Visiting Ireland: The Guide You Need 2021
Visiting Ireland in 2021? Where do you start?
It is ideal to plan a trip to Ireland ahead and book your accommodation & transport options, planning ahead before travelling in Ireland will give you to stress free holiday. By choosing to rent a car, this gives you flexibility with your travel planning - no waiting on public transport; walking to train stations or bus stops for your next destination.
We have compiled a what to know before visiting Ireland guide, which we hope you will find useful, here you will be able to find information on Ireland car rental, recommendations of places to visit and hotels at your convenience.
For a complete guidelines on Renting a Car in Ireland, and download a free checklist.
2021 Guide list
How to plan the best trip to Ireland When is the best time to go to Ireland? What is the best way to get to Ireland? Weather wise - when is it a good time to visit? How to get around Ireland like locals? Where to rent a car? The best holiday destinations in Ireland Visiting Northern Ireland What to do in Ireland What to visit in Ireland What to see in Dublin Accommodation in Ireland Recommended tourist boards and authorities
How to plan the best trip to Ireland?
Have an idea of what kind of trip you are after; knowing this will help you to narrow down the places and activities Ireland offers.
Do research on where to travel in Ireland; buy a destination guide book or read online guides. There are many websites that provides information such as TripAdvisor, Discoverireland.com and Ireland.com community.
Book your accommodation early; it’s always to ideal to have this booked prior arriving knowing you have done your research on the best cities to stay in Ireland, and also this will free up time for exploring Ireland.
Plan transport ahead of time will help you have a better experience when visiting in Ireland. If you plan on hiring a car, please make sure you know what to bring.
Check the weather; this will prepare you what to pack and always bring a rain jacket!
When is the best time to go to Ireland?
It all depends on what kind of trip you are planning to do, if it is hiking you're after, consider the shoulder seasons of May, June and September, October for fewer people and greater accommodation choices. If you are planning to do the Ring of Kerry, you might prefer to do this outside the high season.
Weather wise - when is it a good time to visit?
Credit to Discover Ireland
Irish weather can be unpredictable and often experience lovely sunny weather and drizzling rain in the same day. It's advised to prepared for any kind of weather and layers would be ideal.
What are the seasons in Ireland?
The four seasons in Ireland as same as around the world; Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn.
- Winter - November to January
- Spring - February to April
- Summer - May to July
- Autumn - August to October
The popular season is during the summmer between July and August as these tends to be the warmest months with long daylight hours. Visiting in May/June or September will allow you to visit without the high season rates in acommodation & car rental.
People think it rains a lot in Ireland however this is not the case, two out of three hourly observations will not report any measurable rainfall according to Met.ie. April is the driest month generally across the country and the wettest months, in almost all areas are December and January.
What is the best way to get to Ireland?
Ireland Dublin Airport is well covered to serve international & local passengers along with 12 airports; the main airports are Dublin Airport, Cork Airport, Shannon Airport, Kerry Airport and Knock Airport. Belfast also an International airport.
Visa Requirements for entering Ireland
Visiting Ireland Visa - you do not need a visa if you are a citizen of the European Economic Area (EEA), United States of America, Canada or Australia. For other countries, please check with the Citizens Information.
Getting to Ireland by Ferry via Dublin Port or Rosslare, often on the ferry websites they give you information on how to get to the specific departure points. Dublin Port is located 3km away from Dublin City and 12km from Dublin Airport, there is no car hire Dublin Port however vehicles can be rented at nearby offices in the City or pick up car hire at Dublin airport even.
How to get around Ireland like locals?
Travel around Ireland offers a lot of transport options from using public transport to renting a personal car. There is a comprehensive bus network in the main cities and travelling between cities can be done by train however it does not serve everywhere.
f you are planning to visit the Wild Atlantic Way, Cliffs of Moher and places outside main cities, hiring a car is advised by TripAdvisor. The flexibility of having a car will give you more time to visit places wherever you go and sometimes can be cheaper than public transport.
Visit Irish Rail to see their network in Ireland.
Where to rent a car?
