6 Ireland Travel Tips for getting around, what to pack, and all the other must knows.
We’ve been back from Ireland for about two months now and in the meantime we have moved into a new house and went to Disney World. The dust is finally settling on this summer and I’ve had a chance to collect my thoughts. Sorry for the delay in getting this post up and even out of order as I posted Disney World Tips first.
I’m still a little shocked and proud we managed to take a 3 year old and a 5 year old (with high functioning autism) on a 10 hour flight to Ireland for 10 days and actually had a pretty great trip. If you missed it, I shared some of my favorite snapshots from the trip here. This will be the first of two posts to share our adventures but also share some what are hopefully useful tips if you’re ever looking to visit yourself. (And I’m always available for questions via message or email. My husband is from there and I’ve been twice now so these beautiful countries have become a second home for me.)
1. Pack layers and comfortable shoes and bring a rain coat. Ireland’s weather is mostly cool and windy and it rains quite a bit. In the winter it can be downright cold. We were there in the summer and needed a light jacket. There were a few days that warmed up enough for just short sleeves but you can leave the shorts at home. Also there is a lot of walking in Ireland so make sure your shoes are comfy. In the past, there was the travel tip to not bring jeans or tennis shoes because no one abroad wears them. That may still hold true some places, but in Ireland the majority of the people are in jeans for everyday wear and quite a few were in tennis shoes or stylish boots. This photo below is in June and I needed a hoodie.
2. Ireland is a place of extremes for sunlight. In the summer like when we were there, the sun doesn’t go down until almost 11PM and comes back up again around 4:30 AM. This was interesting for getting the kids to sleep. In the winter however, be prepared for the sun to come up between 9 and 10AM and goes down again around 4PM. Definitely something to keep in mind as you’re planning your day.
3, Dining Out Do not tip servers. They are on paid wages. You will not find a lot of chains like TGI Fridays or Chilis. There are some fast food places you will recognize like KFC and McDonald’s, Most places to eat are simple pubs or cafes. In Dublin and Belfast you will find nicer restaurants if you’re looking for an Irish foodie experience. Usually the fare is delicious but simple like the steak pie below from a cafe. The best food I had was at the Inn at Giant’s Causeway. Maude’s Ice Cream is delicious and is a chain so try some!
4. Where to Stay There are bed and breakfasts throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland even in the smallest villages. A lot of attractions like Dunluce Castle or Giant’s Causeway also have Inns on or near their property. When we were not staying at my in laws we stayed at Jury’s Inn or Premier Inn. They are both nice and clean hotels but bear in mind, the hotels are more minimalist there and do not have a lot of decor. The photo below is from the Jury’s Inn in Dublin near Christchurch City Center where we stayed on our Dublin bus tour. They both had Wifi. Bring an outlet adapter and if you’re bringing your laptop make sure it has a spot for 3 prong because some adapters are only two. Both hotels we stayed at had restaurants in them.
5. Getting Around Ireland drives on the opposite side of the road as the U.S. and there are tons of roundabouts in the busy cities and narrow rural roads with sharp turns so you could not pay me enough to drive there. Even my husband has to get his bearings when we first get there. If you fly into Belfast or Dublin there are shuttles that will take you to your hotel. In the city many things are within walking distance. Both Belfast and Dublin have hop on and hop off double decker buses to see the sites, do shopping or dine. If you want to see Ireland’s beautiful country side there are day and overnight bus tours leaving from both Belfast and Dublin like the Paddy Wagon below. No need to stress about getting around.
6. Miscellaneous If you forget anything, find a Tesco. They are like a cross between Target and Walmart and have everything from food to clothes. They will also exchange money. In Northern Ireland, the currency is the Pound. In the Republic of Ireland it is the Euro. Also, be aware shops close very early- around 6.
Ireland and Northern Ireland are so beautiful and I absolutely recommend visiting both. They are easy to travel between and they are easy to get around and enjoy the beauty and history once you’re there. Now that I’ve gotten you to the Emerald Isle, my next post in the series will be to tell you what to do once you get there.