Ireland Travel Guide
Ireland is easily among the most visited places in the world. Renowned for its rich culture, beautiful landscape, historic castles, intricate art, and mesmerizing music, Ireland is a country that draws you closer, inspiring you to explore its mysteries. There is also a pub on every corner where Guinness and Jameson are readily available. You can drink them to your heart's content.
Irish people are some of the funniest and friendliest bunch you'll ever encounter. They are quick to smile and even quicker to laugh. You'll feel right at home among them. Welcome to Ireland.
Many travelers make the mistake of sticking to the capital city of Dublin during their visits. They explore Dublin, take some booze (they are in Ireland, after all), and head back home happy which is understandable since no one leaves Ireland unhappy. But they could be a lot happier if they venture outside Dublin and see all the country has to offer.
Here, you'll find the best places to visit whenever you find yourself in Ireland.
Capital city: Dublin
Currency: Euro (EUR) 1 USD = 0.98 EUR
Electricity: Power voltage is 230 Volts. Power socket type G.
Languages: English and Irish (Gaeilge).
10 Handpicked Highlights of Ireland
Cliffs of Moher
The cliffs of Moher are arguably the top attraction in Ireland and it’s safe to say they are well worth the hype. I bet these cliffs are unlike anything you’ve seen before as they run for 14 km and rise 700 ft above the ocean at their highest point.
While the highlight of this trip is to see the cliffs, the drive to get there is just as interesting as you’ll drive through Irish towns and villages that are over a hundred years old. You’ll also travel along the Atlantic coast and the view is incredible.
Killarney National Park and Torc Waterfall
Killarney National is popular for one simple reason – incredible scenery. From pristine lakes to dramatic mountains and prehistoric sites, there’s so much to see at the park. If you are obsessed with waterfalls, and you should, head to the Torc waterfall. Even if you’ve seen some fantastic waterfalls before, you’ll still be impressed with Torc. The walk to the waterfall is relatively easy, which is an added advantage and there is a hiking trail for those interested.
Connemara National Park
County Galway has the honour of being home to Connemara National Park, a natural park that attracts people to Ireland just like light attracts moths. The main attraction of Connemara is the diverse landscape. You’ll see rolling hills, rocky mountain edges, bogs, lakes, and other natural features.
If you want to explore these landscapes from beyond the side of the road and take in their beauty, you’ll need to go on a hike. Fortunately, there are many great hiking trails in the park including the scenic Diamond Hill trails.
Who says Ireland has only one badass cliff? There’s another cliff in Kerry, that’d just as spectacular as the Moher, but less popular. This makes the Kerry Cliffs, which is even higher than Moher (1000 ft), more remote which even makes them more appealing.
There are many viewpoints that offer spectacular scenery. Seriously, pictures can do these cliffs enough justice. You just have to see them.
I won’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of the Aran Islands. It’s not exactly one of the most popular places in Ireland but the islands have a lot of charm that only people who ever venture there will know. From exploring on a bike to seal watching, seeing heritage sights, castles, ruins, and incredible landscapes, there’s a lot to see and do on these islands.
Don’t miss the spectacular cliffs and the ancient fort of Don Aonghasa dating from the Iron Age, on Inishmore Island.
Wild Atlantic Way Road Trip
The Wild Atlantic Way is one of the longest-defined coastal routes in the world. It passes through three Irish Provinces and the route has an abundance of incredible scenery from start to finish. You get to see the power of the ocean, stunning countryside, and enchanting villages that showcase the history and culture of Ireland.
If you have the time and driving skills, then you should absolutely go on a road trip on the Wild Atlantic Way. There are many great stops along the way and you should preferably start your drive from the South and work your way up North. This ensures you are closest to the ocean and thus, scenic views.
Nature can be awesome. Nature can be fantastic. If you want to see Nature at one of its finest, head to Dingle Peninsula for some stunning scenery. Expect to see beautiful beaches, prehistoric sites, the gorgeous Blasket Islands, ancient beehive hits, eat the best seafood, and marvel at the Gallarus Oratory. There are also different types of drinks to try at the Dingle Peninsula so get your glasses ready.
