30 Ireland Travel Tips For The First-Timer

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I just went to Ireland for the first time. It’s definitely one of my new favorite countries so far. I happened to be on my honeymoon, but whether you’re on your honeymoon or not, I have some travel tips for you. (bright, peppy music) Before I go any further, I just wanna be clear that these tips are based on my personal experience, my personal itinerary as an American citizen, and it being my first time in Ireland.

Part of the reason I like to do these travel tips are you can watch my full travel film, which is already out, and then if you are a local and you know more about these things, be sure to leave your tips in the comments below. My wife and I saw a lot in 10 days, from Dublin to Galway, all the way down to the Dingle Peninsula and Killarney National Park.

I’ve got quite a bit of information here. I’ll get through it as quick as I can. Let’s start with a couple of crucial items for Ireland, a good raincoat and a good pair of waterproof boots. I recommend waterproof and not just water-resistant. Ireland is known for being rainy and windy, and it could be muddy.

So if there is one thing that I will spend some extra money on, it’s a good pair of boots for hiking. We were gifted with some beautiful weather pretty much our whole trip, but we got lucky. In Dublin, if you stay in the most popular section of the city, or the center of the city, there is so much in walking distance.

There’s no reason for a car. We stayed at the Dawson Hotel, right next to Stephen’s Green. I recommend at least going to Trinity College and the Guinness Storehouse. The Bank Pub was excellent for dinner. The Temple Bar was crowded, but it was a ton of fun, and the music there was bitchin’.

I also have a tendency to just look into some speakeasies when I’m in a new city, and we found Vintage Cocktail. You may wanna make a reservation for it. For visiting Trinity College, and going to see the Book of Kells, you can purchase your ticket online in advance, and that will bypass one of the lines outside.

The Guinness Storehouse, it’s about a half-hour walk from the center of the city, or you to can take a cab like we did. We arrived for a 4:30 tour, and didn’t realize it was gonna be a self-guided tour, which was really nice. I would set aside at least a few hours or half a day to visit the storehouse.

Upon entering, you’ll be notified to keep your ticket for a free pint. This free pint can be used at a few different places in the storehouse. But I recommend using it for the Guinness Academy to learn how to pour a proper Guinness. And then you can take that Guinness up to the Gravity Bar, or you could just use your free pint at the Gravity Bar.

I thought the Gravity Bar was the coolest spot because you have panoramic views of Dublin City and the Wicklow Mountains, and it happened to be really clear when we were up there. I could see all the way to the ocean, really cool spot. The tasting room was also nice. Keep in mind there’s a free small taste of a seasonal beer on the hour.

And we were surprised with some traditional Irish dancing. There’s just so much to see at the Guinness Storehouse. Be sure to make that one of your stops in Dublin City. In the past 20 years or so, Dublin has become a very international city. And we noticed there’s a lot of different European influences there.

I’m not really a city person, but it’s a city that I really enjoyed, and I would be really glad to return to. Now if you really wanna experience Ireland, though, you have to get away from Dublin and explore the other coast. For this trip, we decided to head west to Galway, and then explore the southwest coast of Ireland.

Galway City is wonderful, and I recommend at least two nights there. And please find some traditional Irish music at the pub, not some American pop song cover band. One of the best decisions we made for our whole trip in Ireland was during our stay in Galway we had booked some horse trekking with Cooper’s Hill Equine.

We rode the Burren Trail, absolutely breathtaking. James, our guide, is a true horse whisperer, with some beautiful horses. After our horse trek, we were about 45 minutes from the Cliffs of Moher. So we headed to the Cliffs of Moher. My first rule here, don’t be stupid. There’s people who are just sitting on the edge, and any of those edges could just break off at any point.

People have died there, people have fallen off. I know a guy fell off taking a selfie. It’s just ridiculous, just don’t be stupid. These cliffs are absolutely massive. It gets super windy, just be careful, that’s my advice. We had no idea you could walk along the cliffs for miles. So that was really neat.

You could easily spend half a day to a full day at the Cliffs of Moher. Just make sure you’re not racing the sun back to Galway, if that’s where you’re returning to. It’s just not as safe to drive at night. Hike hack, when hiking, if you’re tired of carrying something, or say you have an extra layer you’re wearing that you decided that you don’t really need any more for this hike, and you just don’t wanna carry it.

Just hide it somewhere, go hike, and then on your way back you can pick it back up, as long as you hide it well enough. I’ve done this a couple times. I did this on the Cliffs of Moher. Just make sure that when you get your clothes back there’s no spiders in it or anything like that. Doolin is also a charming little town to stay in if you wanna stay right by the Cliffs of Moher.

