Citizens of the EEA member states (the 27 countries of the European Union EU, along with Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein) and several other countries including USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa do not require tourist/business visas to gain entry to the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland.
It is funny how tourists around the world are captivated by the copious charm of countries like Italy, France, and Spain. Ireland, on the other hand, sits unassumingly at the fag-end of western Europe, and holds its secrets close. After all, this is the land where folklore comes alive, replete with ogres, giants, and fairies.
So when you finally zero in on Ireland as the destination for your next holiday, please make sure that you do justice to its breathtaking beauty. Wondering how to go about it? The tips that follow have all you need to know.
5 Tips for Planning a Trip to Ireland
Keep the season in mind
Who doesn't like to save a few cents while traveling? We're often told that the best way to save money is to travel to a destination during off season. This rule, however, does not apply to Ireland. The off season here happens to be winter, of course, and by that we mean a frostily dreary winter. A winter vacation in Ireland is unheard of, and with good reason. Irish summers, on the other hand are a sight to behold, which is why a lot of tourists visit between the months of June and September. But if you're planning a budget trip, spring or fall would work just fine.
Decide on the long or short of it
The duration of your stay will determine the success of your vacation. Tourists coming to Ireland for the first time are often fooled by the country's diminutive size. But once you land here, it is easy to get taken in by the sheer volume of things to do, and places to see. So, if you're planning a short trip that lasts less than a week, you'd rather spend it well in one zone, than hastily seeing everything at once. Ireland has a lot to offer in terms of history and landscapes, and you wouldn't and shouldn't just rush through it. While planning your itinerary, do a quick search on the Internet to find places that really interest you, and chart your plan accordingly.
Prepare to fight the deceptive Irish weather
Irish weather is unpredictable, and can toss your best laid plans out of the window. Let's say you've landed in Killarney to see St. Mary's Cathedral. But if the clouds gather up (as they often do), you are sure to miss out on the gorgeous view of the sunlight filtering in through the stained glass windows. If precious little details matter to you, you should ideally allot yourself at least a couple of days in a city, acknowledging the quirks of the weather.
Choose from Nature or History
Mother Nature has been extremely kind to Ireland. Just take a pony cart ride through the picturesque Gap of Dunloe, or a walk along the marvelous Cliffs of Moher, and you'll know what we're talking about. On the other hand, places like Blarney Castle or Kylemore Abbey are seeped in Irish history, qualifying as must-sees. The purpose of telling you this is to help you identify what appeals to you, which will ultimately be helpful in planning your trip.
Leave some scope to mingle with the locals
As a tourist, it is easy to simply sail from one 'touristy' place to another, completely missing out on unearthing the actual spirit of the land. It would be highly unfortunate if you let this happen to you, particularly while you're in Ireland. This does hold true for every country on the planet, but more so in the case of Ireland. Firstly, because the warmth of the Irish and their spectacular hospitality embraces you as if you're one of their own. Secondly, with English being widely spoken here, you wouldn't have to surmount a language barrier to mingle with the locals. And mingle you should, for only they can take you to the pub that sells their favorite pint of dry stout.
Some Practical Tips
- Driving around the Irish countryside is a pleasure, considering the beautiful landscape of the country. Do keep in mind to stay on the left side of the road, though. Also, arrange for your car rental from home, and scout for cheaper deals. There are some who are a bit vary about driving on the long-winding roads here, so you may want to start with a short trip, and see how it goes.
- You may also buy a pass from Bus Eireann that takes you across the country, and their tourist travel passes quite affordable as well. Taking the train to different towns is also an option, albeit an expensive one when compared to the bus service.
- The OPW Heritage Card will grant you free access to all fee-paying State managed OPW Heritage Sites for a year. It will save you a lot of money if you're planning to visit a lot of heritage sites in the Republic of Ireland.
It's not for nothing that Ireland is called a magical land. But it is something that you'd never believe unless you get there. So, what are you waiting for?