Book a Bubble Dome. Located within Donegal's Gaeltacht, one of the few places in Ireland where traditional Irish Gaelic is still spoken, the Fanad Head Lighthouse sits atop some of the most rugged coastline in the Atlantic. It's well worth the journey, particularly because you can actually stay here. There are three guesthouses with limited availability, set above the vast seascape. Stay at the Lighthouse. Perched atop Mount Greenan at Inishowen in County Donegal, this ancient ringfort has a commanding view of the Irish countryside, stretching out towards Ireland's northernmost points.
It dates back to B. To stand here and gaze outward is to stand in the footprints of Ireland's ancient royals. You can almost feel the weight of time in the stones and the land. Visit the Fort. Seized by a Scottish warrior clan in the 16th century, Dunluce Castle is another must-see stop along the Causeway Coastal Route. The place is steeped in intrigue, with legendary tales of its master, Sorely Boy MacDonnell and his fights against both British and the Irish lords.
Explore the Castle. Built in as a private residence, the gothic, granite beauty of Kylemore Abbey is the pride of Connemara, and its grounds feature the largest walled garden in Ireland. As an abbey, Kylemore has been home to an order of Benedictine nuns since Stroll along the nearby lakeside and through the woods to find your inner peace in the wilds of Ireland's far west.
Visit the Abbey. Westport is perfectly situated on Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way. Everything about the town itself is authentic and genuine, from snug little pubs to charming places to stay. With festivals celebrating seafood, art, and music, there's no wrong time to visit Westport. It's also a great base for excursions, whether you're headed to holy Croagh Patrick mountain or cycling the route around Achill Island. Explore Westport Town. Donegal has long been famous for its hard-wearing tweed. Founded in—you guessed it—, Magee makes handwoven tweed that has stood the test of time. While still a highly durable product, the tweed today is far more polished and fashion-focused than the original 19th century material.
In the northwest of the country Donegal Town is fast becoming the seafood capital of Ireland. Irish cuisine can charitably be described as hearty : virtually all traditional meals involve meat especially lamb and pork , potatoes, and cabbage. Long cooking times are the norm and spices are limited to salt and pepper. Classic Irish dishes include:. Note that the first four listed dishes and their names vary regionally, and are not common throughout the entire country. Try some gorgeous soda bread, made with buttermilk and leavened with bicarbonate of soda rather than yeast.
It is heavy, tasty and with butter almost a meal in itself! The days when potatoes were the only thing on the menu are long past, and modern Irish cuisine emphasizes fresh local ingredients, simply prepared and presented, and utilizes influences from many countries across the world. Ireland has also since embraced a cosmopolitan restaurant and food industry that has incorporated many novel varieties of cuisine. Common ingredients still include meat especially lamb , seafood, and dairy, and Western meat staples found elsewhere, such as chicken and pork, are also regularly served in Ireland.
Today, these elements have been blended with other ethnic techniques and flavor profiles found outside of strictly traditional Irish cuisine. In many instances, restaurants that serve ethnic food are more plentiful and some would argue more appealing to locals than classical Irish fare. Thai, Indian, Italian, American, and Mediterranean influenced food is plentiful in Ireland's larger cities and is very good. Only basic table manners are considered necessary when eating out, unless you're with company that has a more specific definition of what is appropriate.
As a general rule, so long as you don't make a show of yourself by disturbing other diners there's little else to worry about. It's common to see other customers using their mobile phones - this sometimes attracts the odd frown or two but goes largely ignored. If you do need to take a call, keep it short and try not to raise your voice.
The only other issue to be concerned about is noise - a baby crying might be forgivable if it's resolved fairly quickly, a contingent of adults laughing very loudly every couple of minutes or continuously talking out loud may attract negative attention. However, these rules are largely ignored in fast-food restaurants, pubs and some more informal restaurants.
Traditionally, tipping was never considered to be a necessity and was entirely optional. This can depend on where you are in Ireland, with tipping more common place in the larger cities such as Dublin. If a service charge is levied, a tip would not normally be left, unless to reward exceptional service. It is customary to round Taxi fares up to the nearest euro, or to the nearest 5 for exceptional service.
Alcohol is very expensive in most areas of the Republic. Despite this, public houses more commonly known as pubs are plentiful and frequented often by locals in most cities in Ireland, though the environment in each can be substantially different depending on the time of day one attends. Nightclubs that serve alcohol can also be regularly found in Ireland, however they may charge a cover fee and higher prices for beverages than pubs. Ireland is the home of some of the world's greatest whiskey, having a rich tradition going back hundreds if not thousands of years.
