Tips for Traveling to Ireland

17 Ireland Travel Tips You Need to Know [in 2023]

Ireland is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations for a reason. And while the Emerald Isle is a relatively easy place to visit, there are still a few Ireland travel tips that you should know in order to make the most of your visit to this enchanted land – especially if it’s your first time visiting Ireland!

I’m a full time traveler who has been to over 70 countries. And, while I usually prefer less popular destinations, I have to admit that Ireland has captured my heart. To help other travelers fall in love with the Emerald Isle too, I put together these quick things to know before traveling to Ireland.

Hopefully these tips for visiting Ireland will help you to make the most out of your Irish trip!

You should also check out my Ireland Itinerary for a pre-planned route around the island, as well as my guide to Ireland travel insurance

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17 Ireland Travel Tips to Know Before You Visit

Tip #1 – Be Prepared for Every Season … In the Same Day!

Traveling in Ireland Tips - The winds at Cliffs of Mohrer on my face
My hair doesn’t normally look this good – that’s just the crazy weather in Ireland!

Ireland is famous for its damp but unpredictable climate. It can be bright and sunny one minute, and windy and rainy the next. So be sure to pack for multiple climates, wear layers, and to always keep a raincoat or a travel umbrella nearby.

You should always expect that it might rain in Ireland, even on a sunny day. Most importantly, keep a good attitude through it all: the shifting weather is all part of the fun of traveling to Ireland, and all the rain is why Ireland is so green and lush!

Tip #2 – Know the Difference Between Ireland and Northern Ireland

Cartoon map showing Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

Ireland is the name of Europe’s second populous island, and it is home to both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The latter is much smaller and, depending upon who you ask, Northern Island has been described as either a country or province.

The important thing to remember is that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, which means that you’ll have to cross a border to get there from the Republic of Ireland.

Tip #3 – You May Need Euros and Pounds

Ok, so we just went over how the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are in separate countries. So this next Ireland travel tip logically flows from that: the two use different currencies!

Northern Ireland uses the Pound sterling, while the Republic of Ireland uses the Euro. Fortunately, ATMs and currency exchanges are widely available on both sides of the border – and credit cards are pretty widely accepted to boot – so currency should be a pretty frictionless experience for most travelers.

Tip #4 – Consider Travel Insurance Covering Ireland

Traveling was fraught with risk even before the global health crisis, but these days you really don’t want to take any chances. While travel to Ireland is very safe, and crime rates are quite low, you never know what might happen in a foreign country. That’s why I personally chose to get Ireland travel insurance.

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Tip #5 – A Week is the Perfect Amount of Time for Ireland

People walking on a street in Dublin at night
Dublin by night. (photo: raagoon / 123rf)

There are so many things to do in Ireland that you could easily spend an entire month on the island and never get bored. But most tourists to Ireland visit for an average of about 7 days, which I happen to think is more or less the perfect amount of time to soak in the Emerald Isle.

If you need help planning your itinerary, check out my pre-planned 7 day Ireland itinerary – I’ve already done all the work for you!

Tip #6 – Resist the Temptation to Spend All Your Time in Dublin

Traveling in Ireland Tips: Buildings in Killarney
Killarney – one of many cool destinations outside Dublin!

Look, Dublin is a popular tourist city for a reason. It’s got an incredible pub culture, charming architecture, and there are enough things to do in Dublin to keep you busy for a few days in Dublin.

Dublin is so charming, in fact, that it can be tempting to stay in Dublin your entire trip. There is just so much to do, even on rainy days in Dublin (of which there are many), that the city tends to suck people in.

But even most Dubliners will privately admit, if asked for tips for traveling to Ireland, that the best parts of Ireland are outside of the city.

And while the island is small and it is perfectly possible to sample Ireland’s green landscapes on day trips from Dublin, to really immerse yourself in Ireland you should plan to stay in any one of Ireland’s other awesome cities, towns, villages, or hamlets.

Plus, Dublin is more expensive than the rest of the country, and you’ll find better deals in the countryside. If you need some inspiration, check out our guide on what to see in Ireland in 7 days.

