Europe,  Travel

7 Tips for Your First Trip to Ireland

Colin and I just got back from our first trip to Ireland and I’m so excited to share 7 tips for your first trip to Ireland. We did a 10 day quick loop around the Emerald Isle visiting Dublin, Belfast, Galway and Cork following this itinerary more or less. We had an amazing time and would definitely go back (in better weather).

If you’re heading out on your first trip to Ireland, here’s what you need to know.

Tip 1: Dress for the weather

It’s going to be cold. Apparently it warms up slightly in July and August, but the rest of the year is just plain cold. We went to Ireland in April and were chilled wearing pants, sweaters and rain jackets. Now listen, we’re used to a lot of cold rainy days coming from Vancouver. But this was different. By comparison, I’m now wearing a tank top and shorts back home. I always assume I’m going on vacation to better weather so this was an odd change to go on vacation to worse weather.

first trip to Ireland - Giants Causeway

Tip 2: Learn the difference between rain and rainy

In Vancouver, it rains. In Ireland, it’s rainy. Throughout our 10 days in Ireland, we got lots of little bursts of rain with just a few drops. There was only one day where it actually rained hard. The rest of the time, there was just a light mist with some grey clouds in the sky. Before we left, I was convinced I should pack rainboots since I’ve heard that it rains all the time. But I’m very glad I didn’t. My feet would have been so uncomfortable wearing hot and heavy rainboots all day long.

Heading to Ireland for the first time? Check out my essential trips for your first trip to Ireland! #ireland #traveltips #dublin

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Tip 3: Get ready for all of the pub food

Seriously, SO MUCH PUB FOOD! I know that’s Ireland’s thing, but it gets a little repetitive. Every single block will have at least one pub on it. And every pub will serve Steak and Guinness Pie, Irish Stew, all the Guinness you can drink, a burger and almost nothing resembling a vegetable. I seriously thought I might get scurvy from lack of fruits and vegetables (if only I had known about all of the vegetarian food in Ireland!). Of course, as it was our first trip to Ireland, we embraced the pub food culure. Until about halfway through our trip when I really needed a change. Cut to us wandering the streets of Galway until we found a half-decent Chinese take-away restaurant.

first trip to Ireland - enjoying pub food

Tip 4: Get out of the city

While we based ourselves in cities, our best experiences were outside of the city. You can rent a car or jump on a tour and quickly get out of the city and into the countryside. From Belfast, we saw Giants Causeway, the Dark Hedges and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. From Galway, we drove around the Burren and saw the Cliffs of Moher (can’t miss!). And from Cork, we drove the Ring of Kerry and visited Blarney Castle. We just scratched the surface of awesome places to see in Ireland, and would recommend all of these for a first trip to Ireland. But there’s so much more to see!

first trip to Ireland - countryside of the Ring of Kerry

Carrick a rede rope bridge in Northern Ireland

Cliffs of Moher outside of Galway, Ireland

Tip 5: Don’t want to drive? Try the trains!

Before we left for Ireland, I did a bit of research and learned that many people struggled with driving in Ireland. Not only do they drive on the other side of the road, but many of the country roads are single lane and up against a rock wall. There are countless stories of people ruining cars when they took a lane too wide or exited the wrong way out of a roundabout. I don’t drive and after hearing these stories, Colin didn’t want to. So, we took the train.

And it worked out so well! Trains, when booked ahead of time, are super affordable. They’re also fast and drop you right in the city center. Most have free wifi and comfortable seats. There are great views out the windows. And you can book flexible tickets so you can leave anytime. Of course, trains don’t go everywhere and you don’t have the luxury of getting off wherever you want. But they are a good option if you don’t want to drive.

