Rock of Cashel2 2
Rock of Cashel2 2

11 Questions You Should Ask Yourself When Planning a Trip to Ireland

Updated October 2023–Planning a visit to Ireland for the first time is exciting. However, there are at least 11 questions you should ask yourself before booking your ticket, things that will ensure your trip goes off smoothly.

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If you are traveling to Ireland on a budget, these 11 questions you should ask yourself are even more important to consider.

  1. Is my passport valid?

Be sure to check your passport so that it is valid and will continue to be so for the duration of your stay in Ireland.

If your passport is close to expiry, it is best to renew it.

Ideally, you should have 6 months validity on your passport from your planned departure date.

The requirements for renewing a U.S. passport can be found at the State Department website.

  1. What airport in Ireland makes the most sense to fly into?
airport in Dublin transport from Ireland's airports
Dublin Airport. Photo: Ashley J. Wilson for Getty Images.

U.S.-based tourists flying into Ireland will land at either Shannon or Dublin.

If you’re flying from the U.K., you can fly to a number of different airports, including Shannon, Dublin, Cork, Belfast, and Ireland West Airport (Knock).

When booking your ticket, think about the places you want to see and how easy it will be to get to those destinations from whatever airport you arrive in.

If you’re interested in seeing attractions in Cork, Kerry, and other areas of Ireland’s southwest, it would make more sense to land in Shannon.

  1. What airline should I book my flight to Ireland on?

This generally comes down to price.

flight attendant giving box to people on plane
A couple on an Aer Lingus flight. Photo courtesy of Aer Lingus.

Aer Lingus is a popular choice for many who see it as one of the safest air carriers in the world. Find out about the choices available to you no matter where you live.

Other airlines that fly direct to Ireland include American Airlines to Dublin and Shannon, Delta to Dublin and Shannon, as well as Play, from Stewart Airport in New York and Icelandair, both of which only fly to direct to Dublin.

Search engines like Hopper, Google Flights, Momondo, Airfarewatchdog, and Priceline are also helpful when looking for discounted fares.

If you don’t mind a layover in another European city, that option can save you a considerable amount.

Take $25 off your hotel reservation when you sign up with Hopper. Click on the link below to get the special Ireland on a Budget savings code.

Sign up for Hopper

  1. What month should I go to Ireland?
Murder Hole beach in Co. Donegal. Photo: Chris Hill for Tourism Ireland/Failte Ireland.

This will largely depend on how much you have budgeted for your trip to Ireland. If you are willing to spend a bit more, going to Ireland during the summer months (June, July, and August) is a great time to visit given the number of daylight hours available for touring.

If you are on a budget, visiting Ireland in the spring and fall is best.

Wicklow Street at Christmas. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

Many travelers are visiting Ireland in the winter time, including around Christmas.

While winter airline fares and car rental prices are generally cheaper at that time, expect to pay more around the holidays.

Read More: Best Time to Visit Ireland

  1. Should I rent a car?
A rental car will get you to scenes like this one in rural Connemara in Co. Galway. Whether or not you decide to rent a car in Ireland is among the 11 questions you should ask yourself when planning your trip. Photo: MNStudio.

Much of the decision around renting a car in Ireland will have more to do with being comfortable driving on the left-hand side of the road than anything else.

Most American and Canadian tourists who choose to drive in Ireland find that they become comfortable with it pretty quickly.

A good rule of thumb is to remember that the driver is always sitting in the center of the road (no matter what side of the road you drive on).

Driving on Achill Island. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

Once you get over the fear of driving on the left, you’ll agree that it is really the best way to see Ireland, plus you’ll be more independent because you’ll be on your own schedule and not one dictated by a tour bus company.

When booking a car, it’s a good idea to comparison shop.


  1. Are there certain attractions in Ireland that should I see?

Much of this is subjective and based upon your interests, but for first-time visitors, I recommend some of Ireland’s more iconic attractions.

They include the Book of Kells and the Guinness Brewery, both located in Dublin.

