I was 18 when I travelled alone for the first time.
Travelling to Ireland to learn English was something I had been interested in for a long time so I packed my excitement and energy and flew to Dublin. I had a different type of summer in which I got to analyse my surroundings. I tried to understand why we had potatoes for lunch every single day, tried to understand my Irish host mother and her thick accent and I tried to communicate with my Italian roomie.
I lived in Bray for a month. A city that’s an hour away from Dublin, with a cold beach and lush mountains from where you can observe everything in the distance after a long and hard trekking. During my stay I visited some of the touristic places of the counties of Wicklow like Malahide, Powescourt y Greystones and I got to know a bit the area of Galway and Connemara. That trip around Ireland was unforgettable.
I was lucky enough and I had the time and the space (and saved money) to go back to Ireland 10 years after with my dad, a lover of Irish culture and music. We drove around the emerald island for three weeks, slowly but surely.
Tips to travel to Ireland – before the road trip
- The currency of the Republic of Ireland (whose capital is Dublin) is the euro so if you are travelling from the European Union that won’t be a problem. If you’re travelling from non European Union/Schengen countries, Latin America or any other place around the world, it’s advisable to change money before travelling. The currency in Northern Ireland is the pound (whose capital is Belfast) because it’s a country that belongs to the United Kingdom. If you are thinking of visiting Northern Ireland, the currency is something to consider.
- The raincoat will become your best friend because it rains in Ireland come what may. Have one always with you, from Decathlon, the ones that come in those little plastic balls or the tucky ones. Not fashionable but it works. If you’re lucky enough you will become inmune like an Irish person and the rain will become a part of your life. You may even want to try to ride a bike under the rain around Ireland, who knows!
- Practise that English of yours before travelling to Ireland because you’ll need it. (See why gestures are not enough to communicate with people from other countries).
If you need an extra help on this, I’m an English teacher. Feel free to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org! (and have a look at this article where I talk about my methodology). Even though my dad has the superpower of keeping a conversation without speaking English, don’t be my father!
When to travel to Ireland
Let’s face it. It’s going to rain in Ireland no matter what. If it doesn’t rain and you’re not happy with it, you’ll get your money back. The truth is that the rain is magic in Ireland, that weather bipolarity that’s so typical on this island and brings unique rainbows, green landscapes and fantastic places.
Keeping that in mind the best time to visit Ireland is summer, from june to september because there’s more sunlight and it rains less (but it still does).
Is it cheap to travel around Ireland?
- As I always put it, it depends. We rent a car because it’s the best way to move around Ireland, especially if you want to know the deep Ireland and get lost in its
sinuous but fundeadly roads. The freedom of pulling over anywhere you please. Pic. Coffee. Beer. Let’s see how this local beer tastes like. Car again. Renting a car in Ireland is not cheap but it gives you freedom (road tips are the best!)
- About eating out, it’s not cheap if we compare it with Spain (average meal per person: 17€). Supermarkets also have higher prices.
- Transportation in Dublin is expensive so I recommend that you get a Dublin Pass Ticket that includes transportation for 1,3 or 5 days and free entrance to many monuments in Dublin.
- Alcohol and tobacco have high fees so if you are a smoker, you should consider bringing your own tobacco.
- The accommodation is not cheap either. The cheapest place I found in Dublin cost €20 in a shared room with 12 other people. We used Couchsurfing a lot (unknown people offering a space in their house to sleep) and Home exchange, a platform to exchange houses with points or offering your own house.
Language in Ireland
Ireland is one of the best destinations to learn English. Not only because of its friendly people but because of its charming cities and unforgettable landscapes. If you want you can also try learning Irish, of Celtic origins and the second official language of Ireland. It has the power to make you see leprechauns and you’ll see it written all over.
Study English in Ireland
Since I’m an English and French translator and an English and Spanish teacher I know the amount of time and effort you need to invest in learning a language. It was hard to get where I am now. 2 degrees, a lot of exams, speaking with a lot of people and making mistakes over and over again.
We often think gestures are international and they’ll always do when trying to communicate in other countries but it’s not always the case.
What to see in your road trip around Ireland
It seems that not even a three-week road trip around Ireland is enough to see ‘everything’ this island has to offer. That island full of intense greens, kind people and beer galore.
Every place should be on the list on what to see in Ireland but I’ll share with you the ones I enjoyed the most. There’s more Ireland beyond Galway, Moher Cliffs and the hugely famous places in Northern Ireland (UK) where Game of Thrones was recorded.
Dublin, the capital of Irish diversity
Being Dublin the capital, she proudly shows the beautiful combination of migrants coming from different places in Ireland. If time is limited to see Ireland, to walk around Dublin for some days is key to see a bit of the Irish friendliness, to feel traditional music and enjoy night life. But in order to enjoy unique landscapes you will have to get out of the capital.
Bray, a charming coastal city
Bray is very special to me because I lived and studied English there for a month, the first month that I was away from everything I knew at that moment.
It’s not only the memories I keep but the walks on the beach, the trekking from Bray to Greystones and the views on the top of the highest mountain that make Bray viaje a Irlanda.
Bray is an hour away from Dubling by train or bus y and it’s perfect to break away from the city, eat some great fish and chips on the beach and do the trek to Greystones.
A whole area to the southwest of Ireland that I loved. I liked its quieter roads and enjoyed that Irish music in its little towns. Kinsale and its fortress, a swim in the sea. I loved the Lough Hyne from above and its endless sunsets.
The reflects of the sky on the sea and one of the stone circles in particular are what I’ll remember the most of this part of Ireland.
A peninsula near Clonakilty that becomes an island at high tide was the starting point to explore the area of West Cork. Thanks to Couchsurfing we lived for a few days away from the city, in contact with cows and Irish seagulls.
A road trip around Ireland should include not only Galway, Dublin and Cliffs of Moher. Travelling to Ireland is driving on the left, focusing your attention on the roundabouts because they’re in the opposite direction. Ireland is bus and train drivers waving hi in the distance just because. A road trip around Ireland is magic, it’s finding rainbows when you weren’t looking for them.
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More about Ireland and Northern Ireland
Before travelling to the Republic of Ireland
- Ireland, that dreamt destination that became a reality. My father’s dream of visiting Ireland came true.
- My first time in Ireland and why Ireland is so important for me.
Northern Ireland (United Kingdom)
- Derry and its murals full of hatred, religion and politics. A city that will surely leave a mark on you. Derry will help you to understand the division between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland.