This is Ireland- WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE GOING
So this past week Matt & I were in Ireland. It was an absolute blast and we need to go back ASAP! We only had 1 week which really isn't even near enough time but we have to work with what we get, right? I want to give you all a guide to follow for your trip to Ireland and insist that you make that sooner than later. So first things first.
Buying the Ticket:
Fall/Winter=colder but WAY cheaper. Summer is the peak time to travel there as is most of the EU so you'll save a bundle one everything from tours to your accommodations if you bundle up and go in the fall or winter. If you really have to go in the summer or spring than your ticket will be more, we paid $500 a ticket to leave the day after thanksgiving to give you an idea. (The sun ruses around 8:00am sun sets around 4:30pm there in the fall and winter so keep that in mind too, it never bothered us we were pretty ready to head to a pub by then but if you want longer days, spring for the spring or summer but there will be WAY more tourists to weave through on your travels, so its a little bit of compromise.)
Airbnb all the way! Cheaper, wonderful, whole apartment to yourselves, really also gives you a great look at how Irish people live and what there homes are like. You can click here for my airbnb video, it'll show you all the 3 of the airbnb's Matt and I stayed at and you really want to see the last apartment above Main St.
We went in the Fall which means it was cold but for anyone living in the Southern U.S anytime of year may feel a bit chilly there as they never get above 70 degrees there. While we were there is was a cold 6-8 celsius each day which is around the 40-50's Fahrenheit. So pack appropriately if you are going in the fall like we did, pack gloves and a hat, never took those things off!
Thinking about renting a car? (Ireland does not accept credit card carrying car insurance so even though it may say its only $35 a day its actually +$435 because you need car coverage keep that in mind) That caught us by surprise but we are really happy we got it, you can refuse insurance but when driving on the other side of the road and on the complete other side of the car is a bit intimidating and I really recommend you don't risk it. We headed out the main entrance of the airport and across the bridge to the car rental offices. They will then direct you down to the shuttle buses to the left and outside once you get down the elevator. (There are not many signs so keep that in mind when looking for this) We used enterprise and got a Ford Focus hatchback, they first tried to put us in a bigger SUV type car (HAHA don't do this) they will get you a smaller car, GET A SMALLER CAR! The roads a super tiny and the parking is even tinier, I promise you'll be so grateful. The car rental people are so kind and offer ton's of advice on any questions or recommendations that you want. The airport is about 30 minutes from Down Town Dublin.
Very important, download maps of each city you are going to on your phone, it will take up space but it is beyond worth it. The car will come with a GPS but you will be doing a lot of walking and unless you plan on asking people or carrying papers with you i really suggest the maps, they work while your phone is on airplane mode.
When you buy anything material like a article of clothing or bottle of something remember to ask for a VAT receipt they will either give you a card to swipe or a long receipt that they will sign, Turn that in at the airport in the tax free area at the back of the Duty free section right past security and in a few days you'll get a nice Tax refund right on your card! There will be a map to the kiosk area in the airport on the envelope they give you or you can just ask!
Landing in Dublin around 10:00am, we picked a flight that would get us there as early in the day as we could so we would get a full day. Matt and I stopped at our Airbnb and met Eileen the owner, she had maps for us, more advice for us and showed us how to work everything in the apartment and then we were off to start our first day by about 12:00. We parked our per Eileens instructions along the rode but it had to be moved accross the street facing the other way by 4:00. (Watch the parking signs, you definitely don't' want to get a boot or as they say a clamp.) Dublin is so wonderful you can walk everywhere and there is so much to see.
My recommendations are: St. Patricks Cathedral, Dawson St. (There is a cool restaurant with awesome seating and a fireplace and DANCING! after dinner! Guinness Store House - Absolutely do this, it was so fun, it really is like the Disney world of a brewery and the gravity bar upstairs is really fun to experience. It is about 25 euro to get in 20 if you have a student I.D! & the ticket comes with a pint and a lesson on how to pour the pint yourself! Walk the Streets, get lost!
