Ireland is a nation full of surprises. For every iconic landmark and half-true stereotype, there also awaits brand-new discoveries, be it cultural, natural or even culinary. We’ve compiled this handy guide to the best tips for visiting Ireland.
Plan your itinerary
Even if you’re only planning on visiting Dublin, you should come to Ireland well prepared. Plenty of tourists assume that a relatively small island, that speaks perfect English, is the kind of destination you can just turn up to and figure it out from there. This is not a good idea if you want to see the very best of the country, avoiding tacky tourist traps and covering a lot of ground. Because there is so much natural beauty to see here, and failing to get out there are explore would be a crying shame. Plan ahead and you can go from the storied streets of Dublin to the epic majesty of the Wild Atlantic Way without breaking a logistical sweat.
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That’s where Culture Trip comes in. Our expertly-curated small-group trips are designed to give you an authentic, immersive experience that paints a full picture of the destination you visit. Everything from accommodation to activities and all domestic travel is taken care of. All you need to do is book your spot, meet us there and bring some pocket change for snacks and souvenirs. Once you’re there our Local Insiders will take good care of you, ensuring your experience is authentic and infused with lived-in cultural insight, not to mention filled with off-the-tourist-path activities. We have a gorgeous week-long trip in Ireland you can book, so why not see the emerald isle the Culture Trip way?
Explore beyond Dublin
The tragic mistake so many tourists make is that they land in Dublin Airport, take an overpriced taxi into town and never leave the city centre. We love the Irish capital – although you should always ask locals for Dublin tips, not the tourist centres – but to neglect the truly spectacular mythic history and splendid greenery that the rest of this nation has to offer is desperately sad. Visit Kinsale, the country’s unlikely gourmet food capital, and hike the stunning West Cork Coastal Route. Explore one of the many remote islands dotted along the coastline and discover the truly epic sights of the Wild Atlantic Way. You should absolutely visit a whiskey distillery or two while you’re here, as well a castle or two, such is the depth of history spread across this land.
Pack for varying weather
No matter what time of year you visit, the weather in Ireland can be a little unpredictable. Gorgeous summer days can be interrupted by sudden showers, while coastlines can get super blustery. A waterproof rain coat is essential, as is a warm sweater that you can put on and take off as needed. If you’re exploring the countryside then a good pair of walking shoes will keep your feet in a healthy state, while a backpack full of water and snacks is always recommended when taking extended coastal walks, which sometimes go miles without a shop in sight. If you’re fingers and ears don’t respond well to the gusts of wind blowing in from the Atlantic, then gloves and a hat should be considered on any west coast adventure.
Embrace local culture and customs, including Gaelic
Ireland is as rich in culture, heritage and community as it’s possible to be, and locals are rightly proud of this fact. Embracing the local way of life, as well as paying respect to customs and general etiquette, will ingratiate you with the Irish people and open up new doors of cultural discovery. For the love of God, do not call an Irish person British. Perhaps it’s worth brushing up a tad on your Irish history – brace yourself, it is long and complicated – but the most important thing is to respect and acknowledge the Irish sense of identity. While English is the primarily used language here (see complex history) you will also see lots of signs in Irish Gaelic, which is still spoken across the island. Not everyone is fluent, but learning “Dia dhuit” (hello) and “Go raibh míle maith agat!” (thanks) will go down a treat.
Chat to locals
Luckily your Gaelic pronunciation doesn’t need to be tip top for you get into a good natter with the locals. One Irish stereotype that has a lot of truth to it is that the people here are very friendly and can be extremely chatty. Find a nice, authentic pub, order a beautiful, crisp pint of Guinness and get chatting to the local patrons. You will learn more about Ireland, its people and its culture in one evening around an old wooden table than you could all day on a bus tour. Just don’t drink too much Guinness, or you’ll forget everything you learnt!
Travel with Culture Trip!
We might be more than a little bit biased, but to get the most out of a trip to Ireland requires a well-thought itinerary and an expert local guide. Guess what – we have both! Our seven-day trip around Ireland aims to give visitors a rounded experience of this glorious nation. We’ll start in Dublin, touring the old centre and visiting the Book of Kells, as well as the amazing Guinness Storehouse museum. Then it’s off towards Cork, stopping for foodie adventures in Kinsale, medieval remains at the Rock of Cashel and stunning seaside views along the West Cork Coastal Area. We’ll go whiskey tasting in Dingle and spend a day on a beautiful uninhabited island, for hillside picnics and beach antics. We’ll continue up the Wild Atlantic Way, hiking to the Cliffs of Moher – one of the most spectacular coastal landscapes in all of Europe – before experiencing the lively nightlife of Galway. With many a cliff hiked, plenty of Guinness and whiskey drank, and a whole lot of Irish slang picked up along the way, we’ll return to Dublin to end our trip in the capital. Not bad craic for a week, eh?
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.