Cliffs of Moher

Tips for visiting Ireland for the first time

If you are planning a trip to the Emerald Isle and you’re wondering what are the things to know before visiting Ireland, you’ve come to the right place!

Ireland is home to many amazing locations like the Tara Mine in County Meath – the largest zinc mine in Europe and the most amount of castles in Europe which you can visit or even sleep in.

From the life and soul of cities like Dublin, Wexford, Galway, and Cork to the breathtaking natural beauty of the Ring of Kerry, the Wild Atlantic Way, and the Causeway Coastal Route there really is something for everyone!

Ireland is also home to amazing cliffs like the Carrauntoohil in County Kerry which stands at 1041 meters tall and is the highest peak in the country.

There are many things to know before visiting Ireland for the first time so sit tight and take notes!

Why consider visiting Ireland

Everyone should experience the best of the Emerald Isle at some point in their life and we would highly recommend a trip no matter who you are, or where you come from!

The 32 counties come packed and bursting with history, myth, legend, culture, and most importantly the craic so plan your trip and you’ll be welcomed with open arms and a cold pint of the black stuff…if that’s your kinda thing!

Where is Ireland

Ireland is a country in Europe. It sits beside England, Scotland and Wales. It’s directly above Spain and Portugal, below Iceland, and to the east of Canada across the Atlantic Ocean.

You can get to Ireland by plane or boat. There are flights from many cities to Dublin Airport (DUB) or Cork Airport. There are also ferries from countries like Spain, France, and the UK.

Best time for visiting Ireland

One of the most important things to know before visiting Ireland is when to actually visit!

Best Month to visit IrelandSeasonCrowdsVacation in Ireland Cost
Visiting Ireland in January Winter - Rains everyday and its cold AF!LowModerate
Traveling to Ireland in February Decreasing average rainfall but still coldLowModerate
Visiting Ireland in March Rain is often followed by sunny clear skies. In 2018 it snowed 🙁High - St. Patricks day festivitiesHigh
Visiting Ireland in April Occasional rain showers and sunny daysModerateHigh
Visiting Ireland in MayThe "wet season" is over and with it comes the heat.HighHigh
Visiting Ireland in June The beginning of summer in IrelandHighHigh
Visiting Ireland in JulySummer in Ireland: great weatherHighHigh
Visiting Ireland in August Summer in IrelandHighHigh
Visiting Ireland in September Occasional rain showers and sunny daysModerateHigh
Visiting Ireland in October Start of rainy reasonModerateHigh
Traveling to Ireland in NovemberRains every dayModerateModerate
Visiting Ireland in December Winter + Wet season, might even snowHighHigh

Interesting facts about Ireland

Before visiting Ireland for the first time, you should know that there are many things Ireland is known for, in fact, most things you think are American actually originate from Ireland.

1. Halloween originates from Ireland

Halloween is a popular holiday celebrated every year on October 31. People dress up in costumes and host parties where activities like trick-or-treating, eating sweet treats, and carving jack-o-lanterns take place.

In fact, a quarter of all the sweets (candy) sold annually in the USA are purchased for Halloween.

But where does Halloween come from?

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago, in the area that is now known as Ireland, celebrated their new year also known as the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) on November 1.

This day marked the end of summer and the beginning of harvest season. The Celts believed that on this night (31 October) before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred and that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

In an attempt to ward off ghosts they built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the festivities, people wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skin.

During the Irish Potato Famine (19th century), there was an influx of Irish people moving to America and they brought some traditions with them, including Haloween celebrations which are now a world phenomenon.

2. Ireland was named after a goddess

Eire was a goddess who looked out for the general wellbeing of the ancient island nation, alongside her sisters Banba and Fódla.

In Old Irish, she was known as Eriu. In modern Gaelic, it’s Eire.

3. Guinness World Records was started in Ireland

The idea for a book of records began in the early 1950s when Sir Hugh Beaver (1890—1967), Managing Director of the Guinness Brewery, attended a shooting party in County Wexford.

There, he and his hosts argued about the fastest game bird in Europe and fail to find an answer in any reference book.

and BAM! The Guinness World Record book was born! Before Google was founded 😉

4. Irish people are hella religious

The Republic of Ireland is historically a Catholic country and you’ll find many cathedrals across the country.

