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Lonely Planet Ireland

Lonely Planet Ireland

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Lonely Planet Ireland

4/5 (44 оценки)
2,053 pages
21 hours
Mar 1, 2020


Lonely Planet: The world's number one travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet's Ireland is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Sample Guinness in Dublin, wander wild Connemara and take in traditional music - all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Ireland and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet's Ireland:

  • NEW pull-out, passport-size 'Just Landed' card with wi-fi, ATM and transport info - all you need for a smooth journey from airport to hotel
  • Improved planning tools for family travellers - where to go, how to save money, plus fun stuff just for kids
  • What's New feature taps into cultural trends and helps you find fresh ideas and cool new areas our writers have uncovered
  • NEW Accommodation feature gathers all the information you need to plan your accommodation
  • NEW Where to Stay in Dublin map is your at-a-glance guide to accommodation options in each neighbourhood
  • Colour maps and images throughout
  • Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests
  • Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots
  • Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, people, music, landscapes, wildlife, cuisine, politics
  • Covers Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare, Wexford, Waterford, Carlow, Kilkenny, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Donegal, Belfast, Armagh, Londonderry, Antrim, Fermanagh, Tyrone, and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet's Ireland is our most comprehensive guide to Ireland, and is perfect for discovering both popular and off-the-beaten-path experiences.

About Lonely Planet: Lonely Planet is a leading travel media company and the world's number one travel guidebook brand, providing both inspiring and trustworthy information for every kind of traveller since 1973.

'Lonely Planet guides are, quite simply, like no other.' - New York Times

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eBook Features: (Best viewed on tablet devices and smartphones)

  • Downloadable PDF and offline maps prevent roaming and data charges
  • Effortlessly navigate and jump between maps and reviews
  • Add notes to personalise your guidebook experience
  • Seamlessly flip between pages
  • Bookmarks and speedy search capabilities get you to key pages in a flash
  • Embedded links to recommendations' websites
  • Zoom-in maps and images
  • Inbuilt dictionary for quick referencing

Important Notice: The digital edition of this book may not contain all of the images found in the physical edition.

Mar 1, 2020

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Lonely Planet has gone on to become the world’s most successful travel publisher, printing over 100 million books. The guides are printed in nine different languages; English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and Korean. Lonely Planet enables curious travellers to experience the world and get to the heart of a place via guidebooks and eBooks to almost every destination on the planet, an award-winning website and magazine, a range of mobile and digital travel products and a dedicated traveller community.

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Lonely Planet Ireland - Lonely Planet



