Our little guide to help you get the most out of your trip to Ireland.
We get a lot of e-mails from people planning their trip to Ireland, reviewing Itineraries giving advice and helping people to get the most out of their experience while in Ireland is what we do best. But often we meet visitors to Ireland too late into their trip to offer any real help, but luckily for you we have complied the Top 10 mistake made by visitor to this wonderful little Island.
Top 10 mistakes made by first time visitors to Ireland.
Spending too much time in Dublin
This may sound like I’m having a dig at Dublin, I’m not, Dublin is a wonderful city. Dublin has an edginess rarely found anywhere else in the country. A streetwise friendliness that rivals anywhere in the world. Built on layer on top of layer of national historical importance Dublin is a special place, but there is a whole country out there to explore. And unlike many countries around the world it is very possible to explore and experience a lot of the culture of Ireland in a relatively short space of time. So, do your time in Dublin, see the Book of Kells, the Guinness Storehouse (Ireland’s answer to Disneyland) and then get out of the ‘Big Smoke’ and explore.
Only visiting Temple Bar when in Dublin
While spending that day or 2 in Dublin you will no doubt at some point end up in Temple Bar. With bar after bar crammed with tourists, music starting early in the afternoon and inflated prices it is very easy to see why you will find it very difficult to meet a local here. So be warned, Temple Bar is a tourist trap. This does not mean totally avoid it, I love nothing more when I’m in Dublin than to take a stroll through Temple Bar but limit your time there. Experience it and then Explore. There is so much more to Dublin than that small area. The city center has many different districts to explore or even hop on a train and explore the Bay. Dublin just needs a little effort to scratch the surface and find it’s real heartbeat.
Cramming too much into your itinerary
So, you want to experience the ‘real’ Ireland, you want to step into the culture, find your Irish heritage inside you, you want to see all there is to see. We get it, you only have a week or two and there’s so much to see and do. So, at breakneck speed you set off around the country, hours of travel each day, another pub, another music session, different town. Ok, take a breath. You’re in Ireland now, we work on Irish Time! Take time to really experience where you are, rushing from point A to B to C will only tick boxes for you. You’ll arrive home with an extra stamp on your Passport, a credit card bill and total exhaustion, for what? Read the guide book, plan what you really REALLY want to see and do. Now throw the guide book away and find your own path in between those must-see points along the way. It is the experiences you have, the people you meet and the memories you make that are the real gifts when you return home. Slow Down, Explore and Experience. Your soul will thank you for it.
Relying on the Irish Public Transport System
Depending on where in the world you are coming from you will have different options on public transport. Some countries have exceptionally effective transport systems. Some have terrible systems but somehow that becomes part of the cultural experience. Ireland falls somewhere in between. Major regional towns and cities are all well connected and getting around the country from town to town can be done relatively easily and cheaply, relatively! But if you want to step away from the larger towns, if you want to get off the beaten track, here is where you will find the national public transport system restricting. Our advice, if you have the ability and the confidence, hire a car. Give yourself the freedom to control your own movements and go anywhere you want whenever you want. Enjoy the open road, they may be tight, small and curvy but you never know what little gem awaits you around the next bend.
Expecting things to be the same as home
I’ll be honest with you here, this is a little pet peeve of mine and something that everyone working with tourists come across at least a few times. Generally, I see this with the older tourists, inexperienced travelers. Visitors to our wonderful little island expecting little things to be the same as home. “But at home we do it this way..”, “I don’t understand, don’t you have….like we do at home?”. Embrace the change, explore the differences, it is these beautiful little differences that you traveled here to experience and what makes it exciting.
Get off your phone
So, In the last point I spoke about the older visitors we get, now for you younger folk. The tourists that experience their world through the screen of a smartphone. As some of you will be aware I do love my Instagram, putting up pics of my daily life, sharing the life and culture here with the world so without being a hypocrite, lads and ladies, put down the phones, don’t look for the wifi code and get chatting to people, meet the locals and fellow travellers and limit the faceybook and snappychat down to a minimum. Sounds almost like a life lesson but test the theory for a short time on your trip. There are real people behind those camera lenses, a simple hello can start you on an experience that could build real memories, not just the type that facebook tells you about a year later.
Not Visiting Northern Ireland
This is something I get asked about often, is Northern Ireland safe, can we travel there? The easy answer is yes, the longer answer is HELL YES. Northern Ireland is amazing, beautiful scenery and beautiful people. Many of you will be aware of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland for a long time up until about 20 years ago, thankfully those days a truly behind us. And with that change, comes with it a very warm welcome. Tourism in Northern Ireland has only kicked off in the last 10 to 15 years and I find that the people of Northern Ireland love to have visitors and show the world that Northern Ireland is Open for Business!
Not Claiming your Tax Back
Here is a little tip for those of you planning to travel here from outside the EU. No doubt you will partake in a little shopping while you’re here. Maybe it’s gifts for those at home, a cheesy Aran Jumper for your other half or a really good bottle of Irish Whiskey for a special occasion, you will at some point find yourself in the retail environment. Here in Ireland Tax is already added to the price tag you will see on the item. When you pay at the counter, ask the staff about getting your tax back, some retailers have a card scheme to collect your tax on to reclaim later. For those that look at you strangely, unsure what you are talking about, that no problem, simply keep your receipts and you can claim your tax refund at the airport on your departure.
Missing the “Real” Ireland
Although The Quiet Man is an amazing Movie and reminiscent of the Ireland many of your ancestors may have experienced, this is not Ireland today. We love our heritage and embrace it as part of our making, our culture and our story as a people, but it doesn’t define us. While here explore modern Ireland just as much as the historic Ireland, the ‘real’ Ireland is different for all of us. Mugs of Tea and pints of Guinness are just as common as Grande Latte and Gin & Tonic. Some locals will know more about Game of Thrones than they will local history or Irish culture. A band will rock out AC/DC on stage more often than the Jigs & Reels of Traditional Irish Music. Our little country have evolved, grown and developed, for better or worse that’s a personal opinion. But one thing is sure, the soul of Ireland is still the same, the eternal hunt for ‘The Craic’, The gift of the Gab and that Irish Welcome. The conversations are different but the Irishness is still the same. Don’t be afraid to experience and explore, make memories while also dreaming of days gone by. The beauty of Ireland is you know never know what might happen.
#Experience #Explore #Memories #CraicandCulturGuide