TIPS FOR A TERRIFIC FIRST VISIT TO IRELAND
You've been dreaming of visiting the Cliffs of Moher, Killarney National Park, and Blarney Castle long enough.
It's finally time to take that trip to Ireland!
But before you book that brewery tour or get too excited about visiting Dublin's Grafton Street, here are a few tips to make a more enjoyable trip.
Consider Car Travel
The best sites in the Emerald Isle are seen via public transportation or tour buses, but renting a car is not a bad idea to get to those obscure sites.
Be sure the vehicle you rent is small, as rural roads in Ireland are narrow.
Oh, and the Irish drive on the left side of the road and pass on the right.
All those goodies you'll find to buy on Grafton Street are tax-free!
That's right, travellers who live outside the European Union can shop tax-free in Ireland.
Make sure to ask for a Tax Free Form when paying for your purchases. Then plan for an extra few minutes at the airport to go to customs and complete the refund process.
And while we're on the topic of shopping, it's important to note that, as part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland uses the pound sterling rather than the euro.
Irish weather is not extreme, but the country does get a lot of rain, particularly along its west coast.
And if you're travelling to Ireland during winter, know that the season's days are short.
The sun rises at about 8 a.m. and sets at about 4 p.m., which means you have to cram a lot of sightseeing into a few hours.
But during summer, the sunsets are as late as 10 p.m.
Be mindful of these seasonal changes, pack light layers of clothing and a pair of rain boots or waterproof shoes, and you should be just fine.
Public Transportation Pointers
The trains in Ireland carry you in comfort, but they are pricey.
So if you intend to travel on one during your trip, make sure to book it in advance to take advantage of the online discounts that Irish Rail offers.
If you choose to travel by bus, be aware that you must flag the bus to get it to stop.
Heritage Cards are Helpful
If you plan to visit the country's many cultural attractions, picking up a Heritage Card from the Office of Public Works is a great idea.
This card entitles you to free admission to all heritage sites managed by the state for an entire year.
These sites include castles and national parks.