Tip #7 – Enjoy the Craic!

Tips for Traveling to Ireland: Pubs in Killarney
“Enjoy the Craic” at one of Ireland’s many pubs (Pictured here: the Laurels pub in Killarney)!

You won’t be in Ireland long before you hear the word “craic” bandied about somewhere. So what does it mean exactly?

Well, I’ve heard a number of different translations depending on context, but it usually means something like “good times,” “party,” or “entertainment,” though it can also mean “gossip” or “chatter.” See here for a primer on the various levels of craic – it’s definitely one of the things you should know before traveling to Ireland!

In any event, craic epitomizes Ireland’s sociable culture. So saddle up on that pub stool, put away your smartphone, and prepare to actually — you know — talk to the people around you. You never know what kind of craic you might get into!

Tip #8 – Try Ireland’s Other Stout – Murphy’s

Tips for Traveling to Ireland: a Pint of Guinness
Guinness isn’t the only stout in Ireland!

I don’t think there is a brand that is more intertwined with a single culture than Guinness is with Ireland. And Guinness, for all its mass-marketing, is still definitely something you’ll want to partake in while in Ireland. But did you know that there is another stout that rivals Guinness in Ireland?

Murphy’s Irish Stout maintains a loyal following throughout much of the country, and especially in its hometown of Cork. You can find it next to the Guinness in most Irish pubs and you’ll find that it has its own unique dark flavor.

People tend to have a strong preference between the two stouts, so try both early on and be prepared to choose a side in the great Irish stout war!

Tip #9 – Go to the Cliffs of Moher, But Go Early!

Woman taking a photo of the Cliffs of Moher
Get here early for the best shots!

The Cliffs of Moher are the single most popular attraction in Ireland for a reason, and you should definitely visit on your first time visiting Ireland.

But, if you can, try to time your visit to the Cliffs of Moher so that you arrive right at 8 am when they open, before the tour buses start to roll in. You’ll be less likely to have to fight with another tourist for that perfect Instagram shot!

Tip #10 – Tip 10-15% in Irish Restaurants and Pubs

Euro coins and a check
If you forget cash, most places in Ireland do accept credit card!

Ireland does not have as heavy of a tipping culture as you’d find in the United States, but it’s still customary to leave 10-15% of your tab for service at a restaurant or pub. Note that sometimes for large groups a service charge will already be added.

For taxis in Ireland, tipping is usually not mandatory or expected, though it never hurts to round up the tab.

Tip #11 – Tourism in Ireland is Highly Seasonal

Tourists wandering in Ireland
Summer brings crowds to Ireland, especially Dublin (photo: clayton harrison / Shutterstock)

Planning a trip to Ireland is very different during the summer peak tourism seasons versus the less popular winter. Typically, July and August are the peak months for Ireland’s tourism season.

If you choose to visit Ireland during this time, you might find it a little pricier and you definitely will want to book your hotel in advance.

Alternatively, consider visiting Ireland during shoulder season (April, May, June, September or October), which prices are a bit lower and attractions a bit less crowded. The weather is still ok though (well, as “ok” as it gets in a country that’s constantly overcast).

Note that if you travel Ireland in the winter months you may find some of the more rural attractions to be closed or have limited hours, though the major sites should all be open. For more, see Matthew’s full guide to when to visit Ireland.

Tip #12 – Ireland Has 5 International Airports to Choose From

View of outside of the Shannon Airport
The Shannon Airport. (photo: upthebanner / 123rf)

If you’re looking for cheap flights to Ireland, you’re probably just pricing out flights to the Dublin airport. One of my favorite Ireland travel tips is to be sure to also look at flights from the island’s other international airports: Cork Airport, Shannon Airport, Knock Airport, and Belfast Airport. Sure, there are loads more flights to Dublin, but some of the alternative airports also run direct routes to the United States, so it’s worth checking!

Tip #13 – You Can Travel Ireland Even on a Budget

Sure, Ireland isn’t the cheapest place to travel in the world. But, as destinations in Europe go, Ireland is surprisingly manageable for budget travelers.

