Is Ireland worth visiting? Is Ireland expensive? And everything else you need to know before you go

Planning a trip and want to know is Ireland worth visiting? We go through absolutely everything that you need to know before travelling to the Emerald Isle. We also answer the important questions like ‘is Ireland expensive’ and ‘what is there to do in Ireland’ to help you plan your trip.

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Before we answer the question ‘Is Ireland worth visiting’ here is some background

Before we get started on answering the question ‘is Ireland worth visiting’ here is a bit of background and some fun facts about the country.

To start with when we refer to Ireland in this post we are referring to the island of Ireland as a whole. There are actually 2 seperate countries on the island of Ireland. There is the Republic of Ireland which makes up the vast majority, and there is also Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom.

The capital of the Republic of Ireland is Dublin whilst Northern Ireland’s capital is Belfast. Both are incredibly beautiful cities to visit, and are great starting points if you are doing an Ireland road trip.

Ireland is famous for it’s green luscious landscapes, drinking culture, and much more. It’s generally a pretty friendly place to visit but we will go into that in a bit more depth shortly.

Is Ireland worth visiting? Pin this guide

Is Ireland expensive?

Admittedly Ireland can be a little bit pricey. Dublin especially in the Republic of Ireland is notorious for being expensive. Particularly accommodation. If you are planning to visit we highly recommend avoiding visiting on the weekend as hotel prices can be a little bit ridiculous. Car rental costs in the Republic of Ireland are also high due to demand which is something else you should keep in mind before visiting.

Here is some information to help you budget for your trip, particularly in the Republic of Ireland.

Car Rentals: €100 + per day on average (depending on car type, what insurance you want to purchase, and any extras). Keep and eye out for hidden costs such as surcharges for returning the car at a different location from where you rented it. Always check your fine print on any rental contract.

Petrol: €100 to fill the tank (this will vary depending on the type of car) – we do recommend a smaller car if you are planning a road trip around Ireland as the roads are small anyway. Plus it’s more economical with petrol.

Accommodation: A minimum of €100 per night for something mid-range (depending on location, time of year, and amenities). In Dublin you are probably looking at quite a bit more than that though.

Attractions: €20 per person per day although this is probably on the high side.

Food & Drink: €60 per person per day for standard pub style meals and a few drinks.

Overall we would recommend budgeting about €100-€150 per person per day. Costs can be brought down especially if you opt for cheaper accommodation and meals.

If you are visiting Northern Ireland keep in mind that they use pounds not euros. Northern Ireland or Belfast in particular is slightly cheaper than Dublin. Although accommodation is still quite pricey especially at a weekend. We ended up paying almost £200 for one night in a hotel in Belfast on a Saturday night. This was in the middle of school holidays in August though.

Do I need cash in Ireland?

A lot of places in Ireland will accept debit and credit cards, particularly when it comes to big cities like Dublin or Cork. If you are visiting smaller towns and villages it might be worth having some cash on you especially if you are going to local stores.

If you are using Amex just double check if this is accepted before purchasing anything. It’s generally not widely accepted.

As mentioned above if you are carrying cash on you, the Republic of Ireland uses the Euro and Northern Ireland uses the Pound.

What language do they speak in Ireland?

English and Irish are the official languages spoken in Ireland. You will probably notice when you arrive that many signs including road signs are written in both English and Irish. The vast majority of people do speak only English, although Irish is taught in some schools.

It’s worth noting that some parts of Ireland such as the Aran Islands, do predominately speak Irish. You should be fine getting by with just English in these parts though as they are very touristy.

Is Ireland easy to get to?

There are quite a few airports in Ireland. Dublin is the largest and most popular with most European and International flights landing here. You also have Shannon and Cork although these are more popular with European destinations, although Shannon does have some US flights that land here.

Ireland West Knock is another good spot to fly into particularly if you are doing a trip around the Wild Atlantic Way or west coast of Ireland.

If you are visiting Northern Ireland Belfast is the largest airport. You also get a few international flights, although not as many as Dublin

For some inspiration for an Ireland weekend break here is a helpful guide.

How long should I spend in Ireland?

