Ireland is one of my favorite places on Earth—and for good reason! The moment you touch down on The Emerald Isle for your first time in Ireland, there is green as far as the eye can see. Suddenly you realize that this country earned its nickname for a reason!
That said, just like visiting any place there are some things I wish I’d known before seeing Ireland for the first time. Learn from my experiences to be better prepared for a magical adventure.
1. Be prepared for all weather
Obviously, it must rain a lot in a place that is so lush and green. Like most places, Ireland has a rainy season (December and January) though it does rain frequently on the island even outside those months. Regardless of what a weather app might say, come prepared for at least one rainy day when you visit.
And, honestly, even if it’s a wetter time of year, December is still a magical time to see Ireland. It’s a bit chillier, yet it’s the off-season so things are cheaper and far less crowded. Plus, you get the magic of the holiday season! That means plenty of charming Christmas markets that are simply the best. [Be sure to grab a hot cocoa from Butler’s Chocolate Café, they’re the best!]
2. Invest in a CityPass
If you are a museum and hot tourist spot kind of traveler, CityPass will be your best friend–especially for your first time in Ireland. A one-time payment gives you access to myriad museums, locations, and even hop-on/hop-off bus tours. I highly recommend investing in a CityPass, particularly if you’re visiting Dublin. You’ll save a ton of money.
3. You’re entitled to some sales taxes back
Countries within the European Union (EU) participate in a program called the Retail Export Scheme. This scheme means you are entitled to getting sales taxes back on some purchases. Tax savings can be done at locations all around the island, particularly in bigger cities like Dublin and Cork. Getting your sales tax back might be more trouble than it’s worth depending on what you’re buying, but it’s a good tip to know!
During my first time in Ireland I believe we got back about €30.
4. Know where your hotel is located (and what’s around it)
We made the mistake of staying at a cute hotel in a good neighborhood on our last visit to Dublin. What was wrong with it? Well, it was across the street from a 24-hour dance club. If you stay at a hotel without air conditioning you must open the windows to get some fresh air and there are screaming drunks outside at all hours of the night. If you find yourself staying at a place like that, be sure to ask for a room facing away from the main street or invest in some good earplugs.
5. Check the labels on products—always
You can find some incredible wool products in Ireland. From sweaters to gloves to cute felted sheep, Ireland’s wool is out of this world. But, like anywhere, if a deal seems too good to be true it probably is. Quality wool isn’t cheap. If you see a cheap sweater or wool product, there’s a good chance it wasn’t made in Ireland or it’s not a quality purchase. Always check the product labels if you’re suspicious of a good deal.
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