Annie's Guide to Ultimate Ireland Travel
Welcome back, travelers, and happy St. Patrick's Day!
In honor of the ultimate celebration of Irish heritage, our resident expert on Ireland travel, Annie Saunders, is chiming in today to share her top tips, tricks, and must-sees when it comes to visiting the Emerald Isle.
Keep in mind, this is by no means a complete list! Ireland is a big country, with much to see and do. In fact, when talking to Annie about her Ireland adventures, her first words were, "oh my goodness where do I even begin?!"
We encourage our readers to use this as inspiration for a part of Europe they may have not thought of visiting before and to get excited enough to dive into what else there is to see and do. With that, here are Annie's personal experiences of how she has enjoyed Ireland to the absolute fullest!
What to Pack
Unpredictable weather means layering clothes is a must. Ireland does not suffer from temperature extremes, luckily, which means you can expect an average of 30 degrees in the winter months and somewhere in the 60 - 70 degree range in the summer. Of course, this is only on average. Check weather sites before you travel but be prepared for any condition!
That said, always be prepared for rain. Ireland can be quite the wet country, with the more mountainous region getting an average of 2000mm of rainfall every year! This will vary by which part of Ireland you're visiting as well as what time of year, so do your research beforehand to know just how many raincoats you'll need.
When packing daily wear, pack with the goal in mind that you'll be dressed comfortably at all times. There is much to see and do, so prioritize sturdy, comfy walking shoes and leisurely clothes. (That you won't mind getting wet, of course!)
If you've been looking for an excuse to buy or break in that fancy camera, now is the time! Ireland is a gorgeous, gorgeous country. Be camera-ready at all times! Of course, any camera will do. (I took the majority of my pictures the second time I went on my phone! Can't beat that panoramic option!) Just as long as you're capturing the memory is what matters.
Speaking of electronics, make sure to have your outlet adapters for any curling irons, hairdryers, phone/battery chargers, and the like. This is a good time to remind everyone of the difference between outlet adapters voltage converters. Consider this handy guide.
Get a set of outlet adapters suited to Ireland on Amazon here.
My biggest tip is to bring an extra bag for souvenirs! You're bound to find a cable knit sweater or handmade scarf you love! Ireland's wool products are wonderful souvenirs, but they can get bulky. Thinking ahead and bringing an empty bag to use as an extra carry-on ensures you won't have to battle with your suitcase weight at the airport.
Finally, don't forget your Euro and alert your credit card company! Exchanging currency beforehand, like at the bank, is a good way to avoid costly exchange fees. See if you can secure a travel card that may be used internationally to avoid ATM fees, and absolutely do not forget to alert your card company! Dealing with a shut-off card is not the memory you want to fill your Ireland trip with.
What to See
It's not unreasonable to want to visit the entire country and its beauty! Try and plan for at least 10 days as you will want to account for the day spent traveling there and back.
The history there is incredible! The last port of call for the Titanic is in Cobh. A definite must-do is the Titanic Experience and museum in Cobh County Cork.
The castles are incredible to take in. I can suggest the Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle (try kissing the stone if you can!), Ross Castle, and Kilkenny Castle (check out the story of beloved Chief Secretary Lord Viscount Morpeth and view the historical scroll here!). Of course, the Bunratty Castle and Folk Park are amazing sites to take in. Stay at the castle for the medieval dinner and show---it's an absolutely incredible experience! Pop over to Durty Nellys right next door after the show...it's one of the oldest Pubs in Ireland! However, the Seans Bar in Athlone in County Westmeath is the oldest with records of owners dating back to 900AD!
Along the way, don't be afraid to ask people for help. The Irish are unfailingly kind, courteous, welcoming, and are willing to help in any aspect like offering directions and recommendations for good spots for food or drink. (Make sure to try the Irish coffee!) They are so proud of their country and heritage, so don't be afraid to mix with the locals! One of Ireland's true treasures is her people!
What to Eat
Most hotels have breakfast available (some at an additional cost) but the food is amazing at every turn. Try to enjoy a full English breakfast at least once! If you are heading out early for a day of touring, check with your hotel staff; a take-along breakfast may be available.
Much of the local fare is common, but the flavors are to die for! For example, you will see lots of grass-fed beef burgers and steaks, fresh fish, and fresh seafood. The grass-fed beef in particular---which you will find a majority of it is---offers an incredible flavor. Stop in to the Hairy Lemon in Dublin for some amazing fish and chips!
When you get snacky during your touring, there are plenty of small cafes to pop into for a small bite, danish, or pastry. Don't forget to try that Irish coffee for a midday pick-me-up!
For drinks, don't miss the tour of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. As an added bonus, you can enjoy a free pint at the end of the tour! If you're an alcohol connoisseur, add tastings at Tullamore DEW and Jameson Distilleries to your to-do list.
What to Do
For those looking to cut loose, the nightlife in Dublin, Killarney, and Galway can't be beat! Be sure to pass through Eyre Square in Galway, where you will see a monument there in JFK's honor.
During the day, hop-on/hop-off busses are a great option for touring the cities. A day trip to Northern Ireland is something to consider. Visit the Giants Causeway, the Carrick-a-Rede Bridge, and the town of Belfast.
Drive along the Wild Atlantic Way for breathtaking scenery. That camera will come in handy when you see the Burren, Connemara, the Cliffs of Moher, Ring of Kerry, and Dingle Peninsula. They are all just magnificent to behold.
Sites to stop in and see include The Muckross House and Gardens (the blooming flowers in the spring and summer are amazing), Kylemore Abbey and grounds, the Burren perfumery (it's amazing how the flowers grow amongst the stone!), and Avoca Mills, Ireland's oldest weaving mill.
And there you have it! Ireland the way an Ireland expert does it. Of course, this is just to get you started. There is so much to see and do in this beautiful country, it's impossible to see it all in a single trip. These are just the highlights to get you started on your personal vacation. What will you fill your memories with?
Connect here to get started on planning your very own Irish adventure.