31 ESSENTIAL First Time IRELAND Travel Tips

Ireland, the Emerald Isle is a stunning country full of ancient history and some of the most warm people that you’ll ever meet. Top of the morning to ya! Have ye seen me pot of gold, mister? Huh? How about me potatoes? What? Are you a walking stereotype? No, I just wanted to like get us in the mood of things. Nobody says top of the morning to you except for your annoying co-worker on St. Paddy’s Day. True Ireland is one of our all-time favorite destinations. Friendly locals, rugged beautiful scenery and an evolving cuisine that’s one of the most underrated in Europe. Ireland holds one of the richest cultures in Europe with over 7,000 years of history from ancient burial grounds to Iron Age fortresses and some of the most intact ruins on the continent. Ireland is a product of thousands of years of emigration and conquest, from the Celts who gave the island its language, music, and the arts, to the Vikings who raided Ireland but built some of its largest cities including Dublin, to the British who ruled Ireland as a colony for nearly eight hundred years. During the Dark Ages Irish monks played a crucial role in preserving ancient knowledge, locking themselves up in remote monasteries like Skellig Michael now famous from Star Wars the Last Jedi where they transcribed old books into beautiful manuscripts such as the Book of Kells which is on display at Dublin’s Trinity College. Today, just over a hundred years after gaining independence from Britain, Ireland is really finding its stride as a travel destination. Here are some of the highlights: Dublin, Ireland’s capital, is much more than just a pub crawl. It’s also a UNESCO city of literature thanks to authors such as James Joyce and Oscar Wilde, as well as the capital of Ireland’s bustling design scene. Galway is the offbeat live music capital of the west coast. It’s the best place to discover traditional Irish music and sample some of Ireland’s world-famous oysters. From Galway explore the Wild Atlantic Way, the longest coastal scenic highway on earth and one of the world’s best road trips, period. It’s got everything from the Cliffs of Moher to surf towns like Strandhill and fishing villages like Kinsale in the south. Down south the food scene of Cork is not to be missed, not just in the city either, the farms and fjords of West Cork are the breadbasket of Ireland and we highly suggest you get out there and explore. Then there’s Northern Ireland, which has finally overcome the sectarian violence of the last century to become a major tourist draw in its own right. With everything from the iconic Giant’s Causeway to the awards winning Titanic experience in Belfast and of course for all you Game of Thrones fans the real-life Winterfell. And yes, you can even visit the direwolves. We’ve already covered all of our favourite destinations in Ireland in a separate video, so click on this card to watch that next, but stay tuned for all the practical information that you’re going to need to plan your trip starting with when to visit. The Emerald Isle is green because it rains. The Romans called it Hibernia because it seemed to be winter all year long. So bring your rain jacket. The safest bet is to avoid winter entirely and aim for summer where temperatures range between 20 and 33 Celsius or 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. We always film in the shoulder seasons; we love traveling during the shoulder seasons, and here in Ireland the shoulder seasons that we recommend you visit in are May to June or September and October when the weather is still pretty mild but the crowds are a fraction of the summertime. When it comes to packing, expect wet weather all year round. So always pack a rain jacket as well as really good waterproof footwear, especially if you’re trying to do any sort of hiking because just a little bit of rain can turn the paths really really muddy. It’s common to see a couple of seasons in a day so even if it’s sunny when you leave your hotel in the morning always dress in layers so you can take clothes on and off as the temperature changes, and always pack that rain jacket or umbrella. You’ll be thankful if you do. If you find yourself underprepared, don’t worry. There’s plenty of shops in Ireland to find that functional and stylish outerwear that you need. We recommend getting started in Dublin with the shops Indigo and Cloth and Makers and Brothers. Also do not forget to bring the proper power adapter. It’s the same one that you use in the UK, and it’s different than the one that you use in Europe. Sounds good, right? But how much does it cost? Let’s talk about money. Ireland is technically split into two countries : The Republic of Ireland, which is in the EU and on the euro and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK and uses the British pound. ATMs are widely available; credit cards are accepted pretty much everywhere, but some places like pubs, especially, will only accept debit cards or cash. Interesting side note: even though the Republic of Ireland uses euros, they still use the slang term for pounds. They still call 20 euros 20 quid. If you hear Irish people saying 20 quid, it still means 20 euros, even