Many Irish people still go to mass every week and the schools are predominately Catholic.

5. St Patrick isn’t Irish

St Patrick was born in Roman Britannia in the modern-day town of Dumbarton, Scotland and his name wasn’t even Patrick. Read my guide for spending St. Patrick’s day in Dublin

6. There are no snakes in Ireland

If you ask Irish people, they’ll tell you that St. Patrick chased away the snakes. This isn’t true, there are no snakes due to the climate. Ireland is surrounded by icy waters – much too cold to allow snakes to migrate.

7. The Shamrock is an Irish symbol

St Patrick was often depicted preaching while holding a shamrock. This led to the “popularity” of the Shamrock and its association with Ireland. In fact, if you ask Irish people about it, they are taught in school that the three leaves represent “The father, son and the holy spirit”.

8. Ireland is home to MANY famous brands

Did you know, there are many things, brands and famous people from Ireland. In fact, most things people think are from America actually originate from Ireland, like:

  • Guinness – Founded in 1759 by Arthur Guinness, today the company is worth $2.78 billion (€2.48 billion) and its owned by the large British multinational Diageo.
  • Waterford Crystal – Home to all things fancy! They are responsible for making some of the world’s most beautiful crystal art like the Times Square Ball in New York City.
  • Penneys – A fast fashion brand where you can get anything you need from socks to sheets at a low price. There’s one EVERYWHERE in Ireland and in other countries like the UK, Spain, Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, France, Italy, and the US, where its called Primark because JC Pennys trademarked the word “Penneys”.
  • Aer Lingus – Aer Lingus is one of Ireland’s best-known brands and the country’s first-ever airline.
  • Ryan Air – Low-cost airline famous for $5 flights then they will charge you for your handbag, boarding pass, breathing to name a few and you end up spending $300. I’ve honestly never heard anything positive about them, especially from Irish people. Have you traveled on Ryan Air? comment below, I’d love to know.
  • Jameson Whiskey – Open in 1780, It’s popular around the world with over 5 million cases sold per year in American alone. Today its owned by the French Pernod Ricard but it originates from Ireland.
  • Bushmills, the oldest Irish whiskey – in production since 1608.
  • Bulmer’s – Irish cider, first made in 1935 at Clonmel in Tipperary, where some 150 acres of glorious apple groves produce the apples that help make Bulmers the natural and refreshing beverage it is.
  • Kerrygold butter was born in 1962 when the Irish Dairy Board chose the name from a list of 60 alternatives which included “Leprechaun’ and ‘Tub-o-Gold”. If you want to learn about their amazing history, head to the Cork Butter Museum where you will also learn how to make butter in 45 minutes.
  • Lyon’s Tea – created in 1902 in Dublin. Today its owned by Unilever and produced in the UK.

9. Irish people love tea

Irish people consume more tea than every other country in the world. With the average person in Ireland drinking four to six cups of tea daily.

10. Ireland has a Potato Chip Theme Park

The small island of Ireland has one theme park. Named after the Irish potato crisps brand Tayto Park.

The theme park and zoo are in Ashbourne, Co Meath (about an hour from Dublin, if there’s no traffic).

Tayto Park is home to Ireland’s first rollercoaster and Europe’s largest wooden rollercoaster with inversion, the Cú Chulainn Coaster. Construction commenced on the 1st of September 2014 and officially opened on June 5th, 2015.

It’s a fun thing to do in Ireland, even for adults! Most rides have a height requirement so keep this in mind when you go with kids.

I really enjoyed my day at Tayto Park and the best part is when you leave, you get a free bag of Tatyos at the exit!

11. Phoenix Park in Dublin is the largest park in Europe

Not only is Phoenix Park the largest park in Europe, but they also have the third-largest wall city gardens in Europe.

12. Ireland is home to the second-highest cliffs in Europe

Ireland is home to many cliffs including the famous cliffs of Moher – Irelands’ most popular tourist attraction.

Ireland is also home to Croaghaun, Achill Island – the second-highest set of cliffs in Europe standing 688 meters above the Atlantic Ocean.