Here are some practical travel tips for Ireland on a budget:

  • Stay in Hostels (here are some good ones) – Ireland has a pretty healthy backpacking circuit, plus lots of students studying abroad, so that means that most of the major cities have hostels and budget inns that cater to the shoestring budget crowd.
  • Take Public Transport – Ireland has a pretty great bus system.
  • Cook Your Own Food – It helps if your apartment or hotel has a kitchen, but even just using a kettle to make a couple ramen lunches can save money.
  • Join a Work / Accommodation Exchange – You can find many opportunities to exchange volunteer work for accommodation on a platform like Worldpackers.

Tip #14 – Rent a Car to Fully Experience Ireland’s Countryside

Traveling to Ireland Tips: A Cow

Sure, it’s entirely possible to travel around Ireland by bus and train. Public transport in Ireland is pretty good. The trains are really nice and, even where they don’t run, the buses are pretty plentiful. Plus, there are plenty of tour companies willing to shuttle you around to the country’s many sites. So, renting a car in Ireland isn’t mandatory.

But the best parts of your trip to Ireland are probably going to be things like finding your new favorite pub in some random country village, stumbling upon an under-touristed castle set against green rolling hills, or doing a road trip to explore the many incredible Game of Thrones filming locations in Ireland.

These sort of spontaneous adventures are much easier to have if you have your own wheels. Plus, Ireland’s roads are of good quality and are incredibly scenic. There is nothing quite as exciting as driving through Ireland’s green countryside!

If you need a car rental, I suggest using Discover Cars. It’s like a search engine that pulls quotes from many different rental agencies, and lets you compare prices and customer reviews of those agencies.

For more, check out our guide to renting a car in Dublin.

Tip #15 – Drive on the Left Hand Side!

A road in Connemara
A road near Connemara, Ireland

Oh, and one last critical tip for traveling to Ireland with a car: remember Ireland drives on the left side of the road in Ireland (both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland). It’ll require an adjustment if you’re used to driving on the right, but you can totally handle it.

Tip #16 – And Look to Your RIGHT When Crossing

As a corollary to our previous travel tip for Ireland, crossing the street in Ireland means turning your head to look to the right. If you’re coming from a right-side driving country, you might be instinctively used to looking left, so this is one of those Ireland travel tips you’ll have to remind yourself of for safety’s sake!

Tip #17 – English is Not the Only Language in Ireland

Irish road sign in English and Gaelic

No, don’t worry: you’ll be able to get by just fine with your English in Ireland, which is a predominately English-speaking island (although I’ll admit I’ve often had to strain to understand the Irish accent).

But you should be aware that in the Republic of Ireland both English and Gaelic are considered official languages under the country’s Constitution. So don’t be surprised to find signs in roads or shops that are in both English and Gaelic!

FAQs About Travel to Ireland

What is the best month to travel in Ireland?

The most popular months to travel Ireland are July and August, which are the peak season for tourism. You may be able to find better deals, and fewer crowds, during shoulder season: April to June, and against from September to November.

How should I travel in Ireland?

There are many ways to travel around Ireland. One popular option is to rent a car and drive yourself. Alternatively, Ireland has a robust public transit system with many buses and trains, making it a fairly accessible place to travel without a car.

What should I avoid in Ireland?

There are few places in Ireland that require avoiding, and just about all of Ireland is worth a visit if you have time. In terms of common taboos, avoid incorrectly referring to the Republic of Ireland as part of Great Britain or the United Kingdom.

Is travel to Ireland safe?

Ireland is comparatively safe country to visit, with relatively low crime levels compared to other countries in Europe. Be sure to check the latest public health situation and consider getting travel insurance for Ireland.

Can you drink the tap water in Ireland?

Ireland has pretty clean water, and it is generally safe to drink from the tap in Ireland’s cities. If you are visiting a rural area, be sure to ask around to make sure that drinking tap water is safe, as water quality may vary locally.

Is Ireland expensive to visit?

