Visit Ireland: 14 things you need to know

Visit Ireland: 14 things you need to know

Today we ask you to visit Ireland, or as they call it ‘Emerald Isle’, for its gorgeous landscapes, an island off the coast of England (and Wales). The Republic of Ireland occupies most of the island, with Northern Ireland in the north, being part of the United Kingdom.

Explore Ireland, Escorted 12 Day Tour of Ireland

With a rich history, culture, and arts, this beautiful country attracts many visitors every year, greeted by friendly locals in a relaxed atmosphere around the island. Home of Guinness beer, Ireland has many pubs where this stout is served and enjoyed immensely in great company and music, especially during not-so-friendly weather periods.

There are many things to do and see in Ireland: Dublin’s Trinity College Library, hosting the famous Book of Kells, an illustrated manuscript from the 9th century; several medieval castles like Cahir Castle, Blarney Castle, Kilkenny Castle, and many more; prehistoric burial mounds in Newgrange and Knowth; in the west, Doolin, with Cliffs of Moher and music festival and Killarney National Park with rich wildlife and hiking trails.

1. Quick facts

  • Official name: Republic of Ireland
  • Capital: Dublin
  • Country population: 4.6 million
  • Area: 70,182 sq km (27,097 sq miles)
  • Major language: English, Irish
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 78 years (men), 83 years (women)
  • Currency: Euro

2. Where is Ireland?

Ireland is located west of England and Wales in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a relatively small country, it is ranked by size as 118th country in the world and 23rd in Europe.

3. Visa requirements for Ireland

The Republic of Ireland is part of the EU, but not part of the Schengen agreement, so different rules apply when obtaining visas.

As with many countries, your passport must be valid for at least three months after you complete your visit to the Republic of Ireland, so please plan ahead.

More details about countries requiring visa can be found here (together with useful information on applying for visas for Ireland).

4. Getting there

Getting to the Republic of Ireland is the best via Dublin Airport (DUB), where 18 airlines fly directly. You can also drive or take a bus from Northern Ireland, if you are visiting there, or via ferry line from England.

Check the flights and hotel offers for Ireland:

5. Where to stay in Ireland

Depending on where you want to go visit in Ireland, and what is your budget and preferences, your options for accommodation can go from standard hotels or Airbnb rentals, hostels, but also unique lodging offered throughout the island, including castles and towers!

Click here for these unique accommodations.

For budget (and young) travelers, there is plenty of cheap accommodation to choose from in many hostels around the country.

For the latest offers on hotels from our providers use the search form below:

6. Moving around Ireland

Ireland has a network of trains and bus lines covering the entire island and commuting within major cities. Each major city has its own bus lines covering wider city areas which makes it easy to move around when staying in cities.

To move between cities you can also rent a car, which you can do online from our website or from many car rentals.

More info about transport in the Ireland.

7. Food in Ireland

Traditional Irish food is not very famous outside of Ireland; Irish restaurants abroad are not an everyday thing. Most of the Irish gastronomy is offered in Irish-style pubs around the world, where they serve not-so-original versions of Irish dishes, mostly adjusted to local cuisine.

Here are some traditional dishes and foods we recommend to try while visiting Ireland.

Irish stew is definitely the most famous and most popular dish from Ireland. This slow-cooked meal consisting of meat, potatoes, onions, herbs, and many other ingredients (depending on a family recipe) is perfect for rainy days to worm up.

Soda bread, a very Irish type of bread is actually made with bicarbonate of soda to raise the dough and it comes in every possible variety and flavor; almost every family in Ireland has their own soda bread recipe, adding honey, sugar, or dried fruits.

Dublin Food Tour with a Local: A Feast for Foodies 100% Personalized

Coddle is another slow-cooked meal, slices of sausage are stewed slowly and bacon, onions, and potatoes with some herbs and spices are added gradually.

Black pudding, a mixture of pork meat, fat, and blood mixed with barley and oatmeal in a heavily flavored sausage is definitely an Irish signature dish.

Shellfish, in many varieties, are also very popular in Ireland, and there is even Galway Oyster Festival in September where you can taste all possible variations offered.

There are several other dishes that are location specific and you will encounter them in variations throughout Ireland: Boxty (potato dumplings, pancake or bread), Colcannon, and champ (mashed potatoes mixed with butter and herbs), Smoked salmon, and several more.

And don’t forget to get a pint of Guinness or glass (or two) of genuine Irish whiskey while you are trying local food, for the complete experience!

More info about food in Ireland.

If you want to learn more about Irish food and have some recipes and make the food yourself, click here.

8. Safety

How safe is Ireland for tourists and to move around? Ireland is a very safe country overall. Tourist areas are generally safe, both for single tourists and groups or families, but extra caution for pickpocketers is advised.

