Traveling to Ireland
Nobody comes to Ireland to get a tan, but the secret is that Ireland is lovely in the rain. Mist rising from the lakes and mountains of Kerry, the wild Atlantic west coast, and the incomparable coziness of a warm pub on a wet day are all part of the magic. And if you are lucky enough to see the sun after a flight to Ireland, you’ll smile at the giddy happiness that a warm day inspires in the locals.
Cheap Flights to Ireland
For a small country, Ireland has an impressive choice of international airports. Dublin Airport (DUB) is the busiest in the Republic, with more than 20 million people passing through each year. It’s the headquarters of Aer Lingus, Ireland’s national airline, and the home of Ryanair, an Irish-run budget airline mostly serving short-haul European destinations.
The second busiest airport on the island is actually Belfast International, which is technically in the UK, but only a 2.5 hour drive from Dublin. Shannon Airport, in the west of Ireland, is small, serving just 1.4 million passengers a year, but is an important transatlantic hub serving Boston Logan and New York JFK. Cork Airport is Ireland’s second busiest, with 2.3 million passengers annually.
Stuff to do in Ireland
After flying to Ireland, Dublin is the natural place to start. It’s a busy, cheerful city, still steeped in history, but now with a modern European edge. It’s very walkable, and well served both by buses and the Luas light rail system.
The city is bursting with culture. There’s the national Abbey Theatre and world-class galleries. Visit the bizarre and beautiful Museum of Natural History: it’s a museum of a museum, largely unchanged from its Victorian origins. Have a look at the ancient Book of Kells, housed in the venerable Trinity College.
After Dublin, where you go depends on what catches your fancy. Galway is the unofficial cultural center of the country, a tiny but beautiful medieval city which hosts a huge arts festival every summer. The Ring of Kerry boasts the most beautiful views in a country constructed entirely of beautiful views. Dozens of tiny villages dotted around the country boast ruined castles, cozy B&Bs, and an endless supply of ceol agus craic (that’s Irish for “music and fun”!)
Advice for Tourists Visiting Ireland
The first time you fly into Ireland, the dazzling patchwork fields will take your breath away. No amount of postcards could ever truly convey the Irish countryside. Of course, that hue comes at a price: rain, and lots of it. The beauty and charm of Ireland are so great that 7 million tourists gleefully zip up their rain jackets every year. May through September is a wonderful time to come, with June and July at the heart of the busy season.
English is the most commonly spoken language in Ireland, but Irish (Gaeilge) is the official national language. In the Republic, the currency is the euro. If you head up North, you’ll need some sterling.
The country is compact enough to cover a lot of ground in one vacation. The major cities are fairly well connected by train or bus, but a rental car is really the best way to make the most of your itinerary. Skyscanner can help you find a great deal on a rental car, which is absolutely free to use. Just remember that you’ll be driving on the left, on a lot of little winding roads, so be safe, go slow, and drink in all that beautiful scenery. We can also help you discover a wonderful place to say with our hotel tool.
Images by Flickr/Keith N Dowling
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