31 Practical Ireland Travel Tips

We shared practical Ireland travel tips everyday in January on the Infinite Ireland Facebook and Twitter pages.

In case you missed any of the travel tip goodness, we have posted them again here just for you!

Have any more hints for traveling through Ireland? What did we miss? Feel free to let us know in the comments.

Packing:

Luggage

Don't be weighed down by too much luggage. Pack light to easily get around. Photo Credit: Flickr user waymorefunner

1. Pack only a week’s worth of clothes even if you are traveling for 2 weeks. You can always re-wear or have your laundry done for you at a laundrette located in many towns.

2. Bring a garbage bag for dirty clothes. It keeps clean and dirty clothes separate and it also is handy when dropping them off at a laundrette.

3. Roll your clothes. You can often squeeze a little extra space in your bag this way (read: more room for souvenirs).

4. Take one medium luggage and one carry-on per person and no more. It quickly gets tiresome lugging the “big guy” suitcase up and down Bed and Breakfast stairs.

5. Use packing cubes to separate out your clothes from electronics from make-up. Makes finding things much easier!

6. Don’t go out and buy packing cubes. Save the plastic packaging that sheets, pillows, etc. come in. They work just as well as expensive cubes, but don’t cost anything extra!

7. Pack old/worn out underwear or purchase some at a dollar store. As soon as you are done with each pair, throw them away. You’ll have a little more room for souvenirs at the end of your trip.

Car Rental:

Rental Car on Achill Island, Co. Mayo

Only by renting a car can you see hidden places like hill tops on Achill Island, Co. Mayo

8. Rent a car! So many travel Ireland by coach bus. This is okay if you are unable to drive, but if you have the ability be sure to rent a car to see the countryside and meet the people on your schedule.

9. Compare booking sites before you book your car rental! Not only check the primary American brands, Hertz, Alamo, Budget, etc., but check Dan Dooley, Irish Car Rentals, AutoEurope, Argus, and Sixt. Just know what you are getting before you reserve. Some companies are great at sneaking hidden fees.

Food:

Spanish Arch Galway, Ireland

Locals and tourists alike picnicking along the water next to the Spanish Arch in Co. Galway

10. Buy snacks at an Irish store. It’s always fun being a local and to check out the differences in food options—plus snacks will help tide you over until the next meal.

11. Get a Twix! (This is a special Stephanie tip–can you tell?). Twix candy bars in the US have all sorts of preservatives—not in Ireland! What a fun little treat.

12. Take snacks, lunch or dinner with you to the airport. Airport/plane food is expensive & not great on long haul flights. Enjoy your own food and make everyone else jealous!

13. Go for a picnic! There are lots of great deli’s in most towns. With a little cheese, meat and some crackers, you’ve got yourself a picnic (and a cheap meal).

Saving Money:

Self Catering Kitchen in Ramelton, Co. Donegal

Cook up a storm in your own kitchen!

14. Try a self-catering cottage or apartment to save money. Usually rented by the week, you can save a bundle on accommodations and meals!

15. Sign up for Groupon or other social coupon email list for the areas you plan to visit. You might get some great deals on cheap meals, activities, or accommodations.

16. Eat the big breakfast that is served at your B&B. It will last you well  beyond midday—lunch is then often later without much need for a big dinner. Again saving you some $$.

17. Bring a water bottle for each person on your trip to Ireland. Fill up in the morning and ask your wait staff to refill throughout the day. You can save a bundle and it is better for the environment this way!

18. Use travel points. If you have a credit card that you use often but aren’t collecting any points, apply for a card that gets you lots of bonus sign-up points and use it! You may be able to get enough points to pay for a portion of your travel costs.

19. Don’t take much cash or bring traveler’s checks. Use the ATM to get Euros when you land in Ireland. You’ll get the best exchange rate this way.