Honestly the more time that you can spend in Ireland the better. We would say to see the more of the country, and not just Dublin you will need a minimum of 8 days in Ireland. Even then you might be rushing it.

The best thing to do is decide which areas you want to visit and make a plan from there. Here is a guide to some driving itineraries for spending 5 days in Ireland. Just be mindful you won’t get to see it all.

Is Ireland safe?

In our experience Ireland as a whole is pretty safe. Of course it does depend on where you are visiting. Like everywhere you get places that might be a bit rougher than others and where you may need to exercise a bit more caution.

Dublin in particular is notorious for petty theft and pickpocketing. This is especially prevalent during large festivals or events. St Patrick’s Day is a good example. I know this because I had my phone stolen straight out of my bag.

Apart from this though just take the same precautions you would at home. For instance don’t walk around dark or deserted places at night.

Is Ireland worth visiting compared to other European countries?

Both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are very much worth visiting in comparison to other European countries, but it all depends on the kind of holiday you want.

Dublin and Belfast are great for city breaks, but you won’t have as much to do as say Paris or Rome. On the plus side they are great for short trips. For instance 2 days in Dublin is a good amount of time to explore the city and have a fun night out.

Can I use public transport in Ireland?

The answer to this is yes and no. Obviously in larger cities like Dublin, Belfast, and Cork you can use public transport to get around. The problem is when you want to use public transport to get around Ireland your choices are limited. For instance trains in the Republic of Ireland aren’t always direct. Most trains tend to leave from Dublin and then go to other destinations.

If you wanted to do a day trip using only public transport say from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher you genuinely would struggle. It’s possible but it would involve a lot of changes.

Bus Éireann also have a few routes throughout the country, but these aren’t always frequent so check the route and times before you travel.

Basically if you are planning a trip in Ireland that doesn’t involve big cities then you really do need to rent a car or book organised tours.

What is there to do in Ireland?

If you are wondering is Ireland worth visiting for the attractions alone, here are some of the highlights to help you decide. We honestly couldn’t add everything here because there is a lot to see in Ireland, but hopefully this will act as a starting point.

Visit Dublin

As the capital of the Republic of Ireland, Dublin is a great city to visit. There is so much to do here including;

  • Visit the Guinness Factory
  • Explore the many museums in the city
  • See the Book of Kells
  • Walk around Trinity College
  • Do the Old Jameson’s Distillery tour
  • Drink at Temple Bar
  • Checkout Dublin Castle
  • Ha’penny Bridge

We would recommend at least 2 days in Dublin to really experience it.

Visit Belfast

If you are wanting to explore Northern Ireland, then Belfast is a good starting point. It’s the capital of Northern Ireland, and has some incredible restaurants, bars, and museums to visit. One of the best is of course the Titanic Museum.

Visit Derry

Derry is another beautiful city in Northern Ireland, that you need to visit. It was once the centre for The Troubles, but these days it is a very up and coming city. It’s also the last remaining fully walled city in Ireland.

Visit Cork

Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland, full of markets, quaint bars, churches, and museums. Highlights include the English Market which is a great place for buying locally produced food. You also have St Anne’s Church which is one of our favourites because you can climb it for some fantastic views over Cork.

Visit Killarney

Killarney is great if you want to experience that traditional Ireland with trad music, lively bars, and great food. It’s a popular stopover destination for those wishing to see the Ring of Kerry and Killarney National Park.

Visit Galway

Galway is known for its beautiful beaches, and Latin Quarter where people busk in the streets. The food in Galway is great and it’s just a fun city to visit when you are on the west coast of Ireland.

Visit the Aran Islands

The Aran Islands are a series of islands in the Atlantic. They are predominately Irish speaking, but these days a lot of people do speak English as it’s popular with tourists. The scerey on the islands is out of this world, and it is a great experience when visiting Ireland.

It’s definitely a must for your Irish bucket list.

Drive the Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is one of those beautiful drives that Ireland is famous for. It’s a 111 mile coastal road that includes some of the most beautiful beaches and towns to stop in along the way.

For Ring of Kerry driving route tips you can checkout this post.

Drive the Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way is another gorgeous driving route. It covers the coast from Cork to Donegal, with several incredible sights along the way.