Important things to know before visiting Ireland

Things to know before visiting ireland
image: Rough Guides

Why is Ireland called The Emerald Isle

Due to the moist air and rainy weather, Ireland is filled with green grass and beautiful scenery. This has led to the nickname “Emerald Isle”.

Which languages are spoken in Ireland

Although Irish (Gaeltacht) is the official language of Ireland, I lived in Ireland for almost two years and never met anyone who speaks it.

In schools, children learn Irish and there are street signs in both English and Gaelic everywhere but generally, English is widely spoken.

Do all Irish people have red hair

No, Irish people have different hair colors. Females are mostly blonde with big beautiful blue eyes and males mostly have dark hair.

Are Irish people Vikings

According to many history books, the Norse arrived in Ireland in 914 and 922 and established what is known today as Waterford. This suggests that Viking settlements may have had a Scandinavian elite but with most of the inhabitants being indigenous Irish.

To answer the question “Are people in Ireland Vikings?” – Yes, the Irish are descendants of Vikings.

What does the O in front of Irish names mean?

You’ve probably seen a million surnames that start with O – or more properly Ó.

O’Gorman. O’Brien. O’Rilley. O’Murphy. O’ Connor.

The Ó – means descendant of. and, If you were wondering, Van means “from” and Mac means “son of.”

Ireland Visit Visa Requirments

One of the most important things to know before visiting Ireland is that Ireland is part of the European Union and citizens from the US and Europe don’t need a visa to visit.

Some Asian and African countries need a visa and the requirements are different for every country. You’ll have to check the Irish government website or visit the Irish embassy in your country.

Ireland is the only European country that South Africans can visit visa-free. Without a visa, South Africans are granted a stay for a maximum of 90 days. While in the country you do not have any residency rights and may not work or study for the duration of your stay.

I’m South African and I can stay in Ireland for 90 days visa-free but I still need the following documents before I’m allowed to board my flight to Ireland:

  1. Obviously your passport
  2. Return flights
  3. You need to bring a physical copy of your letter of invitation – an invitation letter for a visa is a letter written to a guest who resides in one country to invite them to visit you in another country.

The letter should include the following information about the person being invited (visitor)

  • Name of the visitor (same as your passport)
  • Date of birth
  • Vistors home address and telephone number
  • Your relationship with the person whose visiting
  • The purpose of the trip
  • How long does the person you are inviting intends to stay
  • Details on accommodation and affordability (Visitor must print 3 months bank statements)
  • The date your guest intends to leave.

The letter must also include the following information about the person writing the letter (the host in Ireland):

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Address and telephone number
  • Occupation
  • Your status in the country
  • A copy of documents (residency card and passport) proving your status in the country and financial Status.

They asked me for all the documents mentioned above before boarding my flight and when I landed they asked me again at immigration in Dublin. The lady also explained this was because they currently have immigration issues with “Africans and Brazilians” overstaying.

If you don’t have an invitation letter, it will be hard to get into Ireland especially if you are black. Make sure you have a detailed itinerary, copy of tour confirmations, a copy of your bank statement, and most importantly your return flight details to prove that you are going home.

If you want to move to Ireland, read my guide for Expats in Ireland!

What are the popular sports in Ireland

Sports are a big deal in Ireland!

Hurling and Gaelic managed by ‎Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and professional players don’t get paid. They have day jobs and represent their country for fun! You can learn more about sports at the GAA Museum inside Croke Park in Dublin – the largest stadium in Ireland.

I’ve never witnessed so many sports that are so rough that players have to wear protective gear as helmets cos people have actually died while playing.

  • Gaelic Football: Commonly referred to as football or Gaelic, it is played between two teams of 15 players on a rectangular grass pitch. The objective of the sport is to score by kicking or punching the ball into the other team’s goals.
  • Hurling: Ireland’s national sport is considered to be the fastest game on earth. It dates back to the 2nd millennium BC and resembles field hockey, played with a shorter stick with a broader oval blade.
  • Rugby: I used to live up the road from Aviva Stadium in Ballsbridge, Dublin it seats over 50,000 people, and it’s home to the Irish rugby union team and the Republic of Ireland football team.