20. Check your local credit union to see if they charge fees for international ATM transactions—many don’t!

21. Try AirBnB as an alternative accommodation. It can be even cheaper than even a traditional Irish Bed and Breakfast but still the same intimate experience with local expertise.

General Ireland Travel Planning Advice:

County Clare Road and Houses

Can you think of a better place to be lost in?

22. Don’t try to see the entire country in a week. Pick a couple of places and really explore!

23. Reach out to the locals—they have the best advice and it’s always great experiencing Ireland up close.

24. Get lost. :-) No really, taking a wrong turn in Ireland can lead to some of the best undiscovered small towns. It also gives you an excuse to stop to talk to the locals for directions or advice.

25. Learn a bit o’ Irish before you leave! It’s always fun to say Sláinte (Slan-cha: To Health) at pub and sound like a local.

26. Seek out hidden gems beyond the regular tourist spots. Don’t know where to start? Just ask your B&B owner. They will know where to go. Or Check out Ireland Travel Kit for off the beaten path, traveler tested, suggestions.

27. The Trip Advisor Ireland Forum is very active and helpful when planning your first trip. Take a look at Trip Advisor’s reviews of accommodations and attractions. Always drop the highest and lowest review to get more accurate evaluation.

28. Double check your flight times before you leave. If you book airfare far in advance the departure time can change.

29. Add at least a 1/3 more time to travel estimates between point A and point B. The roads are small. There will be many stops between for pictures. And you may enjoy a wrong turn or two. No worries though–You are in Ireland!

30. Bring a good pair of walking shoes. It will be really tempting to (and you should) get out of the car and explore the countryside.

31. No matter what. Above all else. Even if something doesn’t go as planned. Relax. Enjoy yourself. Because there will be a time that once again you will be dreaming of Ireland.

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43 Responses to “31 Practical Ireland Travel Tips”

  1. Brian February 7, 2013 at 1:41 am #

    Remember you are a guest in a foreign country, granted a beautiful, welcoming country, but a foreign country just the same. There is a right way and a wrong way to do things, when you make mistakes be polite. Many times you can ask the proper way of doing things and be helped. Ireland is a great place to chat and explore, not a bad list,
    Cheers,
    Brian.

    • Stephanie February 7, 2013 at 8:31 am #

      What a wonderful tip Brian! You are right, we have found the Irish to wonderfully gracious, but politeness goes a long way and must not be forgotten!

  2. Ansy Miller May 13, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    I Like this post. such a great and brief source of information. :)

    Can you please tell me, the best time to visit Ireland.?

    If you have some more sugession, please notify me.

    Thanks.

    • Stephanie May 13, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

      Hi Ansy! Check out http://www.infiniteireland.com/planning101/when-to-go/ for all the details on when you should plan your trip to Ireland. I really like late spring early fall, but if your schedule isn’t flexible anytime is a good time to go to Ireland! No matter when you plan to go, I would suggest packing layers as the weather can be unpredictable! Happy planning!!

      • Ansy Miller May 13, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

        Thank you so much Stephanie. :) :)

  3. Robin July 10, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    Although I would LOVE to go hiking and wandering through Ireland, a recent back injury prohibits me from walking very far. While, thankfully, I am not in a wheelchair, I am wondering if there are places you would suggest I should especially see (or avoid) because of this restriction?

    Thank you! :D

    • Stephanie July 11, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

      Hi Robin! While there are many places to hike to in Ireland, there are just as many to explore that don’t require extra exertion. I would particularly suggest Southwest Ireland for you. Most travelers head to the Ring of Kerry for a circular drive of the coast. However if you want to get off the beaten path, but still travel by car, go for the Ring of Beara and Sheep’s Head Peninsula. Both are fantastic drives and don’t require much or any walking to see the beautiful views. I hope this helps!

      • Robin July 11, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

        Thanks, Stephanie!

        I will start planning my itinerary with your suggestions right now! Can’t wait! :D

  4. Aj November 3, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    After going there twice, we have learned and followed each of these on our own. You nailed it! Thanks for the refresher tips!

