Ireland... the Emerald Isle. Known for its stunning landscapes, natural beauty, friendly people, Irish music, Guinness, culinary classics, and Irish pubs.
Of course, that's not ALL the country is known for. The list is endless and definitely varies based on your personal interests and preferences.
Are you intrigued by this magical island nation? If so, you are not alone. Many from around the world travel to Ireland year-round to visit the incredible sights around the country. After the release of Disney Pixar's movie "Brave", Princess Merida and her home country, captured hearts around the world. She embodies the true Irish Spirit and many young girls and women, still dream of being like her... BRAVE!
It's time to go live your Irish adventure!
You’ve put off visiting the Cliffs of Moher, Killarney National Park, and Blarney Castle long enough. It’s finally time to take that trip to Ireland! I applaud that decision, but before you book that brewery tour or get too excited about visiting Dublin’s Grafton Street, here are a few tips to make for a more enjoyable, and "easy" trip.
Consider Car Travel
The best sites in the Emerald Isle are seen via public transportation or tour buses, but renting a car is not a bad idea to get to those obscure sites. Be sure the car you rent is a small one, as rural roads in Ireland are narrow. Oh, and the Irish drive on the left side of the road and pass on the right. Better yet, there are many options for hiring a private driver. Take the stress out of navigating the countryside on your own. Learn in-depth history from a local, and feel free to indulge in the local pubs, knowing you are not responsible for driving.
All those goodies you’ll find to buy on Grafton Street are tax-free! That’s right, travelers who live outside the European Union are able to shop tax-free in Ireland. Make sure to apply for a Fexco Horizon Card prior to your trip so you can register and swipe it in affiliated stores in the country and claim sales tax back on the purchases.
And while we’re on the topic of shopping, it’s important to note that, as part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland uses pound sterling rather than the Euro.
Irish weather is not extreme, but the country does get a lot of rain, particularly along its west coast. If you’re traveling to Ireland during winter, know that the season’s days are short. The sun rises at about 8 a.m. and sets at about 4 p.m., which means you have to cram a lot of sightseeing into a few hours. However, during the summer, the sun sets as late as 10 p.m. Be mindful of these seasonal changes, pack light layers of clothing and a pair of rain boots or waterproof shoes, and you should be just fine.
Public Transportation Pointers
The trains in Ireland carry you in comfort, but they are pricey. If you intend to travel on one during your trip, make sure to book it in advance to take advantage of online discounts that the Irish Rail offers. If you choose bus travel, be aware that you must flag the bus to get it to stop. Depending on how you pack (light vs. your entire wardrobe), this method of travel may not be ideal.
Heritage Cards Are Helpful
If your plan is to visit the country’s many cultural attractions, picking up a Heritage Card from the Office of Public Works is a great idea. This card entitles you to free admission to all heritage sites managed by the state for an entire year. These sites include castles and national parks.
I am a firm believer in being prepared when visiting a country with so many sights, activities, and experiences. It's literally impossible to fit them ALL. Finding the right balance for your travel style, and that of your travel companions will make for a much more enjoyable and memorable vacation.
So now that you have the tips for a successful Ireland trip, be sure to call or email me to help you plan your vacation to the Emerald Isle. Let's ensure you are making the most of your time there, get to see your top priorities, and factor in some fun, spontaneous adventures as well.