Is Ireland still at war

The conflict also known as “the troubles” began in the late 1960s and is usually deemed to have ended with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

Quick History Lesson: England basically colonized EVERYBODY, including Ireland and people, got tired and fought for Independence. However, In Ireland, some people wanted to be part of England and not the newly independent “Republic of Ireland”. This led to what is known today as “The troubles” in Northern Ireland, where violence spilled over into parts of the Republic of Ireland, England, and mainland Europe.

If you want to learn about this, I highly recommend that you go on the Black Taxi Tour in Belfast, it was one of the best tours I’ve been on in my life and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

Do I need a passport to go to Northern Ireland

Ireland is divided into two parts: The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland which is part of the United Kingdom. You can easily drive or take the train to the England side of Ireland within 2 hours from Dublin.

I have done this five times and didn’t get stopped for a passport check. I wouldn’t recommend going to Northern Ireland without a UK Visa as it’s technically illegal although there aren’t any border checks. Also, things might change after Brexit comes into effect.

Northern Ireland Travel Guides

Adapter for Ireland

Electricity in Ireland is 230V/50Hz.Outlets in Ireland take 3 rectangular prongs, same as what is used in the United Kingdom.

What time is it in Ireland

Ireland is part of the same time zone as London.

During the winter, the time is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). From last Sunday in March until the last Sunday in October, Ireland changes its clocks forward from GMT by one hour (GMT+1).

Being a Black Expat in Ireland

Irish people are generally warm. I personally never experienced any racism or weird behavior from Irish people.

Everyone was friendly, welcoming and respectful. There are a lot of black people in Ireland (both Irish black people and expats) especially in cities like Dublin and Waterford.

Famous people from Ireland

If you like your music then look no further as you step onto the shores that birthed the likes of U2, Westlife, Boyzone, Sinead O’Connor, The Dubliners, Van Morrison, The Corrs, Christy Moore and so many more!

Some of my favorite Irish personalities include Pippa O’ Connor. She’s a mom, style influencer, and model who owns a company that makes jeans – Poco By Pippa.

Bono is often spotted roaming the streets of Dublin or singing at a random spot every Christmas season, there’s a thing he does every year where he randomly sings unannounced for free and people call each other and flock there.

Tips for driving in Ireland

Things to know before visiting ireland

Driving tips are probably one of the most things to know before visiting Ireland.

Which side of the road do they drive in Ireland

Both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland drive on the left. The legal age to drive in Ireland is 16 yrs old.

How to rent a car in Ireland if you’re under 25

Ireland has strict laws about renting a car when you’re under 25. When I was planning my Ring of Kerry road trip, I called over 5 different car rentals, I even offered to pay more and they all said no!

After many phone calls and emails to different car rentals, I came across the GoCar App. It’s an app that lets you pay as you drive. They have hundreds of cars and vans across Ireland and you can drive for as little as €8 per hour or from €50 per day.

All you need to do is download the app, signup, upload your debit or credit card, picture of your drivers’ license, and a photo of yourself and that’s it! Insurance, fuel, tax, and city parking are included in the price. Once you’ve signed up, you can book any car you want and pick it up on the side of any road (use the app to find a car near your current location), unlock it using their app, take the keys from the glovebox and drive it as normal. To finish your booking you just drop the car back to where you picked it up. I’ve used this service multiple times and absolutely love it.

One thing I didn’t like about GoCar was that you have to bring the car back to where you found it (like the exact street location where you found it).

GoCar is also the only car rental in Ireland for people under 25 years!

Is Uber legal in Ireland

No, there is no Uber in Ireland but My Taxi operates the same way.

Best Apps for Ireland Travel

What are the best travel apps in Ireland? From finding out how to get around, checking out the city’s art and events, or discovering nuggets of history and places you never knew about, there are few better companions than your trusty smartphone. Here’s a list of my go-to apps after living in Dublin.

Journey Planner

This app allows you to check multiple public transport options (train, bus, tram, ferry, and taxi services) on your phone.

It provides door-to-door route plans integrating scheduled departures near your current location to any specific destination point. It covers the whole of Ireland including rural locations and all modes of public transport. Examples of which include; Dublin Bus, Luas, Bus Eireann, DART, Commuter Rail, Air Coach, GoBe, and Matthews Coaches.