  5. Carol December 3, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    We want to be in Galway from april 20, 2014 through april 26, 2013 that includes Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, and St. George’s Day. Will this be good because there are special events/festivals, or not so good because everything will be closed like museums, pubs, music venues etc.

    • Stephanie December 4, 2013 at 9:27 am #

      Hi Carol! There should be a least a few events on Sunday or Monday of Easter. The only day that usually tends to interupt schedules is Good Friday, April 18th. Most pubs and many attractions will be closed that day (no alcohol is served in the Republic). However, normal activities will resume on Saturday including pubs, museums and tourist activities. Monday, the 21, is a holiday for the Irish so there might be a lot of activity in town Sunday night and Monday. Sounds like a great time to be in Galway! Keep your eye on the Galway Event Calendar for things to do! http://www.galwaytourism.ie/pgalway-events-calendar.html Hope you have a great time!

  6. Melissa December 29, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

    I am going to Limerick for 4 months starting in January for school. I can’t wait! Thanks for all the great information!!

    • Stephanie December 30, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

      Your welcome Melissa! Enjoy your time abroad–I know many students who have just loved their experiences and I am sure you will too!

  7. Kieran December 30, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    Hiya Stephanie. I’m looking to go to Ireland in April, The girl im going with has suggested we start in Dublin and spend a couple of days in 3-4 different locations, is there a cheap way of doing this whilst keeping it romantic? And would you recommend any places in Ireland any ‘must see’ she’s a huge p.s I love you fan, something like that I guess. Thanks Kieran

  8. Stephanie December 30, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    Hi Kieran! Spending your time in a few locations is much better (and much less expensive) than going to a new place each night, so you are already on the right track. I always recommend getting a car–which can get pricey, but off set it by staying in inexpensive B&B’s, having picnics, gorging at breakfast (easy to do!) and enjoying many of the free sites (and beauties) that Ireland offers.

    Dublin would be a great place to start for a day or two. You could then head south to check out Co. Wicklow, where many of the sites for P.S. I love you were filmed. This may help: http://www.romanticfilmlocations.com/films/ps_love.html You could easily spend a couple of days exploring the south east and then head for Co. Cork, visiting Cork City, Cobh, and even a few coastal towns. It all depends on how much time you have, but I recommend spending at least two nights in every location to dig a little deeper, go a little slower, and save a little money. No matter what, if she likes the scenery in P.S. I love you, head out of the city and explore a little and have a great time!

  9. Kaye January 1, 2014 at 3:44 am #

    Thanks for the travel tips. Do you have any advice on rental cars and insurance? I’m looking to travel from Dublin to Cork with a few along the way and the driving scares me a bit.

  10. Stephanie January 1, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    Hi Kaye! Try this page out—http://www.infiniteireland.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-renting-a-car-in-ireland/ Renting a car can seem daunting, but don’t worry too much! The drive from Dublin to Cork is fantastic and there is so much to see along the way. My best tips–have a designated navigator who tells you to stay “left” throughout the journey. It gets easier the longer you drive, you’ll need less and less reminding, but its never a bad idea to have someone help you remember. Also, don’t be afraid to pull off to the side of the road and let faster moving vehicles pass you. No need to feel rushed. Good luck with your trip!

  11. Jamey January 6, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

    Good Article! We are going to Ireland in 5 days, so excited! Dubling for three days two nights and Northern Ireland for two nights/days. We plan to rent a car and visit some castles and New Grange since they are near Dublin. Any stops on the way that may be worthwild? Also any advice on N. Ireland would be great. We plan to see the Rope Bridge and Giant’s Causeway.