Plan Your Trip

Welcome to Ireland

Ireland’s Top 21

Need to Know

First Time Ireland

What’s New


If You Like…

Month by Month


The Great Outdoors

Eat & Drink Like a Local

Family Travel

Wild Atlantic Way

Regions at a Glance

On The Road





Festivals & Events



Drinking & Nightlife



Around Dublin




Counties Wicklow & Kildare

County Wicklow

Wicklow Mountains

Eastern Wicklow

Western Wicklow

County Kildare

Kildare Town

The Curragh


Ballitore to Castledermot

Counties Wexford, Waterford, Carlow & Kilkenny

County Wexford

Wexford Town & Around

Rosslare Harbour

South of Rosslare Harbour

Kilmore Quay

Hook Peninsula

New Ross & Around


County Waterford

Waterford City

Dunmore East


The Copper Coast


Ring Peninsula


Cappoquin & Around


Northern County Waterford

County Carlow

Carlow Town

Around Carlow Town

Borris & Around

St Mullins


County Kilkenny

Kilkenny City

Kells & Around

Bennettsbridge & Around

Thomastown & Around



County Cork

Cork City

Around Cork City

Blarney Castle

Fota Island


Midleton & Around


Kinsale to Cape Clear



Glandore & Union Hall



Cape Clear Island

Mizen Head Peninsula


Mizen Head

Sheep’s Head Peninsula


Beara Peninsula


Glengarriff to Castletownbere

Castletownbere & Around

Dursey Island

Northside of the Beara

County Kerry


Around Killarney


Killarney National Park

Gap of Dunloe

Macgillycuddy’s Reeks

Moll’s Gap

Ring of Kerry



Valentia Island


Skellig Ring





Dingle Peninsula

Inch Strand & Annascaul

Dingle Town

Slea Head Drive

Blasket Islands

Cloghane & Around

Castlegregory & Around

Northern Kerry

Tralee & Around



Ring of Kerry

Counties Limerick & Tipperary

County Limerick

Limerick City

Adare & Around

Lough Gur

Kilmallock & Around

County Tipperary

Tipperary Town

Glen of Aherlow & Galtee Mountains


Around Cashel


Mitchelstown Cave

Clonmel & Around


Nenagh & Around

County Clare


Around Ennis

Dysert O’Dea

Dromore Wood



Eastern & Southeastern Clare

Shannon Airport


Killaloe & Ballina


Southwestern & Western Clare


Loop Head Peninsula


Kilkee to Ennistimon


Liscannor & Around

Cliffs of Moher

The Burren




Corofin & Around

Central Burren


Northern Burren

County Galway

Galway City

Aran Islands





Oughterard & Around

Lough Inagh Valley & Around


Clifden & Around



Letterfrack & Around

Leenane & Killary Harbour

Eastern Galway



Gort & Around

Aran Islands Scenery

Counties Mayo & Sligo

County Mayo


Doolough Valley

Clare Island

Inishturk Island

Croagh Patrick



Achill Island

Bangor Erris

Ballycroy National Park

Mullet Peninsula

Ballycastle & Around

Killala & Around



Castlebar & Around


County Sligo

Sligo Town

Around Sligo Town

South of Sligo Town

Lough Gill & Around

North of Sligo Town

County Donegal

Donegal Town

Around Donegal Town

Lough Eske




Southwestern Donegal




Kilcar, Teelin & Carrick


Maghera Strand & Glengesh Pass


Loughrea Peninsula


Northwestern Donegal


Burtonport & Around

Arranmore Island

Gweedore & Around

Dunlewey & Around

Falcarragh & Gortahork

Dunfanaghy & Around

Tory Island

Central Donegal


Glenveagh National Park

Lough Gartan

Northeastern Donegal

Rosguill Peninsula

Fanad Peninsula

Inishowen Peninsula

The Midlands

County Leitrim


North Leitrim

County Roscommon

Roscommon Town

Strokestown & Around

Boyle & Around

County Longford

County Westmeath

Athlone & Around

Lough Ree & Around


Mullingar & Around

North of Mullingar

County Offaly



Banagher & Around




County Laois



Slieve Bloom Mountains



Portlaoise & Around

Counties Meath, Louth, Cavan & Monaghan

County Meath

Brú na Bóinne

Battle of the Boyne Site



Dunsany Castle



Loughcrew Cairns

County Louth


Around Drogheda


Cooley Peninsula

County Cavan

Cavan Town

Killykeen Forest Park & Lough Oughter


Ballyjamesduff & Around

Eastern Cavan

Northwestern Cavan

Blacklion & Around

County Monaghan

Monaghan Town

Carrickmacross & Around






Festivals & Events



Drinking & Nightlife



Belfast Murals

Counties Down & Armagh

County Down


Ards Peninsula

Newtownards & Around

West Side of Strangford Lough



Lecale Peninsula


Dundrum & Around

Mourne Mountains

Mourne Coast Road


Hillsborough & Around

County Armagh

Armagh City

Navan Fort

Lough Neagh

Ring of Gullion

Counties Londonderry & Antrim

County Londonderry

Derry (Londonderry)


Magilligan Point



County Antrim


Dunluce Castle


Giant’s Causeway

Ballintoy & Around

Ballycastle & Around

Rathlin Island

Glens of Antrim



Antrim Town

Ballymena & Around

Causeway Coast

Counties Fermanagh & Tyrone

County Fermanagh

Enniskillen & Around

Upper Lough Erne

Lower Lough Erne

West of Lough Erne

County Tyrone


Ulster American Folk Park

Sperrin Mountains

East Tyrone



The Irish Way of Life


Literary Ireland

Irish Landscapes

Sporting Ireland

Survival Guide

Directory A-Z

Accessible Travel



Customs Regulations


Embassies & Consulates




Internet Access

Legal Matters


Opening Hours


Public Holidays

Safe Travel




Tourist Information



Women Travellers



Getting There & Away

Entering the Country




Getting Around





Car & Motorcycle


Local Transport



Behind the Scenes

Our Writers

Welcome to Ireland

Ireland, a small island with a memorable punch, has breathtaking landscapes and friendly, welcoming people, that will leave visitors floored but looking for more.

