Ireland travel guide
The lure of Ireland lies in its landscapes and its people, and it is through involvement with both that visitors get to experience the soul of this ancient land of saints and scholars.
Ireland's hills are a walker's paradise, not only because of the extensive network of trails, but because by being on foot one gets to appreciate the lakes and rivers, the coastal views and ever-changing sky-scapes that are so much part of the Irish landscape. Watersports such as angling, sailing and surfing are popular too, and many visitors come for the golf, but the real passion of the Irish is horses - there is a potential Derby winner in every valley and a packed betting shop in every high street.
The Irish weather is not the most predictable in the world, but then much of the beauty of the Irish landscape is due to its climate and there has to be a price tag on being nicknamed the 'Emerald Isle'. Poor weather has had positive influences on the Irish way of life. Music and song plays an integral part in day-to-day routine and visitors are able to experience this in the many pubs so characteristic of the social landscape of Ireland. Irish music is captivating - arguably some of the best in the world - and Irish pubs are a highlight of a journey through the country.
Over the years, Ireland has survived invasions, famine and civil war, but has recently come into its own, benefiting from peace in the North, support from the EU, and a new vitality which has caused the country to be dubbed the 'Celtic Tiger'. There has never been a better time to visit.
The unit of currency is the Euro (EUR). Currency can be exchanged at banks and bureaux de change, and ATMs are widely available. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted.
Language : English is the principal language, although a minority of people speak Irish (Gaelic).
Electricity : Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. UK-style three-pin and round three-pin plugs are in use.
Entry Requirements :
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Ireland. No visa is required.
British citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Ireland. Passport exemptions apply to holders of proof of nationality issued to nationals of Ireland and British subjects, for travel between Ireland and Great Britain and Northern Ireland only. No visa is required for holders of British passports endorsed British Citizen, British National (Overseas) or British Overseas Territories Citizen.
Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Ireland. No visa is required.
Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Ireland. No visa is required.
South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Ireland. No visa is required.
New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Ireland. No visa is required.
Passport/Visa Note :
All foreign passengers to Ireland must be able to show proof of sufficient funds to cover their stay in the country. Additionally, passengers should hold return/onward tickets, and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination, as immigration officers might demand that they demonstrate proof of their intention to leave Ireland. If the traveller's passport bears a British inadmissable stamp, unless the immigration officer is convinced that they will NOT travel on to the United Kingdom, entry may be refused to Ireland. Note that all visitors need to contact the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), if their stay in Ireland exceeds their visa-free period, or their stay is longer than the period for which their visa is valid. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Travel Health :
There are no special health requirements for visitors to Ireland. Health insurance is advisable unless you are from the UK or other EU countries, most of which have reciprocal agreements with Ireland. A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) should be obtained before departing for travel to Ireland. Medical facilities are good and medicines are widely available; payment for treatment is usually required in cash. If you require specific medication, it is always advised that you bring it with you on your travels: make sure you transport all medications in their original containers, clearly labeled; and that you carry a signed, dated letter from your doctor describing all medical conditions and listing all prescribed medications, including generic names.
A 10 percent tip will be welcomed in restaurants and cafes, and occasionally a service charge will be added to the bill. Tipping is not usual in bars and pubs, or for other services.
Safety Information :
Most visitors to Ireland enjoy a fairly high level of personal safety. Ireland has a very low level of violent crime, but there is a high incidence of petty theft in tourist areas and foreigners are targeted by pick-pockets. Travellers should take sensible precautions against petty theft, including duplicating important documents, carrying valuables in separate bags/pockets, and leaving valuables in hotel safes whenever possible. Terrorism is no more a threat in Ireland than in other Western countries and safety in the country has improved significantly with peace in Northern Ireland. Those travelling into Northern Ireland should note that the safety alerts for that country are completely seperate and can be found in the United Kingdom travel guide.
Local Customs :
Smoking in pubs, cafes and restaurants is illegal. Visitors should refrain from forcing discussions of political and religious differences, and show respect if the topics are brought up.
The Irish are very sociable and although the usual elements of business etiquette apply (punctuality, formal wear, a courteous manner), expect good conversation and a rather relaxed air. Handshakes are customary on introduction, and take the lead from the host with regards to using first names or surnames. Business hours are usually from 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday, with a lunch break from 1pm to 2pm.
The international access code for Ireland is +353 (remember to omit the first zero of the local area code when dialing). City/area codes are in use, e.g. 1 for Dublin. When making outgoing calls, dial 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most international operators. Internet cafes are available in the main tourist areas.
Duty Free :
Travellers over 17 years old arriving from non-EU countries do not have to pay duty on most products. Regulations allow 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars, 250g tobacco; one litre of spirits with more than 22% alcohol volume, two litres of dessert wine, port of sherry with a maximum 22% alcohol content; and four litres of wine or 16 litres of beer. Other duty free products include perfume up to 50g or 250ml eau de toilette; and other goods for personal consumption to the value of €175 per adult or €90 for children under 15 years.
