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EUROPE - IRELAND

IRELAND: OUR TOP TIPS.

Avatar   By Beth Allison - House of Travel Content Creative


Your quick guide to a holiday packed with breath-taking scenery, friendly locals and even friendlier pubs. Here's what not to miss while in the Emerald Isle.

 

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1  |  Head West for dramatic scenery and incredible culture.

With so many national parks and iconic sights, you'll be spoiled for choice. The Cliffs of Moher top everyone's must-do list, but don't miss the equally stunning Connemara National Park in County Galway and idyllic Strandhill in County Sligo. 

Further south, the Ring of Kerry might be Ireland's famous drive, but we recommend the Dingle Peninsula for some of the country's most beautiful beaches. Quiet seaside Dingletown has a number of fantastic little places for lunch, or later, a pint and bit of traditional music. 

HOT TIP: Perched right on the ocean in the little seaside town of Strandhill, Voya Seaweed Spa is a must-do for any bath junkie or indulgent partner (you can book baths big enough for two). The lovely staff haul fresh seaweed from the ocean, add essential oils, and fill lovely private baths. Bonus: The Irish-made seaweed products make perfect souvenirs! 






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2  |  Don't miss the traditional music.

Irish pubs are imitated the world over for a reason. There's nothing quite as warming as a pint and a tune. Often traditional sessions are informal, with local musicians dropping in and out throughout the night — in fact, if you're feeling brave yourself, you could offer to join a tune. You might hear fiddles, a bodhrán (traditional drum), tin whistles, guitars and more. And as you'll hear, the more, the merrier!  

HOT TIP: Galway is known for its fantastic music scene. Our favourite pub has to be Tig Choili: This place is well known for having some of the best traditional sessions in the county. 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. 






Boxty

3  |  Ireland has quite a foodie scene — indulge!

Ireland might be famous for its hearty stews, buttery scones and million ways around a potato, but modern Irish cuisine is some of the best you'll ever taste. Ingredients are incredibly fresh and you'll find a real emphasis on local and Irish sourcing. On top of that, Irish chefs are doing great things with influences from all over the world. If you think you like a curry, you've nothing on the Irish!

After the traditional experience? Here are the major stars:

SODA BREAD: Depending on the recipe, it might include 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, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare

IRISH STEW: A deliciously weighty meat stew laced with onion, potatoes, carrots, a hearty broth and plenty of fresh herbs.
TRY IT: The Brazen Head, 20 Lower Bridge St, Merchants Quay, Dublin

BOXTY:  
A delicious potato pancake fried in a delicious amount of butter. 
TRY IT:
 Gallagher's Boxty House, Temple Bar, Dublin 2




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4  |  The North is well worth a visit.

With fascinating history and dramatic scenery, plus a hearty influence from English, the Northern counties are well worth a visit. Walk the wonder of the Giant’s Causeway, an area of about 40,000 hexagonal interlocking slabs of rock emerging from the sea and take the Giant’s Causeway Coastal Route for jaw-dropping coastal scenery. Visit Belfast for lively nightlife, delicious dining and to retrace a bit of the island's turbulent history.
HOT TIP: The Crown Liquor Saloon is the famous Belfast pub most visitors call into, but around back you'll find Fibber McGee's, our pick for guaranteed night of great music and craic (oh, that's fun in Irish!)!




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5  |  Don't miss Dublin's seaside villages.

With so many fascinating sights in the city itself, it can be tempting not to venture further afield. But make your way to the seaside villages of Howth, Bray, Dun Laoghaire or Greystones — or better yet, walk the coastline between them — and you'll be well rewarded with a quieter pace, charming cafés, inviting pubs and a real slice of Irish living.

HOT TIP: Walk the coastline from  Greystones to Bray and reward yourself with a pint. There's no better way to pass an afternoon.


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ABOUT BETH ALLISON

Beth Allison is an American import from New Jersey and House of Travel’s in-house sentence writer. When she’s not thumbing a thesaurus, she’s probably dreaming of her next meal. Beth is a herbivore, coffee addict, tramper, bookworm, theatre lover and cat lady. Her favourite places are Strandhill, Ireland, and New York City. If you find a real bagel shop in New Zealand, please let her know.

More about Beth >

TIP SHEET


GETTING THERE

Fly to Dublin with one transfer, which takes about 24 hours.

WHEN TO GO

We don't have to tell you Ireland is known to enjoy a good amount of rainy weather: Your best bet for sunshine is probably April to June, but you're often luckier than you'd think yearround. Dress in warm layers and bring a waterproof jacket and sure, you'll be grand! 

VISAS

New Zealand passport holders can visit Ireland for up to three months and evidence of onwards travel from Ireland within that period is required.

CURRENCY

Euro (EUR)

GETTING AROUND

Ireland's major cities are served by train and regional flights, but most visitors enjoy self-drives or coach tours for stops along the way. Within cities and larger towns, cabs are affordable and easy.

TIPPING

Tipping is discretionary but the general 10-15% is expected by taxi drivers and if you enjoyed good service at a restaurant.

RULES AND CUSTOMS

Don’t ask people if they have seen a leprechaun.

LANGUAGES

The Irish speak English, but you'll hear a healthy amount of the native Irish language too — especially in the West.




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