You can see the next departure and arrivals at a specific point. You can also save your favorite locations and recent journeys and use dynamic zoom and scroll mapping.

Leap Top-Up App

The Leap Card app allows you to pay for public transport in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford, Sligo, Athlone, and Wexford.

Fares are up to 31% cheaper using a Leap Card. Dublin users also have additional benefits, such as capping and leap 90 discount. If you travel a lot in one day or one week on Dublin Bus, Go-Ahead Ireland, Luas, Dart and Commuter Rail, they’ll automatically cap the price so you don’t spend any more than you need to. Once you’ve reached the cap you travel for free.

The app is a free app for NFC-enabled Android phones. It allows you to instantly top-up your Leap Card, check your balance, and collect tickets. Once downloaded, simply hold your Leap Card to the back of your NFC-enabled Android smartphone to instantly check your balance, collect a pre-paid ticket, or top-up your Leap Card – anytime, anywhere.

Video Doctor

Video Doctor is a great resource for tourists or expats that are moving to a new country where they do not have referrals for physicians.

The app allows you to have a consultation with a doctor via video call and they send your prescription to a pharmacy of your choice and you can go there to pick up medication instantly!


With this App travelers and expats can find meet-up groups that are based on subjects that they are interested in. The user can subscribe to various meetup groups and get information about upcoming events. My favorite group in Dublin is New and Not so New in Dublin.

I met a lovely 50-year-old Irish lady on Meetup and we went on a day trip to Belfast on my birthday. Although it rained all day, It was one of the best birthday experience ever. She started inviting me to see opera and theatre shows!


Expats groups on Facebook are a great way to make new friends and join communities in a new country or city. These are some of the groups I joined:


Nothing is more annoying than searching around for menus in the drawer, talking to somebody on the phone, and then explaining where you live to the driver. This app takes all of that out of the equation and makes ordering food way too easy!


Dublin can be an expensive city to dine in so this voucher app is a must-have if you want to cut your costs. Dine-in top-quality restaurants and pay even less for it using this fantastic app. If you’re stumped for places to go then this can also serve as inspiration for the evening too, as it contains everything from cocktail classes to gymnastics.

Done Deal

Ireland’s version of Craigslist. Whatever it is you happen to be looking for – there’s a chance you’ll find it on this app.

Important Irish Laws tourists should know

  • The legal drinking age, both in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is 18 years.
  • Cops are called “Gardai” which means police in Irish. The police in Ireland don’t carry guns.
  • Everything (I mean EVERYTHING) shuts down on Easter and Christmas day. Hotels will generally be working but public transport, shops, and even pubs close.
  • No drinking in public. Beaches and parks included.
  • Drugs are illegal.
  • Same-sex marriage is legal in Ireland and rights are protected by legislation tackling discrimination
  • If you get drunk and vomit in a taxi you have to pay a fine of 100 EUR.
  • It was illegal to sell alcohol on Easter till they changed the law recently.
  • In Northern Ireland, it is technically illegal to go to the cinema on Sundays. In 1991, a new law was introduced in observation of the Sabbath, Northern Ireland enacted the Cinemas Order, which prohibits anyone from taking Sunday trips to watch a movie at the cinema. Doing so may result in a fine of £50. This doesn’t apply to people in the Republic of Ireland.

Irish terms explained

Irish People
source: flickr

Depending on where you go in Ireland, you’ll pick up the different accents and terms they use. It was confusing at first but after a while, I got used to the Irish way of saying things. Irish people generally refer to any type of crisp as “Tayto’s,” in the same way that a vacuum cleaner is referred to by the brand name “Hoover,” or SUV as “jeep” or sticky tape as “Sellotape.”

Being “Grand”

Irish people’s constant use of the word ‘grand’ can be confusing to an outsider.

You know how Turkish people say “Tamam” to everything or South Africans say “lekker”. This term is used in the same way. Basically, “grand” means ok.

  1. How are you today? grand
  2. Want to meet for dinner? grand

It is used to express, joy (grand!), sadness (ah, grand), sarcasm (oh, that’s grand!), hope (ah, it’ll be grand). It’s a word that can get you out of, or into, any situation in Ireland.


