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Ireland Travel Guide

Ominous bogs, majestic mountains and charming fairytale-like villages have made the Republic of Ireland one of the most enchanting and mysterious travel destinations in Western Europe. And while Dublin is undoubtedly Ireland’s most famous harbour, the country’s cultural and geographic allure extends far beyond the borders of the city’s cobblestone streets. 

Within the city, visitors are immersed in medieval architecture and a thriving nightlife with traditional pubs that will have you on your feet and dancing the Irish jig after just a few drinks. However, those who venture beyond the city will find whole landscapes of breathtaking rock formations and a lush countryside riddled with the ruins of medieval castles.

Ireland is packed full of incredible scenery

From road-tripping the Wild Atlantic Coast to trekking through one of the country’s breathtaking national parks, The Emerald Isle promises grand adventures through diverse cultural and geographical landscapes, all within a relatively small country with short travel distances.

Within this Ireland travel guide, we will explore everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip to the Emerald Isle and experience everything this magical country has to offer.

Facts & Information

  • Size – 84,421 km sq.
  • Population – 5.127 million
  • Official Language – English and Irish (Gaeilge)
  • Major Airports – Dublin Airport, Cork Airport, Shannon Airport, Knock Airport
  • Time Zone – Greenwich Mean Time(GMT) in summer; Irish Standard Time (IST) in winter
  • Nickname – The Emerald Isle
  • Currency – Euro (€)

Ireland Destinations

  • Dublin  – As the capital city, Dublin is Ireland’s political and cultural hub, making it a great destination for its blend of lively nightlife and historical attractions.
  • Donegal  – Ireland’s northernmost county, Donegal, is the perfect destination for a more rugged Irish experience. Here, you will find beautiful beaches, coastal cliffs, and small traditional towns and villages.
  • Cork  – Blending its culinary reputation with medieval architecture and castles, Cork is the perfect Irish destination for visiting foodies and history buffs alike.
  • Galway  – A colourful coastal city, Galway is a cultural haven with a welcoming art community, lively festivals, and a world-class pub and bar scene.
  • Killarney  – Nestled within a national park of the same name, Killarney is famous for its untouched Irish landscapes, which include picturesque lakes, evergreen hills, and towering mountains that reward the best hiking trails in Ireland.
Dublin is very popular with tourists

Things To Do in Ireland

  • Explore Dublin  – Tour the city or go on a pub crawl while visiting iconic historical landmarks that include the Guinness Storehouse, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and Kilmainham Gaol.
  • Go on a hike  – The Irish countryside is filled with breathtaking landscapes, perfect for a nature walk. Some of the best hiking trails can be found along the Cliffs of Moher and in Killarney National Park.
  • Road trip the coast  – Spanning 2,500 km along Ireland’s western coast, the Wild Atlantic Way is one of the most beautiful road trips in the world. While it can take days to complete the entire route, smaller sections can be completed for a shorter trip.
  • Tour a castle  – Ireland is home to over 30,000 castles and castle ruins. The Rock of Cashel, King John’s Castle, and Kilkenny Castle are just some of the most impressive of these fortifications that are open to visitors.
  • Visit an Irish pub  – When in Ireland, you need to visit a traditional Irish bar. These cultural landmarks can be found in every village and city and offer great spots for enjoying traditional music over Irish whiskey or beer.

Where to Stay in Ireland

  • Galway – The best area to stay in for food and culture.
  • Dublin – The best area to stay in for historical landmarks and nightlife.
  • Limerick – The best area to stay in for medieval architecture and history.
  • Killarney – The best area to stay in for nature and hiking.
  • Cork – The best area to stay in for history and natural scenery.
  • Westport – The best area to stay in for small-town coastal charm.

Ireland Tourist Attractions

  • Cliffs of Moher – Hike through the UNESCO Global Geopark while admiring beautiful coastal views of 213-metre-high cliffs.
  • Bend of the Boyne – Explore five thousand-year-old monuments at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The most prominent landmark is the Newgrange Passage grave, which dates back to the Neolithic era and is older than the Egyptian pyramids.
  • Kylemore Abbey – Tour a 1,000-acre estate in the Connemara region of Galway County. Home to a Benedictine order of nuns, Kylemore Abbey, promises a relaxing day exploring gardens, woodlands, and churches.
  • Killarney National Park – Uncover Ireland’s untouched landscapes in Killarney National Park, where you will find rolling evergreen hills, historical buildings, and the tallest mountain in Ireland.
  • Rock of Cashel – Explore one of the most impressive heritage sites in Ireland at the Rock of Cashel. Perched atop a limestone outcrop in the Golden Valley, the complex consists of a 15th-century castle, a 13th-century cathedral, and a 12th-century tower.