though it’s referring to British pounds. Kind of confusing, but if you want to talk like a local, say 20 quid. Ireland is not really a budget destination. It’s not as expensive as the UK or Scandinavia, but it’s considerably more expensive than eastern or southern Europe… about a hundred euros a day should be a proper solid budget. You could get by with about 75 euros a day, but you’re going to be pinching pennies. If you want to live it up, one hundred fifty euros a day should be plenty. Your biggest cost is accommodation. There’s a lot of options in the mid to luxury range, from charming Georgian town houses or design hotels in Dublin, to palatial country homes in the countryside but there are not a lot of really cheap options. Your basic hostel will cost you twenty five euros. It’s not bad, but it’s not as cheap as other parts of the world and free camping is not allowed. If you expect just to pitch your tent anywhere you see a green pasture, you’ll be surprised.. You might get in trouble with the police. Alcohol is surprisingly expensive for a country so closely associated with pints and pubs. So if you are on a tight budget, buy your booze at the supermarket. Maybe get a bottle of local Irish whiskey, and you know, bring a flask. Be a little cheeky; be a little sneaky. You can figure it out. Long story short, you don’t have to go out and get blind drunk. If you go to the pub, have one or two pints and call it a night. Meals and restaurants typically cost around twenty euros for lunch, slightly more for dinner. Of course there are the fast food options like the rest of Europe from kebabs and curries to the old standby of fish and chips. And like the UK, most hotels offer a full Irish breakfast. It’s a really, really filling breakfast, and it usually comes with a vegetarian option as well included in the hotel price. Our tip is to load up on a late breakfast, skip lunch then find a reasonably priced pub for a quality dinner and a pint. More tips on where and what to eat a little later in this video. The good news is you can save money getting to Ireland on the cheap. Let’s move on to transportation. I would say that Ireland is an easy country to get to and a slow country to get around. Let me explain. Ireland is the home of budget airline Ryanair, which has tons of cheap tickets all across Europe, sometimes just a couple of euros, but be aware of hidden charges and make sure that you’re traveling carry-on only to really reap the benefits. It’s also the closest European Union country to the United States, which means transatlantic flights are usually quite cheap, especially when you’re using Aer Lingus, Ireland’s national carrier or some of the budget airlines like Wow Air, which offer round-trip transatlantic flights via New York City for around three hundred US dollars. But if you’re going to use these budget airlines, be forewarned, they will get you with checked baggage fees, food, even water. So be prepared. Getting between cities is very easy. There are trains connecting all major cities and there are also very cheap buses that you can get for well under twenty euros from like Dublin to Galway. And if you’re feeling adventurous, hitchhiking is relatively easy in Ireland. I once did it in the dead of winter to go visit the Cliffs of Moher and then make it back to Galway. It was a very cheap, very fun, and very easy. The soul of Ireland is in the countryside.. rolling hills, small towns, and peninsulas that stretch off into the open ocean on the Wild Atlantic Way, a beautiful stretch of coastal road that spans nearly the entire west coast of the country. You can get tons of ideas for your road trip on the website Wild Atlantic Way.com, but our best tip is to find the roads that lead down the finger-like fjords of West Cork. It’s truly a beautiful place. Also if you haven’t already seen our two different vlog series from the Island of Ireland, we did one in the Republic of Ireland and one in Northern Ireland. Make sure you check those out before you book your flight. There’s also plenty of smaller airports along the Wild Atlantic Way from Sligo to Shannon to Cork and many more. If you’re doing the road trip along the Wild Atlantic Way, this is a great money and time saver because you can fly into one airport, rent the car, drive up to the next one, return it there and fly home from a smaller airport all without doing the gigantic loop back to Dublin. One last thing… do not underestimate road distances in Ireland. It may say it’s only a hundred miles or 100 kilometres, but Irish roads, many of them, are very small, one lane twisty curvy country roads, and distances take a lot longer to cover in real life than they do on Google Maps. Also cars drive on the left-hand side of the road and the vast majority of them run on diesel so do not put regular unleaded fuel in your diesel rental car or you will be footing a very, very large bill. Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive in to the juicy stuff: stereotypes, controversies, and the do’s and the don’ts of visiting Ireland. Ireland is a wonderful country plagued by ridiculous stereotypes, many of them admittedly coming from our own country of the United States of America where ironically everyone claims to be Irish on Saint Paddy’s Day, but we’re still plagued by these misconceptions. Many of our misconceptions about the Irish come from the mid 1800s when millions of Irish emigrated to the United States and elsewhere to escape the Great Potato Famine, which killed over two million Irish. For instance, it’s not true that the Irish sit around drinking Guinness all day. Alcohol consumption is more or less on par with the rest of Europe. The portrayal of Irish as drunkards partially comes from American anti-immigrant propaganda when nativist wanted to portray Irish as too drunk to work. What about St. Paddy’s Day, you might say? Well hate to break it to you, but that is a holiday that is celebrated much more in the United States than it is in Ireland, so don’t come to Dublin expecting a giant celebration. You’re better off going to Boston or Chicago Not all Irish have red hair. In fact only about 9% of them do. However, Irish do have Celtic roots so their DNA is similar to people from Scotland, Wales, and even the Basque Country in northern Spain. Nor do the Irish lived solely off potatoes. Sure, the Irish were some of the first Europeans to adopt this Peruvian tuber after it was introduced by the Spanish to Europe, but it was because it was a great source of calories for poor Irish farmers. But Irish food has evolved so much since then. So on that note let’s discuss the essential foodie experiences to have while you’re in Ireland. Ireland’s food culture is so good because its geography makes agriculture small-scale, local, and family-owned by nature. One of the best places to sample locavore cuisine is Anair restaurant in Galway where chef JP MacMahon uses only ingredients sourced from the west of Ireland to create incredible dishes that will blow your tastebuds right out of your mouth. To really get on the foodie trail though, you need to head south to County Cork, the larder of Ireland where pretty much anywhere you eat will be local, organic, and absolutely delicious. Ireland has great cheese because there’s plenty of green pastures for cows to graze. We visited the Grabeen farm in West Cork, one of the best producers in the country. Their cheeses are available in specially shops and supermarkets all across Ireland. Ireland has a thriving fishing industry and some of the best fresh seafood in the world ,including their oysters just outside of Galway. Go to Morans on the Weir just outside of Galway for the full seafood experience. A classic dish is Irish stew made with lamb, potatoes, and stout, which is perfect for warming you up after a cold day or a surf in the Atlantic as we did in Strandhill at Shells Cafe, a lovely restaurant with an amazing cookbook, The Surf Cafe Cookbook. I’ve made their Guinness and beef stew recipe many times. It’s always a hit with my friends, and this is a great cookbook Also try the morning pie. It’s delicious. Lastly, we recommend trying seaweed formerly a staple of the Irish diet until it became viewed as poor people’s food. These days adventurous foodies are rediscovering the health benefits of seaweed and using it in all different styles of cooking. In West Cork we joined a kayaking tour where we foraged for fresh seaweed in an incredibly scenic area then brought it back to shore and ate it for lunch. Did we mention that there’s a place called Voya Spa where you can book a seaweed bath? Trust us, this is incredible and it needs to be on your Irish bucket list. Okay enough about food. What about Guinness? Guinness is popular worldwide but you really haven’t had a Guinness until you’ve had one in Ireland. And although the Guinness Storehouse is a great experience, touristic yes but awesome, most locals will tell you that the key to a good Guinness is the tap at the pub, specifically the lines that connect the keg to the tap. Some pubs have cleaner and better lines than others; every local has their preference so ask around and never drink Guinness from a can. Then there’s Irish whiskey, which uses barley instead of corn, rye, or wheat like American bourbon, which is triple distilled making it a little bit more approachable than scotch whisky. Jameson and Bushmills are the two most famous Irish whiskeys, but head to a proper whiskey bar like Shellbournes in Cork which have a much wider selection and can line you up with a proper Irish whiskey tasting. Speaking of drinking, here are some important do’s and don’ts in Ireland, starting in the pub. Do buy drinks in rounds when you’re in a group. Everybody takes turns; it will come back to you, but if you buy just a drink for yourself, it’s seen as rude. Don’t take offense at Irish humor or salty language. The Irish love a laugh, sometimes at your expense. It’s all in good fun, so feel free to give as much as you get and swearing is pretty common, especially with the word feck. F-E-C-K. It’s kind of like saying darn but with the F word. Don’t battle the crowds to see the Cliffs of Moher. Yes, they are iconic; they are gorgeous; they are truly a landmark of Ireland. However, they’re almost always swamped with tourists and often covered in fog. Instead head up to County Donegal to see the Cliffs of Slieve League. They’re higher and far less crowded. Do