“ What’s the craic ” is a popular Irish saying.

Craic is pronounced as “crack” and is a term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation.

It’s basically an Irish way of saying “What’s happening?” , “What’s new?” “What are you doing” like “What’s the craic tonight?”. This article explains it in detail.

Other “Irish” words to know

  • Síbín – pronounced as Shebeen, In South African townships, places that sell alcohol are called shebeens. I always thought its a unique SA word but turns out its Irish.
  • Galore – As in “go leor”, many.
  • Call over – “I’ll call over after work” – this means I’ll come over.
  • Ring me – If someone says “Ring me later” or “give me a ring” – this means call me or I’ll call you.
  • Donnybrook – I used to live in an area named Donnybrook in Dublin 4 and later learned that Donnybrook means a very public quarrel, or “brawl”.
  • Runners – Sneakers
  • Feck – Irish’s toned-down version of “Fuck”
  • Give out – to give someone a talking to, from the Irish “tabhair amach”.
  • Jumper – Sweatshirt
  • Fáilte – Welcome
  • Avocado – the first recorded use of “avocado” was by Sir Hans Sloane from Co Down in Ireland. He published a catalog of Jamaican plants in 1696 in which he described the avocado, whose name emerged from the Aztec or Nahuatl word for testicle, because of its shape.
  • Sheila – this popular female name comes from the Irish word “Síle”.
  • Hot Press – The term for an airing cupboard.
  • Áth Cliath – town
  • Sláinte – translates to health. Its a way of saying cheers in Irish.

Things to buy in Ireland

The Shamrock Boot

Dubbary Boots

This was Dubarry’s first dedicated sailing boot with its most popular boot of all being The Signature Dubarry Galway Boot.

Dubarry’s range has expanded to include clothing and accessories and has achieved great success and plaudits and the brand is admired, desired and enjoyed around the world.

These specific boots retail for over 300 EUR.

Aran Sweater

Ireland’s contribution to fashion. The Aran Sweater takes its name from the set of islands where it originated many generations ago, off the West coast of Ireland.

The Aran Islands lie at the mouth of Galway Bay, at the mercy of the relentless Atlantic Sea. The Islanders were fishermen and farmers whose lives and livelihoods were deeply intertwined.

The Aran Sweater was born in 1892 because it’s hella cold in that region and has since become the ultimate symbol of Irish Clan heritage.

Irish Tea

When it comes to Irish tea it’s always been a shootout between Ireland’s two best-loved brands, Barry’s Tea in Cork and Lyon’s Tea from Dublin, both over 100 years old.

A box of either brand is almost mandatorily accompanied by Irish travelers visiting friends or relatives abroad!

O’Neills GAA Shirt

GAA Ireland

An Irish person can spot a GAA jersey a mile away anywhere in the world and the chances are the “geansaí” (Irish for a jersey) was made by O’ Neills. Founded in 1918 as a manufacturer of Gaelic footballs, today it is the largest sportswear manufacturing company in Ireland.

The company has expanded considerably in the last forty years and is now a major supplier across a wide range of sports including Gaelic games, soccer, rugby, boxing, basketball, athletics, Special Olympic athletes, hockey, and netball.

Places to visit in Ireland


Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin

The capital and most expensive city in Ireland. Known for its party culture, Guinness and drunk hens and stags (EVERY WEEKEND! It’s impossible to walk through the streets of Dublin and not see a group of loud bachelor and bachelorette parties.)

There are many things to do in Dublin, you’ll love it!



My second home after moving from Dublin. The countryside of Ireland is amazing and Wexford is one of the best counties to live in.

It’s affordable, the beaches are plenty, there are many things to do in Wexford, from going to the annual opera festival to seasonal events like the circus, ice skating, farmers’ markets, museums and amazing trails for hikers. Wexford is an amazing part of the county and worth adding to your itinerary.


Cobh Cork Ireland

County Cork is home to many historic gems! Do you want to see the port where the titanic last stopped before the fatal crash, or learn how to make butter in 45 minutes or if you want to kiss the famous Blarney Stone? Head to County Cork!

