Ireland is a popular tourist destination due to its relaxed culture, historic traditions, and of course, its love of Guinness. American travellers particularly fall in love with the people of Ireland and their charming and unique accent.
In light of the divergent modern histories of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, making generalisations about Irish culture is tricky. However, although there are still occasional outbreaks of violence in Northern Ireland most of these are between organised criminal groups and centred in very specific areas of Belfast. Indeed, visitors to Northern Ireland will be surprised at the reality of the country, with Belfast still a perfectly safe city for people to explore. Nevertheless, if you feel uncomfortable with it all, there are plenty of other things to see and do without even going to Northern Ireland.
- Currency: Euro
- Time Zone: GMT
- Language: English
- Telephone Services: Country code +353, International Access number 16
- Emergency Numbers: 112 for all services
The climate in Ireland is very similar to that of mainland Britain, you can expect a reasonable amount of rain all seasons round and none of the seasons are particularly extreme.
Things to see and do
Dublin is the capital city and thriving hub of the Republic of Ireland, famed for its welcoming nature and extremely popular with tourists historically. As well as the obligatory Guinness dispensing pubs filled with traditional live music, Dublin has a thoroughly refined cultural side, with attractions such as the Dublin Writers Museum, the James Joyce Museum and the Shaw Birthplace.
The Republic of Ireland is also packed with architectural wonders. Located just outside Dublin is Malahide Castle, a beautifully restored castle dating from 1185. With over 250 acres of adjoining park lands and the nearby Fry Model Railway, there is plenty to keep you occupied for a day.
Other highlights include a ferry hop over to the Aran Islands which gives you a taste of what Ireland must have been like before the general population migration to big cities. Finally, no trip could be complete without an expedition to Blarney Castle, home of the famous Blarney Stone which is said to give the 'gift of the gab' to all who kiss it. The Castle itself is a fabulous stop-off for those visitors taking in Cork or Killarney.
Rail services operate between Ireland's major towns, with Dublin acting as a hub for most routes. A Britrail pass covers the UK as well so it is quite economical. However, if you want to get off the beaten track a little, buses cover a larger area and, although quite expensive, the standard of service is generally good.
By far the best way to travel, however, is by rented car. In order to do this, you will unsurprisingly need a British driving licence and a passport for hiring a car, which you can pick one up in all of Ireland's major towns.
All types of accommodation are on offer, from youth hostels and B&B's right up to high class hotels. The best value for money are the small family run B&B's which offer much better standard of accommodation than youth hostels for a negligible extra charge. You will be able to find literally hundreds of B&B's and hostels online which will accept reservations. For more information, check out the links provided below.
The health service in Ireland is very good, with modern equipment and highly skilled staff. Provided you have travel insurance, you will be sure to get a very high standard of care. All food and drinking water should be considered safe and there are no special health precautions that you should take beyond that which you take at home.
- Discover Ireland and Discover Northern Ireland - The two official websites for tourism in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland respectively. A perfect starting points for visitors planning their trip.
- Dublin Hotels - The capital of the Republic of Ireland is the most common destination for tourists and you can get a sense of what to expect from hotels in the city from this website.
- Dublin Tourist Information - Once you've sorted out accommodation, plan your itinerary!
- Doolin B&B - Doolin Bed and Breakfast offers you luxury accommodation overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Ireland.
- Rent-a-phone Ireland - Ireland cell phone rental. Ideal while on vacation in Ireland.
- Nulty's Self Catering Holiday Cottages Nulty's holiday cottages are located in Co. Kilkenny. They are set in 70 acres of grassland, allowing you to spend a relaxing weekend away, or even an action packed activity led adventure break.
- Dublin Airport Terminal 2 - A very comprehensive guide to Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport, including live information on flight times, airline companies, airport amenities and transport.