National Parks in Ireland

  • Killarney National Park – Ireland’s oldest national park, Killarney National Park, is famous for its diverse landscapes and ecosystems, abundant wildlife, and historical landmarks.
  • Ballycroy National Park –Protecting one of the last remaining blanket bog systems in western Europe, Ballycroy National Park is home to unique grassland and lake ecosystems that contain a variety of endemic wildlife species.
  • Burren National Park – Boasting a more rugged landscape, Burren National Park is found in West Ireland and features beautiful hiking trails through its limestone formations, woodlands, and caves.
  • Connemara National Park – Set near the northwestern Irish coast, Connemara National Park is arguably the most diverse, with picturesque landscapes ranging from rugged mountains and bogs to sweeping woodlands and grasslands.

Best Time to Visit

  • Summer (June to August) – Peak season in Ireland. The summer season is the best time to visit for weather and outdoor adventures, but it suffers from overcrowding and higher accommodation costs.
  • Spring (March to May) – Light showers result in lush landscapes with colourful hues, which, when combined with fewer tourists, results in spring being one of the best times to visit Ireland.
  • Fall (September to November) – The fall shoulder season is a great time to visit Ireland for local harvest festivals, whale watching, and exploring popular landmarks free from the crowding of the summer season.
  • Winter (December to January) – While accompanied by colder weather and shorter days, the winter can be a great time to visit Ireland and tour popular tourist cities. The skies are also at their clearest in the winter, making it a great time to stargaze or see the northern lights.
Cliffs of Moher, County Claire

Getting Here & Around

  • Airports – Most international visitors arrive in Ireland through Dublin Airport (DUB). Other international airports in the country include Cork Airport (ORK), Shannon Airport (SNN), and Ireland West Airport (NOC).
  • Ferries – Beyond flying, the only other way to get to Ireland is via ferry. There is a single ferry route connecting Dublin to Liverpool, England.
  • Trains – Once in the country, the quickest way to get around Ireland is by train. Most rail lines operate out of Dublin, with daily trains connecting the capital to the rest of the country.
  • Driving – Renting a car is the most convenient way to get around Ireland and allows you to explore areas inaccessible through public transportation.
  • Taxis – Taxis are available in cities and large towns. However, rates can become a costly affair when traversing larger distances.
  • Bus & Coach Public buses and coach lines are a great, cost-effective way to get around Ireland.
  • Walking – Walking is a great way to explore Ireland if you are planning on sticking to a single area. Most cities and towns are easily explored on foot.

Ireland Travel Tips

  • Ireland is not part of the UK– While Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland is an independent country. Keep this in mind when visiting. Many locals will take offense if you refer to them as a part of the UK.
  • Ireland Drives on the Left – If you opt to rent a car, you should be aware that Ireland drives on the left side of the road.
  • Don’t forget to tip – A tip of 10% is optional in Ireland at bars, restaurants, and for taxis. Double check the bill before tipping though. Occasionally service charges are automatically applied.
  • Prepare for the weather – Ireland’s weather conditions can be erratic and unpredictable. As such, you should be prepared for everything and always pack an extra layer in your daypack.
Ireland's weather can be unpredictable

What to Pack

  • Layers  Temperatures in Ireland can change fairly quickly, so do yourself a favour and pack extra layers.
  • Waterproof clothing  It tends to rain a lot in Ireland. Be sure to pack waterproof clothing, including a raincoat and shoes.
  • Hiking Shoes  Many of Ireland’s top attractions require a lot of walking. Even if you are sticking to the city you are going to want to pack comfortable shoes.
  • Umbrella  Again, it rains a lot in Ireland. You are going to want to pack at least a small travel umbrella.
  • Camera  You can’t forget your camera at home. Ireland is filled with surreal landscapes and breathtaking landmarks that are perfect for practicing photography.

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