Ireland is a relatively expensive country to visit, but it is also budget friendly at the same time. If you are willing to stay in hostels, use public transport, and cook your own food, it is possible to travel Ireland for as little as 50 euros per day.


That’s it for this list of things to know before your trip to Ireland. Let me know your best tips for traveling to Ireland in the comments. And be sure to let me know if you have any questions about visiting Ireland, things to know when traveling to Ireland, or just general tips for traveling to Ireland. It’s an incredible, gorgeous country, and I hope you have as much fun there as I did.

Lastly, before you go to Ireland for the first time, my final tip is to be sure to read my Guide to Ireland in 7 Days! It’s packed with detailed itineraries, plus loads of more things to know about traveling to Ireland.

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  1. Hello Nate. I will be traveling to Ireland in July 2018. Where would you suggest I start my tour. Will be hiring a car at the Dublin airport . Need to make accommodation reservations. This is my 1st visit. So don’t know much about the different cities and places. Will be there for 8 Days And would like to visit as many places as possible

    1. Hi Tweedy,

      Where will you be coming from? If you’ve got a car already, and you’re not coming off some long flight that will make you tired, I’d say it makes sense to head straight west and then loop back to Dublin at the end of your trip. So that means you could start in Cork, Killarney, or Galway depending on what you’re looking to see.


  2. Hi Nate! I just stumbled onto your blog as I looked for tips for our upcoming trip. We are hoping to go in August or September. Is there a difference in temperature during those two months? I’m from Alabama, so I’m used to heat and rain, but I’m hoping for some warm not very hot temps. Fingers crossed! We are planning to rent a car and see where the road leads us. Any tips on packing? I have heard that the cars are tiny, so is it best to pack in a carry on? Thanks for your great info.

    1. Hey Priscilla! I think you’re going to love Ireland, although fair warning that it may not be quite as warm as you want (though it will depend and you might get lucky). Get ready for rain more than anything else!

      And while the cars are tiny, unless you are a family, I think you’re going to be fine with a normal size suitcase. For packing, just be sure to bring gear for the rain (umbrella, rain jacket, some good waterproof shoes). Otherwise just good layered clothing and you should be fine!

      Have a great trip and please do let me know if there is anything I can help with!

  3. Is there any tickets or passes I should buy prior to arriving? I’ll be there in the end of July 2022.

    1. The main thing is to make sure you have any reservations done before you get to Ireland, as July is busy. Hotels and rental cars tend to book up. Most of the major sites, such as Cliffs of Moher, do have sufficient capacity. It might be a good idea to buy your Guinness ticket in advance though.

  4. Hi Nate, My friend and I are going to Dublin and Belfast in June, 2023. Does it matter which order we should see/stay the cities?

  5. Hi Nate. Great article. As an Irish citizen, I would recommend staying as little time as possible in Dublin. The real charm of Ireland is the west coast, Kerry, Galway, Clare, Mayo, Donegal. As an Irish person I dont like Dublin and urge you all to experience the real Ireland on the West. Much nicer scenery, friendlier people, great ‘craic’, traditional music, you might see some locals speaking Irish or ‘Gaelic’.

    1. Hi Mary,
      My name is Tara and I am planning on visiting the Island either in November of 2023 or March of 2023. It’s my first visit and I really want to see some of the places that my ancestors came from. I’m a descendant of the O’Flarety’s, O’Wheeler’s, O’Terrel’s, and the Eskew’s all of Ireland. My mother’s mother’s side of the family is FULL BLOODED Irish and very proud of it.. I would like to know more about where they originated from and be able to visit those places…Do you have any recommendations for me?

  6. Hi Nate,
    So glad I came across your site and found all these great tips. We are hoping to go in September 2023. I am just wondering if the early part of that month is better, or does it matter? Also, we are flying from Orlando, FL and I am curious if Dublin is the only option or if we can go into Shannon? I had a friend tell me to fly into Dublin and come back through Shannon. Also, as for currency, do you suggest doing the exchange here in the states or there? How much would you suggest having on hand for small things like tips? This is our first trip overseas and just want to be prepared. Thank you.

