Are you planning a visit to Ireland soon? If so, you’ll want to know about the country’s most popular attractions and the various activities available to tourists.
Or, you might just be curious about the Irish weather – who isn’t?!
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It’s always a good idea to be as prepared as possible, especially when going overseas, even to a country like Ireland that is safe, English-speaking, and culturally similar in many ways.
Below you’ll find the top Ireland travel questions that are asked by people interested in visiting Ireland for the first time.
How much should I expect to spend on a vacation to Ireland?
This is difficult to answer since everyone's plans will be different. Some may want to stay in hotels only; others may opt for a traditional B&B or an Airbnb.
The time of year you travel to Ireland will also be crucial to your budget.
Going during the shoulder season (April and May in late spring and September and October in early fall) is the cheapest, and that's when you'll get cheaper fares, too.
If you take the cost of a rental car out of the equation, your budget will be lower.
Without renting a car, I would say that approximately $3,000-$3,500 for two people (airfare, public transportation costs, and accommodation) for 6+ nights is a fair estimate. That, however, does not include food and buying incidentals and souvenirs.
If you carefully select your accommodation in advance, you can save a lot of money right there.
Alternatively, there are specific travel deals that cover airfare, accommodation, and rental car. Check out the Aer Lingus Vacation Store for options.
How much money should I bring for incidentals and what do I need cash for when vacationing in Ireland?
While Ireland is by no means a cashless society, credit and debit cards are frequently used by many people living in Ireland.
I advise bringing between €100-€200 for incidentals like grabbing coffee, public transportation, taxis, and buying other small items.
Try to exchange currency at your local bank before leaving as it will be cheaper than using the foreign exchange desk at the airport.
Most taxis in Ireland don’t accept bank cards, so it’s good to have cash for that.
Uber does not operate in Ireland. The Free Now app is popular among residents and visitors in Dublin and other big cities. If you are booking one, do so in advance.
What kind of bank card should I use in Ireland?
To avoid incurring foreign transaction fees, be sure to bring the proper bank cards, and by that, I mean the best debit card to use when withdrawing money from an ATM and the appropriate credit cards that will save you money in the long run.
I recommend the Charles Schwab Debit Card (this is the one I use myself in Ireland) which comes with no foreign transaction fees. In fact, any fees you incur while using the card in Ireland will be reimbursed to you at the end of the month.
There are several other cards you can apply for, which you’ll find in the blog post linked above.
Should I have credit card charges billed in my own currency or in the local currency?
When buying items in various shops in Ireland, the attendant may ask if you want the charge applied to the local currency (Euro) or your currency (the US dollar or whatever your country’s currency is). In my opinion, it makes sense to go with the local currency option.
What is the weather like in Ireland?
The weather in Ireland can be unpredictable, even during the summer.
The climate (as opposed to the daily weather patterns) is mild because of the Gulf Stream effect. During the summer months, expect mild temperatures and in the winter, expect colder, damper weather. Snow does fall from to time in Ireland but not in any great quantity.
The roads may be frosty and icy during an unusually cold spell, so be careful if you’re driving. To be prepared for any type of weather in Ireland, dress in layers.
Do I need waterproof footwear in Ireland?
You won’t need waterproof footwear unless you intend to go hiking or mountain climbing in Ireland. A good pair of sneakers should suffice for walking on a daily basis.
If, however, those types of outdoor activities are on your itinerary, I advise that you bring a light pair of waterproof shoes/hiking boots with good tread.
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Can I get pain medication in an Irish supermarket?
Pain medication and other over-the-counter pharmaceutical products are generally not sold in Irish supermarkets like they are here in the U.S., nor do they have large pharmacy chains like CVS or Walgreens.
You will need to go to the smaller pharmacies (the chemist shop) and request them from the pharmacy counter. Over-the-counter medications in Ireland are governed by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA)
How many nights should I spend at one destination?
I suggest you spend at least two nights in a location so that you can really get a feel for the region.
Of course, that may vary depending on where you are staying and what you want to see. Some tourists choose to rent an Airbnb or a cottage and use that as a base to explore a particular part of Ireland.
Is it worth it to spend the additional money on an automatic rental car?
Yes, if it makes you feel more comfortable navigating some of Ireland’s narrower roads and being on the left side. Just budget for the additional cost when planning your vacation to Ireland.
It’s a good idea to reserve a car well in advance.
Should I pay attention to the brown tourist signs around Ireland?
Yes! Even if you hadn’t planned on visiting that attraction, do it anyway. You never know what you might discover!
In addition, many of them are managed by the OPW (Office of Public Works), which offers a discount through its Heritage Card.
The price you pay will more than cover the cost of visiting a few heritage sites across the country.
If you are interested in visiting Ireland’s many megalithic sites, especially ones that are not as prominently advertised as, say, Newgrange, make sure you have access to the property since some of them are located on private land.
Do I need to budget for three meals a day in Ireland?
Most B&Bs and hotels in Ireland will offer a full Irish breakfast or at least a hearty one that will keep you going for several hours. If you get hungry during the day, you can pop into an Irish supermarket or gas station and grab a sandwich.
Street food is very popular across the island of Ireland, and most vendors offer quality food at a decent price.
