehicle in Ireland, then check out our review on Sixt car rental.
Dublin has very good public transport connections in and around the city. Driving and parking in the major cities in Ireland and Northern Ireland could be challenging and expensive. You could Park on the outskirts of the city and take the park & ride bus, tram or train into the city, to explore, just as we did when we explored Dublin.
As mentioned previously, public transport could be sparse in some areas, we researched public transport in Co Wicklow and found that public transport would be challenging and opted to hire a vehicle for our trip.
Top places to visit and why
There is so many wonderful places to visit in Ireland. We would recommend, Glendalough, with the Monastic city nearby and the Great Sugarloaf just to name a few.
You can check out our post on our road trip around Co Wicklow and Dublin, for more travel inspiration and to find out why we loved this area so much.
Food and drink
There’s a variety of different cuisines in Ireland, that are warm, hearty and tasty. Here are some of the dishes you’ll find in Ireland.
Full Irish Breakfast
A full Irish breakfast consists of fried bacon, eggs, sausages, tomatoes and mushrooms, accompanied with baked beans, toast and black and white pudding.
Black pudding is made from pigs’ blood traditionally and not to everyone’s taste, whilst white pudding is made from oatmeal, suet, bread, fat, spices and sometimes shredded pork.
This isn’t the healthiest meal with all the fried food, but tastes very nice none the less and best eaten on occasions.
Most Irish families will have their own recipe for soda bread, that’s handed down from generations. Some come in sweet variations, healthy options with the use of seeds and oats and some are made with Guinness. Now the latter sounds tasty.
During cold winters a good warming stew can’t go amiss. Made from Potato which is Ireland staple food, mutton and onions. Some may include carrot and pearl barley.
Boiled bacon and cabbage
We have to say, this doesn’t sound all that exciting, but can be found on many tables in Ireland. As in the name, it is made from boiled bacon, boiled cabbage and boiled potato.
You either love coffee or hate it, but this is no ordinary coffee, this is Irish coffee. Made with Irish whiskey, topped with whipped cream, sounds yum, well you’ll want to get your lips around this one.
We can’t possibly leave off alcohol from this great list of Irish food and drinks. This is the great stuff and best drank in Ireland. We have tried Guinness back home in the UK and it really does not taste as good as having it in Ireland.
Ireland is pretty accepting when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues. The large cities of Dublin, Cork and Belfast, have a good LGBTQ+ community.
It is possible to find, a minority of people who are homophobic, but these tend to be few and far between. Just be mindful of people around you, be respectful and you shouldn’t encounter any issues.
On our trip to Ireland, we didn’t encounter any homophobic behaviour, or abuse, even in the rural area of Ireland.
You will now have a good idea on how to stay safe, how to get around Ireland, how you can budget for your trip and more with these essential things to know before travelling to Ireland. We hope you enjoy Ireland as much as we did and it won’t be long before you’ll want to be visiting again soon. We can’t wait to get back out there and do another road trip around Ireland.
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