Ireland often appears in lists of countries recommended for female travelers. It’s compact, generally safe, and has a culture of hospitality. But like every country, Ireland has its own quirks. Here’s a list of practical and cultural travel tips for Ireland which you may be unfamiliar with.
1. Border control questioning for non-EU/EEA citizens is rigorous so be prepared. You will need to prove that you have a valid reason for entering Ireland so showing your passport, visa (if required) and hard copies of other documents will be essential. This may include hotel reservations, travel itinerary, business invitation, etc. If you cannot satisfy the immigration officer, you will not be allowed into Ireland. For further information check out the Department of Justice’s website on visiting Ireland.
2. Book trains and buses in advance as they often sell out in the busy summer months and on Bank Holiday weekends. Expect to lift your own bags. Chivalry is rare in modern Ireland.
3. Businesses must display prices for all products and services so there is zero chance of being ripped off. You are entitled to a receipt for every purchase. Unless specified, prices include Value Added Tax (VAT).
4. Visitors to Ireland from outside the EU can buy goods in Ireland exempt from VAT if taking the goods home with them. Visitors may either pay the VAT, then claim a refund or purchase the goods without VAT being applied – Ask the retailer. VAT is currently 23% so that’s one of the most significant money-saving Ireland travel tips to be had.
5. There is a Plastic Bag Environmental Levy of €0.22 per bag in Ireland.
6. Tipping is a complex subject but generally not done. It’s only expected in taxis and where food is being served. We generally round up or tip 10%. For example, a €13 lunch would be rounded up to €15. However, if the service is great anywhere go ahead and tip.
7. Temperatures in Ireland rarely exceed 25 degrees Celsius so air-conditioning isn’t common in older hotels and non-existent in homestays/guesthouses. A heatwave in Ireland is classified as 5 consecutive days with maximum temperatures in excess of 25 degrees Celsius…which doesn’t happen very often!
8. While the temperatures are not high, the humidity rarely drops below 70% so prepare for heavy, sticky days.
9. Ireland was the first country in the world to introduce a ban on smoking in indoor workplaces so smokers need to prepare for all weather conditions.
10. Of all of the practical Ireland travel tips I can give you, the most important piece of advice relates to health. If you’re a non-EU/EEA citizen try not to get sick in Ireland. Medical care is excellent but expensive so ensure that you have comprehensive medical cover on your travel insurance. EU/EEA citizens need to show their EHIC card to get free emergency treatment.
11. Ireland is one of the largest producers of animal food products in the world per capita and will prove a difficult destination for vegans. Vegetarians and those requiring gluten-free meals are better catered for.
12. If you think Guinness is the national drink then you are wrong. The Irish are the second-largest consumers of tea in the world and is therefore the default welcoming drink. Coffee is widely available but tea rules the roost.
13. In Ireland the first floor is the floor above the ground floor. In other words, expect to climb stairs if you’re staying on the first floor.
14. Courtesy will work wonders when dealing with officials and with people in the hospitality industry. Patience is another quality you’ll need for Ireland, particularly when it comes to public transport.
15. Irish people rarely say the word no but when they do they mean it very much. Equally, Irish people, particularly with alcohol consumed, cannot take no for an answer so be as firm as needs be when socialising.
16. The biggest cultural faux pas in Ireland involves funerals. Allow a funeral to pass by, stopping by the side of the road, switching off your car (including any music), and waiting for the funeral to pass. If walking, stand silently. Expect bad luck should you contravene these rules. If you don’t believe me just Google the phrase Mayo football curse.