With around fifty popular brands today these are exported around the world and symbolise everything that is pure about Ireland and where a visit to an Irish distillery is considered very worthwhile. The Jameson distillery is a common tourist destination found near the center of Dublin. Another one of Ireland's most famous exports is stout, a dark, dry beer.
The strong taste can be initially off-putting but perseverance is well-rewarded! The most famous variety is Guinness, brewed in Dublin and available throughout the country.
Murphy's and Beamish stout are brewed in Cork and available mainly in the south of the country. Murphy's is slightly sweeter and creamier-tasting than Guinness, while Beamish has a strong, almost burnt taste. Ales such as Smithwick's are also popular, particularly in rural areas. Bulmers Cider known outside the Republic as 'Magners Cider' is also a popular and widely available Irish drink. It is brewed in Clonmel, Co. Nearly all the pubs in Ireland are 'free houses', i. You can get the same brands of drink in all pubs in Ireland across the country.
There are a number of 'microbreweries' in Ireland, and brew-pubs which brew their own specialty drinks. Availability varies depending on region and typical clientele of the establishment. Recent years has also seen the development of small-batch whiskey and gin distillers. Small amounts of mead a lightly alcoholic beverage of fermented honey are also produced by artisan brewers.
All pubs and nightclubs in Ireland by law have to close by a certain time, depending on venue and the day. This varies from pm to am, to am. The owners will flash the lights or less commonly sometimes ring a bell to signal that it is almost 'closing time', this is 'last orders' and is your last chance to get a drink. When the pub or club wants to close, they will frequently turn on all the lights as a signal for people to finish up and leave. It is important to note that it is illegal to smoke in all pubs and indeed places of work in Ireland.
Many pubs and restaurants have provided 'smoking areas' outside their premises where space has allowed them to. The other competitor for national drink of Ireland is tea. The Irish drink more tea per capita than any other people in the world. Cork, Dublin and Galway abound with slick, stylish coffee bars, but if you visit any Irish home you will probably be offered a cup of tea usually served with milk, unless you explicitly state otherwise! Coffee is also widely drunk in Ireland. If you don't drink tea, you drink coffee! There are hotels of all standards including some very luxurious.
These are usually very friendly, quite often family-run and good value. There are independent hostels which are marketed as Independent Holiday Hostels of Ireland  , which are all tourist board approved. These hostels are often in remote and beautiful places, designed mainly for the outdoors.
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There are official campsites although fewer than many countries given the climate. Wild camping is generally tolerated, although you should seek permission if it is directly within eye shot of the landowners house. Never camp in a field in which livestock are present and be aware that there is no right to roam, private land can be excluded from public access at the owners will, even without signage.
There are also specialist places to stay such as lighthouses, castles and ringforts. No stay in Ireland is complete without sampling its magnificent language, first language to thousands across the island. A few common phrases are easy to pick up. It is however important to note that the vast majority of Irish people do not speak, or in many cases understand, the Irish language with any degree of fluency. A tourist using the Irish language will very often be greeted with indifference.
You can learn many interesting facts about Ireland's history and culture. One of the things Ireland is most famous for is Irish dancing. Riverdance, a popular show centered on Irish step dancing, started in Ireland. Irish traditional music is also popular throughout. Ireland has internationally-respected universities, including the venerable Trinity College Dublin the only college of the University of Dublin.
Yeats and Patrick Kavanagh also hailed from Ireland. There are many literary tourist attractions and tours in Dublin, especially. Many of these literally works have annual festivals or events associated with them, such as Bloomsday 16th June, celebrating James Joyce's Ulysses.
Further information can be found on Citizens Information  , the Irish government's public services information website. Note that with a Working Holiday Authorisation, you must register with the Garda Nation Immigration Bureau and apply for a registration card after initial entry but before taking up employment. While it is possible to apply for a Working Holiday Authorisation while you are already present in Ireland on a tourist visa, long wait times for visa processing will rule that out in practice.
If you intend working during any part of your stay you should apply for the appropriate visa well in advance of you planned trip. Crime is low by European standards and mainly fueled by alcohol. That being said, it wouldn't hurt to know the following:. The term Police is rarely used, but is of course understood. Regardless of what you call them, they are courteous and approachable. Police security checks at Shannon Airport can be tough if you are a solo-traveller.
