A couple of years ago my husband and I took a wonderful trip to Ireland. We visited there during the months of July and the beginning of August. Our memories of that trip are still very fresh and we are reminded of the beauty of Ireland everyday when we look at our vacation photos. Whether or not you have Irish ancestry you will find Ireland to be a warm and very friendly country. For our trip we rented a car and pretty much drove around the entire country. In using a car as opposed to train or tour bus we were able to experience a very intimate view of Ireland. I would love to share with my readers every bit and detail of our trip but that would take days of writing and pages upon pages of reading. Instead I would like to share with you some travel tips for visiting the Emerald Isle.
- Rent a car. Like I mentioned earlier it is my opinion that the best way to see Ireland is by renting a car and driving yourself. With that said there are a few pointers and suggestions you must consider. 1st splurge a bit and get a car with an automatic transmission. Unless you are really comfortable driving a car with a stick shift you should stick with the automatic. For most of you driving on the left hand side of the road will be enough of a challenge. Not need to complicate things further. Also check with your car rental company about not paying the CDW (collision damage waiver). This can save you allot on your rental. If you have a MasterCard World Card they will allow you to wave the CDW.
- Driving Tips. Once you are off the main highways many of the roads in Ireland are narrow. At times you will find the roads so narrow that only one car can pass through. Show common courtesy and be prepared to reverse your car back to the nearest shoulder. Also check out some videos and pictures of round about. There are not many traffic lights in Ireland. Instead they use round about to control traffic. They can be confusing so best to be familiar with them before driving.
- Rent or purchase a Car GPS device loaded with maps of Ireland. I cannot stress the importance of having a GPS device when traveling in Ireland. For the most part many places do not have street numbers and some of the roads can be confusing. By using our GPS navigator we were safely guided to our destinations throughout our trip.
- Visit Northern Ireland. Many people are reluctant to check out Northern Ireland because of the stigmatism it received from years of unrest. However we found Northern Ireland to be very peaceful and charming. When you go into Northern Ireland you are technically entering another country. With that said aside from having to use pounds instead of euro we had no issues. Definitely check out the city of Derry. We stayed at a B&B that was part of a working family farm. The family was extremely friendly and the food was delicious. Also definitely check out the Giants Causeway, The Rope Bridge, and the city of Belfast.
- Check out a local pub. Throughout your journey I would suggest spending some time in a local pub and hanging out with the locals. Pubs in Ireland are not just about drinking. They are a meeting place for families and friends to get together for a bite to eat, chat, and watch some football and more. We met some really interesting and friendly people when we spent time in small town pubs or pubs that were not as touristy. When you’re in Galway check out some of the pubs that have live music. We were treated to a music and Irish dance show in on pub we visited.
- Drive the Ring of Kerry. This is a must for anyone visiting Ireland. We took a very slow leisurely day driving around the ring of Kerry. Along the way we stopped in some small towns, drove down some dirt roads to some ruins, took a ferry ride and got to see a toilet that was awarded the status of Irelands Top Toilet. Also we heard that the Dingle Peninsula was a great drive as well.
- Visit the Cliffs of Moher. This is a top destination for tourists and it gets crowded during the summer months but it is worth it. Getting there from the ring of Kerry drive north and head towards the ferry in Kilrush. This will save you time and take you on a short but scenic ferry ride. On the way to the Cliffs you will pass by many seaside towns and may even see some surfers braving the cold waters of the Atlantic. Once at the Cliffs you will park in on of the many lots available for visitors. Several books or sites suggest parking on the street and walking your way down to save money. However I would not do this. Parking your car on the narrow roads makes it unsafe for other drivers and pedestrians. Once At the Cliffs just enjoy the beauty and amazing scenery. Just don’t get to close to the edge; the winds could whip something nasty at times.
Okay so those are some of my tips on visiting Ireland. Of course I’m leaving out tons of stuff that we saw on our trip. As a disclaimer to those who will criticize me for leaving out specific towns or sites I have to say the above tips represent about ¼ of our journey. Hope you all enjoy. Feel free to send me any questions about your upcoming Ireland travel plans.
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