top of page

Tips for a Terrific First Trip to Ireland

Each year, millions of travelers head to the Emerald Isle to experience the majestic rolling hills, tour the Guinness brewery, and explore the historic towns during a leisurely self-drive tour of the island.

Ireland Rolling Hills
The hills of Ireland

For LGBTQ travelers, Ireland is welcoming with laws protecting us from discrimination based on sexuality. Same-sex couples have the freedom to enter into civil partnerships and are allowed to adopt children without any additional hurdles that same-sex couples face in other parts of the world. It’s also notable that Ireland had the 4th openly gay head of state in the world, an impressive feat considering how much influence the catholic church has in the country.

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you’ve been considering a trip to Ireland in the near future. You've put off visiting the Cliffs of Moher, Killarney National Park, and Blarney Castle long enough. It's finally time to take that trip to Ireland!

We applaud that decision, but before you book that brewery tour or get too excited about visiting Dublin's Grafton Street, here are a few tips to make for 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 a small one, as rural roads in Ireland are narrow. Oh, and the Irish drive on the left side of the road and pass on the right.

Tax-Free Shopping!

Two women shopping in Dublin
Everyone loves Tax-Free Shopping

All those goodies you'll find to buy on Grafton Street are tax-free! That's right, travelers who live outside the European Union can shop tax-free in Ireland. Make sure to apply for a Fexco Horizon Card prior to your trip so you can register and swipe it in affiliated stores in the country and claim sales tax back on the purchases.

Differing Currencies

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.

Dress Appropriately

A group looking out over hills and a lake in Ireland
Wear layers when exploring Ireland

Irish weather is not extreme, but the country does get a lot of rain, particularly along its west coast. And if you're traveling 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 for a few hours. But during summer, the sunsets 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. 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 the 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

The Long Room at Trinity College and Book of Kells
The Long Room at Trinity College and Book of Kells

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.

I hope you found these tips helpful. If you’re looking to head out on a trip of a lifetime, but don’t want to deal with the stresses of planning, schedule a consultation with me. With a few quick calls, I’ll take care of all the planning so all you have to do is enjoy your vacation!

Rainbow Getaways proudly help travelers of the LGBTQ community (and our allies) research, plan, and book incredible vacations where you feel confident and comfortable enjoying and exploring your destination. We plan each vacation to meet your specific needs, so you'll have an experience just as unique as you.

bottom of page