We explore the Wild Atlantic Way in 5 days, although you probably need a good week to make the most of your time there.

Cliffs of Moher

Probably the most recognised attraction in Ireland are the Cliffs of Moher. Located in County Clare they are sea cliffs approximately 203 metres high and 14km in length.

If you are driving from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher here is a guide to help you plan your trip.

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle is home to the world famous Blarney Stone. It’s basically a stone that you can kiss for the ‘gift of the gab’. The castle gardens are also pretty spectacular.

Killarney National Park

If you love visiting National Parks Killarney is probably one of the most popular as this is where a lot of people start on their Ring of Kerry adventure.

You can hike, explore waterfalls, and admire some of the incredible views that the park has to offer.

Rock of Cashel

Located in Tipperary The Rock of Cashel is an ancient monument and historical site. Included in the monuments is a Gothic Cathedral, and abbey, a round tower, and a Romanesque chapel.

The Giant’s Causeway

Another famous attraction is the Giant’s Causeway. Located in Northern Ireland this natural wonder is the product of a volcanic eruption over 60 million years ago.

It’s a hugely popular attraction so if you want to visit when it is a bit quieter get in early.

Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge

Another popular attraction is the Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge. Located in Northern Ireland along the the Causeway Coast.

The bridge was built by fishermen in 1755 to link the mainland to the small island of Carrickarede. There is a timed ticketing system for crossing so get in early to avoid disappointment.

Is Ireland worth visiting for solo travellers?

Ireland is a really good place to visit for solo travellers. Not only is it a relatively safe country, but it is also really welcoming. There is a lot to do as a solo traveller and so many different tours you can join if you are wanting to be around people.

Is Ireland worth visiting for couples?

We have travelled to Ireland many times as a couple, and would say that it is a great place for travelling together. The big cities like Dublin and Belfast have some great bars and restaurants making it perfect for date nights, but even the smaller towns have a lot to offer.

Let’s not forget that Ireland has inspired a lot of incredible literature and has been described as a place full of beauty and wonder in poetry. With this in mind it is certainly a romantic place to visit as a couple.

Is Ireland worth visiting for families?

If you are wondering if Ireland is worth visiting for families then we say absolutely. It’s a relatively safe country, so you shouldn’t have any major issues travelling with little ones. There are also so many cool things for them to do. In big cities such as Dublin you have a number of museums to keep the kids entertained.

It also has a vast amount of natural beauty including beaches which is great for visiting with families. It’s also easy to get around, particularly if you rent a car – making it idea for a family road trip.

As mentioned in this article previously there are a lot of pubs in Ireland, but the good news is that most of them allow kids (usually before a certain time in the evening), so they can sip on lemonade and listen to trad music whilst parents try some world class Guinness or Whiskey (just not too much!).

Is Ireland worth visiting for a road trip?

The ideal holiday when visiting Ireland is a road trip. It’s very easy to get around on the roads and the signs are all in English. You just need to remember that they drive on the left in Ireland.

A road trip is the best way to see the main sights in Ireland, and it gives you the chance to not only explore the cities but also the countryside.

Here are some road trip itineraries we have put together for Ireland.

5 days in Ireland – a road trippers guide

8 day Irish road trip

Is Ireland worth visiting for foodies?

Ireland might not be one of those places that foodies flock to but in reality it should be. Historically it has had a very comfort food sort of reputation. Think Irish stews and your classic meat and potato style dishes.

We personally think it has all the making for a foodies paradise. Particularly if you are visiting smaller towns with nearby farms and you can source local produce. Sligo is one of our favourites because there are so many places doing locally sourced foods. Plus due to its excellent location along the coast the seafood here is pretty incredible too.

Sligo isn’t the only place for foodies, with places like Galway and Kerry to name but a few are also great for this. Our recommendation is to always eat local, and avoid chains.

Is Ireland worth visiting for the nightlife?

Ireland has some fantastic nightlife. If you are planning to visit for nightlife alone we would recommend you visit one of the bigger cities like Dublin or Belfast. The smaller towns still have some great nightlife but nothing as wild as what you might find in a big city.