All of these products are allowed on a fractional basis, so a proportional mix of each category is permitted. Prohibited items include meat and dairy products or raw vegetables.
Dublin International Airport
Location: The airport is situated seven miles (11km) north of Dublin, near the M50 and M1 motorways.
Time: GMT (GMT +1 between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October).
Contacts: Main number: +353 (0)1 814 1111. Car parking: +353 (0)1 814 4328.
Transfer between terminals: A clearly signed walkway connects the two terminals.
Getting to the city: Several bus services, including Dublin Bus and Airlink, connect the airport to all parts of Dublin and the city's central train station, both day and night.
Car rental: Hertz, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Dooley Car Rentals, Enterprise Rent-a-car and Sixt all operate from car-hire desks in the Arrivals Concourse. There are also a number of pre-booked car-hire desks on this concourse.
Airport Taxis: Taxis are available in front of the Arrivals Hall. All taxis have meters but they are only used for destinations in the 'Dublin City Taxi Metered Area'. It is wise to negotiate the price with the driver beforehand.
Facilities: Airport facilities include a bureau de change and ATMs, numerous restaurants, pubs and bars, several shops, a church and tourist information.
Parking: There are plenty of parking options at Dublin International Airport, including short and long stay options. The short-term car park is close to the terminal building, while the off-site long-term car park is serviced by a free shuttle service. Long term stays can be pre-booked via the airport website.
Shannon International Airport
Location: The airport is situated 15 miles (24km) from Limerick city and Ennis, and 56 miles (90km) from Galway City.
Time: GMT (GMT +1 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in October).
Contacts: Tel: +353 (0)61 712 000 (switchboard); 712 400 (information desk, 6am - midnight); 471 664 (tourist information).
Getting to the city: Taxis operate day and night; buses and coaches operate during the day to Limerick and other Irish cities.
Car rental: There are numerous car rental companies represented at the airport including Hertz, Avis, Budget, National and Thrifty.
Facilities: Shannon Airport is fairly small and facilities are not extensive, but include a bureau de change, ATMs, restaurants and bars and several shops. There are good facilities for disabled passengers; travellers with special needs should contact their airline in advance.
Parking: Long- and short-term parking is available. Long-term parking at Shannon Airport costs €9.50 a day or €47.50 a week. Short term parking starts at €1.50 for the first 15 minutes or €3 for the first 60 minutes. The daily rate is €20.
Cork Airport - Aerfort Chorcaí
Location: The airport is located at Farmers Cross, four miles (6.5km) south of Cork city.
Time: GMT (GMT +1 between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October).
Contacts: Tel: +353 (0)21 431 3131.
Getting to the city: There are city buses that depart from the airport to the city centre as well as to Parnell Place Bus Station and Kent Railway Station. There are also taxis and rental cars available at the airport, and it takes about 25 minutes to reach the city centre.
Car rental: Car rental companies operating from the airport include Avis, Budget, Hertz, Europcar, Dooley Car Rentals, and Enterprise.
Airport Taxis: There are taxis available outside the airport arrivals hall and the fare to the centre of Cork is about €20.
Facilities: There are ATMs, a bank and bureau de change, as well as a VIP lounge. There are a number of dining and bar options available at the airport.
Parking: There is short and long-term parking available in multi-level car parks. The long-term lots are serviced by a free shuttle to the terminal.
Ireland is notorious for experiencing cold, damp weather for much of the time. This is due to its temperate climate, but is compensated for by its delightful green countryside. It is, however, possible to enjoy some warm, sunny and dry days during the pleasant summer months between May and September, and those who travel to Ireland in winter will find that the weather is far less severe than in the UK. Summer (May to September) is the warmest and driest season and is the best time to visit Ireland, though attractions can get crowded in July and August. Winter is characterised by short, wet, foggy days and long nights, but the temperature rarely gets below freezing due to the tempering Gulf Stream winds that buffet the west coast of Ireland. Some attractions are only open in summer but many tourists visit Ireland in the off-season when accommodation is cheaper; just be prepared for a lot of mist and rain. Spring and autumn can also be very pleasant times to visit. The southeast is the driest region of Ireland, enjoying more sunny days than the rest of the country. It seldom snows in Ireland.
Irish Tourist Office, Dublin: +353 (0)1 605 7732 or
United States Embassy, Dublin: +353 (0)1 668 8777.
British Embassy, Dublin: +353 (0)1 205 3700.
Canadian Embassy, Dublin: +353 (0)1 234 4000.
Australian Embassy, Dublin: +353 (0)1 664 5300.
South African Embassy, Dublin: +353 (0)1 661 5553.
New Zealand High Commission, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 (0)20 7930 8422.
Irish Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 462
Foreign Embassies in Ireland
Irish Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7235 2171.
Irish Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 233 6281.
Irish Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6214 0000.
Irish Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 452 1000.
Consulate-General of Ireland, Auckland, New Zealand: +64 (0)9 977 2252.
Ireland Emergency Numbers
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