Aerial view of irish coastline
Aerial view of irish coastline

Best Tools for Planning a Vacation to Ireland in 2024

Updated January 2024–Some of the best tools for planning a vacation to Ireland can be found on your smartphone.

No matter when you’re thinking of taking a vacation in Ireland or anywhere else for that matter, the success of that vacation often comes down to successful planning.

These days, planning includes more than just deciding what to wear.

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It almost always includes using some digital tools to help with airfare, checking out the weather, researching the best and cheapest accommodation,  and generally scoping out the places you intend to visit in advance.

Here are some of the best tools for planning a vacation to Ireland in 2024 that you should know about.

Apps  to Help You Save Money on Flights and Accommodation

First of all, a word of caution when searching for flights to Ireland or anywhere on the Internet.

I find that doing your online research in incognito (in private browsing mode) will help get you the lowest prices on a particular route.

Why? Because the cost of flights will often change even when you’ve searched for the same ones several times on the same web browser.

a computer key best tools for planning a vacation to Ireland
Photo: sodafish for Getty Images.

That often happens based on the cookies in your browser, so you should either search incognito or, at the very least, clear your cache. This will become less of an issue in 2024 as Google phases out third-party cookies (the ones that track you all across the Internet). That transition won't be fully complete until the end of 2024.

If you are using Chrome or Safari, you can switch to Incognito mode by hitting Command on a Mac (or Control if you are using a PC) and then the shift key and the “N” key.

To get to incognito mode using Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer, hit Command on a Mac (or Control on a PC) and then the shift and “P” key.

Once you’re in incognito mode, your information will not be tracked, which means that there’s little chance the price can be inflated.

Just to be safe, if you want to use the incognito mode again to recheck airline fares, be sure to shut down the first session and just start over again.

a passport, money and toy plane on a map of the world best tools for planning a vacation to Ireland
Photo: Stock Film Studio.

Since the cost of your flight is often the most expensive part of your trip abroad, including one to Ireland, you should do your due diligence beforehand.

Hopper

Hopper is an app that can be used for both airline and hotel searches and is among one of the best tools for planning a vacation to Ireland.

It recently added the ability to search for rental cars as well.

The sustainable-friendly company searches by looking through years of historical flight pricing data and then determines whether buying now or, say, three months down the road, is likely to be the best use of your money.

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Image courtesy of Hopper.com.

The way it works is that you tell the app when and where you want to go and it then shows you a calendar with price breakdowns of round-trip fares to your preferred destinations (or hotel rooms if that's what you're looking for).

You can either book the flight right there and then or you can watch it.

Hopper will keep you informed if it goes up.

If you are flexible with your travel dates, this is definitely a good app to use.

a woman sitting a desk in front of a computer screen best tools for planning a vacation to Ireland
Photo: Andrey Popov for Getty Images Pro.

The app currently has data on over 2 million properties worldwide, according to its website, so it is definitely something you should check out if you are looking for hotels in Ireland.

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One of the bedrooms at the Durban Residence in Dublin. Photo courtesy of the Durban Residence.

If you’ve already booked your fare to Ireland but you are still in the planning stages, you’ll obviously want to check out accommodation at your destination.

To check out potential hotels in a city such as Dublin, all you need to do is input your arrival and departure dates into the Hopper app.

It will then ask you to choose a “star rating” hotel so that it can give you the hotels that best match your budget.

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The interior of Kelly's hotel in Dublin, one of the more affordable places to stay in Dublin, and a 3-star property. Photo courtesy of Kelly's.

Once it has loaded the details, you can browse from the many options available and then choose to watch and unlock potential hidden rates.

Some of those hidden rates include package deals, member rates, pre-purchased inventory blocks, and more.

You can also get an immediate discount on a hotel stay with “carrot cash.”

The app allows you to not only search by city, but also by neighborhoods within a city and by inputting your specific interests.

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

Kiwi

While this app is most frequently used for researching/booking flights, it can also be used to book accommodation through its partnership with Booking.com.

Based in the Czech Republic, Kiwi's claim to fame is that they can combine flights and other forms of transportation into a single booking, all for a low price.

It's definitely worth looking into since it has a large database of different flight, bus and train schedules.

Other apps to use when searching for airfares include Skyscanner, Kayak, and Momondo.