What we did: Strolled the streets, got lost, waled along the water, the harp bridge, ducked into pubs for pints, took pictures....We enjoyed Porter House Brewery, O' Neils (delicious food and music) and so many more that I can't remember but there are pubs and restaurants everywhere. My recommendation is find O'Neils and stroll that street. There was dancers on the street, it was right around the corner from the main shopping street that had a Victoria Secret on it. That was my favorite that I found.
Recommendation: Drive to Giants Causeway, Bushmills tour if you're into Whiskey and down town Belfast. Hunt down some castle ruins if you have time!
What we did: We drove to Giant's Causeway, absolutely beautiful and if you are thinking about only staying south let me say this is something you really want to try and see. It is only about 2 hours from Dublin, and you get to see Northern Ireland in the process. Technically the UK once you cross the border so that is really fun too! Giants Causeway is remarkable hexagon shaped stones that rise out the earth along the water for miles. There is always a little traffic leaving Dublin so account for that when planning when you'll leave. You'll hit about 4 tolls and each one is 1.90 euro. We used card at each one but you can just toss change in as well but you wont get any change back so make sure you have coins. (The card worked for us every time except leaving the Limerick area where we had to scour for coins in the car! haha) We made a pit stop at the Bushmills distillery after the Giants Causeway it was only 5 minutes away and is Matt's favorite Whiskey. Then we drove back to Dublin, parked our car and headed out to find dinner. We walked around and looked for a fun place to stop and ended find a great pub (they are all a bit crowded BUT we invited a couple to sit with us that was looking for a seat and we had a great time with them. Tim and Camille were around our ages and were from Germany and Paris!) Don't be shy, the best experiences happen when you reach out!
Recommendation: Go early for best parking. Walk to the water, Stroll the streets, Shop (Only buy a wool sweater in the outlet store but make sure you try it on and its Marina wool (not scratchy). Enjoy a cute town for the day!
What we did: We hopped back in the car, said goodbye to Dublin for now and headed straight West to Galway. (If your familiar with Ed Sheeran's song Galway Girl that's the place!) We had heard a lot about how Galway was the place to go and it's only an hour from the Cliffs of Moher so we figured it was the perfect place. We got there around 11:00am and had a little trouble finding parking, we ended up finding a garage and that was about $17 euro for the day. The parking spots were tiny and we had trouble finding one but it was also Saturday so ill give Galway a break. Once we got one we were ready for lunch and we actually found a vegan restaurant almost immediately that had chili! It was cold so that was perfect! We headed to the water edge to explore, there were beautiful sailboats everywhere, and then we set off to get lost and explore the town. Galway had that really old timey feel with colorful buildings and shops but I will say it is just a shopping experience. There isn't much to see in the way of Irish culture it all felt really touristy. The shops were fun and the pubs were as well but I don't think I will head back to Galway when i return to Ireland. It is a young college town and just really crowded. The shops are cool but there are shops in every town. We stayed in an Airbnb in Salthill which was only about 10 minutes from the town center so that was easy and very nice! Accommodation 2 in my video!
Reccomendation: Caslte Hunt, Cliffs of Moher and if headed to Killarney absolutely tour Bunratty Castle!
