You’ve been considering visiting Ireland and seeing Blarney Castle, Killarney National Park, and the Cliffs of Moher for quite a while now. It’s finally time to book that trip to Ireland! We support you in that decision, but before you get too excited about visiting Dublin’s Grafton Street or book that Guinness brewery tour, here are a few tips to make for a more enjoyable trip.
The capital city of Dublin is known as the heartbeat of Ireland. With its rich history and beautiful architecture, lively nightlife, and thriving food scene, there isn’t much this city doesn’t offer to visitors. You can spend your time sampling the local brews in neighborhood pubs, go castle and cathedral hopping with a guide, or picnic in Phoenix Park.
Getting to this Irish city is easy also. Dublin Airport has hundreds of daily flights providing a vast range of options to get there.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Dublin is June through August. The weather is warm, and the festival season is in full swing. This is also the most crowded and expensive time to visit.
If you want to avoid crowds, plan to visit Ireland in April – June or September – October. Even though there are never any promises regarding Irish weather, spring and autumn tend to be relatively mild and pleasant.
But, honestly, there is never a bad time to visit Dublin.
Due to its location in the northern hemisphere, winter days tend to be quite short, with the sun rising at about 8 a.m. and setting at about 4 p.m. This must be considered when you are planning your day of sightseeing. Alternatively, in the summer, the sun doesn’t set until around 10 p.m.
And, yes, it rains in Ireland. The best way to be prepared is to pack several light layers of clothing, a packable rain jacket, and a pair of waterproof shoes, and you should be just fine.
DRINK LIKE AN IRISHMAN
No surprise here that booze is extremely important to the Irish since they produce some of the most iconic beers and whiskeys. Make sure to visit the iconic Temple Bar for a pint or sample more local brews at the Guinness Storehouse ( we can arrange a private tour ) or sip some whiskey at the Old Jameson Distillery!
CHECK OUT DUBLIN CASTLE
Over 800 years old, Dublin Castle sits on the highest ridge with beautiful views of the surrounding 11 acres.
The property offers self-guided tours of the castle and its grounds, including the Chapel Royal, the Chester Beatty Library, and the Revenue Museum. I can also arrange for a private tour if you want to avoid the crowds.
VISIT TRINITY COLLEGE
This beautifully handwritten and intricately illustrated book is famous because it dates back to 800 AD. It is one of Ireland’s most prized possessions.
Trinity College is Ireland’s oldest university. The Book of Kells is a manuscript written in Latin containing the New Testament’s four Gospels.
The library is also an incredibly inspiring place to visit, and a private tour allows you to take in the beauty without the distraction of throngs of people.
SHOPPING IN IRELAND
Dublin has two central shopping districts on either side of the River Liffey, with a plethora of high street shopping interspersed with department stores and open-air markets. It has something for every type of shopper.
All those purchases you will make on Grafton Street are tax-free! Any traveler who resides outside the European Union can shop duty-free in Ireland. But make sure to apply for a Fexco Horizon Card before your trip so you can register and swipe it in affiliated stores in the country and claim sales tax back on the purchases.
And while we’re on the topic of shopping, it’s important to note that Ireland uses the euro as it is part of the European Union.
While Dublin has many places to rest your weary head after a long day of sightseeing, these are three of my favorite hotels to stay at.
The intercontinental is an elegant, urban resort located in Dublin’s most affluent neighborhood, Ballsbridge.
Its 2 acres enclosed garden is a lovely oasis to escape to after a busy day of sightseeing, and many rooms have balconies that overlook this relaxing space.
The city center is only a short stroll away, and given Dublin is a walking city, it allows you the best of both worlds.
The Westbury not only surrounds its guests in luxury and style but also places them at the center of the city’s social and cultural riches.
The hotel is located in a prime position between Trinity College and St. Stephen’s Green and is ideally located for exploring the most exciting sides of Dublin.
Dublin’s most stylish five-star hotel is located in the city center, just a few minutes’ walk from galleries, museums, pubs, restaurants, and the shops of Grafton Street.
Housed in four Georgian townhouses with a contemporary Garden Wing, its bedrooms and suites surround two 18th-century-style gardens.
The Merrion is also home to the 2-star Michelin Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, which I highly recommend.
The food scene in Ireland has exploded over the last several years and, now, it is considered one of the most exciting culinary experiences internationally. Long gone are the days of unseasoned meat and overcooked vegetables. Fresh, local hand-crafted ingredients used in innovative ways now dominate in restaurants and it shows in the number of Michelin starred restaurants dotted around Ireland. In fact, there are five alone in Dublin. These restaurants are three of the very best Dublin has to offer.
There’s a reason The Greenhouse was awarded a Michelin star just a few years after it opened and, more recently received its second. It was also awarded Best Restaurant in Dublin. Mickael Viljanen also won Best Chef in Ireland.
The restaurant is a showcase for Ireland’s best produce, all prepared and plated with delicate, stylish panache.
Ireland has incredible seafood. After all, it is an island surrounded by ocean and sea. If you’re after unadulterated Irish seafood, this is the place for you. Start with a plate of freshly caught, native oysters. Try them in a new and innovative way – your options here are naked (with sharp lemon or Tabasco), dressed, or scorched with a blowtorch. Any way is delicious! Klaw is great for a casual lunch.
Its name refers to the cast iron pot which once sat on the hearth of every family home, and Bastible still uses one to make the bread here in this lively neighborhood spot. Located in the unofficial foodie district of Dublin 8, the restaurant has an open, airy feel, and the food emerging from the kitchen packs a major punch. Bastible’s flavors are bold and servings are generous.
Consider renting a car
While the most popular tourist sites are easily seen via public transportation or tour buses, it’s harder to get to those more obscure sites without personal transportation. Why not consider renting a car? By driving yourself, you can customize your trip to be exactly as you wish but make sure you rent a compact car, as rural roads in Ireland are notoriously narrow. Oh, and remember that the Irish drive on the left side of the road and pass on the right. An even better idea is to hire a car and driver to take you around so that you can relax and enjoy the scenery while your driver regales you with Irish tales.
If you Choose to use Public Transportation
The trains in Ireland run on time and are quite comfortable, but they can be quite expensive. If you plan on traveling by train, make sure to book it in advance to take advantage of Irish Rail’s online discounts. If you choose to travel by bus, it is important to know that busses do not stop unless you flag them.
Heritage Cards are helpful
If you are a fan of history and you plan to visit the country’s many cultural attractions, picking up a Heritage Card from the Office of Public Works is a good idea. The Heritage Card provides you with free admission to all heritage sites managed by the state for an entire year. These sites include castles and national parks.