Read More: Plan Your Ireland Itinerary with these 10 Locations in Mind

Hotel Tonight

Looking for accommodation at the last minute in popular cities like Dublin is not something I recommend since many hotels may not be available, and they tend to be more expensive.

However, if you are stuck and are desperately seeking accommodation at the last minute, using the Hotel Tonight app is worth a look since it’s geared primarily to last-minute travelers.

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Image courtesy of Hotel Tonight.

Owned by Airbnb, the app categorizes hotel rooms into basic, luxe, hip, charming and solid.

Be sure to take advantage of the app’s “daily drop feature,” where you will find specially priced deals that are only valid for 15 minutes after they’re unlocked.

The app also includes access to the Hotel Tonight loyalty program, HT Perks.

Booking.com

There's really no shortage of booking apps online, but perhaps the most familiar one to most travelers is Booking.com.

What's nice about Booking.com is that you can find a wide range of accommodation, everything from camping sites to 5-star luxury hotels.

a tablet on a map best tools for planning a vacation to Ireland
Photo: Pro-stock Studio.

According to the Booking.com website, it has a reported 28 million listings worldwide, so there's definitely lots to choose from.

While the website or app interface may seem a bit overwhelming at first, it's best to take your time while researching accommodation.

armchairs near a window best tools for planning a vacation to Ireland
A hotel in Ireland. Photo: Failte Ireland.

You won't be able to see any results until you add your travel dates first.

Be sure, also, to apply specific filters to your search efforts such as health and safety, star ratings, distance from major cities, amenities, and more.

a man holding a cell phone near a laptop best tools for planning a vacation to Ireland
Photo: anyaberkut for Getty Images Pro.

So many people book accommodation online after seeing glossy photos of hotels and B&Bs, but they can be deceiving.

This is why it's also important to read reviews of the properties you are considering before purchasing.

Discover Ireland with Aer Lingus Vacations

Hotels.com

Hotels.com might be considered another one of the best tools for planning a vacation to Ireland, thanks to its mobile app.

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The Maldron Hotel in Dublin can be booked on the Hotels.com website or app. Photo: William Murphy, https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomatique/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

You can even get a free night's accommodation after 10 stays, so if you've used it in your home country, perhaps an award is waiting for you in an Irish hotel.

Click Here for the Best Dublin Hotel Deals with Hotels.com
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A room at the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone. Photo courtesy of the Hodson Bay Hotel.

What's more, even if you stayed at a more expensive accommodation before, your free night will cover the price of a mid-range to expensive accommodation.

However, if you've stayed at less expensive hotels in the past and you want to avail of swankier digs in, say, Dublin, you may have to pay the difference. I suggest reading the fine print before booking.

However, you will need to be a member of its loyalty program to qualify.

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Airbnb

Airbnb is a popular choice for many people looking to vacation in Ireland. While you can book accommodation on a desktop computer, the Airbnb app is a convenient way to look for places to stay.

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Airbnb host Eimhear shows serves up Irish stew during the Bread, Beer & Bia Airbnb Experience class in Dublin. Photo courtesy of Airbnb.

The app is particularly useful when you’re on the road in between stays as you can access your bookings under the “Trips” tab, where you can view your reservation, contact your host, or even change it if you have to.

The app also gives you access to local experiences at each destination, including tours, shows, concerts and more.

Read More: 8 Heritage Hotels in Ireland that have Unique Stories to Tell

Hostelworld

If you're really looking to see Ireland on the cheap, staying in a hostel is as good as it gets.

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Pods at the Jacobs Hostel in Dublin. Photo: Jacobs Hostel Facebook.

This type of accommodation is most suited to travelers in their 20s who don't mind sharing a living space with others.

You'll find a wide variety of choices on the Hostelworld site. However, be sure to read the individual hostel reviews before you book.

You can also download the Hostelworld app on your iPhone and Android devices.

Vrbo

Some people dream of staying in a little cottage in the West of Ireland for the duration of their Ireland vacation stay.

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The drawing-room on the fourth floor in Ballybur Castle, with its immense chandelier, is available for rental. Photo courtesy of Ballybur Castle.

However, you'll find more than just cottages on the Vrbo app. There's an assortment of rental properties from farmhouses to castles.

Other apps to consider when looking for accommodation in Ireland include the Travelocity, Expedia, and Hilton Honors apps.

