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Everything you need to know before you travel to Ireland

From adventure travel and city breaks to family-friendly trips, Ireland does have it all. Discover your perfect Irish travel destination so you get the most out of your trip to the Emerald Isle.

9 min read

With lush rolling fields, staggering cliffs, and a rich cultural history, those who travel to Ireland discover that the ‘Emerald Isle,’ truly lives up to its moniker. Whether you’re looking for adventure, a city break, or a family-friendly trip, Ireland more than caters to every type of traveler. Not sure where you should start? Here are the best places to visit in Ireland according to your needs—and how to budget for your trip!

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Planning your trip to Ireland

Before you travel to Ireland, there are a few steps you should take first:

  1. Find your ideal Irish travel location
  2. Set up your travel budget 

Luckily, we’ve got you covered for all of the above. In the blink of an eye, you’ll be working yourself through a glass of Guinness while taking in Ireland’s breathtaking views, safe in the knowledge that you still have plenty of cash to spare on your Irish adventure!

Budget your trip to Ireland

The best way to go on vacation is to go fully financially prepared for it. Knowing that you can cover any hiccups that may happen along the way can be deeply reassuring. So, before you travel to Ireland, you should work out how much cash you’ll need while you’re there. This means researching how much accommodation, transportation, entertainment, and food cost in your chosen destination. A great tip is to use the baseline of how much you pay for food at home to get a rough idea of how much you may spend while on vacation. Of course, this will vary if you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or as a family—and depend on how extravagant you want to be while you’re there!

Once you have a rough idea of how much you should save, you’ll need to identify areas where you can cut back. To begin, go through at least three months of recent bank statements. This will help you understand how much money you have coming and going each month. From here, you can start identifying areas where you can make some savings. The easiest expenses to tackle are your “variable costs,” i.e., your less essential expenditures such as subscription services, eating out, and unused memberships.

If the idea of creating a budget seems overwhelming, don’t worry. A great starting point is the 50/30/20 budget. It’s a simple budgeting method that has helped many people gain control over their finances.

Managing your money when traveling to Ireland

Before you travel to Ireland, it’s important to make sure you know how to take money out while you’re there—and what to do in case of an emergency.

Using your debit card in Ireland

In general, Irish ATMs will accept most foreign debit cards, but it’s always a good idea to confirm this with your bank before you go. It’s also smart to tell your bank that you’re planning to travel to Ireland so they don’t block your card while you’re away. Occasionally banks may do this as a security measure as they can suspect your card is being used fraudulently.

Foreign transaction fees abroad 

When using your debit or credit cards in Ireland, your bank can charge you foreign transaction fees. These fees are often incurred when using a currency different from the currency in your ‘home’ country. In addition, some banks also charge a 1.5% currency conversion fee on top of any transaction that takes place on the weekend. This is so that the bank can protect itself against any fluctuations in the exchange rate. In general, it’s best to ask your bank what fees you can expect to incur when using your cards in Ireland.

Losing your debit card while traveling

If you lose your debit card while traveling, act quickly and contact your bank immediately. The quicker the better as canceling your card prevents any potential fraudulent activity from taking place on your account. In some cases, your bank may be able to send you an emergency card to a fixed address while you’re traveling so you can still access your money.

Get insured when traveling to Ireland

For peace of mind when traveling abroad, consider getting travel insurance to cover any health emergencies or cancellations while you’re away. This can save you a considerable amount of money and can help to reduce any travel anxiety both before and during the trip. There are many insurers to choose from, the important thing is to make sure you choose a plan that makes sense for you.

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Where to stay and what to do in Ireland

There are many fantastic places to visit in Ireland, but to narrow down the list, you’ll need to decide what type of vacation you want to have. Fortunately, as Ireland offers a wide variety of different experiences, you’re certain to find what you’re looking for. Here are some of our top picks to point you in the right direction.

The family-friendly vacation: Greystones

A charming coastal town in County Wicklow on Ireland’s east coast, Greystones is just an hour south of Dublin and bursting with family-friendly activities. A day can easily be spent at one of its two beaches where kids can splash around in the surf before going to watch the boats in the Harbour Marina. For children under the age of 9, the indoor playground, Zoom Adventure Play, is the perfect place for kids to race around on a rainy day, as is the Mermaid County Wicklow Arts Centre which puts on many child-friendly theatre productions and workshops. Check out the enchanting Delgany Fairy Trail on drier days and spot the tiny fairy houses hidden along the path!

