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.
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 353
- 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.
Money/ATM, Credit Cards in Ireland
The currency used in Ireland is the Euro, and in the north or Ireland, the British Pound Sterling. ATMs are widely available so there is no need to convert a large amount of currency prior to your departure. The best rates are found at bank ATM's and private ATM's may charge high fees.
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. Discover cards are not accepted.
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.
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 although we recommend that you hand the tip in cash directly to your server to ensure that he or she receives it.
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.
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; all of them 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!