If your idea of a perfect vacation post-pandemic includes lush green landscapes, breathtaking cliffs and coastlines, medieval castles, and a vibrant nightlife and pub culture, then look no further: book a trip to Ireland. But what are the facts about Ireland everyone should know before visiting?
Just like other countries that are unfamiliar to you, Ireland has a couple of unique places, traditions, rules, and other things you should know before actually visiting the country. You can avoid having a major culture shock, or worse, travel inconveniences, fines, and waste of money, if you’re well-informed.
For a rewarding, fuss-free journey to Ireland, here are 10 things you should know before booking your flight and hotel accommodation.
1. Northern Ireland has a different currency
In case you didn’t know, Ireland is split into two different countries: the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The latter is part of the United Kingdom, and it consists of six historic counties: Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry, and Tyrone.
While Northern Ireland shares both the culture of Ireland and the culture of the United Kingdom. it uses the currency of the UK. It uses the pound sterling, not the euro. Keep this in mind when traveling across the border.
2. Ireland has narrow roads
Renting a car in Ireland is a wonderful way to witness the natural beauty of the Emerald Isle. However, there are a couple of things to remember to make your road trips a breeze.
If you’re planning to visit rural areas, it’s recommended to rent a small car. The country roads in Ireland are notoriously narrow, winding, and scary.
Manual transmission cars are more common in Ireland and are cheaper to rent than automatic cars. But if you’re driving on the left-hand side for the first time, along with long, narrow, and winding roads in an unfamiliar country, it’s better to pay extra for a more comfortable car.
3. Ireland drive on the left-hand side of the road
Similar to the UK, people in Ireland drive on the left-hand side of the road and pass on the right. It’s a bit of a shocker if you’re coming from a country where you drive on the opposite side.
If you feel like you’ll have a hard time adjusting, you may opt for public transport or rent a car with a driver. Additionally, look to your right when you’re crossing a road!
4. Check the baggage restrictions on flights
If you’re traveling on a budget, you might consider booking a flight with the Irish budget airline Ryanair. They’re known for incredibly low fares for flying within Europe. However, they’re also notorious for heavy cabin baggage restrictions. The last thing you want is to get unnecessarily charged a trillion euros for carry-on luggage.
Make sure to Google beforehand and determine the weight and size restrictions. On a Ryanair flight, you can only bring one cabin bag weighing up to 10 kilos, plus one small bag (like a handbag).
5. Pack layers
Ireland’s climate is moist and mild. In other words, it rains a lot here. The weather is also unreliable. Instead of complaining (which can piss off any Irish local), it’s better to come prepared.
Pack a lot of light layers. Bring waterproof shoes. Get your umbrellas ready and just hope for the best during your day trip.
6. Pre-book trains
Trains in Ireland and even in the UK are extremely expensive. The advantage though is they are a more comfortable way to travel than the bus, with free wifi, bathrooms, and electrical outlets. If you want to travel via trains, it’s best to book your tickets in advance to snag online booking discounts.
7. Sunday is a rest day
Planning to go out of your hotel accommodation and have a day trip on a Sunday? Be reminded that Sunday means “rest day” in Ireland, which means some restaurants, cafes, and other attractions are closed during this day. In most Irish cities and towns, these establishments are open on a Sunday but they operate on limited hours. Some don’t open until 2 pm.
8. Flag down your bus
Buses won’t likely stop unless you flag them down. When you see your bus approaching, make sure you stick your arm out to let the driver know that you want to board. Additionally, it’s common to thank the bus driver when you go down.
9. Pubs close earlier than you think
Ireland is known for its vibrant pub culture, but that doesn’t mean you can go drinking until sunrise. Pubs accept last orders at 11:30 PM (Monday to Thursday), 12:30 AM (Friday to Saturday), and 11:00 PM (Sunday). During weekends, you can find late bars serving until around 1:30 and nightclubs until 2:30.
10. Watch out for offensive remarks
While the Irish people are known to be friendly and sociable individuals, there are a couple of things that piss them off, especially if they’re coming from a tourist.
They hate it when you play dumb with geography and history. Never say or ask if they’re part of the British Isles (unless you’re in Northern Ireland, of course). They’re not. They’re an independent state for almost a century now. Steer clear of topics about politics and religion too.
Smoking indoors, butchering the Irish language (and making fun of their accents), complaining about the unreliable weather, and being obsessed with leprechauns are other things they find inappropriate.
Planning to visit the beautiful Emerald Isle after the pandemic? We hope these tips somehow helped you in planning your future trip!
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a foodie and travel blogger who hates being locked up at home. Her fondness for travel, food, and cultural appreciation makes it easy for her to write inspiring pieces of content about them. To know more about hotels and travel blogs, you may visit Ocean Sands Hotel.