It’s very small, but it has a lot of character and it’s right on the ocean. And you can hike from Doolin up to the top of the cliffs, as well. From Galway we made our way to a castle just outside Tralee. We really wanted to stay in a castle. After a ton of research, they can be pretty pricey.

But we booked a stay with Ballyseede Castle. It’s a 1590s castle, and it’s Kerry County’s only hotel castle. It was a fairytale, the service was great. Dinner was great, and the breakfast was even better. We were here for one night, and that was the perfect amount of time to relax and enjoy some castle life.

After that, we headed to Dingle and took Conor’s Pass. This pass is epic, and includes a stop with a short hike up to a small lake. Just make sure you have good enough weather, visibility, to do this pass to Dingle, or it may not be worth it. There’s another route that you can take. Dingle is a small port town on the Dingle Peninsula, known for its rugged scenery, trails, and sandy beaches.

We stayed at the Pax Guesthouse, which is a short walk to downtown, breathtaking panoramic views and breakfast was included, which was one of the most phenomenal breakfasts I’ve ever had. Pax Guesthouse, P-A-X, definitely stay there. Dingle was the first time that we tried Murphy’s Ice Cream and ice cream will never be the same in the states.

Murphy’s is handmade in Dingle. But you can also find it in Galway, Dublin, and Killarney. Dingle is also where we experienced falconry for the first time. It’s offered at the Milltown House Guesthouse at 5 p.m. daily, there are multiple birds involved and not only do you get to experience them up close, it was super informative.

Don’t miss lunch or dinner at the Fish Box in town, as well. It was so good that we went there twice. Moving on to one of the most beautiful roads in the world. You cannot leave Dingle without seeing the Dingle Peninsula and doing Slea Head Drive. Many locals say to do this drive instead of the Ring of Kerry.

It takes less time, it’s less crowded, and equally, if not more, beautiful. Be sure to drive this road clockwise. There are some sections where the roads are so small you can’t pass. These people were out of their cars, trying to figure it out for 20 minutes at least. For food or coffee on Slea Head, I recommend stopping at this cafe called Teac Couminole.

I am probably butchering the pronunciation of this, but I’ll put it in the description. Beautiful view, it’s about halfway into your drive on Slea Head. Slea Head is also where you can find the Dunquin Pier. This was one of my favorite spots on the trip. And next time I go, I really just wanna pitch a tent right there.

After two nights in Dingle we made our way to Killarney National Park. And if you love the outdoors as much as I do, lakes, rivers, mountains, hiking, you’ll wanna set aside at least a few days for Killarney. I could easily spend a month in Killarney. Our hotel came with a couple of complementary bicycles, which we rode throughout the park, and saw lots of deer, toured Ross Castle, and left only wanting more of that place.

Bicycles were excellent here, and you could walk, as well. There are quite a few people taking carriages, but personally I’m not into that. The next day in Killarney we drove to Torc Waterfall and saw the waterfall and hiked around that area for a bit, it was a little crowded. But there’s plenty of trails to get away from the people.

We also visited the Muckross House and gardens. To get into the estate, you will need to do a tour to go inside. But there’s so much to walk around and see there, a lot more than I was expecting. On our final day in Killarney we went to the Gap of Dunloe. You can park at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, and it’s a short, easy walk to the gap.

Next time I go to the Gap of Dunloe, I’ll definitely be going at sunrise. It’s just so accessible, and not many parts of the world that are this beautiful are that easy and quick to access. One of the best decisions we made here at the Gap of Dunloe was climbing up a bit to one of the trails.

It was nice getting away from the jaunting car drivers, cars, people. You’ll see a sign and a trailhead entrance on your right, about 10 or 15 minutes into your walk there. Just take it if you wanna venture off the beaten path and get away from everyone. You’ll still see everything, if not even better, and they’ll be multiple opportunities to get back to the main road.

I’m coming toward the end of our trip now, which was making our way back to Dublin City to fly home. On our way back we decided to stay at a hotel in Kildare, in between Killarney and Dublin, because it’s a pretty far drive. But on our way, we visited the Rock of Cashel. I highly recommend this stop.

Just make sure you check the times on their website if you wanna go inside. But even if you don’t go inside of it it is still very impressive to check out. Apparently it’s not an actual castle, but it looks like one, and it’s certainly one of the most impressive historic structures in Ireland.