There are many car rental companies that offers car & van service in Republic of Ireland. Irish Car Rentals has 20+ locations from the main & international airports, and city pick up locations. Some of the popular locations to pick up a car hire Cork Airport, Shannon Airport, and Dublin City. There are also regional locations like Navan, Wexford - see rental network map.
Irish Car Rentals is a registered member of Car Rental Council of Ireland; renting from a company listed under CCI means you are using a company committed to providing a high quality car rental service.
Read for information on car rental cover and excess.
The best holiday destinations in Ireland
Ireland offers a diverse landscapes, bustling cities and adventures to be done. There is something for everyone from Dublin city breaks to Donegal beach holidays. There are theme trails which you can avail of, food trails in Cork, historical trails, natural Wild Atlantic Way trails and road tripping in Ireland.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi film locations on Earth’s Wild Atlantic Way - Skellig Michael Islands.
Wild Atlantic Way
The Wild Atlantic Way is Ireland's first and only long distance driving route stretching along the Atlantic coast from Donegal to West Cork, an approximate 2,500km track. Wild Atlantic Way offers a stunning drive through Ireland experiencing the Irish culture and landscape. This is a popular destination for our customers visiting Ireland.
Ireland’s Ancient East
The main allure of this part of Ireland is the historic Boyne Valley. Here you'll find historic sites that stretch back over 5000 years. This area is peppered with ancient meeting places, megalithic tombs, large castles, and a variety of religious sites. The main attraction in the area is Newgrange, an incredibly well restored megalithic tomb that predates Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids. This impressive structure awes all that visit due to its engineering feats such as the intricately designed sun box that illuminates the entire inner chambers of the tomb once a year at dawns light on the winter solstice.
Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry map is an 179km picturesque circular road trip around the Iveragh Peninsula in southwest Ireland’s County Kerry. The route takes in rugged coastal landscapes and rural seaside villages. Skellig Michael, an abandoned 7th-century Christian monastery is a popular attraction with boats from Portmagee making the 12km crossing during the summer months.
Majority of our customers pick car rental in Dublin Airport and drive across the country to these destinations. Of course, renting from other locations is also available.
Scenic driving routes
- Sky Road - "The Capital of Connemara", County Galway
- Slea Head - Drive on the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry
- Healy Pass - The Healy Pass is a winding mountain road between Adrigole in Co. Cork and Lauragh in Co. Kerry
- Ring of Beara - Located on the Beara Peninsula, Co. Kerry and Co. Cork with 137km driving route
- Causeway Coastal Route - The Causeway Coastal Route offers an epic tour of the Northern Ireland coast
- Lough Inagh Drive - 165 km of the Galway coast
- Wild Atlantic Way - Ireland’s first and only 2,500km driving route, which will stretch along the Atlantic coast from Donegal to West Cork.
Ireland Road Trip Itineraries
Here a list of road trips itineraries in Ireland that can be done by a car. The guide includes the best of Ireland self drive tours all over Ireland with a main focus of west coast Ireland.
Dublin Guide :
Visiting Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland also offers a stunning scenic landscapes and busy cities. It is possible to pick up a car rental Northen Ireland and visit lots of places. Giant's Causeway is a popular attraction and highly recommended, read more about visiting Northern Ireland.
If you planning to collect Dublin Airport car hire and drive to Northern Ireland, please bear in mind that there are across the border fee. Currently it is €34.05 per car (as of April 2017)
What to do in Ireland
Ireland is so versatile that it caters for everybody’s requirements and depending on your interests & length of stay in Ireland; these are some of the must see sites when visiting Ireland.
Visiting Connemara region and Ireland’s number one attraction; Visiting Cliffs of Moher, green, rocky headlands rise some 600 feet over the surface of the sea, offering spectacular views and hosting dozens of species of exotic birds.
Giant Causeway and the Burren in Northern Ireland is a great trip out with a long walkway between rocks.
Ireland’s Ancient East and Boyne Valley would be a good place to visit and read the history with impressive builds. Blarney Castle, Kilkenny and Dublin offer plenty of historical attractions to visit.
Hiking and walks is one of the best activities to do in Ireland with countless trails all over the country from Cliffs of Moher clifftop walk to Wicklow Mountains. On the west coast, we have Gap of Dunloe, Dingle and Aran island, all offering impressive views.