Ireland of the Postcard

Everything you’ve heard is true: Ireland is a stunner. The locals need little prodding to proclaim theirs the most beautiful land in the world, and can support their claim with many examples. Everyone will argue over the must-sees, but you can’t go wrong if you put the brooding loneliness of Connemara, the dramatic wildness of Donegal, the majestic mountains of Mourne, the world-famous scenery of counties Kerry and Cork, and the celebrated Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland on your to-visit list.

Tread Softly…

History is everywhere, from the breathtaking monuments of prehistoric Ireland at Brú na Bóinne, Slea Head in Kerry and Carrowmore in Sligo, to the fabulous ruins of Ireland’s rich monastic past at Glendalough, Clonmacnoise and Cashel. More recent history is visible in the Titanic Experience in Cobh and the forbidding Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin. And there’s history so young that it’s still considered the present, best experienced on a black-taxi tour of West Belfast or an examination of Derry’s colourful political murals.

A Cultural Well

It’s become almost trite to declare that Ireland operates a cultural surplus. Its main strengths are literature and music, where Ireland has long punched above its weight, but it is well represented in most other fields, too. Wherever you go you will discover an abundance of cultural expression. You can attend a play by a literary great in Dublin, toe-tap your way through a traditional-music session in a west-of-Ireland pub, or get your EDM on at a club in Belfast. The Irish summer is awash with festivals celebrating everything from flowers in bloom to high literature.

Tá Fáilte Romhat

On the plane and along your travels you might hear it said: tá Fáilte romhat (taw fall-cha row-at) – you’re very welcome. Or, more famously, céad míle fáilte (kade meela fall-cha) – a hundred thousand welcomes. Irish friendliness is an oversimplification of a character that is infinitely complex, but the Irish are nonetheless genuinely warm and welcoming, and there are few more enjoyable ways of gaining a greater understanding of the island’s inhabitants than a chat with a local.


Why I Love Ireland

By Fionn Davenport, Writer

I have always cherished Ireland’s unvarnished informality, whose primary measure is friendliness. It’s the casual encounters that spark conversation; the unprompted offers of assistance to those who appear lost or in need of help; the warm welcome that most visitors are greeted with. Whether you’re north or south, in Dublin or in the deepest countryside, Irish informality dictates that your comfort trumps other social conventions. Cross an Irish hearth and straight away you’ll most likely be offered tea…or something stronger. Don’t even think about refusing.

For more, see Our Writers

Ireland’s Top 21


Ireland’s capital and largest city by some stretch is the main gateway into the country, and it has enough distractions to keep visitors engaged for at least a few days. From world-class museums and entertainment, to superb dining and top-grade hotels, Dublin has all the baubles of a major international metropolis. But the real clinchers are the Dubliners themselves, who are friendlier, more easygoing and more welcoming than the burghers of virtually any other European capital. And it’s the home of Guinness.


Top Experiences

Dingle, County Kerry

Dingle is the quintessential Irish town in all its colourful beauty. Sharing its name with the picturesque, ruin-strewn peninsula jutting into the Atlantic from County Kerry, Dingle is a delight: fishing boats unload fish and shellfish that couldn’t be any fresher if you caught it yourself, many pubs are untouched since their earlier incarnations as old-fashioned shops, artists sell their creations (including beautiful jewellery with Irish designs) at intriguing boutiques, and toe-tapping trad sessions take place around roaring pub fires.


Top Experiences

Connemara, County Galway

A filigreed coast of tiny coves and beaches is the Connemara Peninsula’s beautiful border with the wild waters of the Atlantic. Characterful roads lead you from one village to another, each with trad pubs and restaurants serving seafood chowder cooked from recipes that are family secrets. Inland the scenic drama is even greater. In fantastically desolate valleys, green hills, yellow wildflowers and wild streams reflecting the blue sky provide elemental beauty. Rambles take you far from other people, and back to a simpler time.


Top Experiences

Causeway Coast

County Antrim’s Causeway Coast is an especially dramatic backdrop for Game of Thrones filming locations. Put on your walking boots by the swaying Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, then follow the rugged coastline for 16.5 spectacular kilometres, passing Ballintoy Harbour (aka the Iron Islands’ Lordsports Harbour) and the geological wonder of the Giant’s Causeway with its outsized basalt columns, as well as cliffs and islands, sandy beaches and ruined castles, before finishing with a dram at the Old Bushmills Distillery.