take time to get to know the locals, especially in the smaller villages. Locals are usually quite friendly and more than willing to discuss the hot topics of the day in a friendly and cordial manner no matter how controversial the subject may be. Don’t, and I can’t believe I actually have to say this, do not dress up like a leprechaun and expect people to react well to it and yes I’m talking to you sitting in your college dorm room or your frat house sitting there going oh going to Dublin let me just dress like a leprechaun no no do not do this. The same goes for poor attempts at Irish accents or just asking everybody about your last name and where you come from because nobody knows ok there’s a lot of people the same last names and your ancestry is just not that important to the average guy at the pub right here. On a more serious note definitely do familiarize yourself with the controversial history of Northern Ireland and Ireland’s struggle for independence from Great Britain. Everyone should do their homework and their research before visiting Ireland or Northern Ireland just to be aware. But, the short version of the history is this: Ireland was Britain’s first colony and its longest held, nearly eight hundred years in total. The Republic of Ireland gained independence from Great Britain only one hundred years ago and the mostly Protestant enclave of Northern Ireland remained part of Great Britain and still does to this day. The last century was full of political turmoil, civil unrest, and innocent bloodshed as the Irish Republican Army battled the British security forces in Northern Ireland. The tit-for-tat bloodshed claimed many innocent civilian lives and turned Belfast into a war zone divided along Protestant and Catholic lines until the Good Friday Agreement of the 1990s finally brought peace. There is currently no violence and no border separating the two nations as both are part of the European Union. However, because Northern Ireland is part of the UK and the UK just voted to leave the European Union with Brexit, the future of this border remains uncertain. As a visitor you have nothing to worry about in terms of safety. Just be aware that the conflict has touched every corner of Irish society and evokes strong emotions still to this day. Do be respectful when discussing the issue, and to state the obvious, don’t walk into a bar in Belfast and order an Irish car bomb. Instead do consider taking a street art tour of Belfast. It shows how Belfast murals, which once divided the city along ethnic lines, are now being used to heal the wounds of the past with creativity. Lastly, do take some time to learn a little bit of Irish Gaelic, a language that predates English and is still spoken widely in many rural areas and the islands off the coast of Ireland. It’s not essential for communication but the language is closely tied to Irish identity and most locals appreciate the effort. Here are some useful phrases. Basic Gaelic…. starting with please and thank you. If you’re local and you can pronounce better than me, which you probably can, please add your pronunciation tips in the comment section. Please is “Le do thoil” Thank you is a bit more a mouthful It’s “Go raibn maith agat.” But the most practical and commonly used as a tourist phrase is probably “Cheers.” “Slainte.” That one’s easy. That one’s very useful, and you know it’s a good little start towards your Gaelic learning process. lf all of that seems a bit daunting, here is a very useful local phrase that you can easily wrap your head around: “Craic,” which loosely translates to “fun.” Ask a local, “Where’s the craic?” and they’ll most likely point you in the direction of the most fun pub in town. Finally, if you want to learn more about Irish culture, here are a few more resources starting with books: Oscar Wilde is one of the greatest English language writers. His book the Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my favorites. Of course there’s also James Joyce. He’s famous for writing Ulysses, which is a stream-of-consciousness novel that is incredibly difficult to read. Good luck if you want to attempt it. You can also go on the pub tour that takes you to a lot of places he featured in that book, but I would personally recommend Dubliners. It’s a collection of his short stories that all take place in Ireland and are much more accessible and a good way to get insight into Ireland in that time period. For films that show a lot about life in Ireland, I’d recommend you watch Once, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, and the Netflix series Can’t Cope Won’t Cope. Okay. That’s everything we think you need to know before you visit Ireland. If we missed anything or if you’ve got anything to add, please add your comments down in the comment section below. Last but not least, please remember if you enjoyed this video give it a big thumbs- up, share it with your travel buddies, and make sure you’re subscribed to the Vagabrothers channel so you don’t miss any upcoming adventures or travel tips videos. Okay so in the meantime stay curious, keep exploring and we’ll see you on the road….. maybe the Wild Atlantic Way

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