More info about safety in Ireland.

9. Prices

Ireland is not that costly for tourists, and you can always find great deals on accommodation, meals, and attraction tickets. Prices throughout Ireland vary from place to place and Dublin is the most expensive city for general tourism.

For detailed pricing information for various items in Ireland click here.

10. Weather in Ireland

Due to a position in the Atlantic Ocean, whether in Ireland is quite unpredictable, but it is overall mild weather. Spring and summer have temperature averages of up to 20 C (68 F) and autumn and winter are averaging around 6 C (42 F).

As there is frequent rain, appropriate clothes are advised to bring throughout the year.

More info about the weather in Ireland

11. Best time to visit Ireland

Visiting the high season for Ireland is summer, June-September, when days are longer and the weather is nicer. Rates for flights, hotels, and attractions are also higher in the summer. If you want to have lower rates and fewer tourists, but less favorable weather, you can visit Ireland later on, from October onward.

More tips on when to visit Ireland.

12. Money, banks, and ATMs in Ireland

The Republic of Ireland is part of the European Union and Eurozone and the official currency is Euro. You should always pay attention when paying bills if you are coming from non-Euro countries and mind the exchange rate. ( Major credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, but please do check card charges from your bank in foreign countries before the trip.

It is always good to have some cash on you, especially when leaving a tip in the restaurant or for a taxi ride. There are ATMs and banks on every corner and cash withdrawals are in Euros with a fee. Major banks don’t charge ATM fees to foreigners, but privately operated ATMs may sometimes charge high fees. However, the machine should warn you about the charge so you have a choice to cancel the transaction before committing to it.

More info about money, banks and ATMs in Ireland.

13. What to see in Ireland?

Ireland is a magical place with so much history, art, and culture and all set in a gorgeous landscape, so there is something for every type of visitor. We are listing here some top-rated attractions:

Cliffs of Moher Cruise

Cliffs of Moher. Located in west Ireland, these natural cliffs offer stunning views and stretch over an area of about 8 km.

Ring of Kerry. The circular route in the southwest of Ireland, almost 180 km long, features many historical landmarks and natural attractions.

Dingle Peninsula. Located on Ireland’s southwest Atlantic coast, this peninsula is surrounded by sandy beaches and cliffs. The area is famous as an upholder of the Irish language and culture.

Guinness Storehouse. Brewery guided tours with tastings in Dublin, telling the story of Ireland’s famous beer. Featuring also has a rooftop bar.

Temple Bar. Temple Bar is a busy riverside neighborhood in Dublin, on the south bank of River Liffey, lined with pubs with live folk music, restaurants, and shops.

Blarney Castle. Medieval, 15th century built castle keep, located north from the city of Cork. Home of the Blarney Stone, with a legend, that a kiss of which will grant you the gift of the gab.

Dublin Castle. Located in Dublin’s city center, this, early 13th-century edifice hosts government offices, museums, a library, and a Gothic chapel.

Killarney National Park. The first national park in Ireland, located in the southwest, near the town of Killarney. Featuring a mountainous sanctuary with lakes, rivers, forests, and waterfalls.

3-Day Cork, Blarney Castle, Ring of Kerry and Cliffs of Moher Rail Tour

Blarney Stone. Legendary stone in Blarney Castle, granting the gift of eloquence when kissed.

Rock of Cashel. Located in the south of Ireland, this 12th-century complex hosts several medieval buildings, a tower, and a gothic cathedral.

Bunratty Castle. A 15th-century castle in the preserved 19th-century village, located between Limerick and Ennis in west Ireland.

Kylemore Abbey. Gothic, Benedictine monastery founded on the grounds of Kylemore Castle in 1920. Located in west Ireland, in Galway.

St Stephen’s Green. Park with original Victorian layout located in the city center in Dublin. Featuring a lake, waterfall, sculptures, and a playground.

Phoenix Park. Massive park area just outside of Dublin. Hosts Dublin Zoo and it is known as ‘Dublin’s playground’.

Connemara National Park. Located in the west of Ireland in Galway, this national park features mountains and woodland filled with wildlife and scenic trails.

Connemara National Park Nature Trails self-guided including Lunch

Powerscourt Estate. Large historic country estate with gardens, south of Dublin. A stately home and landscaped grounds, featuring themed gardens and a waterfall.

Newgrange. A prehistoric site with monuments dated back to 3,200 BC, located north of Dublin in County Meath. The visitor center and guided tours.

Skellig Islands. Two uninhabited, small rocky islands off the southwestern coast of Ireland. Island Skellig Michael hosts a well-preserved early Christian monastery.

Christ Church Cathedral. Also known as The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, located in Dublin, this 11th-century place of worship is hosting apart from many historical and religious artifacts, a peculiar display of a mummified cat and a rat found in the 19th century inside of a church organ.