Golfers are well accommodated in Ireland with some of the best golf courses in the world to choose from. Other activities available to do in Ireland; surfing, horse riding, Trad music watching even!
This infographic showcases the top 10 attractions in South West Ireland
(Click infographic to enlarge.)
Recommended places to visit
What to visit in Ireland
An UNESCO World Heritage site which recently have been featured in Star Wars film; The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Skellig Islands is 714ft above the sea level and is a couple hours on the boat from Portmagee. Not only the rugged wild views you see, wildlife is abundant on and around the island from gannet birds to seals.
The Guinness Storehouse
Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction with well over a million visitors each year. The storehouse visitor centre is part of the larger St James Gate Brewery and the tour ends with a trip up to Gravity Bar, which stands 60 metres above the ground and offers fantastic panoramic views over Dublin.
Ireland’s most northern point and the end point of Wild Atlantic Way route. Malin head is located on the Inishowen Peninsula, County Donegal. The views here on a clear day is stunning, well worth a visit. Not only on a clear day but also on a clear night, you can catch the Northern Lights here if you’re lucky! It is very possible to see the 'Aurora borealis' in Ireland and perhaps a budget friendly destination to Scandinavia. Liberty Car Insurance have written a great guide on best places to view the Northern Lights in Ireland!
Achill Island in County Mayo is the largest island off the coast of Ireland, and is situated off the west coast along the Wild Atlantic Way. A drive or walk even around the islands offers beautiful backdrops and old cottages that give the real Irish culture.
Kilkenny a lovely medieval town in southeast Ireland situated a couple hours outside Dublin. The Kilkenny Castle was built in 1195 by Norman occupiers. The town has well-preserved churches and monasteries, including imposing St. Canice’s Cathedral and the Black Abbey Dominican priory. A lovely place to visit and explore the winding alleys.
What to see in Dublin
Dublin is the capital and largest city in Ireland, located on Ireland’s east coast. The largest international airport in Ireland in located north of Dublin with approx. 23 million passengers travelled through the airport in 2015. Rent a car in Dublin Airport is available from Irish Car Rentals and vehichles are provided by Europcar. Futhermore, car rental Dublin is also an alternative option.
There is something for everybody whether it's sporting events, shopping, architecture buildings, guided walks and historical landmarks. There are no shortages of tourist attractions in Dublin and surrounding areas, such as
Synonymous with Irish independence, this notorious prison is one of the most compelling attractions in Ireland. Built in the late 18th century, Kilmainham Gaol imprisoned dozens of Irish leaders until it closed in the 1920s.
The Book of Kells
Half a million visitors pay a visit to this artful work of medieval literature. It’s on display in Trinity College’s Old Library, and viewing it requires purchasing a ticket. Entrance is free for holders of the Dublin Pass.
EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum
An immersive, interactive museum located in Dublin's Docklands about the history of the Irish diaspora and emigration to other countries. Search for your family historiy here.
Read more about visiting Dublin.
Accommodation in Ireland
Ireland offers a wide range of accommodation from castles, hotels, guesthouses to farms. Choose how you want to experience Ireland! Look for accommodation in Ireland using the map below. You will find we have listed accommodations by Counties or by hotel type for i.e. B&B, Hotels, 4 Star hotels and more…
- Search the accommodation map for a great selection of Irish Hotels and Guest houses.
- If you prefer to stay in hotels near Dublin Airport to ensure you catch your early flights or settle down quickly after landing in Dublin late evening; we have collected a list of accommodations that are in and around the airport.
- For Bed & Breakfast options, visit Bed & Breakfast nationwide website.
- Visit Donegal Cottage Holidays
Recommended tourist boards and authorities
Organising a tour? Alternatively you could go with a company that organises tours instead of a self drive option; Discover Ireland Tours are an Irish destination management company (DMC) and has the local knowledge to provide the best experience possible.
- Mayo Tourism website specialises in North Mayo county and nearby areas.
- Destination Westport - Experience it your way, their website offers vast information on Westport area.
My Ireland Tour - An online visitors travel guide to the best attractions in Ireland.