Advice for first time visitors to Ireland – from our Facebook friends

Antrim Hills. Photo copyright Patrick McNulty

For many people, a trip to Ireland is a once in a lifetime event so it’s important to make the most of the experience.

Antrim Hills. Photo copyright Patrick McNulty
Antrim Hills – thank you to Patrick McNulty for the photo

We asked our Facebook friends if they had any advice for people visiting Ireland for the first time, what they should do, and what might they want to avoid. Here is a roundup of some of our favourite responses.

1 – Talk to the locals

Many respondents suggested talking to as many local people as possible, whether in a B&B, a pub or where ever you happen to be. Plenty of people talked about how friendly the people are. Kelley Melissa said: “Make friends with locals and you’ll be shown places most tourists never know about.”
Joe Nestle said: “The people alone make the trip totally worthwhile.”

2 – Stay in B&Bs

B&Bs were hugely popular. Many of our respondents said they had found B&B owners to be a wealth of knowledge and far friendlier than hotels.
Patty Deppen said: “Our first night ever in Ireland, we were staying in a B&B on the cliffs near Doolin, the owner knocked on our door at 2am and told us to look out our window. It was the Northern Lights over the sea! Twas breathtaking! Stay at B&Bs!”
Andrew Conner had similar advice, with a slight twist: “Stay in B&B’s, except for one night, splurge and stay in a castle for a night.”

3 – Explore in a car

Another common theme was the joy of simply getting in a car and driving, without necessarily knowing where you are going. Ireland is covered with striking scenery and the unknown quantity of small towns and villages often a highly satisfying bonus part of the trip for many tourists.
Sandra Field said: “Was very happy we decided to rent a car rather than take a tour bus, got to explore back roads and take our time!”
Michael McClellan said: “We did a complete drive around the entire coast of Ireland in two weeks. Loved it! Stunning!”
Meanwhile, Carole Petz had a message for fans of West Virginia: “To John Denver, I would say that country roads are sweeter in Ireland!

4 – Research your family history

Patrick O’Leary had this advice for people with Irish ancestry: “If you have Irish roots research your family and try to visit the towns were your people lived. During my trip in 2013 I was able to visit the town where my Great Grandfather was born and sit in the same church where he was baptized.”

5 – A bit of local knowledge can be very valuable

Kerry Linkowski-DeYoung had some unique but potentially very valuable advice: “Avoid black pudding after a night of too much Guinness.”
Dixie Rexwinkle Divis also had some valuable advice for American and European visitors: “Look right when stepping off the curb.”
John Kyne enjoyed Ireland so much he simply offered the following advice: “Cancel return flight.”

6 – Soak it all in

Dave Bell summed up much of the advice we received: “Plan your own B&B tour. Rent a small car and take the long route between destinations. Stop a lot just to look and soak it in!”
Most people were quick to recommend the town or city they had visited. Some of the more popular were Donegal, Dingle, Killarney, Galway and Dublin.

7 – Avoid expensive tourist areas

As for what not to do, the main thing to avoid were the expensive tourist areas. There is no doubt that you can have a good time in the Temple Bar area of Dublin but you will have to be prepared to spend big money.
Others suggested giving the tour busses a miss and explore by driving around yourself and asking locals for advice on what places to visit.
Karen Barrett said: “Don’t do tourist tours. Venture out on your own. Meet the people. Eat in small local places. Take your time and you will fall in love with the most beautiful country on Earth.”
David Johnson had similar advice: “The tourist spots are nice, but check the out of the way places. Old churches, and small towns, especially the PUBS.”

8 – Bring an umbrella

Another common piece of advice on what not to do was to leave your hotel or B&B without an umbrella. In Ireland you never know when you will need one.

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