Top Experiences

Wild Atlantic Way

Depending on what direction you travel, the craggy, crenellated Donegal coastline is either the dramatic finale of the Wild Atlantic Way or its breathtaking beginning. Ireland’s northwestern corner is an untamed collection of soaring cliffs (the tallest in Europe), lonely, sheep-speckled headlands and, between them, secluded coves and long stretches of white, powdery sand. Among them, in the county’s southwest, is Rossnowlagh, one of Europe’s premier surf beaches and a hotspot for big-wave surfers.


Top Experiences

The Pub

Every town and hamlet has at least one: no matter where you go, you’ll find that the social heart of the country beats loudest in the pubs, which are still the best places to discover what makes Ireland tick. In suitable surroundings – whether a traditional pub such as John Benny’s in Dingle with flagstone floors and live music, or a more modern bar – take a moment or an evening to listen for that beating heart…and drink some decent beer in the process.


Top Experiences

Ring of Kerry

Driving around the Ring of Kerry is an unforgettable experience in itself, but you don’t need to limit yourself to the main route. Along this 179km loop around the Iveragh Peninsula, there are countless opportunities for detours. From near Killorglin it’s a short hop up to the beautiful, little-known Cromane Peninsula. Between Portmagee and Waterville, you can explore the Skellig Ring, while the peninsula’s interior offers mesmerising mountain views. And that’s just for starters. Wherever your travels take you, remember to charge your camera batteries!

Valentia Island | CEZZAR1981/GETTY IMAGES ©

Top Experiences

Galway City

One word to describe Galway city? Craic! Ireland’s liveliest city literally hums through the night at music-filled pubs where you can hear three old guys playing spoons and fiddles, or a hot young band. Join the locals as they bounce from place to place, never knowing what fun lies ahead but certain of the possibility. Add in local bounty such as the famous oysters and nearby adventure on the Connemara Peninsula and the Aran Islands, and the fun never ends.


Top Experiences

Traditional Music

Western Europe’s most vibrant folk music is Irish traditional music, which may have earned worldwide fame thanks to the likes of Riverdance but is best expressed in a ‘trad session’ – a loosely organised performance in an old-fashioned pub. The west of Ireland is particularly musical: from Donegal down to Kerry there are centres of musical excellence, none more so than Doolin in County Clare, the unofficial capital of Irish music, where you’ll find pubs and ‘music houses’ – private dwellings known for their sessions and open to the public.


Top Experiences

Glendalough, County Wicklow

St Kevin knew a thing or two about magical locations. When he chose a remote cave on a glacial lake nestled at the base of a forested valley as his monastic retreat, he inadvertently founded a settlement that would later become one of Ireland’s most dynamic universities and, in our time, one of the country’s most beautiful ruined sites. The remains of the settlement (including an intact round tower,), coupled with the stunning scenery, are unforgettable.


Top Experiences

Walking & Hiking

Yes, you can visit the country easily enough by car, but Ireland is best explored on foot, whether you opt for a gentle afternoon stroll along a canal towpath or take on the challenge of any of the 43 waymarked long-distance routes. There are mountain hikes and coastal walks, such as the Causeway Coast Way, and you can explore villages along the way or steer clear of civilisation by traipsing along lonely moorland and across barren bogs. All you’ll need is a decent pair of boots and, inevitably, a rain jacket.


Top Experiences

Titanic Belfast

The construction of the world’s most famous ocean liner is celebrated in high-tech, multimedia glory at this wonderful museum. Not only can you explore every detail of the Titanic’s construction, including a simulated ‘fly-through’ of the ship from keel to bridge, but you can place yourself in the middle of the industrial bustle that was Belfast’s shipyards at the turn of the 20th century. The experience is heightened by the use of photography, audio and – perhaps most poignantly – the only footage of the actual Titanic still in existence.


Top Experiences

Clare Coast

Bathed in the golden glow of the late-afternoon sun, the iconic Cliffs of Moher are but one of the splendours of County Clare. From a boat bobbing below, the towering stone faces have a jaw-dropping dramatic beauty that’s enlivened by scores of seabirds, including cute little puffins. Down south in Loop Head, pillars of rock towering above the sea have abandoned stone cottages, the existence of which is inexplicable. All along the coast are charming villages such as trad-session-filled Ennistymon and the surfer destination of Lahinch.


