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  • Starr Wlodarski


Ireland is one of the most requested locations in Europe. It’s a great choice for a first-time trip to Europe. It combines great cities, historic sites, and stunning natural beauty. It’s also a great choice for golfers, as fees tend to be less than in Scotland. When to go? I visited in early November and it was perfect for sightseeing, on the cool side but the crowds were gone. Prime season in Ireland has expanded to include September and October.

No matter when you go you need to plan for rain.

You've put off visiting the Cliffs of Moher, Killarney National Park, and Blarney Castle long enough. It's finally time to take that trip to Ireland! We applaud that decision, but before you book that brewery or whiskey tour or get too excited about visiting Dublin's Grafton Street, here are a few tips to make for a more enjoyable trip.

Consider Car Travel

The best sites in the Emerald Isle are seen via public transportation or tour buses, but renting a car is not a bad idea to get to those obscure sites, like the small village your great grandfather came from or one of the many golf courses. Be sure the vehicle you rent is a small one, as rural roads in Ireland are narrow. Oh, and the Irish drive on the left side of the road and pass on the right. Have at least 6 going? A private driver maybe an option.

Tax-Free Shopping!

All those goodies you'll find to buy on Grafton Street are tax-free! That's right, travelers who live outside the European Union can shop tax-free in Ireland. Make sure to apply for a Fexco Horizon Card prior to your trip so you can register and swipe it in affiliated stores in the country and claim sales tax back on the purchases.

Differing Currencies

And while we're on the topic of shopping, it's important to note that, as part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland uses pound sterling rather than the euro. The Republic of Ireland is part of the EU so Euro in the rest of Ireland.

Dress Appropriately

Irish weather is not extreme, but the country does get a lot of rain, particularly along its west coast. And if you're traveling to Ireland during winter, know that the season's days are short. The sun rises at about 8 a.m. and sets at about 4 p.m., which means you must cram a lot of sightseeing into a few hours. But during summer, the sunsets as late as 10 p.m. Be mindful of these seasonal changes, pack light layers of clothing and a pair of rain boots or waterproof shoes, and you should be just fine.

Public Transportation Pointers

The trains in Ireland carry you in comfort, but they are pricey. So, if you intend to travel on one during your trip, make sure to book it in advance to take advantage of online discounts that the Irish Rail offers. If you choose to travel by bus, be aware that you must flag the bus to get it to stop.

Heritage Cards Are Helpful

If you plan to visit the country's many cultural attractions, picking up a Heritage Card from the Office of Public Works is a great idea. This card entitles you to free admission to all heritage sites managed by the state for an entire year. These sites include castles and national parks.

Consider a Castle/Stately Home Stay

Yes, you should spend a night or 2 in one of these types of accommodation. Ashford Castle is the best known, but hidden gem is Dromoland Castle. It’s only 30 minutes from Shannon Airport, so no need to drive back to Dublin to catch your flight back to the USA. I would suggest 2 days to enjoy all that the estate has to offer.

If visiting the Emerald Isle is on your wish list for contact me to talk about options

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