Dublin has some really awesome bars particularly around Temple Bar whereas Belfast is all about the Cathedral quarter. In both cities you will find several cocktail bars, traditional pubs, and places to stay up late and dance. Basically a little something for everyone.

Is Ireland worth visiting for nature lovers?

Honestly Ireland has some of the most stunning scenery and natural attractions in the world. You’ve got gorgeous coastal drives like the Wild Atlantic Way and the Ring of Kerry. As well as some pretty impressive cliffs on the Aran Islands, Donegal, and the famous Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.

Pretty much any county you visit has something beautiful to discover in terms of natural beauty. You just have to get out there and explore.

Is Ireland worth visiting for history buffs?

Wondering if Ireland is worth visiting if you are a history buff? You are in luck. Ireland is a really good place to visit if you are interested in your history. The island of Ireland has had a tumultuous history including The Troubles and the Irish War of Independence.

But it was also the place where the Titanic was built as well as being home to monolithic sites, castles, museums, and much more.

Some of the best places to visit for history lovers include but are not limited to, Belfast for the Titanic Museum, Dublin for it’s literature and Glendalough for it’s monastic site.

Is Ireland worth visiting for culture lovers?

Culture lovers will absolutely love visiting Ireland. The country has a very rich and diverse culture which includes literature, music, mythology, food, and language. There have been a lot of cultural influences from the early Gaelic people, to the English, Scots, Normans, and even Vikings.

Is Ireland worth visiting in the summer?

Ireland is a great place to visit in the summer. In fact if you want to make the most of your trip and the daylight hours you should plan to visit during the summer months.

The temperatures are pretty mild averaging between 15 – 25 degrees Celsius, although rain is still pretty common – I mean it’s Ireland!

The one thing to be aware of is that summer in Ireland is incredibly popular with tourists. So make sure you are booking your accommodation and tours well in advance.

Is Ireland worth visiting in the winter?

If you are planning on visiting Ireland in the winter we would probably recommend sticking to a city break. This is because the weather in Ireland isn’t always great in winter, and it rains a lot. It can be tricky navigating some of the smaller country roads at this time of year. Ice and snow aren’t uncommon in places either.

Temperatures average at about 5-10 degrees Celsius in the day, with it getting a lot colder in the evenings.

Another thing to note in Ireland during winter is that it gets dark early. Depending on which part of the country you are in and the time of the year it can often be dark by 5pm. This can be difficult if you are planning a road trip as a lot of attractions will close before dark.

Are you planning on visiting Ireland in March? Here is a helpful guide.

What to pack when visiting Ireland?

Here are some musts that we think you might need to pack when visiting Ireland.

  • Waterproof coat – no matter what time of year it is it does rain a bit in Ireland. Be prepared.
  • Hiking boots – there is so much natural beauty in Ireland that you will want to explore. Make sure you pack appropriate footwear.
  • Layers – Again no matter what the season the weather in Ireland can be unpredictable. Make sure you layer up.
  • Swimsuit – obviously this is more for summer.

For a more comprehensive list of what to pack for Ireland, here is a useful guide.

What should I know before visiting Ireland?

Here are some tips that you should consider before booking your trip to Ireland.

☘ Book your accommodation in advance – particularly in bigger cities like Dublin as it can be expensive.

☘ Try and leave Dublin if you can, whilst it is beautiful there is so much more to see

☘ Visit both Northern Ireland and the Republic if you can but be aware they have different currencies and different speed limits (i.e Miles and Kilometres)

☘ Be prepared for rain it’s green for a reason

☘Rent a car if you can because finding those hidden gems on an Irish road trip is out of this world.

So Is Ireland worth visiting?

So is Ireland worth visiting? Honestly we think it is. Ireland is such a beautiful place and whether you are in Northern Ireland or the Republic you will find so many amazing things to do. If you are looking for a holiday full of culture, great nights out, and a lot of nature Ireland is very much for you.

We hope that this article has helped you decide to visit Ireland. We have a number of posts on Ireland on the blog so feel free to explore for some more inspiration.

And if you found this useful don’t forget to pin it for later.

Happy travels!

Is Ireland worth visiting? Pin this guide

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