Some garda stations in rural areas may only be manned during specific hours, with 24hr cover provided by a nearby town or provincial station. Contact numbers are usually posted at these stations for the on-duty officers and emergency service operators will always route your call appropriately. Again, Ireland is one of the safest countries in Europe. The vast majority of tourists encounter no problems during their stay.
Get taxis at night, avoid the inebriated, give no-one a reason to dislike you, and you'll be fine as can be. Irish public healthcare is provided by the Health Service Executive HSE , which is comparable in quality to most neighbouring healthcare systems. Visiting EU citizens are entitled to cost-free medical assistance in the event of an accident or illness if they apply for a European Health Insurance Card.
Visitors outside out of the EU will need to purchase travel insurance or bear the full cost of medical care should they require it with the exception of Australian citizens, due to a reciprocal treaty with Ireland covering healthcare access for visitors. Exceptions may apply for emergencies or in the case of hardship. Even though they are not obliged to enforce the ban, owners of these establishments are, however, free to do so if they wish. Most hotels have designated some bedrooms or floors as smoking and some as non-smoking, so you should specify at the time of booking if you have a preference either way.
The smoking ban also applies to common areas within buildings. This means for example that corridors, lobby areas and reception areas of buildings such as apartment blocks and hotels are also covered under the law. If one does not exist be aware that it is illegal to consume alcohol on the street so you may have to leave your drink at the bar. Visitors to Ireland are likely to find the Irish to be among the most courteous nationalities in the world. It is not uncommon for locals to approach confused looking visitors and offer to help. Often, in smaller towns and villages especially on rural roads , if you pass somebody unknown to you, it is customary to say hello.
They may instead simply greet you by asking "how are you? It is polite to respond to this greeting, but it is not expected that you would give any significant detail on how you really are! In this regard, try something like "Grand day! The response will often be "It is indeed, thank God". When driving on rural roads particularly where a driver has to pull in to allow you to pass , it is customary to wave "thanks" to the other driver, by raising your hand from the steering wheel. This is particularly prevalent in rural areas of the West of Ireland where many drivers will automatically wave at everyone who drives past them.
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A polite hand wave or even with just the index finger raised from the steering wheel is customary and will be appreciated. When accepting gifts, a polite refusal such as, "No, really you shouldn't" is common after the initial offer of the item. Usually, this is followed with an insistence that the gift or offer is accepted, at which point your answer is likely to become more recognised. However, some people can be very persuasive and persistent. This usually isn't intended to be over-bearing, just courteous. One thing which some visitors may find disconcerting is the response an Irish person may give to a "thank you".
Most Irish people will respond with something along the lines of "It was nothing" or "not at all". This does not mean that they didn't try hard to please, but rather it is meant to suggest "I was happy to do it for you, so it was not any great difficulty" even though it may have been! This is simply the same as saying "de nada" in Spanish to mean "you're welcome. The Republic of Ireland and Britain undoubtedly have notable similarities. However, Irish people generally take great pride in the cultural differences that also exist between Ireland, Northern Ireland and Britain.
Locals can be quite offended by tourists who do not acknowledge or show respect to these differences. Indeed, it is not uncommon for visitors both before and after arrival into the country to incorrectly assume that all of Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom similar to Scotland and Wales. This may lead to genuine curiosity about the differences between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Use of term "British" to incorrectly describe Irish people is considered to be deeply offensive, particularly in the Republic and among the nationalist community in Northern Ireland.
Likewise the geographical descriptor of "British Isles" is considered offensive by many and is not referred to by any official Irish government published materials, agreements, laws or treaties. The islands are generally referred to as "the islands", "these isles" or the "islands of the north atlantic" in such documents. This is because opinions between individuals are so vastly divided and unyielding, that most Irish people of moderate views have grown accustomed to simply avoiding the topics in polite conversation.
Most Irish people are moderate in their views. However, it is wise to avoid any political or religious discussion unless you are invited to discuss these topics.
The Irish are renowned for their upbeat sense of humour. However, their humour can sometimes be difficult to understand for more unfamiliar tourists. Joking on almost any topic will be welcomed, and although mild facetious racism will fetch a chuckle from some, anything needlessly disparaging will not be tolerated by most. Most Irish people are quite happy for friendly jibes regarding the Irish love of potatoes and drinking alcohol.