What we did: We woke up and had 2 goals, find all the castle ruins we could and see the Cliffs of Moher! This is my favorite day of the trip. Let me tell you, no matter what attraction your going for getting lost on old windy roads and finding old castle parts, cemeteries and really amazing pieces of history is my favorite thing we did. We looked on the computer the night before and wrote down all the castle names we could find on any website we could find. We would start down a road, see the castle, hop out and explore the ruins whether it was tiny or big enough to walk under or around and then hunt down another. It felt like we were on a treasure hunt together and I loved it. After we'd see a few we headed in the directionof Cliffs of Moher which was the most beautiful drive. You'll pass through the Burren which is amazing rocky hills that go on forever. Then you'll pass more castles and just gorgeous sites. The Cliffs of Moher is an absolute must see. After the Cliffs we headed for our final Airbnb in the County of Kerry in a Killarney. The drive to Killarney is tied for the drive to Cliffs of Moher as my favorite, more castles, cemeteries and everything from beaches to small towns and mountains. We stopped and did a self guided castle tour of Bunratty Castle and let me tell you guys, it was amazing. They let you climb all around this castle, up into the tours and down into the dungeon, they have decorated it like it was back when it was being lived in and it was really a cool experience. During the holidays they decorate this small village they renovated around the castle and its all really cute. It is also conveniently right on the way to Killarney. County Kerry is the Colorado of Ireland with peaking mountains and winding roads with rivers flowing. Every site is right out of a postcard. We got to Killarney in about 2 hours or less and stopped at our Airbnb to meet John the owner. We stayed on the top of the Murphy's Ice Cream shop and it was so cool to be right above the Main St. (a little noisy when trying to fall asleep but ear plugs were provided and did the trick!) Place 3 in my video! We were pretty tired after getting there so we headed down to the street to find dinner. We ate at Laurels and OMG that was the best meal yet, (they're all good but Laurel's was freaking delicious!) I also want to say don't be married to Guinness just because you're there, there are a lot of different kinds of beer made there and on there taps and they are worth a try. I am not just saying this because I love my dog Murphy but the Murphy Stout is my favorite ( Sorry Arthur Guinness) Guinness is delicious but try Murphy's too!
Recommendations for Killarney - Ring of Kerry, Drive to Dingle, Ladies View, Troc Waterfall, Ross Castle.
What we did: Woke up, explored Ross Castle (only the outside because it was closed for the winter) We drove 40km on the Ring of Kerry ( I wish we had done the whole thing it is a breathtaking series of views but after going to hard the last few days we needed a day off.) Its a 4 hour drive all the way around with outstanding views, cute towns and a view at Skelligs island! (Our plan for the next trip now!) We drive to Ladies View....incredible sight and then back to town to enjoy Killarney. I really recommend the Irish Whiskey Experience bar with a tasting....my favorite restaurant/pub in Killarney with the nicest people. We Christmas shopped and enjoyed the pubs.
Recommendation and what we did: Head back to Dublin and enjoy more of the city, do anything else you may have missed in that area. This was Matt and I's last full day so we drove to Cork for lunch and then onto Dublin to do the Guinness Store House experience. Learn from us, the first time in a new country is always educational first. (Cork is the food capital of Ireland so we wanted to stop and see it, if you don't have an entire day, don't. It is HUGE it felt like the same size as Dublin, not like a cute Killarney or Galway, we struggled to find parking and then once we got there it was a long walk to the restaurant's we'd researched before. We managed to go to the Food Market that we'd read about and have lunch upstairs, thats is so cool. They call the market they garden and everything you eat is straight from downstairs. Then we had to hop back in the car and head to Dublin if we wanted to make it to Guinness before the last 5:00 tour. From Killarney it is 3 hours to Dublin so make sure you give yourself enough time. We made it there by 4:00 and spent the next 3 hours in the Guinness Store House and had a blast! You can check out the picture below. After that we went back down to Dawson street and had dinner and then headed to our Hotel for the night by the airport. The Clayton Hotel, great price and really amazing. I don't know why but the concierge upgraded us to a suite and it was the nicest hotel suite and a real treat for us after a long journey! In the morning we drove the 10 minutes down a quiet street to the airport, returned our car, took the shuttle to the airport entrance, and we were headed home!
Ireland is amazing and we can't wait to go back. The Fall/Winter was definitely cheaper and maybe next time well spring for a warmer travel time but for student loan paying young adults we did it this way for now! Contact me if you have any questions at all I am happy to answer any. Check out Matt and I's video below of our whole trip. We taped everything and put this cool video together! Subscribe to our channel, like, comment anything helps us grow our new passion! Thank you! I hope you all have the happiest of holidays whether your stateside or traveling!