February 7, 2020
Ready to plan your first trip to Ireland?
I am sharing all of my tips, tricks, and must-see places from an insider’s view as a luxury travel specialist! You will be ready to plan your first trip to Ireland by the end of this post!
Do you love friendly people?
Do you thrive on exploring off-the-beaten-path roads?
Love walking around with the locals in the heart of the city?
Are you interested in visiting a country where people talk to each other instead of staring at their phones?
This magical place is called Ireland!
My husband always wanted to visit Ireland. My mother-in-laws side of the family is Irish. So, for my husband’s big birthday, we thought it would be the perfect location to visit and celebrate!
Hubby loves driving vacations! We planned a road trip around Ireland that stretched from Dublin to the gorgeous Wild Atlantic Way.
Ireland is famous for the amount of rain they get every year, so we were sure to plan in advance!
We bought rain boots and raincoats so that we could make the most of our trip, rain or shine.
But, we ended up with the most amazing blue-skied sunny week we could ask for!!! We certainly lucked out when it came to the weather.
Let me tell you a little bit about this gorgeous country
Ireland is divided in two, The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland!
The Republic of Ireland is an independent nation that takes up most of the country, while Northern Ireland is still part of the UK.
Looking at a map of Ireland, we could see that the whole country was very small. Our initial thought was that we would be able to drive around and see everything.
We forget to keep in mind that many parts of Ireland are still not developed. Our drive brought us along many rugged and extremely narrow roads (we got a few scratches on our side mirrors to prove it)!
Ireland’s capital city is bursting with an incredible array of visitor experiences that will inspire and delight anyone!
We arrived in Dublin, rented a car and drove towards the Wild Atlantic Way.
Renting a car in Ireland is worth considering, especially if you’re looking to get off the beaten path.
Our rental allowed us to visit many small towns, all in under 7 days. We would go out driving for the day and stopped at every pub we saw!
It was so much fun!
We wanted to experience the small towns and pubs first before heading back and finishing our trip back to the city.
Everyone we encountered was so friendly, locals easily start up conversations with tourists and it made us feel so welcome.
Throughout our drive, we encountered sheep crossing the roads! We stopped several times, for a span of 30 minutes, to sit patiently as the sheep all safely crossed.
But that’s the charm of Ireland, and that is one of the many reasons we fell so deeply in love with this beautiful country!
Unlike the U.S, In Ireland you are expected to drive on the left side of the road, this can definitely take some getting used to! If you’re not comfortable driving on the left side, don’t worry, you can reach many Irish sites by public transportation or hiring a private driver.
Speed limit signs and distances are measured in kilometers per hour instead of miles per hour.
When you plan your first trip to Ireland, you should know that the national currency of Ireland is the euro.
But, if you visit Northern Ireland you’ll find that they use the pounds sterling.
There are plenty of ATM’s in the big cities, but not as many in the countryside.
We made sure to take out cash upon arrival at the airport. Credit card usage was not a problem! Credit cards were accepted everywhere, even in small towns!
Don’t worry about learning another language, the Irish speak English, although some folks with accents heavier than others.
It was really nice to be able to easily enjoy conversations with everyone we encountered
The Irish – young and old – love their pubs! Visiting a pub every day is their way of living. No matter what time of the day, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner, the pubs were always busy.
Believe it or not, inside the pubs, no one spends time on their phones! They actually talk to each other, to tourists, sing, dance and drink beer. It was really refreshing to spend time at the pubs and it felt great to put the phone away for a change!!
The Irish are famous for their Guinness dark beer and the way they pour it in a glass. I’m personally not much of a beer drinker, but I had to try it! I was surprised to find out that there was a wide array of choices and flavors!
Regardless of the time of year you choose to visit, it’s a smart choice to wear layers. The weather changes rather quickly, and the layers will allow you to adapt easily.
Our trip to Ireland took place in mid-September. During our stay, it was pretty cold in the mornings and evenings, but warm midday. Don’t forget to pack a warm hat, gloves, and scarves!! It can get windy by the sea; keep this in mind if you are planning a visit to The Cliffs of Moher. Don’t forget to pack for rain as well!
Ireland is scenic beyond measure. Its beautiful countryside and seaside coasts are truly amazing! All you have to do is take a turn, get lost, and enjoy the scenic views!
Ireland is famous for its castles! Don’t forget to include at least a two-night stay in a castle!
Slow down, take your time, put the phone away and enjoy
Ireland is a very laid-back country. If you want to act like a local, here’s how; take your time, slow down and enjoy every moment.
Enjoy conversations with strangers and talk to the locals. Ireland has the friendliest people! Enjoy the pubs, put down your phone, listen to the music and the people.
Your trip will leave you ready to plan your next time back. We are already planning to go back this year!
Plan Your First Trip to Ireland by Month
Choosing which month to plan a trip to a new country can be tough! There are so many factors to consider like weather, tourist season, and Holidays. I am breaking down how to plan your first trip to Ireland by month below!
Although March is the beginning of Spring, the weather is still a bit cold.
It’s a great time to visit because you’ll find fewer tourists!
However, keep in mind that St. Patricks day is right around the corner.
During St. Patrick’s Day, Dublin starts to get bustling and busy.
However, spending St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin is a bucket list experience for many!! You’ll encounter crowded cities with lots of parties, live music and dancing everywhere!
April & May
During late spring, the temperatures start to warm up with an average high in the mid to high 50’s. Spring flowers are in bloom all around you! April and May are known as the best months to visit Ireland and enjoy its natural beauty.
In June, school is out in both Ireland and the U.S. The weather is much warmer and crowds begin to arrive.
Hotel prices tend to be higher in the summer months! If that is a concern of yours, contact me early to start planning your trip to Ireland earlier rather than later.
I would recommend that we begin the planning process at least 6 months prior.
Booking your first trip to Ireland at least 6 months prior will also allow us to schedule a castle stay.
July & August
These tend to be the busiest months to visit Ireland!
Summer is Ireland’s driest and warmest season, but luckily, it doesn’t get too hot!
If you are planning on a summer visit, make sure to ask if your hotel has A.C, you’d be surprised to find out how many do not!
September, October, November
The Fall is a beautiful time to visit Ireland!
The summer crowds have just left and the sun does not set until late in the evening.
It’s a bit chilly weather wise but all of the amazing food festivals will keep your body warm!
The trees reach their peak in October and you’ll see lots of beautiful red leaves. October and November tend to be two of the wettest months for rain.
The holiday season is magical in Ireland! As in the U.S, the Irish decorate their houses with lights, play Christmas music and have lots of Christmas markets. If you enjoy or can withstand the cold, this is one of the best times to visit Dublin!
January & February
The winter months are chilly and pretty much empty of tourists. It’s a great time to spend in the pubs and away from the cold and rainy weather. The beautiful landscape of Ireland is completely covered over with frost.
Lilian’s Personal Travel Recommendations:
Here are some of my personal travel recs to plan your first trip to Ireland!
In Dublin be sure to visit the famous Temple Pub and Epic Museum.
Drive to the Wild Atlantic Way, visit the Cliffs of Moher, and hire a driver to take you to The Ring of Kerry.
It’s hard to drive and enjoy the amazing beauty of Ireland at the same time.
Don’t forget to visit the scenic Achill Island, the secluded paradise of Keem Bay.
Be sure to chat with me about planning your trip at least 6 months in advance, especially if you want to stay at a castle hotel!
There are two main airports in Ireland, I will help you pick the best one based on which part of the country you are planning to visit.
Looking for even more travel inspirations? Check out this post on planning a trip to Maui, or this post on 7 Things You Should Know About Traveling to Italy!