However, jokes regarding recent Irish crises, be it the potato famine of the 19th Century in which approximately two million people died or fled or the Troubles whose aftereffects still bother the country from time to time , should be avoided in any conversation. Joking about these topics could in many instances cause a similar amount of offense for example as joking about the Holocaust would among Jewish people. Irish people will generally be understanding and appreciate the effort even if you get it wrong, whereas they will often consider it culturally ignorant and rude if you simply use the English term instead.
Attitudes in Ireland towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender LGBT people are regarded as among the most liberal in the world. Ireland passed a referendum to legalize same-sex marriage in May , being the first country in the world to do so by popular vote. The Gender Recognition Act allows legal gender change by self-determination alone. Equality and freedom from discrimination on the grounds of gender identity or sexual orientation is guaranteed in law. LGBTQ members are generally safe to be open about themselves.
That being said, conservative values are held among a sizable minority in some rural areas mainly those with an older demographic. Displays of same-sex affection or gender-identity differences in these areas may elicit stares or under-the-breath humour from witnesses. Phone numbers in this guide are given in the form that you would dial them from within Ireland. This form in general is a two- or three-digit area code always begins with a 0 , and the local number, which may be from five to seven digits long.
When dialling a land line number from another land line within the same area i. There are more mobile phones than people in the Republic of Ireland, and the majority of these are prepaid. Be aware, that some retailers charge a small commission on this credit usually between 50 cents and 1 euro , while many others don't, so it does pay to shop around. All mobile numbers begin with , , , or this code must be dialled regardless of location or operator of dialler. Mobiles are cheap by European standards to buy, and if staying for more than 2 months, it could be cheaper to buy a phone than phone cards.
A tri- or quad-band GSM phone will work, but you should check that your operator has a roaming agreement.
It can be expensive to receive and make phone calls while roaming. Customers roaming from EU countries are subject to much cheaper EU regulated roaming rates and depending on their plan or operator can usually use data, text and voice as they would at home. You can also buy a cheap prepay SIM card if you have an unlocked handset. We stopped after a quick rain shower to see a double rainbow stretching across the sky.
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This was one of my favorite aspects of the drive. We had the ability to just stop and explore. For dinner, we ventured down to Kinsale since they are known for good seafood. I had one of the best seafood dished in my life at a lovely place called Jim Edwards. Highly recommend! I told you: we pack it in. Now, you could spread this out over a couple days or more, but we were limited on time and really want to see it all.
So, we did. We woke up bright and early and headed to the famous Ross Castle in Killarney. This is a tower house on the edge of the lake with horses and carts that can take you around the grounds. You can even hop in a boat to see more around the lake. We ventured over for a tour of the mansion, the Muckross House. This fully furnished Victorian home was so interesting. I learned things that really shocked me: like how women used to put beeswax, lead, and arsenic on their face to keep them pale.
Luckily, I have no problem with that. If I was told I needed to put arsenic on my face to look good I might just keep a tan. We stopped so I could take pictures of sheep on the sides of the road. My favorite part of the trip was the Kissane sheep dog farm. A real, working farm where they use dogs to herd the sheep on the rough mountain terrain.
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It was incredible to watch the dogs work. These are some of the happiest dogs in the world because they are truly serving a purpose. After playing with the dogs we took a drive and headed to Inch Beach. This small stretch of land juts right out to the ocean and has a very wide, hard, sandy beach. People were surfing but we stayed bundled up because the chilly wind was pretty frigid.
After the beach it was time for some ice cream. We headed to the adorable town of Dingle. Here we got a great view of the Atlantic Ocean lined with brightly colored homes and shops. We ate ice cream at Kool Scoops. I highly recommend this shop. Dingle is a small town of only residents, yet they managed to fit in 52 pubs. After we had some fuel we drove more of the Dingle Peninsula , a beautiful, scenic drive. Then stopped for a hike and a better view of the scenery. After our hike we ventured to the town of Tralee where wee feasted on delicious and quick Asian food at a trendy restaurant called Lana.
On our last full day in Ireland we knew we had to venture to the famed Cliffs of Moher. We stayed at a quaint AirBnb in Ennis, which was close to the cliffs and an easy drive. One of the other guests at the AirBnb gave us a fantastic tip for the very popular and busy Cliffs of Moher. He told us to NOT go to the visitor center, but instead take the turn about a kilometer half mile before, just south of the visitor center. A road so small you had to honk around corners to warn those approaching the other way that you were coming up. But we did as directed and found a quiet house where we paid just 2 euro for parking and a lot with only a few other cars.
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