Kilmainham Gaol. Formerly a prison, now a museum telling a story about political prisoners being incarcerated, tortured, and executed. Located in Dublin.

Muckross House. A 19th-century lakeside Victorian mansion with gardens located in Killarney National Park. Fully furnished, with shop, cafe, and working farms.

Ashford Castle. A luxurious five-star hotel in a 13th-century castle. Located on the shores of Loch Corrib in west Ireland.

Lough Corrib cruise from Ashford Castle or Lisloughrey pier. Mayo. Guided.

St Patrick’s Cathedral. A 12th-century cathedral in the center of Dublin. National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland, offering musical recitals and guided tours.

Ross Castle. A 15th-century castle with towers and gardens. Located on the shores of Lough Leane, in Killarney National Park, offering guided and self-guided tours.

Malahide Castle. Well preserved, 12th-century castle with towers. Hosting antique furnishings and portraits, with a large garden and restaurant, located north of Dublin.

Beara Peninsula. Located in southwest Ireland in the Atlantic Ocean, with many landmarks to visit. Hiking, cycling, and sightseeing of stunning mountain ranges.

River Boyne. A 112 kilometers long river, starting at Trinity Well and flows into the Irish Sea near Mornington. The valley has many prehistoric sites and interesting locations.

Inisheer. Smallest and east most island from Aran Islands in Galway Bay in west Ireland. Known for its fertile landscape and gorgeous views of the Cliffs of Moher.

Dublin Zoo. Part of the Phoenix Park in Dublin, this is one of the most popular attractions in Dublin. Free entry is offered for Dublin Pass holders.

Ha’penny Bridge. Named originally Penny Ha’penny Bridge, and officially the Liffey Bridge, iconic Dublin bridge from the 19th century.

The Spire. Modern (from 2003) towering stainless-steel monument in Dublin.

Cobh (Cork) To Jameson Distillery - Half Day Shore Excursion

Jameson Distillery Bow St. Guided tours of the famous Irish whiskey distillery with tasting and dining. Located in Dublin city center.

Glenveagh. Second largest national park in Ireland covering 170 square kilometers above Glenveagh Castle. Featuring wildlife, mountains with guided trails.

Torc Waterfall. Small waterfall in a scenic setting in Killarney National Park, set in a scenic area with hiking trails.

Wicklow Mountains National Park. The mountainous national park is located south of Dublin, consisting of 50,000 acres of lakes, forests, and walking trails. Protected floral and animal species such as rare orchids and Peregrine Falcon can be found there.

National Museum of Ireland. Ireland’s primary museum institution, with a large collection of national and some international archaeology, Irish history and art, culture, and natural history. There are three branches in Dublin and one in County Mayo in the west of Ireland.

O’Brien’s Tower. A 19th-century observation tower with sea and Aran Islands views in the highest point of the Cliffs of Moher.

National Gallery of Ireland. Ireland’s national and European art collection, covering the period from 14th to 20th century. Located in central Dublin.

Brú na Bóinne. A 5,000-year-old megalithic burial site with three Neolithic passage tombs and 90 other monuments. Near famous Newgrange, in Meath.

Skip the Line: Dunguaire Castle Medieval Banquet Ticket

Dunguaire Castle. Perfectly restored, 16th-century castle with towers. Located on the bay in County Galway, near Kinvara. Serves as a museum of literary history and offers evening banquets.

Kilkenny Castle. Riverside, 12th-century castle with a restored interior, large garden, gallery, and tearoom, located in Kilkenny.

Merrion Square. A Georgian garden square on the south part of Dublin city center. Featuring an art museum, park, and monuments.

Hill of Tara. Ancient royal archaeological complex located in Meath County, north of Dublin. By the legend, it is known as the seat of the High King of Ireland.

Galway Bay. A large 31-mile long bay lined with cliffs, beaches, and islands. Located on the west shore in Galway County.

Chester Beatty Library. Originally founded in 1950, now hosted in Dublin Castle, this library has numerous rare religious and artistic manuscripts.

Clonmacnoise. An early Christian site with a visitor center, built in the mid-6th century, located on the River Shannon, County Offaly. Has one ruined cathedral, seven churches, two round towers, three high crosses, and a large collection of grave slabs.

14. Interesting facts about Ireland

Here are some interesting facts about this amazing country:

  • The three world-known symbols of Ireland are the green Shamrock, the harp, and the Celtic cross.
  • Ireland is a snake-free island, due to its isolation from mainland Europe.
  • The Boyne coracle, or curragh, is the oldest type of boat made in Europe. It is still built in Ireland the way it was built in the Neolithic era.
More interesting facts about Ireland.

We hope you enjoyed reading about Ireland!

Offers for trips, hotels and flights to Ireland.

Safe travels!