Glendalough is just over an hour’s drive from Dublin and this allows travelers to include a day trip to the valley, which is located on the Wicklow mountain, in their itinerary. The main things to see here are the remains of an old monastic site and the Round Tower, which is about 30 m high.
You’ll also find well-defined trails of different difficulties in Glendalough. So, if you love hiking, you have one more reason to go to the valley.
Previously a maritime hub, Cork is now Ireland’s “foodie capital” (due to cheap eats) and has a lively nightlife due to a cosmopolitan university. As you’d expect, the town is filled with buzzing pubs and fantastic restaurants. There is also a couple of thought-provoking museums and fantastic galleries.
While you can explore Cork on your own without any difficulty, you should consider signing up for local tours for an in-depth look at the city’s history and folklore.
Galway is a base for exploring some of the best attractions in Ireland such as the aforementioned Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands, and the Connemara National Park. They are all at Galway’s doorstep. But you should also take some time to enjoy this ‘gateway’ town.
Lovely pubs, traditional live music, fantastic nightlife, and incredible countryside. That’s how to summarize Galway in a few words. There’s a younger vibe to Galway due to the abundance of students and musicians, so the experience here will be different from what you may already have seen in Ireland.
Ireland's Geography & Landscapes
Ireland is made up of low central plains surrounded by a ring of coastal mountains. The highest point in the country is Carrauntoohil which is at 1,038 m (3406 ft). The landscape of Ireland consists of lush, green fields, rivers, lakes, and rocky and rugged surfaces.
The Midlands and Western part of the country is separated by the River Shannon, which is the longest river in Ireland and Britain. Other major rivers in Ireland are River Barrow, River Liffey, River Lee, River Bann, and so on.
Best Time To Go To Ireland
The climate of Ireland is generally temperate. The country has warm summers and mild winters. Thanks to the temperate climate, you can visit Ireland all year round. Also, no matter when you visit, you are likely to encounter rain.
June to August is the warmest period in the country and also the peak season for tourism. During this time, prices of accommodation are inflated. If you’d like to avoid the crowd, your next best is the winter months which feature short daylight. Winter temperatures in Ireland rarely fall below freezing so you can still explore the outdoors as long as you dress for the weather.
I’d recommend the shoulder months (March-May and September-October) for those who want to visit when the country is less busy and when the temperature is a bit higher than the typical winter temperatures.
Traveling in Ireland
Ireland is very safe and many travelers experience no difficulties during their stay. The main things to watch out for are scams and pickpocketing especially in the big cities and high-traffic places. As long as you take sensible precautions, you won’t experience any problems. Below are safety tips to follow:
- Make photocopies of your documents and secure the original in your hotel room.
- Avoid carrying valuables and large sums of money.
- If you rent a car, don’t leave your valuables in the car overnight. Break-ins can occur.
- Don’t wander around at night.
- Don’t leave your drinks unattended in bars and clubs.
- If you won’t do it at home, don’t do it in Ireland
- Purchase good travel insurance.
Getting to & Around Ireland
Dublin airport and Cork airport are the two main entries into the country. There are also local airlines within the country and they include Kerry Airport, Cork Airport, Ireland West Airport Knock, and so on.
Public transportation in Ireland is cheap, reliable, and safe. You can get a significant discount on the country’s public transportation system by purchasing a LEAP card.
Buses are fast and cheap mainly due to the fact that Ireland is a small island and most journeys are usually just a bit over the hour mark.
Trains are available but can be more expensive than buses.
Renting a car is affordable and is one of the best ways to explore the country if you are a confident driver. Remember that most vehicles available for renting are manual and they drive on the left.
Hostels, hotels, and private rooms are readily available and you’ll find one that falls within your budget. Airbnb and private rooms are also available although you’ll have to pay more for them.