Eating three full meals a day is not necessary when traveling around Ireland. You’ll easily get away with a good breakfast and dinner and then a few snacks in between.
How expensive is eating out in Irish restaurants?
This all depends on what kind of restaurant you choose. A Michelin star restaurant in Ireland will obviously be more expensive, but you can save money by booking an Early Bird special (usually offered between 5 and 7 p.m.).
“Pub grub” is available in many Irish pubs and is generally good value. You’ll incur higher prices in Dublin restaurants than you will in Donegal, for example.
The average you can expect to pay for two people in a mid-range restaurant is about €70 (alcohol included). This is not an official number, just my own personal experience from traveling and eating out in Ireland.
Again, everything is relative to where you’ll be staying so keep that in mind.
Should I tip in Irish restaurants or anywhere else for that matter?
While tipping is not mandatory, if you are satisfied with the service and food that you received in an Irish restaurant, you could leave a 10 to 15% percent tip.
In some restaurants, however, a 20% surcharge is automatically added on, so there’s no need for a tip in that case. If you’re on a budget, don’t feel pressured to tip the wait staff. If you are on a private tour, you may want to tip the tour guide.
How much should I pack for my vacation in Ireland?
While this is totally up to you, I suggest packing on the light side. Cars in Ireland are smaller than those in the U.S., and therefore, the trunk (called a boot in Ireland) will be smaller.
If you can get by in Ireland with carry-on luggage, all the better. If not, just pack what you’ll absolutely need (rain jacket, appropriate footwear, and clothing that can be layered).
How will I charge my phone or other electronic devices in Ireland, and how will I use a hair straightener or hair dryer?
First off, the type of power adapter, converter, or charger that you’ll need for use in Ireland all depends on the voltage and type of device you are trying to fit into an Irish power outlet.
The 230 volts from an Irish electric outlet is different to the 110-volt U.S. outlet.
Most modern-day computers, tablets, and mobile phones support dual voltage, which means that if you are coming from the U.S., all you need is a Type G plug adapter so that your American plug will work.
This does not change the voltage, but you don’t need to worry about this because your devices should charge properly with this type of adapter.
If you want to bring a hair dryer or straightening/curling iron, be sure that it is a dual voltage device and that will work with the above Type G plug adapter. If not, you’ll need a converter to convert the power to the proper voltage.
How can I use my cell phone in Ireland without it costing a fortune?
There are a few ways you can do this, including turning off the data on your phone when you land in Ireland and only using it when you have free Wifi (such as in restaurants, pubs, hotels, and other types of accommodation).
You could also buy a SIM card in Ireland provided your phone is unlocked, or alternatively, sign up for the international plan that your mobile phone provider offers.
Many tourists to Ireland choose to sign up for a service called Wifi Candy. Be sure to use COLETTECONNOLLY to get 10% off the total price of your order.
Is it possible to afford an Irish castle stay if I’m on a budget?
If you want to get the true castle experience, I suggest you stay in a genuine castle that has been upgraded to modern standards but still retains many vestiges of the past.
These types of castle stays are best reserved if you are part of a larger group. Perhaps your family has arranged a large reunion in Ireland or you’re celebrating a special event like a wedding, an anniversary, or a significant birthday. A weeklong stay in an old castle would be perfect in that case.
Castle hotels like Ashford Castle and Dromoland Castle are pricey. However, you can still get the experience of being in one if you book dinner, lunch, or afternoon tea without having to stay overnight.
For example, you can reserve dinner, lunch, or afternoon tea at Ashford Castle and enjoy the opulence of this beautiful historic property.
I will add that there are other, more affordable castle hotels in Ireland that are popular. One that comes to mind is Belleek Castle in Ballina, Co. Mayo, where you'll find a room for under €200 a night.
What is parking like in Ireland?
Parking is easy enough to find in Ireland’s smaller towns where you can often park on the street, although you'll notice that natives often don't park quite the way Americans do (meaning, cars are sometimes parked on the “wrong” side of the street).
There are public parking lots that you can use, too. Look for the “Pay and Display” signs. You’ll need to leave the ticket on the dashboard. There is a minimal cost.
In bigger cities, you’ll find parking garages are plentiful but beware, they are smaller than what you’ll be using in the U.S.
If you want to get an idea of the parking situation in a particular town, go to Google Street View and explore.
Should I rent a car seat for my child when booking a car in Ireland?
No, there is no need. It’s cheaper to bring your own car seat. Most airlines will store it for you.
What’s the best way to travel to Ireland from the U.K.?
That all depends. If you intend to drive while you’re in Ireland, I’d suggest that you take a ferry.
From the U.K., there are three ferry services to choose from. They include P&O Irish Sea Ferries, The Stena Line, and Irish Ferries. If you live in Northern France and you want to drive while in Ireland, Brittany Ferries runs a service from Roscoff to Cork.
Can you see Ireland on one trip?
Absolutely not. Even though it’s a small island, there’s a lot to see, which means you’ll just have to return another time!
Have these top Ireland travel questions been useful to your Ireland trip planning process?
Perhaps you have other questions that haven’t been addressed in this blog post. If so, let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer.