Tips on travelling to Ireland from Charlie Kings
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What is your favourite thing about Ireland?
With so much to choose from it is hard to narrow it down but I would have to say the huge diversity across our small island is my favourite thing. This applies to scenery, attractions, accents, culture and experience. Travelling an hour down the road can alter your experience in Ireland immensely and it helps even more that it only takes a few hours to drive the length or breadth of the country.
Where would you send a first-time visitor in Ireland?
For first time visitors I would recommend that they arrive in a city like Dublin or Cork to experience a modern urban Ireland for a couple of days before travelling to rural towns and villages in the surrounding areas. This way visitors can have a broad view of everything Ireland has to offer.
What are your favourite places and attractions in Ireland?
Personally, Galway City has to be my pick for my favourite place in the country. The city exudes culture as well as one of the most welcoming atmospheres on the island. The medieval streets of Galway feature fantastic street performers as well as traditional Irish pubs that offer some of the best traditional music sessions in the country. The performing arts are a huge part of life in Galway and this is reflected by the wide range of theatres and music venues throughout which feature international acts as well as up and coming local talent.
The summer months (June to August) are the best time to visit Galway as the festival season is in full swing and there is plenty to see and do.
The outlying area of Connemara is a rural area closely resembling the traditional view of Ireland in the global imagination, with luscious greenery paired with a very welcoming rural community. A short trip south from Galway City are the Cliffs of Moher, one of the top attractions in Ireland and my personal favourite. These cliffs are some of the highest in all of Europe and offer fantastic views out onto the crashing waves of the mighty Atlantic Ocean.
Is there good infrastructure for tourists?
Tourism is hugely important to Ireland and a lot of ongoing development goes on every year to improve and make new experiences for incoming visitors. As such there is already a fantastic infrastructure in place for people coming to Ireland, featuring top class facilities throughout the country. Only this year we have seen the opening of the Wild Atlantic Way, a new driving route which stretches over 2500km making it the longest signed coastal route in the world, encompassing a huge range of attractions and iconic locations as well as glorious coastal views.
What is the best means of transport when exploring Ireland?
A huge amount of the top attractions in Ireland are found in outlying areas which are sometimes impossible to get to via public transport. By renting a car you have the freedom to explore everything Ireland has to offer on your own schedule, following your own compass.
How safe is Ireland for tourists?
Ireland is very safe for tourists. Of course, in the cities there is a level of crime which can be found in big cities throughout the world, but comparatively Ireland is very safe. There is nowhere in the country that should be avoided due to crime, even areas in Northern Ireland that once had a troubled history are well worth visiting as times have changed and there is a lot to see and do.
What are your favourite local meals?
Local cuisine varies from place to place. Along the coastline, in places such as Kerry and Waterford, the seafood is exquisite, whereas inland areas serve traditional Irish meals such as the famous Irish stew and roast dinners that will have you taste buds begging for more. Throughout the cities across Ireland there is an ever growing international food scene that encompasses the four corners of the world so you have a lot to choose from to suit any taste.
What are the best souvenirs to buy in Ireland?
Throughout the ages Ireland has been reputed for the indigenous craftsmanship that takes place all over the country.
In Waterford you will find the world-famous Waterford Crystal Factory which offers affordable crystal souvenirs.
In County Westmeath, one of the most famed craft workshops in the country resides in the town of Mullingar. At the Mullingar Bronze and Pewter Studio you can learn about the production process and pick up some unique souvenirs.
In Galway City you can pick up a famous Claddagh ring, traditional Irish rings which represent love, loyalty and friendship and were first produced in the 17th century. There is a lot of symbolism behind these rings and wearing them in different ways represents your relationship status.
How long would you recommend people spend in Ireland on holiday?
There is really no way to put a number on how long you should stay in Ireland as the list of notable attractions and beautiful locations goes on and on. I would recommend at least one to two weeks in order to cover as much as you can in terms of cultural diversity, but you could easily spend a month here on holiday and be left yearning for more time upon your departure. The key to a short stay is researching in advance what things you want to see and do and planning accordingly.
How expensive is Ireland as a travel destination?
A holiday in Ireland, like any other travel destination, can range from cheap to expensive depending on what you choose to do. Compared to other European holiday destinations, such as Spain for example, Ireland can seem expensive, but people who come to Ireland continually remark about the value for money. The services such as accommodation or dining out are generally of very high quality and you will definitely get bang for your buck.
Costs in the city are generally higher than in rural locations and the further away from Dublin you get the more there will be a drop in price. Unlike many major travel destinations Ireland does not really operate on a seasonal basis so prices are pretty consistent throughout the year.
When is the best time to visit Ireland?
There is a lot to see and do throughout the year and the beautiful scenery transforms as seasons pass giving a different experience and set of views depending on the time of year. Weather in Ireland can be pretty unpredictable even in the summer months but we generally have some glorious sunshine in the height of the summer. There are generally more things to take part in, such as festivals, throughout the summer but a winter getaway or a spring break can be incredibly enjoyable.