Apps for Organizing Your Trip

If you like to be organized before going on a vacation, there are a few apps that will come in handy. They include the following:

TripIt

TripIt helps keep your itineraries and documents all in one place. That includes travel confirmations, flight itineraries, tickets, hotel and car rental reservations, ferry tickets, and more.

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TripIt is among the best tools for planning a vacation to Ireland. Image courtesy of TripIt Facebook.

You can also share your trip plans with others, including those who may be picking you up at an airport or train station or in fact anyone else who wants to coordinate with you.

TripIt is free although you can pay $49 per year for a pro subscription, which includes perks like real-time flight alerts, security wait times, and baggage claim information.

PackPoint

If packing for a trip is stressful for you, why not take the stress out of it with the app PackPoint?

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Image courtesy of Packpoint Facebook.

By inputting your destination, the app will tell you what to bring based on the length of your vacation, the weather in that destination and any activities that you’re planning.

PackPoint will also tell you if laundry facilities are available.

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Other Tools to Consider

While Ireland’s weather can be notoriously changeable and rain will no doubt make its appearance during your vacation any time of year, it’s always good to check it ahead of time.

Checking Ireland's Weather

There are tons of weather apps out there, but I recommend you download the Met Eireann weather app before you travel.

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A rainbow over King Johns Castle in Limerick. Photo: awopa3336

It is available for iOS and Android devices.

It will give you the most accurate reading of the weather ahead of your vacation and of course local readings wherever you might be in Ireland.

Other apps to use when checking the Irish weather include the Google Weather App, Windy.com, and Windfinder.com.

What Restaurants to Go to in Ireland

While you’re in Ireland, you’ll need to eat of course.

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Delicious food awaits at Eithna's by the Sea in Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo. Photo: Peter Parkorr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/peterparkorr/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

And while you’ll no doubt get local recommendations and other suggestions from this website, I suggest that you consider downloading the Open Table app that will help you find quality restaurants in Ireland.

Read More: The Best Food in Ireland: What's Available in Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim 

Currency Exchange App

If you want to get a handle on how much money you'll need while in Ireland the XE Currency Converter is a great app and one of the best tools for planning a vacation to Ireland.

All you need to do is plug in the currency you want to be converted and viola!

Euro bank notes saving money in Ireland
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

If you expect to spend approximately $150 a day in Ireland, just type that amount in the app and it will convert it into Euros for you.

You can also convert your restaurant bills and shopping expenses so you can get a grasp on your spending abroad.

The app works with all currencies and all quotes are based on the current exchange rate.

In addition to the currency exchange app, you might want to consider opening a Revolut account, which is similar to Venmo and commonly used in the U.S.

Revolut allows you to spend and transfer money in 27 currencies with no hidden fees, all at the real exchange rate rather than the marked-up rate that most banks charge.

Public Transportation Help

If you plan to rely on public transportation (a good idea if you are staying in Dublin), then you won’t go wrong with The Real Time Ireland app.

It provides users with information on live Luas, and DART times in the Dublin metro area, in addition to other buses and trains that will get you across Ireland, helping you plan your journey on the nation's public transport network.

If you plan on traveling on Dublin Bus while visiting the city, its app is available for iPhone and Android devices. The Luas app for iPhone and Android phones is also useful.

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The Luas tram on a Dublin street. Photo: Jonathan Hessian for Tourism Ireland.

Download it on your iPhone or Android device.

Speaking of public transportation, if you’re taking the train anywhere in Ireland, it’s also a good idea to download the Rail Ireland app for iOS and Android.

If you are interested in getting to Belfast from Dublin, it’s useful to have the Translink app as well.

a train in the snow 5 scenic train rides
A train traveling through snow-covered tracks in Northern Ireland. Photo courtesy of Translink.

Translink is the official transportation network across Northern Ireland.

Download it on your Apple device or on an Android.

If you want to get a real sense of the transportation options available to you in Ireland, download the TFI Live app (which will give you the steps involved in any bus journey around the country) as well as the TFI Go app, where you can book bus tickets.

buses best tools for planning a vacation in Ireland
A Bus Eireann bus parked at the company headquarters in Dublin. The company transports people all across Ireland. Photo: By D464-Darren Hall – Broadstone July 2008, coaches awaiting wash and fuel, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26498937

Read More: Using Public Transportation to See Ireland in 14 Days

The Leap Visitor Card

Have you heard of the Leap Visitor Card?

