Ireland Vacations: 6 Tips for a Great Trip to Ireland

Ireland is the land of legends, lyrics and landscapes, with a people who are as welcoming as they are delightful. However, there is so much more to Ireland than just beautiful countryside and engaging people.

To make sure you make the most of your visit to Ireland, here are six things you should know before you go.

Views are amazing along the Dingle Way, a hiking path in Ireland.
Views are amazing along the Dingle Way, a hiking path in Ireland.
Reflection of a beautiful city - The City of Dublin. The capital of the Republic of Ireland. Photo by U-g-g-B-o-y (flickr)
Reflection of a beautiful city - The City of Dublin. The capital of the Republic of Ireland. Photo by U-g-g-B-o-y (flickr)
Blessington Street Basin in north Dublin - Ireland. Photo by U-g-g-B-o-y (flckr)
Blessington Street Basin in north Dublin - Ireland. Photo by U-g-g-B-o-y (flckr)

The countries in Ireland

1) One Island, Two Countries

There are two countries on this one beautiful island. The Republic of Ireland covers most of the south, while Northern Ireland remains a part of the United Kingdom. This means two flags, two capitals, and two currencies. Ireland uses the Euro, while Northern Ireland uses the British pound sterling. However, apart from needing two different kinds of money, you wouldn’t even notice that you’ve crossed the border. You do not need a passport, and traffic flows freely from one side to the other.

2) Put the Past Behind You and Go North

In fact, no trip to Ireland is complete without a visit to the incredible beauty of the North. For decades, Northern Ireland made headlines for violent clashes between its Catholic and Protestant populations, but The Troubles are over. Instead, you’ll find a place that is thriving and peaceful. Make the effort to visit, and you’ll fall in love with its beautiful castles and towns, and its gorgeous beaches. In particular, Giant’s Causeway and the Antrim Coast are an absolute must-see for their truly unique and breathtaking landscape.

Map of Ireland

show route and directions
A markerNorthern Ireland -
[get directions]

B markerRepublic of Ireland -
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Driving in Ireland

 3) Rent a Car

Even including the North, Ireland is small.  It’s roughly half the size of California, and packs incredible variety into its small space, making it possible for you see it all.  From stunning coastline to rural beauty and thriving cities, the best way to see as much as possible is to rent a car.  All you need is your driver’s license from back home, and you’re ready to go.   Make arrangements for the rental car before you leave, so you’re guaranteed both a car and a cheap rate. Now a word about driving in Ireland; it’s fine, once you get used to it.   Stay on the left, and don’t let the roundabouts scare you. Take your time, stay well onto your side of the road, and you’ll do just fine.

Belfast, Northern Ireland. Photo by lyng883 (flickr)
Belfast, Northern Ireland. Photo by lyng883 (flickr)

Ireland's beautiful cities

4) Don’t Skip the Cities

While you should definitely explore Ireland’s picturesque countryside, don’t skimp on time in the cities. Dublin and Belfast are two of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe, and they are very different from one another. Belfast’s downtown buildings, such as City Hall, are stunning examples of Edwardian architecture, and many pay tribute to the city’s legacy as the place where the Titanic was built. Distinctive Georgian townhouses line Dublin’s elegant streets. Dublin is a center of education, art and literature, having given the world some of its best writers, including James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, and Oscar Wilde. It’s not all serious business, however. The pubs in the Temple Bar district are always packed with revelry and song, and the shopping on Grafton Street is out of this world.

Irish food

5) Go Out for Dinner and Enjoy the Food


It’s perhaps understandable that a country famous for a famine is not known for its cuisine, but to underestimate Irish food is a mistake.  Aside from the basics of bread and potatoes, it has developed into one of the best places to eat in Europe. From high-class restaurants, to the belly-busting full Ulster Fry breakfast, you will find yourself pleasantly surprised by every meal in Ireland.


Muckross Farm, Kerry, Ireland. Photo by jeckman (flickr)
Muckross Farm, Kerry, Ireland. Photo by jeckman (flickr)

Irish farmhouse

6) Go Local - Stay at a Farm

Aside from its gorgeous scenery and fascinating history, the best part of any visit to Ireland will be the people you meet. The Irish love a good story and a hardy laugh, so make sure you spend some time with the locals. A great way to do this is to arrange a stay at an Irish Farmhouse. There are hundreds of farmhouses, working farms, and bed and breakfasts all over Ireland, where you can surround yourself with the local culture.

Whatever you choose to do in Ireland, it will touch your soul. You are guaranteed to come home with great stories, fond memories, and probably a little song in your heart.

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Comments? 4 comments

akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

Beautifully done and love the pictures!

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

My daughter just came back from a trip to Ireland, happyexplorer, and a cousin recently spent a few days there. Both traveled around the island and visited the home of our forebears in Dungarvan. The more I see of it the more I'd love to visit, but its only a distant hope. Thanks for the virtual trip.

Abecedarian profile image

Abecedarian 6 years ago from These United States, Texas

Excellent hub and very useful as my husband and I are planning a trip to Ireland for our anniversary in March.

happyexplorer profile image

happyexplorer 6 years ago from Mostly USA, sometimes elsewhere Author

akirchner - Thanks, glad you like it!

William - I hope you get to visit Ireland some day, especially since you have a family connection. That dream could come true! (-:

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