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Let me guess…you have never traveled to Ireland, but you are somewhat intrigued about the country. You are not alone!
People often say that Ireland is on their bucket list of places to visit, but they never actually manage to fit in a trip to the Emerald Isle. This is such a pity, because it’s such a great country and has so much to offer.
Here are 5 reasons that I hear again and again why people hesitate to travel to Ireland.
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1. Does it rain a lot in Ireland?
Ireland isn’t known as the Emerald Isle without reason! All that lush, green vegetation needs decent amounts of rain and Irish mist to ensure that the forty shades of green are in top condition.
However, while there can be wet days, it doesn’t rain all the time and you can also encounter glorious weather in Ireland! One of the joys of the country is that you can experience all the seasons in a day, so it helps to be prepared!
Ireland has so many great attractions both indoors and outdoors, so it should definitely not put you off planning a trip to the country. And besides, a little rain in your face might sometimes even feel like a refreshing peeling…
A big advantage of traveling in Ireland is that the chances of encountering a heat wave are pretty slim. During the summer months, the temperature is on average between (18-20°C / 64-68°F), which is very pleasant and great for sightseeing and outdoor activities.
2. I don’t have much time, is Ireland worth visiting?
Yes, Ireland is absolutely worth visiting! Ireland is a relatively small island, but it’s renowned for its stunning landscapes, remarkable historical attractions (Newgrange passage tomb, for example, is even older than the pyramids!), lively traditional music, some of the best pubs in the world, as well as friendly locals. There are so many things to see and do in Ireland that tourists hooked on the charms of Ireland come back year after year!
If you are tight on time, then consider getting an introduction to the country and Irish culture on a short city break or perhaps even on layover in Ireland. Experience the unique atmosphere of Ireland’s main cities of Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford and, of course, Belfast in Northern Ireland, as part of a short vacation and combine it with one or more day trips to explore the Irish countryside. For example, Glendalough with its picturesque lakes and ancient monastic city, the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren in County Clare, as well as the Giant’s Causeway, the Dark Hedges and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge in Northern Ireland are all possible as day trips from Dublin.
Of course, if you have more time, then plan a road trip along the Wild Atlantic Way with breathtaking stops in Connemara and Killarney National Park. Why not take a boat trip to the Aran Islands or the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Skellig Michael? The medieval town of Kilkenny and the stately Rock of Cashel in Ireland’s Ancient East are must-see destinations, if you have an interest in Irish history. Regardless of the length of your stay, for many tourists a trip to Ireland would not be complete without kissing the Blarney Stone in Blarney Castle.
So whether you have a few hours to spare on a stopover in Dublin or 14 days to explore the country, it is easy to have a fantastic trip to Ireland tailored to suit your specific itinerary requirements.
3. What side of the road does Ireland drive on?
In Ireland, you drive on the on the left-hand-side of the road. Driving in Ireland for the first time can certainly be a challenge for some tourists and it can take a bit of time to adjust if you have never done this before. You don’t have to worry though, because especially around airports, where you most likely will collect your rental car, the roads are well sign-posted with reminders about which lane to drive in, which gives an added level of security.
Motorway driving is generally quite manageable, once you get used to the speed limits being in kilometers (they are miles in Northern Ireland). While you will encounter less traffic in rural areas, the narrow roads, high hedgerows and occasional unexpected obstacles, like cattle, sheep, farm machinery, or tour buses, can make your driving experience more interesting at times! If you do decide to drive yourself, don’t forget to rent an automatic car if you are not comfortable with stick shift.
Of course, it is also possible to use public transportation to travel around Ireland. There is a good rail service (Irish Rail / Iarnóid Éireann) and a state bus service (Bus Éireann) that link the major cities and smaller towns. A handful of private bus companies also offer good deals between the main cities. Day trips by bus are also a good alternative option to see more of the country.
4. Is Ireland a good destination for solo travelers?
In a nutshell, yes. One of the main concerns about solo traveling is usually safety. Ireland is considered a very safe country and is a suitable destination for both male and female solo travel. Of course, the usual common-sense tourist rules apply in Ireland (as well as everywhere else!). Traveling around Ireland by yourself is safe, manageable and more importantly you can have fun while doing it!
Ireland is well known for its friendly culture, “craic” (aka lively fun atmosphere), and its unique pub scene. As a solo traveler, you may feel a little daunted to go to a pub or restaurant alone. However, there is no need, as you are quite likely to end up chatting away to the person next to you. Use this to your advantage and don’t be shy about asking for tips. Most Irish are quite proud of their locality and would be delighted to give you a few insider tips about what to do, see and eat in a particular area.
5. Will I be able to understand the Irish accent?
If you are thinking of Irish accents in Hollywood movies, forget it. They usually are utterly terrible and very, very rarely resemble any Irish accent that I have heard!
English is the main language spoken throughout the island. There are some Irish-speaking areas called Gealteachts in the Republic of Ireland and in some parts of Northern Ireland Ullans (Ulster Scots Gaelic) is spoken.
How easily you will understand the accent will depend a lot on your own level of English and also where the person from Ireland originates! Nils still finds the Kerry accent difficult to understand at times, but has no problem with the Dublin accent. While the Irish are not known specifically for their mastery of foreign languages, most of the time they are willing to speak more slowly if you are having difficulty understanding them.
I hope this post has inspired you to make Ireland your next holiday destination! If you would like more inspiration as to why you should visit Ireland, check our posts on the Wild Atlantic Way or 3-day itinerary of Dublin. Ireland is waiting for you!