    Thanks

    • Stephanie January 6, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

      Hi Jamey! Oh what I would give to be going to Ireland in 5 days! You will have such a great time. You have quite a bit of ground to cover in a few days so I don’t want to give you too many recommendations, but near the Rope Bridge is also Bushmills Distillery and Dunluce Castle–both have a reputation for being pretty amazing attractions. While you are in Dublin if you have a sweet tooth, you should check out Queen of Tarts (Dame Street) or Murphy’s Ice-cream (Wicklow Street) for fabulous treats! If you want some off the beaten path ideas, check out IrelandTravelKit.com. They have a pretty awesome app we used on our trip last time that is fabulous for finding hidden treasures. Enjoy your trip and safe travels!

  12. Janie February 20, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

    Besure to get the rental car insurance. It is heck driving in Ireland

  13. Orla February 26, 2014 at 4:34 am #

    If you’re renting a car, make sure that you drive a stick shift. Automatic cars are few and far between in Ireland.

    If you are eating out in large towns or cities, many restaurants do Early Bird specials, and others very good deals on lunches.

    If you do decide to go walking in the countryside, make sure your shoes are sturdy AND waterproof. As it rains all year round in Ireland, places are frequently muddy.

    And please support Irish artists and crafts makers. Thank you.

    • Stephanie February 26, 2014 at 9:12 am #

      Hi Orla! Great tips! While its true most Irish drive a stick, you can reserve an automatic–at a cost. Automatics can usually double the cost of a rental (yikes!). So if you do know how to drive a stick, you’ll save a bunch.

      We love early bird deals, especially at the beginning of the trip when we’re so tired that we couldn’t possibly stay up for a later meal.

      Your final tip might be my favorite!! Irish artisans are some of the most creative people, producing such wonderful work. Thanks so much for sharing!

  14. david March 3, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    Am confused about reserving car rental. Hertz is around $500 and dooley $2000. even though both claim the excess insurance. Am skeptical. Tempted to just go with dooley trusting all is included in quoted price. Advice?

    D

  15. Stephanie March 4, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    Hi David!

    It is easy to by confused when it comes to car rentals in Ireland. It sounds fishy to me that Hertz would charge so little for an inclusive rate. We just booked with them and this is what was included in our online rate through Hertz.ie:
    •Tax and other charges
    •Location Service Charge
    •Collision Damage Waiver (Excess Applies)
    •Theft Protection (Excess Applies)
    •Unlimited Free Kilometers Included

    Our quote did not include any Excess insurance, which covers you to $0 liability. Renters purchase this at the Hertz counter on the day of arrival. For Hertz, the Excess cost is about 16 Euro per day extra.

    When reserve a vehicle with Dan Dooley and select the Excess waiver, you will get the full $0 liability insurance. The reason Dooley is great is because they provide all of this upfront when you are booking, which doesn’t require you to do any calculations or purchases at the counter upon arrival.

    I hope this helps! Let us know if we can answer any other questions. Enjoy your trip!

  16. Shelby Days March 17, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    I am looking through your entire blog and yhis is just one of the money posts that were very helpful! My mom and I will be in Ireland for the first time for a total of 7 days. We are very scared about driving on the opposite side of the car and road so we will be taking buses for this trip, considering a car for next time. Great tips! Thanks so much!

    • Stephanie March 23, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

      Thanks Shelby! I am sure you will love it–tour buses or not. Have a great time!

  17. Esther April 2, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    Stephanie, I love your website, just wonderful. We are going for a week (mon-mon) over easter weekend and staying in dublin one night headed to cork (try to visit Killarney from our stay in cork) and i wanted to know if you have any suggestions for the rest of the time (2-3 nights) of our trip, i thought about galway area or tippeary area :)
    Thanks so much for sharing this info with us!!

    • Stephanie April 2, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

      Hi Esther! I would suggest the sunny south east. There so much to do between Dublin and Cork and since you have such a short time I would absolutely concentrate your couple of days there. Sorry to say I would also suggest leaving Killarney for another time too. But! Here is a a couple really great things you could do for two or three days.