Heading to Ireland for the first time? Check out my essential trips for your first trip to Ireland! #ireland #traveltips #dublin

Tip 6: Live music is the best and should accompany all of your meals

If you’re eating at a pub, odds are you’ll be eating next to some live music. And it really doesn’t get better than that. On our first night in Dublin, we stumbled into a pub and just happened to be there in time for their live show. The band was so good and we were smiling our faces off. We also caught a great acoustic guitar player in Belfast and a soulful trio in Cork. Live music is everywhere in Ireland and it is so good!

first trip to Ireland - live music

Tip 7: The Irish people really are as nice as they say

What do we know about the Irish? They like to drink and they’re the nicest people in the world. I would concur on both accounts. There’s just something so charming about coming in from the cold, grabbing a pint of Guinness, and chatting with your fellow Irishmen. We didn’t exactly chat up a bunch of locals, but everyone we did interact with was so friendly and always went out of their way to make a joke, offer us advice, or ask about our trip. We never felt unsafe at any point during our trip. And the accents aren’t that hard to understand either!

Those are my 7 tips for a first trip to Ireland. I’ll save my specific itinerary recommendations for future posts about each location.

Do you have any tips for a first trip to Ireland? Let me know! 


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Heading to Ireland for the first time? Check out my essential trips for your first trip to Ireland! #ireland #traveltips #dublin

Heading to Ireland for the first time? Check out my essential trips for your first trip to Ireland! #ireland #traveltips #dublin

Heading to Ireland for the first time? Check out my essential trips for your first trip to Ireland! #ireland #traveltips #dublin


  • Amber

    I went to Ireland this March and your tips are literally the best I have read. They are totally spot on and things a lot of other bloggers haven’t included!

    • Riana

      Thanks, Lisa! Really appreciate you reading and commenting. Agreed, I would love to go back, particularly in the summer!

  • Autumn Stuckey

    Great advice and it is all stuff on our list, except Galway. But you have to leave something to go back for and I am sure there is plenty of that. You life moto and travel of whenever wherever are ringing true with me, a kindred spirit! Thanks for mentioning the rainy…I was planning on bringing rain boots but didn’t want to waste the space for them. Now I am confident to leave them and pack a second pair of leggings.

    • Riana

      Thanks so much for reading & commenting, Autumn! I love that idea that you have to leave something to go back for. And I would definitely recommend adding Galway (and the Cliffs of Moher) for your next trip. And glad I could help with the packing – leggings over rainboots is totally the right call. Glad to meet a fellow kindred spirit in life and travel!

  • Rachel

    I’m heading to Ireland in two weeks! Love this post and particularly happy to hear its more misty than torrential downpour. We’re looking forward to all the live music!!

    • Riana

      Thanks so much for reading & commenting, Rachel! And really glad to hear that this most was helpful. Enjoy Ireland!

  • Gwen

    I’m super late in commenting on this but I couldn’t not say something! Great tips! I definitely concur around the rain boots – I agonized over whether to get some before our trip to Ireland and Scotland but was glad that I saved the money and suitcase space by just packing a good pair of waterproof hiking shoes. I also was completely with you in lamenting the lack of vegetables! I like that you emphasized using the trains and mentioned some of the difficulties of driving in Ireland; another tip I would add is to be prepared for the car rental process to be more expensive and laborious than in other countries. I am definitely glad we had our own car, but it was easily twice the price of our Scottish rental and the whole process was a bit more difficult. Thanks for sharing!

    • Riana

      Thanks, Gwen! Yes, the rainboot debacle was stressing me out for a few days too. And I did feel like scurvy was coming on after our fourth or fifth pub meal in a row. Great tip on the rental cars! I’ve heard that they up the price of mandatory insurance in Ireland due to all the accidents people have on the narrow roads. Thanks for that!

  • MC Hull

    There’s plenty of veggie…as long as it’s potato! My whole life my siblings have joked that most of us take after our father’s Irish ancestry…my sister and I were in heaven with all the Irish meat and potatoes!

    • Riana

      Haha you sound just like my partner! Anytime I complained about there not being any vegetables, he would remind me that potato is a vegetable. I mean, I guess it’s true 🙂

  • Wanda

    Great tips! We are heading to Dublin for the month of June and are really looking forward to it! Since we are from Vancouver Island it was nice to see you compare our weather here to Ireland so we have an idea what to expect. Thanks again!

    • Riana

      Thank so much for checking it out and taking the time to comment! Coming from BC and going to Dublin in June, I don’t think you’ll have any problem with the weather. Have fun!

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