Ireland Travel Guide
Ireland holds a special place in my heart as the first country I’ve visited outside of North America. To be honest, I really couldn’t have asked for a better place to start. From the lush green countryside, to the sounds of live music drifting out of the numerous antiquated pubs; Ireland is without a doubt one of my favorite places to travel.
No matter if you’re the outdoorsy type, a history geek, a beer aficionado, or whatever else you may be; this country has something for everyone. For some of my top recommendations and tips, check out my location guides below:
City Specific Guides
Tips to Save Money
While you should absolutely order a beef and Guinness stew at some point during your stay in Ireland, going out to eat often can get pricey. Luckily, two of Europe’s biggest and most affordable grocery chains, Lidl and Aldi, can be found all over Ireland. These two stores are my go-to’s for grocery shopping, as you can find just about anything you would need at a very inexpensive price.
For the price of two meals out, you could get a weeks worth of groceries at one of these stores. Tesco is another popular store option, but I find they’re a bit more expensive and the food doesn’t seem as fresh.
Travel by Bus
While many parts of Ireland are fairly well-connected by train, I found bussing to be the less expensive and more readily available option. Bus Eireann is one of the largest bus operators in Ireland and has routes to pretty much anywhere you’d want to go. Not only are the tickets cheap, but many of the buses offer free Wi-Fi as well, which is a great bonus.
Dust Off That Student ID
If you have a current student ID (or at least one where the picture still looks like you), don’t forget to pack it! Many places throughout Europe will offer student discounts, and Ireland is certainly no exception. It might not seem like much, but a few euros off here and there adds up quickly and keeps you traveling longer.
Visit the Guinness Storehouse
Sure, it may seem like the stereotypical Ireland tourist experience, but you can’t come to Ireland without visiting the legendary Guinness Storehouse. Located in the outskirts of downtown Dublin, the Storehouse offers a guided tour through the history of Guinness. To top it all off, they’ll teach you to pour the perfect pint that you can then take upstairs to the glass-enclosed Gravity Bar, which offers panoramic views of the city below.
Drive the Wild Atlantic Way
The Wild Atlantic Way is a scenic road that snakes along Ireland’s western coast and offers some of the most breathtaking views that Ireland has to offer, so bring your camera! There are several guided day tours available to book, but these mainly stick to just a few major stops along the way. To truly experience all that the Wild Atlantic Way has to offer, I recommend traveling it on your own, either by bussing from town to town, or renting a car.
Spend a Night in the Kerry Dark Sky Reserve
I am a GIANT nerd for stargazing. If you are too, you need to visit the Kerry Dark Sky Reserve. A dark sky reserve is an area that is kept free of all artificial light pollution; the result of which is some of the best stargazing in the world. The reserve in Kerry is one of the biggest and darkest in the entire northern hemisphere, so if the weather is clear, you’ll be in for a fantastic show.
Visit the Cliffs of Moher
If you’ve ever searched for pictures of Ireland online, you’ve undoubtedly seen photos of the Cliffs of Moher. These iconic precipices rise out of the ocean at heights up to 700ft high. If you’re lucky enough to visit on a day with clear skies (an uncommon experience, unfortunately), you’ll be treated to stunning views including the far-off Aran Islands and Galway Bay.
The pub is perhaps the most familiar of Irish landmarks, and for good reason too; the country is home to over 7,000 of these famed establishments! Unlike a standard bar which serves as little more than a place to grab a drink, pubs function more as a community meeting place where you can get a cheap hot meal and spend the evening catching up with friends both old and new. Every pub has its own unique style and atmosphere, and many feature live music as well. No two are exactly alike, so be sure to wander into a few!
Shop the English Market in Cork
Located in the center of downtown Cork; the English Market is Ireland’s most famous covered food market. It’s home to individual vendors selling everything from meat and fish, to fresh baked bread, to imported olives and cheese, and more. When I stay in Cork, this is typically where I do all of my food shopping. It’s a great opportunity to try new and unique foods you wouldn’t find in a typical grocery store.
Have a Proper Irish Fry Up
Do you know that feeling the morning after a night of drinking where you need something, but you can’t quite put your finger on what that is? Well that thing is an Irish fry up, also known as a traditional Irish breakfast. Consisting of fried eggs, bacon rashers, sausage, white and black puddings, beans, toast, and a fried tomato; it’s the ultimate comfort breakfast and just what you need to get your day back on track after particularly rough night.