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By Grace O'Donnell

The lowdown on all things Republic of Ireland. This is your definitive guide to holidaying in Ireland.  

Ancestral links, dramatic scenery and magnetic music – watch out for your lucky shamrock while dancing your way around the Emerald Isle.

Visit the Republic of Ireland and it will remain tattooed upon your heart and soul forever. The locals are as warm, friendly and hospitable as the music is magnetic, and what’s more, there are strong ancestral links to New Zealand. Countless Kiwis flock to Ireland to find out more about their heritage, getting swept up in its other charms in the process. Take your own personal pilgrimage to this picturesque nation and savour every experience, whether it’s sampling genuine Guinness or watching colourful, dramatic sunsets over small coastal villages. Buckle up, you’re in for a real treat.

Cork Ireland

1. How long can I stay without a visa?
New Zealand passport holders do not require Entry Visas to visit Ireland on holiday. They may holiday in Ireland for up to three months and employment is prohibited. Evidence of onwards travel from Ireland within a three-month period is required.


2. What’s the local currency?

* Don't forget, if you pop into Northern Ireland, you'll also need some Pound Sterling to hand.  

3. Do I need to tip?
Tipping is discretionary but the general 10-15% is expected by taxi drivers and if you enjoyed good service at a restaurant.

4. Transport to and from the airport                           
The main options to get to and from the airport are either by the bus/shuttles or by taxi depending on where you are located. For information about what services are available and pricing click here.

Say no to public transport. We guarantee after a 24+ hour flight from NZ, you won't want to deal with a transfer via trains and buses. Ask your HoT consultant about booking a transfer before you even leave NZ.


5. Getting around.

Bus & train: How you travel depends a lot on your plans, if you are just planning on getting from A to B there are bus and train services all over Ireland.

Self-drive: Another option could be a car rental if you want to explore at your own pace, especially as some of the smaller towns only have bus services a couple times a week.

Regional flights: Otherwise, if you are planning a trip between the major areas, there are regional flights which may save some time… and money depending on how leisurely you drive/which trip you take on the train.

Uber: At this point Uber is only in Dublin but there should be no shortage of taxis. 

6. Weather: What can you expect when you go?
With 150 rainy days a year, the time to go to try luck your way into some irish sunshine is probably april-june. No matter what be prepared from some wind and rain and maybe, just maybe you will get the luck of the irish instead. 

7. Top phrases
The Irish speak English, but you may hear a healthy amount of Irish Gaelic. If you're in the very thick of the Irish countryside you might not fully understand the heavy dialect, but it doesn't matter because it sounds delicious. Sit back and listen to the lullaby. 


8. Rules and customs
Don’t ask people if they have seen a leprechaun.  


9. Where to have fun
There is something for everyone in Ireland, beautiful scenery all around if that’s your scene (get it?), but in particular check out Killarney National Park. Of course if you time it right you could be celebrating St Patty’s day in the heart of Dublin or on the other end of the spectrum check out the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin for an incredible collection of artwork and manuscripts. 


10. What to do in an emergency
Ireland is overall a safe place to travel, like anywhere there is petty crime which increase in tourist spots so keep an eye on any valuables; but there is no need for heavy concern. 

House of Travel recommends anyone travelling to the UK and Europe registers with Safe TravelAs well as offering invaluable travel advice, should an emergency arise, they can find you, check your well-being and send important travel information.

We also recommend safely and securely storing three important travel documents (your passport, credit card and driver's license) on your phone. Use an app such as Traveler ID which will store a series of documents in one place. Of course, you might lose your phone, so also store them in the Cloud, or your saved emails.


11. HOT’s top Irish eats

1. Soda bread
-  The basic ingredients of “bread soda” include bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk which is mixed with the flour. Depending on the family recipe, there will also be dried fruit, honey, a few grains, or even a dash of Guinness.  It's always eaten the same way though; piping hot and with lashings of butter. 

Try it: An Fear Gorta: The Tea & garden Rooms
So delicious home made goodness here, Steven Spielberg is know to 'drop in' on the reg (via private jet no less). 
Address: Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare, located on the coast road in Ballyvaughan near the pier.

2. Irish stew - One pot cooking comprising mutton which has been stewed for hours, as well as onion, potatoes, carrot and a hearty broth. These days, you’re more likely to find Irish stew made with lamb, with lots more bubbling stock and some fancy herbs.

Try it: The Brazen Head, Dublin
This old dame has been around since 1198! The stew's made from big hearty chunks o Irish lamb, root vegetables and potatoes. Yum. 
Address: 20 Lower Bridge St, Merchants Quay, Dublin.


3. Boxty - Put simply, boxty is a potato pancake, but is known as a potato dumpling or potato bread. Made from finely grated raw potato and mixed with mashed potato into a pancake-like batter, it's then fried in a worryingly large (but delicious) amount of butter. 