Slightly further afield, head to the treetop walk in Beyond the Trees Avondale. Here, you can wander along a suspended boardwalk that winds its way through the trees. With interactive games en route that explain the natural habitat, kids will enjoy seeing the forest from a different perspective. Powerscourt Estate, just 20 minutes from Greystones, is another fantastic day out for the entire family. With 47 acres of luscious gardens, the Cool Planet Experience, an interactive museum focusing on ecological sustainability, and Ireland’s highest waterfall all within walking distance, everyone is sure to be entertained. For hot weather, the Clara Lara Funpark just 40 minutes away is a waterpark with slides, canoes, go-karts, obstacle courses, and mini-golf—the perfect place to cool off.

For the adventure traveler: Achill Island

On the west coast of Ireland, Achill island which is known for its impressive cliffs, craggy mountains, and stunning beaches is the perfect location for the intrepid adventure traveler! Attached to the mainland by a bridge, Achill’s windy shoreline makes it the ideal spot for water sports of all kinds. Whether you’re into surfing or windsurfing, you’re sure to find the ideal conditions for it on Achill. What’s more, with two adventure centers on the island where you can try your hand at archery, canoeing, sailing, kayaking, rock climbing, abseiling, raft building, and diving, you’re sure to get your adrenalin fix on Achill Island!

If you fancy putting your calves to the test, the Great Western Greenway is the most famous cycle route in the County of Mayo. The 42km route starts (or ends) in Achill and ends in Westport on the mainland. If you’re up for even more exploration, you can then catch a bus from Westport to Roonagh Pier and from here, take a ferry to Clare Island. Clare only has 145 inhabitants but it's an adventure travelers' paradise. Here you can go rock climbing, kayaking, snorkeling, or go hiking up the island’s highest peak, Knockmore Mountain.

A culture lover's dream: Dublin

The capital of Ireland, Dublin is a thriving cultural metropolis, packed with fantastic bars, restaurants, museums, galleries, and nightlife. An absolute must for any tourist is a trip to the Guinness Storehouse, a museum dedicated to the nation’s most iconic dry stout beer. After you learn all about the history of Guinness, you’ll end your tour in the Storehouse’s rooftop Gravity Bar where you can enjoy a pint while enjoying the Dublin skyline. From here, you can wobble your way to St Patrick’s Cathedral and Dublin Castle, both dating back over 800 years. 

To the northeast of the city, you’ll discover Phoenix Park, the largest park in Europe and home to Dublin Zoo. Closer to the city center, you’ll find the National Gallery of Ireland which displays European and Irish art from the 1300’s all the way to the present day. Another gallery worth visiting is Chester Beatty, a museum of religious and artistic works from all over the world. Between the two galleries, bibliophiles should make a stop at the Trinity College Library, the largest library in Ireland, to marvel at its architectural brilliance. Finally, as no trip to Dublin would be complete without visiting one of its nearly 800 bars, head over to Temple Bar, an area populated with lively bars and restaurants to sample some of the nightlife.

Moving around 

At 2,500km long, Ireland is home to the world’s longest coastal driving route, the Wild Atlantic Way. As a result, many travelers choose to get around Ireland by car so they can experience some of the route’s spectacular views. If you want to check it out for yourself, car rental companies like Hertz, Enterprise, and Avis have got you covered. But be sure to use a price comparison site such as Kayak, Expedia, or rentalcars.com to find the best deal out there. Alternatively, if you just want to make one trip, consider using a car-sharing app such as GoCar to split the costs and the miles with other travelers. 

Alternatively, Ireland has a reliable rail network. Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) is Ireland’s train operator and most routes connect to Dublin and Ireland’s other main cities and towns. If you’re looking for a cheaper traveling option, Bus Éireann, connects most of Ireland’s towns by bus. In some of Ireland’s bigger cities, you’ll be able to hire a car for short trips using car rental apps such as Yuko in Dublin. For even shorter trips, you can hop on an e-scooter from Zipp, Tier, or Dott. 

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FAQs

What are the requirements for traveling to Ireland?

To travel to Ireland, you have to present a valid ID card or passport.

Depending on your country of origin, you might need a visa to enter the country.

Are there any COVID restrictions on traveling to Ireland?

Currently, you don’t need to present any health certificate in relation to COVID-19 in order to enter Ireland.

What is the best time of year to visit Ireland?

The best time to travel to Ireland is between May and September. The temperatures are milder then, and it doesn’t rain as much.

How many days should I spend in Ireland?

Depending on your budget and travel preferences, you should plan to spend at least seven days in Ireland if you want to see the main attractions. You’ll also need two or three days for visiting the capital city, Dublin.

How long can you stay as a tourist in Ireland?

Visitors of most nationalities can stay as a tourist in Ireland for a maximum of 90 days (three months), since it isn’t part of the Schengen area.

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