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 2023 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.
It is often advisable to do this kind of planning in incognito or private browsing mode to get the lowest prices on a particular route.
Flight prices often change even when you’ve searched for the same flights several times on the same web browser.
That often happens based on the cookies in your browser, so you should either search incognito or, at the very least, clear your cache.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you're really looking to see Ireland on the cheap, staying in a hostel is as good as it gets.
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.
Some people dream of staying in a little cottage in the West of Ireland for the duration of their Ireland vacation stay.
Another app that is useful for researching holiday home rentals in Ireland is HomeAway.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What Restaurants to Go to in Ireland
While you’re in Ireland, you’ll need to eat of course.
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.
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!
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.
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
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 are interested in getting to Belfast from Dublin, it’s useful to have the Translink app as well.
Translink is the official transportation network across Northern Ireland.
If you want to get a real sense of all the transportation options available to you in Ireland, the National Journey Planner App will give it to you.
The app provides journey planning and timetable information from all licensed public transport providers, including train, bus, tram, ferry, and taxi services.
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).
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.
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.
Uber is not available in Ireland, but an app called Free Now is routinely used in cities like Dublin, Galway, Cork, and Limerick.
Simply enter a destination, choose a licensed taxi, and then tap to book.
You can pre-book a taxi with the app up to four days in advance. Pay with a pre-registered debit/credit card.
Taxis can be found without an app, too.
They'll see plenty 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Have you found your own best tools for planning a vacation to Ireland? Let me come know in the comments below.