Kilkenny is brimming with medieval history, and Blarney Castle in County Cork, the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher in Co. Clare, Newgrange in Co. Meath, and The Rock of Cashel in Co. Tipperary are all worth seeing.

castle from the air planning a trip to Ireland in 2021?
An aerial view of Kilkenny Castle, a popular tourist destination in Ireland. Photo: Failte Ireland.

The Wild Atlantic Way includes exploring Counties Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, even the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

  1. How long should your vacation in Ireland be?
An arrivals sign at Dublin Airport. Photo: Joel Carillet for Getty Images Signature.

This will of course depend on how much time you are willing to spend abroad and how much you have budgeted for your vacation to Ireland.

I suggest, however, that you allow at least 10 to 14 days especially given that departure and arrival days are included in that.

The 5-hour time difference for American visitors isn’t generally too difficult to adjust to, but for those traveling from Asia and Australia, the adjustment will be more difficult, so take that into account when planning your vacation to Ireland.

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  1. What kind of accommodation should I book?

If you’re seeking the genuine hospitality that the Irish are known for, you’ll find it in the many bed and breakfasts scattered across Ireland.

Expect a warm welcome when you arrive at your B&B (you may even get a cup of tea and a sweet treat upon arrival) and then indulge in a hearty breakfast the following morning.

a B&B house in Ireland 11 questions you should ask
A bed and breakfast in Co. Donegal. Deciding on accommodation in Ireland is among the 11 questions you should ask yourself when planning your trip. Photo: Brian Morrison for Tourism Ireland.

Of course, there are many different types of accommodation available in Ireland and what you decide upon will depend on location and affordability.

A good tool to help you find the right accommodation is Booking.com. B&B Ireland specializes in bed and breakfast accommodation.

In addition to hotels and B&Bs, there is also a wide variety of self-catering accommodation available around the country that can be booked through Vrbo, Airbnb and other accommodation booking sites, in addition to glamping sites that have become popular in recent years.

  1. How much money should I expect to spend on a vacation in Ireland?

Beyond the cost of your airfare and rental car (if you choose to get one), you should expect to spend around $150 US a day during your vacation in Ireland. You can withdraw money from any ATM in Ireland, but beware, you will incur additional fees. Be sure to choose the proper bank card for your vacation to Ireland so that you can avoid those fees.

  1. If I don’t rent a car, how can I see the most popular attractions in Ireland?

There’s certainly no pressure at all to rent a car in Ireland.

If you’re staying in Dublin for most of your trip, or close to the city, you can still see many of the attractions mentioned earlier in this post by taking day trips from there.

a bus on the road 11 questions you should ask
Is taking a tour bus to see Ireland worth it? This is among the 11 questions you should ask yourself as you plan your Emerald Isle vacation. Photo courtesy of CIE Tours.

The most popular day trips include those to the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, Kilkenny, and the Giant’s Causeway, all doable by bus from the capital city, although day trips to the west coast and Northern Ireland will take the better part of a day, with an early start in Dublin.

If you find yourself in other cities like Galway, for instance, you can easily book a day trip from there to the Aran Islands or the Cliffs of Moher.

 

  1. What if I want to see the Real Ireland? How can I do that?

Beyond the main tourist attractions, many tourists are eager to experience Ireland in a more authentic way.

To get that, you will probably need a car, especially if you want to get to the more remote areas of Ireland, including those areas along the Wild Atlantic Way.

a sea stack in the ocean 11 questions you should ask
Downpatrick Head in North Mayo along the Wild Atlantic Way. Photo courtesy of Daniel Struk for Getty Images.

Some great places to visit include Counties Donegal, Sligo, and Mayo.

Are these 11 questions you should ask yourself helpful as you plan your vacation to Ireland? Let me know in the comments below.

colette

Colette is a County Sligo native who created Ireland on a Budget to provide her readers with money-saving tips on how to get to Ireland and then save even more when they're there. She's a professional copywriter who lives in the New York area with her husband and two children.

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