      Spend a day exploring Wicklow, Sally Gap, Glendalough, Wicklow Mountains/National Park

      Kilkenny: Oh this is such a great town! We’re even heading there this year too. It has everything you might want, medieval castle, cathedral with round tower (that you can actually walk up in), shopping, restaurants….oh the list goes on and on.

      Rock of Cashel/Hore Abbey and Cahir Castle in county Tipperary. Both are pretty amazing structures.

      No matter which things you decide to do I am sure you will have a great time. My best advice is simply try not to pack to much in or travel too far in your one week time. You’ll see and experience so much more, promise. :-)

  18. Shirley April 22, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    Will b n Ireland 2 wks n sept. we aren’t planning on going to Northern Ireland Love to take photos & am interested n your perceptive of places that must see & unique. We will rent a car but enjoy walking. Any scenic walks?

    • Stephanie April 25, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

      Hi Shirley,

      If you are heading to Ireland for the very first time, I suggest going to the Southwest area. It is certainly on the tourist trail, but you can easily step off and explore areas like the Beara Peninsula with great walking trails. I’d also suggest a drive along the Sheep’s Head Peninsula with the Sheep’s head way walking trail all along. You can easily stop almost anywhere and walk for a while, then back to your car. I hope this helps! Enjoy your trip! :-)

  19. Sharon April 30, 2014 at 12:42 am #

    Hi Stephanie,
    We’re traveling around Ireland May 19-30 on a study abroad trip (a packed itinerary with so much to see!). We’re getting a day on our own in Galway (Castle banquet at Dunguaire Castle for the evening) on Saturday and a day on our own in Dublin before we leave. Do you have any favorites in either of those two cities?
    (I can’t wait to go exploring – love your travel tips!)

    • Stephanie May 1, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

      Hi Sharon–You’ve put together my two favs (Study Abroad and Ireland!). My full-time work is actually advising study abroad students and I just know you will love your time this summer!

      Galway is the perfect spot for students, so I am glad you get to spend a full day there. We loved walking and shopping in the city–Shop street is the main spot for a bite to eat or some cool souvenirs. Be sure to venture out to the sides streets where there are some great bakeries and book stores. We love to look at cathedrals and Galway Cathedral and St. Nicholas’ Cathedral were pretty great to look at. Don’t miss the Spanish Arch and Promenade area for a place to relax or walk if it’s nice out.

      There is so much to do in Dublin that you won’t have any trouble filling your time. I always suggest, the Book of Kells and Trinity Library. Also a stop at Queen of Tarts and Butler’s Chocolates is a tradition for us!

      I hope you love it!

  20. Kerry May 18, 2014 at 8:05 am #

    Hi Stephanie,
    My husband and I are traveling to Ireland 6/23/14 for 10 days along with our 3 grown children. We have been talking and dreaming about making this trip for 25 years, it is our 25th anniversary this year so we are very excited. We are not travelers by any means, I have not flown in 20 years and none of my children have. We are staying with friends who live in Dripsey, County Cork for the majority of the trip with an excursion to Dublin mid trip. We have rented a car and seem to be ready although quite nervous about making sure we have thought of everything. My question is will my local bank debit card work in Ireland? We have cash that we want to make available and are not sure the best way to be able to access it. Should we purchase prepaid debit cards for international use or is it as simple as notifying our local bank that we will be traveling? We are so concerned from stories we have heard about not being able to get access to our cash with the cards we have but no one has point blank told us the best suggestion. Please help!!!

    • Stephanie May 19, 2014 at 9:52 am #

      Hi Kerry! Happy anniversary. What a wonderful way to celebrate! What’s nice about Ireland is that you don’t have to be experts in travel to have an amazing time. If you forget something, you can always buy in Ireland.

      The best way to access cash in Ireland is through your bank’s debit card option. Every bank is different so you will want to ask the following: Are there additional fees to access your account through ATM machines in Ireland? Sometimes it can be a flat fee, others–a percentage of what you take out. We use a credit union account that doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees, which can really add up. Also find out if there is a limit to how much money you can take out at a time. We typically take out as much money as we can each time and split up the money into different hiding spots until we need it.

      If you have another debit account. I would notify them too as a back up in case you lose your card or have an issue with the ATM machine. Be sure to have the phone number of the bank. If you experience any problems, they should be able to help over the phone.

      Enjoy your trip!!
      Stephanie

      • Kerry May 19, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

        Thanks for the information Stephanie! I will contact my bank this week, which happens to be a credit union as well so I will probably be ok.

        Will probably have more questions as we get closer to our departure date of 6/23.

        So excited, cannot believe we are finally taking this trip!

        Kerry

  21. M.J. July 12, 2014 at 5:12 am #

    Wonderful tips. My sister and I are traveling for three weeks starting in Dublin and traveling by rental car in the following…
    Powerscourt, Wicklow Mtns., Kilkenny, Cork, Kenmare, Dingle, Adare, Clifden, Londonderry, Nevan Meath. We usually go to bed early and get up early so we can get a lot done in one day while being pretty present in our journey. Do you think this too much for three weeks?

    • Stephanie July 18, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

      Hi MJ! It certainly is a lot, but it can be doable in three weeks. I would be sure you have a day or two built in around each area that you are visiting for some down time (or really just some time for being spontaneous). For that long, you will for sure want a some time to sit in a pub and relax. I’d suggest Cork, Dingle and Clifden are good places to be sure you have enough extra time in (there are so many things to see in each area!). I hope you and your sister have a blast!

  22. Deborah August 2, 2014 at 10:48 pm #

    My daughter and I are traveling to Dublin in August for 5 days. I recently retired and wanted to take her on a vacation. The travel agent suggested Dublin and the price was right! I had never thought of going to Ireland, but now I’m really excited about going!!! I happened upon your site through Google. We are not renting a car, relying on tour buses and walking for our time there. There is so much to see and do, but I want us to enjoy what we do get to see. Thanks for all the information!!!!

    • Stephanie August 3, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

      Thanks so much for the kind words Deborah. I hope you and your daughter have a wonderful time in Dublin. It’ll be a quick trip, but it sounds like you are going to make the most out if it! Enjoy and safe travels!

  23. Tom D September 2, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

    My wife’s dream vacation is to tour Ireland. 30 years later and we are starting to plan the trip summer of 2015. She thinks a tour bus package the way to go. What are your thouhgts on these l packages. WHat makes one better than the rest. Any recommendations?

    • Stephanie September 29, 2014 at 10:12 am #

      Hi Tom,
      The best thing about a tour bus package is that you hardly need to plan anything to do one. Just book online, buy a plane ticket and for the most part you are all set. The down side is fairly obvious in that you have to follow along with the tour itinerary–where to stay, when to eat, where to go. When choosing a tour operator, check out the costs, what is included (and specifically what isn’t), talk to a representative on the phone (vs. only looking at their website), and, if you can, talk to past participants to get the real scoop about what was great and what maybe wasn’t. Good luck with the decision!

  24. Kathy September 18, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    Hi, we will be heading to Ireland next week, the 27th of September and will be there for 18 days. We are renting a car and making a full circle of the coast of the island. Should we avoid the more popular spots to avoid crowds or is the early part of October an ok time to visit them ( such as Ring of Kerry ), should we do alternates? How about weather at this time of year?

    • Stephanie September 29, 2014 at 10:18 am #

      Hi Kathy–It looks like you are already in Ireland so your schedule may already be determined, but you should be just fine at the larger tourist attractions because the high season is well over by now. The Ring of Kerry should be wonderfully void of the masses that appear in July and August. The Ring of Beara and Sheep’s Head Peninsulas are always easy to get around and are nice alternatives to the ROK anytime of year. I hear the weather has been holding on to summer–I hope that continues for you in the next couple of weeks. Enjoy your trip!!

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