It's a prepaid travel card that will get you around Dublin and its suburbs without having to use cash (otherwise a requirement on buses in Dublin).

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The Leap Card. Photo: Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57515782

You can purchase it online or at specific locations around Dublin. If you order online, the card is delivered by regular mail. You can also decide to have the card delivered to your accommodation in Ireland before you arrive.

Fares can be up to 31% cheaper using this card.

You can also download the Leap Card Top-Up app, which can be used on an iPhone or Android device to make it easier when traveling across the city on Dublin Bus, the Luas, and the DART light train system.

If you love traveling by train, you'll want to check out The Man in Seat Sixty One, a comprehensive guide to traveling Europe (and anywhere in fact) by train.

The website was created by Mark Smith merely as a hobby to showcase train travel in his native England.

train station getting around Ireland
Travel to Cork from Dublin on Irish Rail. Pictured here is Cork's Kent Train Station, Cork. Photo Cillian Kelly for Getty Images Pro.

The site has grown immensely over the years and contains a plethora of resources, including information on timetables, prices, train stations, and the best train options to take in the country that you are visiting.

Rail and Sail from the U.K to Ireland with Trainline

Taxi App

While Uber is not available in Ireland, many visitors can still use the app (expect a regular taxi driver to pick you up though). However, there is another alternative called Free Now that is routinely used in cities like Dublin, Galway, Cork, and Limerick.

Simply enter a destination, choose a licensed taxi, and then tap to book.

taxis best tools for planning a vacation to Ireland
A bank of taxis in Dublin. Photo: Can Pac Swire, https://www.flickr.com/photos/18378305@N00/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

You can pre-book a taxi with the app up to four days in advance. Pay with a pre-registered debit/credit card.

The FreeNow app is available for iPhone and Android users.

A separate app called the Driver Check App will allow you to check the license of the taxi driver in advance, including his or her photo. It is also available for iPhone and Android devices.

Taxis can be found without an app, too.

You'll see plenty of them at Ireland's airports, in addition to taxi ranks in large cities like Dublin.

Tipping is not necessary, but if you wish to tip, a 10 to 15 percent add-on to your fare is appropriate.

Itinerary Planning

If you're someone who loves to plan your vacation down to the last detail, perhaps you'd like the GPSMYCITY app, which is available for download worldwide on Apple and Android devices.

a city at night 7 historical attractions in Dublin
An aerial view of Dublin at night. Photo: MediaProduction for Getty Images Signature.

If you're planning to stay in Dublin for a few days and you'd rather do a self-guided walk rather than a guided one, then this app is ideal for that and, I believe, one of the best tools for planning a vacation to Ireland.

In Ireland, you can use the app in Belfast, Cobh, Cork, Dingle, Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, Sligo, and Waterford.

The app includes detailed tour route maps and great navigation features that will guide you from one attraction to the next.

You can choose to follow the app's expert guides or take their suggestions and create your own custom walking tour.

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Photo: Rawpixel

Another great itinerary planner that will give you free information on the city you're visiting is Sygic Travel, which can be used on a desktop and also comes in the form of an app on Android and Apple devices.

This free app is really great if you are doing a multi-city tour of Ireland and you want to plan your activities ahead of time.

Visit a City is another great free app if you're planning a vacation to Ireland and you want to do it on a budget.

a large white building by a river best tools for planning a vacation to Ireland
Cork's City Hall. You'll information on Cork attractions and tours with the Visit a City app, one of the best tools for planning a vacation to Ireland. Photo courtesy Failte Ireland.

The app, available on iOS and Android devices, is completely free to use. It features over 7,000 destinations worldwide, too.

All you have to do is type in the name of the city you plan to visit and you'll be provided with a list of popular attractions in that city, as well as day tours and trips you can take from there.

Think of this app as your personal travel guide!

Additional Ireland Travel Tips

If you're renting a car in Ireland, be sure to read my blog posts on that and consider Discover Cars to compare prices.

Information on guided one-day tours of Ireland is required reading if that is the option you'll be taking while in Ireland. Additional short tours are available on Viator.

Have you found your own best tools for planning a vacation to Ireland? Let me come know in the comments below.

Read More: Planning a Vacation to Ireland in 7 Steps

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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