Try it:  Mc Niffe's Bakery. Micheal and Detta Mc Niffe have been making Ireland’s finest Boxty since the 1980s - using a traditional family recipe. Nip in and boxty up. 
Address: Derrinkehir, Aughnasheelin, Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim.

4. Fish and chipsGood rule of thumb is the closer to the sea, the better the meal in this case. For the freshest fish try fishing village Howth which is about half an hour outside of Dublin. Catch the train from Dublin’s Tara Street station, then rent a car and drive along the coastline. Here you can hike up the Howth cliff.

Try it: Savour one of Dublin’s most famous fish and chips at Beshoffs The Market.
Address: 17-18 W Pier, Howth, Co. Dublin. 

5. Black pudding - You’ve probably heard of this one before, it’s a bit of a change from pavlova! With ingredients such as onions, pork fat and pig’s blood - but maybe it’s the secret to the luck of the Irish?

Try it:
 The Chophouse Gastro Pub in Dublin. Try and read about the menu's Slaney Valley Lamb Rump and NOT salivate all down your chin. Complete with black pudding of course. 
Address: 2 Shelbourne Rd, Dublin.

*** If you’re a veggie lover - or just need a break from fish-n-chips and Irish pies - make a stop at the quirky Phoenix Restaurant in Castlemaine for some delicious fare made by its friendly, well-travelled owner. 


12. Is the water safe to drink?
The answer, is yes and no. All sorts of things affect the quality of water in Ireland; soil or rock types, land use practices, pollution and even heavy rainfall. As a general rule, the water in all large cities is drinkable, but if you're in very rural areas, stick to bottled water - just to be safe. Never drink water from a bathroom tap as it's commonly not filtered. 


13. HOT’s top insider tips

Voya Seaweed Spa:
Nestled right on the ocean in the little seaside town of Strandhill. If you’re in County Sligo, it’s a must-do for any bath junkie and indulgent partner (you can book baths big enough for two). They haul fresh seaweed from the ocean, add essential oils, and fill lovely private baths. And their Irish-made seaweed products make perfect souvenirs. 

Dingle Peninsula: The Ring of Kerry is the more famous drive in this part of the country, but Dingle beaches are second to none in Ireland. Quiet seaside Dingletown has a number of fantastic little places for lunch, or later, a pint and bit of traditional music. 

Taste the whiskey difference: Back in the day, Ireland used to supply over 90% of the world’s whiskeys. Being distilled three times as opposed to two, means that Irish whiskey has a notably smoother finish over the more famed drops from Scotland. 

Dublin's little-known treasures: Georges Street Arcade is located on the ground floor of one of Dublin’s most historic buildings. Take a walk through the boutiques and afterwards, pop across to the Powerscourt Centre for more curious shops and handmade jewellers.

A traditional Irish jig: Tig Choili in Galway. This place is well known for having some of the best traditional sessions in County Galway. While you might initially feel like you’ve fallen into a tourist trap, once the locals show up, you’ll know you found a gem. Sessions every night.

An Irish self-drive: Ireland is a fantastic destination to explore by car. Less than an hour's drive from Dublin city, you can visit Ardgillan Castle and park, with 194 acres of woodland, gardens, wildlife and views of the Mourne Mountains and the Irish Sea.

Wicklow Mountain National Park: Located along the east coast, with tall, rounded peaks surrounded by contrasting bog and heath-covered landscape. There are many walking trails within the park grounds such as the Wicklow Way, as well as the pilgrim route St. Kevin's Way. 

Dublin's Jo'Burger:
This mini-chain (there are 3 locations in the city) offers design-your-own burgers that are things of beauty. Literally art. Pick the kind of burger (multiple meat, fish and veggie options), then select one of the creative combinations of toppings to complete it.

Bring home some traditional Irish woolies: At Foxford Woolen Mills. This working factory in County Mayo is a perfect stop if you want to bring home some lovely Irish woollens. The blankets are top class, and if you’re a bargain hunter, the seconds room is a gem. 

Drink in a pub that belongs in a museum: If you’re going to have a look at Glasnevin Cemetery, where many of Ireland’s famous Republicans and writers are buried, call in at John Kavanagh (often locally called The Gravediggers) on the way out. Some claim they pour the best pint in Dublin (though THAT is a heated argument if ever there were one). It dates back to the early 1800s and literally feels like you’ve arrived by time machine.


14. What adapter do I need?
The standard voltage is 220 - 240 V and the sockets require three-pin plugs so you will need to bring an adaptor to use any appliances from NZ.

UK & Europe deals every day of the week. Now you know everything you need to know about Ireland, find yourself a great Irish holiday. 

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