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Your Ireland Travel Guide for 2024

Get practical Ireland travel tips, learn Irish slang and even cook up an Irish recipe! This really is the ultimate Ireland travel guide for 2024 and 2025!

Ireland At A Glance

πŸ—ΊοΈ Ireland 101

🧳 Plan Your Trip

πŸ“… Best Time to Visit

🏞️ 2024 Bucket List

πŸ“Έ Dublin Travel Tips

πŸ˜‰ Get to Know The Irish

🎻 TV, Books & Music

πŸ₯” The Best Irish Food

☘️ Tracing Irish Roots


By Rob

Hi there, I'm Rob Rankin, founder of Vagabond & Driftwood Tours πŸ‘‹.

Welcome your go-to resource for planning an unforgettable trip to the Emerald Isle!

Perhaps you've already booked a Vagabond or Driftwood tour for 2024 or 2025?

Whatever you're planning, I’m sure you're excited to learn Ireland travel tips and tricks.

Read on, intrepid traveller, Ireland awaits you!

πŸ—ΊοΈ Ireland - The Basics

Ireland is a small but mighty country located in the northwestern corner of Europe.

We're located quite close to Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom (UK) β€” but on a separate island.

Ireland and Scotland map

Ireland is roughly the size of the state of Indiana. You can drive from the northerly tip to the southernmost peninsula in about 8 hours; east to west takes roughly 4 hours.

Map showing Northern Ireland and the Republic including facts

The island is divided into two countries: the Republic of Ireland, which covers most of the island, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK.

Known for its stunning landscapes, friendly people, and rich culture and history, Ireland is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves travel.

πŸ€” What Type Of Ireland Trip Should I Take?

When it comes to planning a trip to Ireland, the seemingly limitless options out there can get confusing.

There's the option to self-drive; that means renting a car, developing your own daily itinerary, booking your own hotels and familiarising yourself with Irish road rules.

You can also go private. In this case, you and your travel buddies rent the entire tour vehicle and have 100% of the guide's attention and skills to yourself. The itinerary can be completely bespoke or β€” in the case of Vagabond private tours β€” a lightly customised version of established tour routes.

Finally, of course, there are our scheduled small-group tours. Our vacation packages have a maximum of 15 guests. Because of this small-group approach, you will be on first-name terms with all of your fellow travellers, not to mention your tour guide.

We book your hotels for you, include all of our favourite attractions in the price and suggest a range of optional activities for you to choose from.

Another choice you'll have to make concerns the level of physical activity. Do you want to experience Ireland's great outdoors β€” hiking, biking, surfing and horseback-riding?

Or are quaint villages, crafts, culture and castles more your thing?

Thankfully, we offer both types of tour. Our friendly sales team will help you find a tour style that matches your interests and abilities.

Whether you're in a family group or travelling solo, we can help. In fact, our Frequently Asked Questions are an excellent place to start your journey.

Lastly, make sure to read our latest TripAdvisor reviews to ensure Vagabond & Driftwood are the right fit for you.

πŸ“… Best Time To Visit Ireland

There's no bad time to take a small-group Ireland tour!

The Irish climate remains mild all year round. So the best time to visit Ireland depends on what you want to see and do.

Summer in Ireland (June-August) is the most popular time for visitors, with long hours of daylight and often prolonged periods of sunshine. However, popular attractions can be crowded in the summertime and flights are at their most expensive point.

Visiting Ireland in March or April is increasingly popular. Not only is Saint Patrick's Festival in full swing, there are wonderful wildflowers blooming and often surprisingly pleasant weather. All scheduled tours departing in March and April are discounted by 10% versus the May to September rate.

Fall/Autumn is also a great time to explore the Irish countryside and visit cultural attractions. September boasts mild temperatures but fewer crowds than in summer.

In October, the firesides are cosy and the autumnal food on offer is wonderful. Even better, we offer a 10% discount across all scheduled tours versus the May to September rate.

Winter is the quietest time of year, with shorter days and colder temperatures. We take a break from touring between November and February.

Airline prices could have a major bearing on your choice of when to visit Ireland. Check out our guide to booking cheap flights as well as our list of direct flight connections between North America and Ireland.

Lastly, hotels in Dublin raise their rates around major concerts and events. Avoid them for best value. Check our 2024 event guide before you settle on a time to visit.

🧳 Planning for Ireland: Money, Phone, Hotels, Packing

Great, you've decided when to take your small-group tour of Ireland.

Now, what do you do?!

It's time to start planning of course!

Deciding how much money to bring to Ireland should be your very first step. Contact your bank or card provider to check on fees and where is best to exchange currency.

We recommend bringing a limited amount of euros in cash with you. Remember, if you're visiting Northern Ireland, you'll need some sterling (Β£) in cash too.

Your cellphone is probably the next area to concentrate on. Let your network know that you'll be travelling well in advance of your departure date. You won't want to arrive in Ireland without the ability to call or text home.

Check with your network about roaming fees. Some providers offer roaming deals which work out significantly cheaper than regular bills. Finally, download our recommended free travel apps.

