Weather in Ireland
If there is anything to be said about the weather in Ireland, it is change. Ireland is rarely too hot or too cold, although on any given day, the weather can change from sunshine to rain and windy. The rain does make everything so green, so be grateful!
Bringing the right clothes is important and we recommend dressing in layers. Having a mix of short sleeves, sweater, and rain jacket is best, even in summer. And remember to place an umbrella in your day pack for those unexpected showers.
While the weather rarely affects our itinerary, we do sometimes need to adjust and switch to indoor activities on the rare occasion. When visiting the islands in the west, the weather can occasionally cause the ferries or small planes to cease operation and should you experience that on your tour, rest assured that your guides will have an alternate plan for the day.
The best source of weather information in Ireland can be found at the website for the Irish weather service, Met éirann.
Passport and Visa Requirements
If you are a citizen of the USA or Canada, you will not need a visa to enter Ireland or the UK. (The north of Ireland is currently part of UK.) Do however, ensure that your passport has at least six months or more until expiration and if not, we suggest that you renew before you leave.
When departing for the USA from Dublin or Shannon airports, US Customs and Immigration have pre-clearance in the airport so flights arriving from DUB and SNN arrive in the United States as domestic flights having already cleared customs and immigration. We recommend allowing plenty of time when departing from Ireland to return home and if using our departure service, our team will ensure that you arrive in plenty of time for your flight.
For our guests who are not US or Canadian citizens, please check the DFA website do determine visa requirements.
Travel is an adventure and flights and other things often may not go as planned. Visionquest Ireland cannot assume any liability for things such as delayed flights, missing the start of the tour, weather, lost luggage and any injuries sustained on the tour or while in Ireland. We highly recommend that each guest purchase travel insurance for these contingencies. Travel insurance is often available from your airline when booking flights. if not offered through the airline, we recommend checking with Allianz Travel Insurance.
Cell phones, Internet, and Electrical in Ireland
Most cell phones will work in Ireland; be sure to check with your carrier before you leave as your carrier may need to update your PRL or make other changes to your configuration. When you contact your carrier, make sure to clarify international charges and roaming fees as data fees can add up quickly. Unless you have an international data plan at a reasonable rate, we recommend turning off data services on your phone and using Wi-Fi when available for browsing the Internet, checking email, Facebook, and the like.
Country codes for dialing phone numbers in Ireland are:
- Republic of Ireland 035
- North of Ireland 44
In order to dial from US or Canadian phones, you would dial 011 + Country Code (353 or 44) + the phone number. Note that you will see cell phones listed with area codes in Ireland which have a leading zero. You can drop that zero when dialing.
Dialing to the USA from Ireland, you would dial 011 + 1 + Area Code + Number
Wi-Fi is widely available although as with any public Wi-Fi, we recommend caution and the use of a VPN application if you need to do any banking or other sensitive business over public networks.
Ireland uses 240 volt electrical and requires an adapter. Most devices such as cell phones, laptops, camera chargers, tablets, etc. will handle either 120 or 240 volts although you should check each device to make sure. If your device cannot operate on 240 volts, you will need a power transformer along with the adapter.
Electrical outlets are the same in Ireland and the north of Ireland.
Airport Arrival and Departures
Airport transfers are included in the price of your tour when arriving within our recommended arrival time windows. A representative of Visonquest Ireland will meet you at Dublin airport after you clear customs and transport you to your hotel starting point near Mullingar, in County Westmeath. Mullingar is less than an hour from Dublin airport. Our representative can be identified holding the Visionquest Ireland sign, and you will be provided with a contact number to call in case you cannot find our driver.
Upon arrival at the hotel, we can usually arrange an early check in and unless you are delayed in your arrival, there is often time for a short nap and shower before we start the day's activities. Day 1 activities are light to allow time to recover from the jet lag and we visit a few attractions nearby to Mullingar.
On the day of departure, we will transport the group to Dublin airport in plenty of time to check in, go through airport security, and clear US customs and immigration if flying to the USA. Should you decide to extend your staying Ireland or take a late flight, you will need to make your own arrangements to travel to the airport.
Money/ATM, Credit Cards in Ireland
The currency used in Ireland is the Euro, and in the north or Ireland, the British Pound Sterling. ATM's are widely available so there is no need to convert a large amount of currency prior to your departure.
Likewise, credit cards are widely accepted, although some smaller establishments may prefer cash. Mastercard and Visa are almost universally accepted, and some establishments may not accept American Express.
Be sure to check with your bank or financial institution prior to departure. Most credit cards will need to know the countries you plan to visit and ATM cards will need to be authorized for international use.
All of our itineraries include a full Irish breakfast each day. A full and proper Irish breakfast usually includes eggs, rashers, sausage, black and white pudding, beans, mushrooms, potatoes, toast, coffee or tea, and juice. Please advise us at the time of your booking and check with your guide upon arrival if you have any special dietary needs.
With the exception of a few special events, most lunches and dinners are on your own. If a lunch or dinner is included on any given day, it will be noted on your tour schedule and your guide will remind you at the start of the day.
Meals are not generally expensive in Ireland. Lunch can average €10- €15 with a reasonable dinner in the €20 - €25 range. A pint of Guinness or beer is usually ~€5 with glasses of wine starting at €6 and up.