So we then made our way to Kildare, to our hotel called Killashee, which was very nice. And it was a great place to spend our last night and prepare to return home the next day. It was also really nice only having an hour drive in the morning, like 45-minute drive, to the airport from Kildare, instead of a much longer drive.

So let’s see, a few additional thoughts. Always use euros when you’re purchasing something with your credit card. Pretty much every transaction they’re gonna ask you, “Do you you wanna make this transaction “in euros or U.S. dollars?” A lot of people make this mistake. Pick euros because you could be charged more money for picking U.S. dollars, for whatever reason. And then make sure to tell your credit card company that you’re gonna be out of the country, and the dates. I do this on my phone now, on the app. So I don’t even have to call. I also noticed that curry is a staple on every menu in Ireland, and that was awesome because I really like curry.

I’m still dreaming about the food in Ireland. And it was really cool to be able to drink the tap water there. I live in Florida, so we can’t do that here. And the tap water there was great. A seaweed bath, we didn’t end up taking a seaweed bath, but I still recommend it. Flying into Shannon Airport instead of Dublin City sounds really nice for our next visit because Shannon is a lot smaller and a lot easier airport to get through.

And it’s closer to the Dingle Peninsula and Killarney National Park. If you happen to be on your honeymoon, like we were, play the honeymoon card as much as possible. And that goes for anywhere in the world, not just Ireland. We told everyone we were on our honeymoon in advance, and so we were upgraded everywhere we stayed and greeted with chocolate or champagne or wine.

It was lovely. Let’s talk about renting a car. If you drive a manual transmission, and you don’t mind driving a manual transmission in Ireland you will save some money on renting a car. So keep that in mind. I have been using Enterprise lately. I used to just go with whatever’s cheapest for renting a car but it’s important to also look at their insurance policy and credit card policy because I have rented from some companies where my credit card was compromised and I had booked it six months ago, and I had different credit cards in my name.

And they just wouldn’t even let me use them. They said no, it has to be the same exact credit card. And I had to cancel my car, and get a new one. So very frustrating and that’s happened to me multiple times with Avis. But with Enterprise, as long as you have a credit card that’s in your name, they’ll let you use it.

When driving, stay left, and you can’t turn on red, ever. It’s not like the U.S., just don’t turn on red. The other thing is research how the roundabouts work So that you’re in the right lane, depending on what exit you wanna take. That’ll save you a lot of frustration if you know how those roundabouts work in advance.

And make sure you have toll money ready. If you take the M50, Highway M50, you’ll have to pay that toll by 8 p.m. the next day. The rental car company should explain this to you. I already have a couple of emails about some missed tolls. So we rented from Enterprise at Dublin International Airport and another thing we did is we chose for them to refuel the car for us when we return it.

In America, this can be a little bit pricey to do, but over there it wasn’t too bad, it was about 70 euros. But if you choose to do this, just make sure you return the car as empty as possible. You’re paying for them to refill the whole tank. So the emptier, the better, it’ll save you more money.

Just don’t run out of gas. And let’s talk about flying back from the Dublin Airport to the states. Because you really do need three hours set aside for this. We had multiple people tell us this. I would say at least three hours because it’s quite a process. You actually do pre-customs in Dublin.

So I’ve never seen anything like this. We got to the airport and immediately my wife is flagged for the one in 10 people that are checking in that get requested to go check in at the counter. It’s just random, and we were immediately gonna miss our flight because this line at check-in for the counter was at least an hour long.

So I was able to get my ticket. We found a guy who helped us out, helped her get hers, so that we weren’t gonna miss our flight. Then you’re gonna go through security. After that, you’re gonna find pre-customs for U.S.A. You’re gonna go through another security, where you could also be randomly selected.

And if you are randomly selected for this security, they will go through your bag and literally take out every item and write it down. Even if it’s a bag of tea in there, they wanna know how many bags of tea you have, it is insane. And then after that you’re gonna go through claiming, and then you will be able to go find your gate.

But if you wanna buy something duty-free there will also need to be time set aside for that. There could be a line, and then they have to seal everything and bag it up for you. And then also at the airport, if you wanna get your tax money back that can take time, too. We didn’t do this. So what do I mean about getting tax money back? Apparently, for purchasing gifts in Ireland, or something like that, you can get tax money back for it at the airport, as long as you keep your red card and your receipt.

Thanks for listening, I hope that you find a few of these tips helpful. Again, this is all just based on my personal itinerary as an American citizen. The comments are open, be sure to leave your own tips. Or if you have any questions, let me know. Cheers for now.