15 Essential Ireland Travel Tips That Could Save Your Life
Ireland is on the bucket list of many travelers because it has beautiful scenery and a romantic, wild feel. Half of the fun is not knowing what to expect, but here are a few things that visitors to “the land of saints and scholars” should know before they arrive.
Remember the numbers in case of an emergency
In 2016, the Global Peace Index ranked Ireland as the 12th safest country in the world, so you shouldn’t run into any major problems while you’re there. But if you need any of Ireland’s so-called “blue light” services, like the Garda Sochána (the police), an ambulance, or the fire department, you can call either 112 or 999, or just 999 in Northern Ireland. If a tourist has been a victim of a crime, they can also contact the Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS), which can help them in many languages.
EU citizens should get a European Health Insurance Card before they leave their home country.
The EU has been getting some bad press lately, but being a member has a lot of real benefits for travelers. For example, EU/EEA citizens can get a free card that lets them get health care at a lower cost or even for free if they get sick while on vacation in another member state.
If you get sick in Ireland, you should know that the wait times in Irish public hospitals’ emergency rooms are the longest in Europe. If you can, you should try to see a general practitioner instead. In some parts of Ireland, there is also a medical service that is open at night and on weekends to help people who need care right away. Kilkenny, Carlow, Waterford, Wexford, South Tipperary, Sligo, and parts of Wicklow are all covered by Caredoc.
Be careful near the coast
One of Ireland’s best features is its 1448 km (900 mi) of beautiful, rocky coastline, but beaches and bluffs should always be explored with care. Every year, about 140 people drown in Ireland, and it’s not just people who swim in dangerous places. In 2015, tragedy struck Baltimore when a young woman walking near the famous Baltimore Beacon was swept off rocks. While trying to save her, her boyfriend and his father also died. Many of Ireland’s famous cliff walks, like Howth’s cliff path loop, don’t have guardrails, so you need to be very careful.
St. Patrick’s Day is a rowdy holiday.
Many people come to Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day to enjoy the party atmosphere, but they leave with bad memories. Even though some festivals around March 17 can be fun for the whole family, St. Patrick’s Day usually gets out of hand, especially in Dublin city center.
Even during the day, the streets and public transportation can be full of drunk people. In some areas, the celebrations often turn violent, and a lot of people are arrested. If you have kids or want to do something low-key, you should go to a parade in a smaller town and take in the local atmosphere.
Keep with your group.
Most Irish socializing involves drinking, and it’s best to stay close to people you know when drinking in a foreign country. If you want to drink at a pub or dance until the wee hours of the morning in a nightclub, make sure you stay with your group, especially if you are a woman. Overall, Dublin is thought to be safe, but you shouldn’t walk around the city alone at night, especially near O’Connell Street.
Outside of cities, taxis can be hard to plan for.
Without a car, getting from point A to point B in the beautiful country of Ireland can be one of the hardest things to do. This is especially true in small towns and villages in the countryside. Plan ahead if you want to spend the night at a local pub, because it’s dangerous to walk on narrow country roads at night. Before you leave, it’s best to make sure you have the number of a local taxi driver or company. Most drivers will have business cards, and don’t be afraid to stick with the same one. Irish taxis have meters, so it doesn’t make much sense to look around.
Keep your head on public transportation.
Even though there isn’t much crime in Ireland, small-time thieves have been known to get off public transportation with other people’s belongings, even outside of cities. On long trips between cities by bus, you may have to put your bags under the seat, but on trains, you should always try to keep your bags close. Pickpockets happen a lot on the Red line of Dublin’s Luas tram, which connects many of the city’s best tourist spots and two main train stations. People should keep an eye on their belongings here, especially during the busy rush hour.
Watch out for small crimes
Also, you can be sure that no one will bother you if you show off your expensive camera on the streets of Dublin, but be careful when you put it down. Criminals in Ireland’s bigger cities aren’t so much violent and dangerous as they are willing to take advantage of any chance they get. Keep your bags and cameras where you can always see them. In restaurants and cafes, keep them on the table or at your feet with the strap around your leg.
Expect to be late in a stylish way
If you’ve been to or come from other European countries, especially Germany, you might expect public transportation to run smoothly and quickly. Ireland’s transportation systems don’t always meet the same high standards, which is a shame. Most waits between departures are longer, so if you like to stick to a tight schedule, you may be surprised. The best way to deal with this is to plan for the unexpected and give yourself a lot of time between stops. If you’re going to arrive late at night in a rural area, try to book a taxi to your lodging ahead of time if you can’t walk there.
Get ready for two types of money
Be ready to use different currencies in Northern Ireland and the south when you cross the (currently soft, pending Brexit negotiations) border that separates the two. Since Northern Ireland is part of the UK, its currency is the Pound Sterling. The Republic of Ireland, on the other hand, is in the eurozone. In cities, ATMs are easy to find, but keep in mind that small towns and villages may not always have one. Visa and MasterCard are accepted in many stores, restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and other places where people buy things.
Advice on how to tip
It’s not exactly life-threatening, unless you get an especially angry waiter or waitress, but it’s good to know that tipping is still expected in Irish restaurants, cafes, and bars, even though service workers don’t depend on tips as much as they do in the U.S. In more casual cafes, you might find a tip jar by the cash register where you can put your change. In places with more formal table service, a 10% to 15% tip is a fair amount to give. For waiters, leaving cash is better than adding a tip to a credit card purchase because cash is not taxed. Keep in mind, though, that a 10% “service charge” may already be added to the bill for groups of eight or more, so an extra tip may be too much in this case.
Irish signs are likely.
Even though most people in Ireland speak English and many can’t even have a full conversation in Irish, the country is officially bilingual. Street signs and most information are written in both English and Irish. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem for tourists, but there may be signs that are only in Irish. Some DART trains in Dublin will only show the Irish name of a destination, which often has nothing to do with the English name. But you shouldn’t need an Irish phrase book. If you have trouble with the language, just ask someone for help.
Don’t talk about the war.
Even though “The Troubles” (the political turmoil and violence) are over, the history between Ireland and the UK can still be a sore spot. People from Britain are always welcome in Ireland, but it’s best not to bring flags or other political signs. Union Jack symbols and English football jerseys get a lot of attention in Ireland. While you probably won’t be threatened with violence if you wear them, you may get unwanted attention in some places, even south of the border.
Save your money for city buses
If you’re going to Dublin and plan to use the bus to get around, keep in mind that you have to pay the driver when you get on. They don’t accept bills or give change, so make sure you have a lot of coins with you so you don’t get stuck. You could also get a prepaid Visitor Leap Card, which lets you use Dublin Bus, Airlink, DART, commuter rail, and Luas services as much as you want for as little as €10 for a 24-hour card. These are sold online and at shops in the city center and at Dublin Airport.
Get a good umbrella.
Even though Irish people may think that it will rain every day, it’s surprising how many of them aren’t ready for a downpour. In fact, tourists are usually the ones who stand out on the streets of an Irish town because they seem to be the best prepared for the weather. But if you’re a traveler and you have to choose between fitting in or being ready for rain, it’s better to be known as a tourist and stay dry and comfortable for the whole day.
Extra tip: Don’t lose your sense of humor.
Most of all, be funny when you’re traveling in Ireland. Even with the above warnings, Ireland is a very safe place to visit, so don’t worry, have fun, and don’t take anything too seriously, because athe Irish won’t.
Topic: 15 Essential Ireland Travel Tips That Could Save Your Life
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By: Travel Pixy