Claire and Galway

Cliffs of Moher Ireland

Ireland’s fifth-largest city and a major vacation destination for those visiting Ireland. It’s drawn us back three times, and we know we will be back again in the future. There are daily day tours from Dublin to Galway and they all stop at the Cliffs of Moher!

It’s one of the biggest and most popular attractions, not just in Ireland, but in Europe, and well worth the effort.


Things to do in Dublin

Ireland’s northernmost – made up of castles, rugged coastline, and mountains such as the quartzite Mount Errigal. Glenveagh National Park (the second largest national park in Ireland), once a private estate, encompasses forests, lakes, and bogland in the Derryveagh Mountains.

It took 4 hours to get to Donegal from Dublin and I had to drive through Northern Ireland (UK). I recommend stopping along the way and not driving directly as I did!


Kilkenny Castle

Home to one of the finest examples of a 12th century Norman castle in the world. The quaint Kilkenny City was the capital of Ireland in the middle century!

Today its narrow streets are full of colorful shops and buildings and make Kilkenny City the perfect destination for a day trip from Dublin.


Clock Tower, Waterford
Waterford Clock Tour in the city center

The city was founded by Vikings in 914 A.D. – making it Ireland’s oldest town! It’s also home to the famed glass manufacturer Waterford Crystal which opened in 1783.

They made the famous Times Square Centennial Ball weighing nearly six tons and twelve feet in diameter. Although the company doesn’t produce its products in Waterford anymore, they offer daily tours and crystal-making classes. It’s a luxurious place and I wouldn’t recommend taking kids unless you have money to pay for damages!

Get Insurance before traveling to Ireland

Use travel insurance while visiting Ireland so you are covered for theft and medical expenses. There are a lot of adventurous activities to do in Ireland, and it’s best to have peace of mind while swimming, hiking and trying some of the best food in the world.


Find out why I recommend World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance review.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a booking after clicking on a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!

Things to know before visiting ireland
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15 thoughts on “Tips for visiting Ireland for the first time”

  1. I plan on traveling with RyanAir for the first time this year. Kinda excited and nervous at the same time but I’ll see how it goes. I hope you have a great time in Ireland.

  2. Hi! Heading to Ireland for the first time at the end of May, so thanks for all your tips. To your point about Ryan Air, we used them to hop from Rome to Sicily. Very cheap. Don’t recall overcharges. I did refer to them as ‘Scare Air’, however. The seatbelts were somewhat whacked. Seats absolutely crammed, but it was an hour flight, so no worries.

  3. Thanks so much for your great info. Looking forward to my trip to Ireland!

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  5. Wow! This is such a thorough post! Pinning for future reference as I hope to visit Ireland in the next few years.

  6. Wow, as always another super comprehensive post. I’ve visited Northern Ireland and did the Black Cab tour and wow, literally haven’t done anything like it. I really had no clue about the history until I did that tour. Highly highly recommend to any one. I have not been to Dublin though! Great tips!

  7. Loved Ireland. I really want to go back. I was so fascinated by the Aran sweater when I went to Inish Man. Quite creepy that it started so they could tell who a body was if they drowned!

  8. Great post, very thorough and interesting! I never knew a lot of these facts, like about Halloween or St Patrick! I also never put two and two together about Guinness the drink and Guinness the world record book…seems like a big DUH now haha.

    When I was there hiking I was so glad not to worry about snakes or any other predators. I slept like a baby in my tent, unlike in the States where I’m constantly scared of bears and stuff. Traveling via RyanAir actually didn’t cause me any trouble at all, if you show up with your boarding pass already printed and pre-pay for your bags, you just go on through without being slammed with unexpected fees.

    Too bad I didn’t know about the Tayto park 🙁 Could have been a fun detour from Dublin.

  9. Wew… that was a lot to take in. Haven’t visited Ireland yet but hoping to be there anytime soon. 🙂

  10. Wow this is awesome! So helpful. I loved Ireland and cant wait to go back. 🙂

  11. Catherine @ To & Fro Fam

    Wow, I learned so much about Ireland here! I already knew I want to visit it, but I had no idea Ireland drinks the most tea in the world! I drink about 4 pots per day so I think I’d be right at home. 🙂

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