Choose the location of your Dublin hotel carefully if you're taking a tour with us; some hotels and areas of Dublin are more convenient than others for our tour departure point.

Our past guests are very generous with their hard-won travel tips, useful advice and experience. Unsurprisingly, 'What to Pack' is probably the most frequently asked question on our friendly Facebook group. That's why we've suggested this comprehensive packing guide.

🏞️ Where To Go In Ireland

Ireland has something for everyone.

Beautiful islands, off the beaten path peninsulas, vibrant cities, quaint villages and ancient castles.

Our small-group tours visit all corners of Ireland,

Our 5-6 and 7-8 day tours focus on specific regions:

Our 11-15 day tours encompass entire circuits of the island, including Northern Ireland and much of the Wild Atlantic Way.

The Wild Atlantic Way is an extensive touring route. It stretches down the west coast from Donegal to Kinsale and includes many of Ireland's most well-known counties and sights:

While in Northern Ireland, we always recommend visiting the Causeway Coast; walk in the footsteps of Irish giants at the Giant’s Causeway, without doubt one of the most scenic places in Ireland.

Whether you’re checking off the top visitor experiences in the South East of Ireland or you’re visiting more off the beaten path destinations, there is no shortage of places to explore!

Travel Guide To The Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way is one of the most spectacular touring routes in the world. Boasting coastal more than 2,500 kilometres (1,550 miles) of stunning coastal scenery along the west coast of the Ireland, it is known for its breathtaking landscapes, rugged cliffs, stunning beaches, and charming coastal towns. The Wild Atlantic Way twists and turns through nine Irish coastal counties, including Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry, and Cork.

There are countless jaw-dropping sights along the Wild Atlantic Way that you have to see and plenty of amazing local pubs to check out!

Starting in the south, be sure to experience the rugged natural beauty of the Beara Peninsula in Co. Cork, visit the awe-inspiring Skellig Islands in Co. Kerry and drive along the Ring Of Kerry, offering some of the best scenery in the country.

On our 12 Day Giant Irish Adventure Tour, you will even have a chance to explore Skellig Michael 12km (8miles) off the Kerry coast, where early Christian monks established a monastery 1400 years ago! This UNESCO World Heritage Site was famously used as a filming destination for two different Star Wars movies.

Moving further north you will pass by the world-famous Cliffs Of Moher, pass through quaint Irish villages, and visit the Burren National Park, just one of the beautiful national parks along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Meandering through extraordinary County Sligo, be sure to check out the amazing beaches, soak in a seaweed bath and get out in the water to catch some waves. Sligo is also home to some of Ireland’s most famous poets, rebels and artists all of whom were inspired by the county’s natural beauty.

Voted the fourth best region to visit in the world by Lonely Planet in 2023, Donegal is undoubtedly one of the coolest places on Earth! Castles, mountains, white-sand beaches, remote islands, world-class surfing, lively pubs and friendly locals all await you in this untouched corner of the country.

You can travel the Wild Atlantic Way from North to South or vice versa. Between each village, the scenery is mind-blowing and is guaranteed to be etched into your memory for ever more.

Travel Guide To Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is a little piece of heaven!

This heavily underrated destination has everything: incredible music and history, scenery and wilderness, great food and cosmopolitan cities.

There are so many reasons to visit Northern Ireland, it's quite incrediblee. In addition the history and natural beauty, there are countless Game Of Thrones filming destinations to check out, some amazing music and mind-blowing sights like the Giant's Causeway to explore.

Don't take our word for it... see what one family had to say after their private tour of the North with us. And, off course, it's business as usual in Northern Ireland post-Brexit!

Guide to Nature & Wildlife in Ireland 🌼

Welcome to Ireland, a land of rich natural beauty and diverse wildlife.

Our guests LOVE Ireland because of its green hills and clean air. From rolling green hills to rugged coastline, this small island is a paradise for nature enthusiasts.

As you explore, you will encounter vibrant flowers no matter what month you visit. Expect snowdrops in winter, bluebells in spring, foxgloves in summer and vibrant gorse all year round! Spot these Irish wildflowers during your small-group Ireland tour.

Ireland's dramatic coastlines and rugged islands are a haven for seabirds. Gannets, puffins, and razorbills nest on the cliffs, providing a spectacular sight for birdwatchers.

If you're lucky, you might even spot a playful dolphin or a majestic basking shark in the waters below while taking one of our amazing guided boat trips.

Keep an eye out for Irish wildlife on land too too. Meet these adorable animals during your Ireland adventure (while avoiding Ireland's most dangerous man-eaters!).

Venturing into Ireland's woodlands, you'll be surrounded by towering trees and a symphony of birdsong. Oak, holly and hawthorn are three native tree species that dot the landscape, providing a habitat for squirrels, pine martens and woodland birds like the great spotted woodpecker.

Farming and the farming community have been integral to Ireland's way of life and landscapes for centuries. The emerald-green fields, divided by ancient stone walls, are home to a variety of fauna, not least the farmers themselves! We asked one of our more agriculturally-inclined tour guides to tell us about farming in Ireland.

