It’s easy to see why Ireland is on many people’s bucket lists. The country is home to some of the most stunning natural scenery on the planet, the people are friendly, the towns and villages are charming … what’s not to love about Ireland?
If you are planning on visiting the Emerald Isle, it’s a good idea to brush up on a few things before you leave. There are a bunch of tips and tricks that will let you know what you can expect and make your trip run a lot more smoothly!
Check out these 10 things to know before visiting Ireland.
10 The Difference Between Ireland And Northern Ireland
The most important thing to know before visiting Ireland is your geography. Although Irish people are friendly and welcoming, you won’t leave a good impression if you are completely ignorant about their country. It can be confusing for foreigners who haven’t researched the history of Ireland to know, but it’s a good idea to learn the difference between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The Republic of Ireland, commonly referred to as just Ireland, is its own country. It’s part of Europe, so you’ll need Euros there. Northern Ireland, on the other hand, is a separate country that is part of the United Kingdom.
9 Some Jokes Might Offend Locals
There are a lot of stereotypes about Ireland that tourists buy into all the time. If you want to leave the best impression on locals, it’s a good idea to avoid bringing up those stereotypes. Even though you are probably only joking, locals get tired of hearing the same old lines about leprechauns.
It’s also a good idea to refrain from joking about anything that took place in Ireland’s history. The wounds from tragic events like the Potato Famine are still sore, so it’s better not to risk offending anyone with an insensitive comment.
8 Bring Your Rain Gear
You can probably tell from the abundance of greenery carpeting the country, but it rains a lot in Ireland. Yes, even in summer. The weather can be unpredictable, so you don’t want to be caught without your rain gear.
Of course, you can always buy seasonal items once you’re in Ireland. But there is so much to see and do in this beautiful country that you don’t want to waste time shopping for mundane items like umbrellas. And if you need an umbrella in a hurry, you’re more likely to overspend on one.
7 Irish People Are Really Friendly
If there’s one stereotype that is generally true, it’s that Irish people are friendly and welcoming of foreigners. Especially if you travel to rural towns where there are fewer tourists and crowds, you’ll definitely get to experience that kind Irish hospitality.
Don’t be surprised if strangers make conversation with you at public places such as pubs. Who knows? You might even end up meeting some really good friends in Ireland! By chatting about light-hearted topics and avoiding playing into stereotypes or making insensitive jokes, you can’t really go wrong.
6 Don’t Bypass The Rural Areas
A lot of people who travel to Ireland never get out of Dublin. While the capital city is certainly a gem brimming with things to do and see, it’s definitely not all that Ireland has to offer. To make the most out of your trip, be sure to include a few rural towns and areas to your itinerary.
If you don’t want to stay out of the main cities, it might be worth organizing a day trip to some of the country’s natural landmarks. Areas such as the Ring of Kerry and the Wicklow Mountains are too spectacular to be missed.
5 Tipping Is Not Compulsory
When every country has its own standard of tipping, it’s easy to get confused as a traveler! Ireland is one nation where you won’t get in trouble for failing to leave a tip. In most establishments, there is a service tax which is added onto the bill. It is normally around 10 percent. Because of this, you don’t need to tip.
If you receive exceptional service and you do want to leave a tip, of course you are still allowed to. In most cases, you’ll probably make whoever you’re tipping very happy.
4 Have At Least One Pub Meal
You can find just about any kind of cuisine in Dublin. Now a multicultural city home to immigrants from all over the world, there are endless dining options serving up authentic foreign dishes. It’s a foodie’s dream! But we still think it’s a good idea to have at least one pub meal while you’re in town.
Ireland is known for its pub culture. Although meals aren’t served at all hours in pubs, you will still have the opportunity to try a hearty dish of Irish stew or some tasty colcannon.
3 Stores Won’t Always Be Opened
If you’re planning to do some shopping during your trip to Ireland, keep in mind that some stores won’t be opened when you plan to visit them. Ireland has strong Catholic traditions, and while many locals are exploring other religions and beliefs, those Catholic values tend to stick in some ways. The Bible outlines Sunday as a day of rest, so some towns become very sleepy then.
Normally, you won’t have a problem in more touristy areas. But if you are visiting smaller towns, it’s best to get your shopping and errands done by Saturday.
2 You Might Hear Lots Of Swearing
Swearing is treated differently from culture to culture. In more conservative societies, uttering a curse word is one of the most embarrassing blunders you can make during conversation. In Ireland, it’s taken much less seriously. In fact, you might hear lots of swearing during your trip. It doesn’t tend to hold the same weight that it does in other countries.
The important thing is not to jump to conclusions or get offended when you hear words that you’re not used to hearing. Sometimes what you interpret as an insult can actually be a term of endearment.
1 Consider Renting A Car
If you’re planning on visiting Dublin only, there’s probably no need to rent a car. The public transport system in the city is easy to use and reliable. But if you would like to explore the entire country, it might be worth renting a car and embarking on a road trip.
The public transport system connecting the towns and cities of the country is less reliable. You might have a hard time getting to the rural areas that you would like to visit unless you rent a car. Many of the country roads in Ireland are windy, but tend to be one-way only so they are quite easy to navigate.