    1. September is a nice month as there is less rain (not no rain, but less) in Ireland. Plus, the summer crowds have left. I don’t know that the part of the month matters. Check Cork, Shannon, and Dublin airports and just go with whatever flight is most convenient/cheapest.

      In terms of money, I always use my ATM card and withdraw from ATMs. I use Charles Schwab bank, and they reimburse ATM fees and also give the interbank loan rate on money transfers, which is the best you can get. There are other banks that do the same, so you might check with yours. Alternatively, bring dollars and you can change at an exchange counter, you’ll just lose a bit in the exchange rate.

  7. Hi Nate. Can you help with advise on tour companies that have good ratings? This would be for bus tours that go to Ireland and Scotland. Trying to avoid issues with poor travel guides and poor accommodations . Any advise.

    1. Hi Sue! I have only traveled independently in Ireland, apart from some day trip tours, but maybe some readers can chime in with suggestions. I hope you love Ireland!

  8. Hello Nate,

    Great information, thank you!
    I’m thinking about taking my sister to Ireland in April or May 2023. We’ll fly in and out of Dublin and want to rent a car. Would like it to be a 5 or 6 day trip.
    My question, I want to explore family history for a day in Cahersiveen and Valentina Isle and just not sure what the best way to do this. Will be arriving in Dublin and departing from Dublin. Any thoughts? Appreciate any information you can provide or direction.

    Thank you-Michael

    1. Hi Michael,

      First, for researching ancestry in Ireland, check out this site:

      Second, in terms of logistics, I would suggest planning your trip around doing the Ring of Kerry. It passes through Cahersiveen and fits in perfectly in your itinerary in terms of geography and timeframe. The Ring of Kerry is ideal for 3-4 days of exploring, then you can use your remaining time to explore your ancestry and maybe do a bit of sight seeing in Dublin.

      Hope you enjoy Ireland!

    1. Check out the Wild Atlantic Way! All the isolated wild beaches and cliff walks are romantic, plus there are so many charming small towns to discover. But, really, anywhere in Ireland could be lovely! Happy anniversary!

  9. Hi Nate,

    My family and I are visiting in September 2023 flying into Dubin and staying in Killarney. I want to rent a car, do I need to purchase their insurance or can I use my state farm insurance?
    What’s the most economical way to rent a car in Ireland for 10 days?
    Thank you in advance. 😊

    1. Hi Patricia! Sounds like a fun trip. I would call your insurance provider and ask directly. In the past, my own insurance did not work abroad, but it’s going to depend on your specific policy. In terms of renting a car, personally I find the cheapest prices on Discover Cars, which compares various agencies.

  10. Hello Nate-
    My wife and I are planning a 6 day trip in Mid-May. We will be flying into Dublin and basing our stay in the Wexford region.
    We adopting a dog from a breeder there who has been very kind and accommodating to us. What suggestions do you have for day trips and sights in that area?
    We are told that the beaches are beautiful.
    Also, we have been offered the breeders car for our travels.
    While we are both comfortable with manual transmission cars. We are curious on your thoughts of this translating to the left-side of the road.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Brian! Sounds like a fun trip. I unfortunately do not have anything to add about the Wexford region, but maybe another reader will chime in. Regarding driving on the left, it’s a transition I’ve done many times in different countries and it is always a jarring experience but you get used to it. Just stay extra alert and remember to check yourself anytime you’re turning onto an empty road. Have fun in Ireland!

  11. Hi Nate,
    We are doing a CIE tour of southern Ireland starting and ending in Dublin. Then we will be on our own for a few days in Belfast hoping to do the Titanic museum, Giant’s Causway, and the Peace Wall. We’ll use the train from Dublin to Belfast and back. Can you recommend hotels in Belfast near the train station? There are 10 of us. We also are looking for a hotel in Dublin near the train station which provides a shuttle to the airport.

    1. Hi Pam – I don’t have any specific recs near the Belfast train station, but maybe a reader does!

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