One of our most popular activities is a guided sheep farm tour, featuring a sheepdog demonstration.

On active Vagabond Cultural Adventures, you can also opt go horseback-riding along a scenic beach or up a mountain.

 

Unmissable Things To Do in Ireland πŸ›Ά

Whether you're seeking adventure, cultural immersion or natural beauty, Ireland has something for everyone.

We love getting active in the fresh air as much as much as we relish curling up with a cosy bowl of chowder by a turf fire!

Lace up your hiking boots and explore lush forests, sparkling lakes and rolling hills with this list of fun things to do in Ireland's great outdoors.

Hop on a bike to explore Ireland's amazing countryside β€” here's our cycling guide β€” or zip up your wetsuit for a surf along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Even if you're not an adrenaline junkie, adventure still awaits! Learn how you can get your kicks the easy way with our accessible accessible adventure guide.

Step into craft studios to meet artisan makers or get inspired at weird and wonderful local festivals.

If you're a foodie, plan a visit to a food festival or take on one of our recommended guided food tours.

Irish Music, Movies, TV & Books 🎢

Culture vultures alert! Ireland is one of the world's most incredible places to visit if you love your music, cinema and/or literature.

Your trip is the perfect opportunity to understand Irish culture better through the best artists, movies, books and TV shows.

Irish writers and their writing are world famous. Read these books before you visit to really get under the skin of Ireland's history and people

The island has been the subject of many, many films over the years. Check out the best Irish movies to watch at home. And here are some famous films and TV that were shot in Ireland.

Finally, you simply can't talk about Ireland without mentioning music. We have covered this topic in detail.

First, there was our list of 10 essential Irish songs.

Then we did it again.

And again.

And yet again!

There's also the history of Irish music to delve into and a personal musical history from one of our tour guides

So don't you dare leave here without experiencing a traditional Irish music session!

Travel Guide to Dublin πŸ“Έ

Arriving in a new city can be daunting. You're jet-lagged, the streets are unfamiliar and the food is different.

Luckily, our gateway city Dublin is one of Europe's friendliest and most compact capitals.

We have answered many common questions about Dublin over the years.

First and most importantly, how will you get from Dublin Airport to central Dublin?

Read our list of non-touristy things to do in Dublin to get you started. How about an award-winning guided cemetery tour? We promise it's more fun than it sounds! Check out our full list of Dublin walking tours listed here.

Discovering Dublin on a budget is just as much fun as if you're travelling with the company credit card, if not more so. And if you've only got a day in Dublin, here's how we would recommend making your the most of your precious time.

Now you've explored the city, escape it. Dublin sits on a beautiful bay and is ringed by gorgeous hills. Understand the Dublin public transport system and take these 7 easy day trips. We know you'll fall for all those lovely villages and suburbs near the capital!

Eating and drinking like insiders is key to enjoyment of any international trip. So try these sustainability-focused food joints and make sure you also read this list of the best places to eat in Dublin city centre. Then track down a great pint with our recommended traditional Dublin pubs.

All of our small-group tours depart and return to Dublin. That means that it makes sense to stay near our departure point at the Grand Canal Hotel, just south of downtown. While in the neighbourhood, check out these fun local things to do and great places to eat.

What Are Irish People Like? πŸ˜‰

There's a lot to be learned about Irish people and our everyday habits.

We might appear to be normal human beings at first glance.

On further examination, lots of Irish people talk funny and abide by eccentric rules for tipping.

We also have strict traditions surrounding food and pub etiquette (you should probably memorise all of these pre-trip).

Important to note: we are world champion crisp-eaters and tea-drinkers.

Like any nation, there are certain myths about the Irish that are not 100% true.

Yes, leprechauns exist.

No, not all redheads are from here.

Yes, we love potatoes.

No, not everyone believes in fairies (we can name at least one Irish person who doesn't).

 

What's Irish Food Like? πŸ₯”

The simple answer is: AMAZING!!

There's never been a better time to experience Irish food.

Start your days on tour with Vagabond by eating the food of kings; a full Irish breakfast. Even better news? All hotel breakfasts are included in our tour prices.

Another food we're famous for is the humble potato.

Nowadays, Ireland has discovered other vegetables too! It's easy to eat healthy, vegetarian or vegan food while touring. Check out these must-munch burgers and our favourite cuisine from around the island. Don't forget to try out these super craft breweries too.

Just like in other countries β€” *side-eyes at Italy* β€” Irish people stick to some pretty strict rules when it comes to eating. For example, in Ireland, we always get together at Christmas time to eat ourselves silly.

Get a taste of Ireland at home by trying out these simple and traditional recipes:

☘️ Tracing Irish Roots

Everyone's got a little Irish in them!

Would you like to learn how to trace your Irish ancestry or discover if your Irish ancestors lived in a castle?

Unearth Irish genealogy before you arrive in Ireland with our in-depth articles.

Discover Our Small-Group Tours of Ireland

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