Tipping in Ireland is not the same as in the USA. When ordering meals or drinks at the bar, no tip is generally expected. If you do tip for a meal, 10% is a completely acceptable amount.
Admission to most sites and attractions is included in the price of your tour. On some tours where we have allotted free time for you to explore, we may suggest optional activities which are an additional cost if you choose to participate. Recommended optional activities and attractions will be clearly identified on your tour schedule along with current admission fees.
Cancellation and Refund Policies
For cancellations made within 30 days of tour departure, there are no refunds.
The cancellation fee for tours booked more than 30 days from departure is 50% of the total amount paid, including any single supplements or upgrades purchased.
You may request a space available transfer to a different tour offered in the same calendar year although depending on the time to departure, you may be responsible for cancellation fees incurred for any lodgings booked as part of your original tour. Please contact our office and we will work to accommodate your request and advise you of any cancellation fees before confirming the transfer.
Visionquest Ireland declines all liability for refunds due to late arrivals, early departures, personal emergencies or illness, flight delays or cancellations or weather. We highly recommend that each guest purchase travel insurance to cover these contingencies.
There are no exceptions to these policies.
Fitness and Accessibility
Guests should be reasonably fit and able to walk moderate distances, in most cases 30 minutes or less Some attractions may require walking over turf, uneven and rocky terrain, which may include some uphill climbing.
Ireland is also famous for many spectacular cliffs and in many cases, you can walk right up to the edge of these cliffs. We advise that you exercise due care near cliffs and decline all liability for accidents such as falling off of cliffs.
Irish Facts and Culture
You will find people in Ireland friendly, welcoming and hospitable. We enjoy the craic! (Conversations) Many strangers you may meet will engage you in stimulating conversation.
The Irish Republic was declared in 1916 with the Easter Uprising which left Dublin in ruins. A subsequent war was fought with England which resulted in the declaration of the Irish Free State in 1922 which included 26 counties, leaving six counties in the north under British rule. Ireland was officially declared a Republic in 1949.
Ireland is part of the European Union and also has special travel arrangements with Britain as part of the STA (Common Travel Area). There is currently no hard border between the Republic of Ireland and the northern counties, although many are concerned that the Brexit situation may result in a hard border which would have detrimental impact to the people and the economies of both areas. As it stands today, the only way one notices that the border is crossed is that the speed limit and road signs change from kilometres to miles.
The north of Ireland, once mired in sectarian violence has been peaceful on account of the Good Friday Peace Accords signed in 1978. Belfast, Derry and the rest of the northern counties are wonderful to visit and just as beautiful as the rest of Ireland.
Ireland has two official languages: Irish and English. Street signs and government documents are bilingual and you will notice the Irish language. Outside of the designated Gaeltacht on the far western coasts, people speak English every day although most people also understand the Irish language since it is taught in schools. When in the Gaeltacht, people speak Irish everyday and we encourage you to learn a few phrases. (Your guides will be more than happy to help you with Irish phases.)
You will not find corned beef and cabbage in Ireland as it is not a traditional Irish dish. It was adopted by Irish immigrants to the USA, most likely living in close proximity to Jewish immigrants. Corned beef was cheap and plentiful which is the reason Irish immigrants adopted the dish. In Ireland, the closest thing you will find is bacon and cabbage.
Guinness might as well be our national drink and you will find it everywhere. You can be the judge, but many will tell you that it really DOES taste better in Ireland. Be sure to ask your guide the proper way to drink Guinness as they way it is served in many American bars is not correct.
Ireland is not a huge tipping culture. In many pubs, you order food and drinks at the bar and they will being it out to you. Tips are not expected when ordering at the bar. For food ordered at the table, 10% is an appropriate amount to tip.
In crowded pubs, it is not advisable for each member of the party to go up to the bar and order drinks. We follow the "rules of rounds." which means one person will usually order the drinks for the group and pay for them. It is proper etiquette to take turns purchasing the drinks for your group.
Cab drivers also do not expect a tip although you can round up to the nearest Euro.
Your guide is an excellent resource on Irish culture and customs so be sure to ask; we love to talk about Ireland!
Safety and Emergencies
Ireland is a safe country although you should take reasonable precautions as with traveling anywhere or even walking about in your home country.
Make copies of your ID, passport and travel documents. Take printed copies with you, and either leave copies with family or friends back home, or store copies on Google Drive, Dropbox, or One Drive.
In emergencies, please advise your guide. The Garda Síochána (National Police) and other emergency services can be reached by dialing 112. (Dialing 112 works anywhere in Europe)
For reaching the police for non emergency reasons such as filing a police report, you should contact the local Garda station.
Other tips for staying safe and secure when traveling:
- Never carry large amounts of case and divide your cash. Store excess cash in hotel safe deposit boxes.
- Keep your wallet in your front pocket when walking in cities and crowded areas
- Avoid wearing expesnive jewlry and consider leaving these at home
- Carry backpacks, fanny packs and purses in front of you when in a crowded area such as cities
- Carry only enough money on your person for the day
- When using an ATM, use only in a well lit area and be suspicious of strangers lingering around the area. Take a companion with you.
- Be alert to your surroundings and enjoy your trip!