Top Experiences

A Gaelic Football or Hurling Match

It depends on whether you’re in a football or hurling stronghold (some, such as County Cork, are both), but attending a match of the county’s chosen sport is not just a unique Irish experience but also a key to unlocking local passions and understanding one of the cultural pillars of Ireland. Whether you attend a club football match in Galway, an intercounty hurling battle between old foes such as Kilkenny and Tipperary, or an All-Ireland final at Croke Park, you cannot help but be swept up in the emotion of it all.


Top Experiences

Kilkenny City

From its regal castle to its soaring medieval cathedral, Kilkenny exudes a permanence and culture that have made it an unmissable stop on journeys to the south and west. Its namesake county boasts scores of artisans and craftspeople and you can browse their wares at Kilkenny’s classy shops and boutiques. Chefs eschew Dublin in order to be close to the source of Kilkenny’s wonderful produce, and you can enjoy the local brewery’s beers at scores of delightful pubs.


Top Experiences

Brú na Bóinne, County Meath

Looking at once ancient and yet eerily futuristic, Newgrange’s immense, round, white stone walls topped by a grass dome are one of the most extraordinary sights you’ll ever see. Part of the vast Neolithic necropolis Brú na Bóinne (the Boyne Palace), it contains Ireland’s finest Stone Age passage tomb, predating Egypt’s pyramids by some six centuries. Most extraordinary of all is the tomb’s precise alignment with the sun at the time of the winter solstice.


Top Experiences

Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary

Soaring up from the green Tipperary pastures, this ancient fortress takes your breath away at first sight. The seat of kings and churchmen who ruled over the region for more than 1000 years, it rivalled Tara as a centre of power in Ireland for 400 years. Entered through the 15th-century Hall of the Vicars Choral, its impervious walls guard an awesome enclosure with a complete round tower, a 13th-century Gothic cathedral and the most magnificent 12th-century Romanesque chapel in Ireland.


Top Experiences

Links Golf

If Scotland is the home of golf, then Ireland is where it goes on holiday. The best spots are along the sea, where the country’s collection of seaside links are dotted in a steady string along virtually the entire Irish coastline, each carved into the undulating, marram-grass-covered landscapes. Some of the world’s best-known courses, including 2019 Open host Royal Portrush, share spectacular scenery with lesser-known gems, and each offers golfers the opportunity to test their skills against the raw materials provided by Mother Nature.


Top Experiences

Cork City

The Republic’s second city is second only in terms of size – in every other respect it will bear no competition. A tidy, compact city centre is home to an enticing collection of art galleries, museums and – most particularly – places to eat. From cheap cafes to top-end gourmet restaurants, Cork excels, which is hardly a surprise given the county’s exceptional foodie reputation. At the heart of it is the simply wonderful English Market, a covered produce market that is an attraction unto itself.


Top Experiences


History runs deep in Northern Ireland’s second city. The symbols of the country’s sectarian past are evident, from the 17th-century city walls built to protect Protestant settlers, to the latter forcing the adoption of its Loyalist name, Londonderry. Explore its tormented past by walking the walls, visiting the Bogside and the famous murals that tell the tale of resistance and defiance, before losing yourself in Derry’s superb live-music scene and terrific nightlife. You’re almost certainly guaranteed a memorable night out.


Top Experiences

Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery, County Sligo

One of Europe’s most significant megalithic monuments, the collection of stone circles, passage tombs and dolmens at Carrowmore is rich in superlatives: the oldest Stone Age monument in Ireland, and one of the largest cemeteries of its kind in Europe. Archaeologists continue to excavate new monuments and piece together clues as to the site’s deeper meaning and connection to the world around it.


Need to Know (ROI)

For more information, see Survival Guide


Euro (€)


English, Irish


Not required by most citizens of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada.


Credit and debit cards are widely accepted.

Mobile Phones

All European and Australasian phones work in Ireland, as do North American phones not locked to a local network. Check with your provider. Prepaid SIM cards cost from €10.


Western European Time (GMT/UTC November to March; plus one hour April to October).

When to Go

High Season (Jun–mid-Sep)

A Weather at its best.

A Accommodation rates at their highest (especially in August).

A Tourist peak in Dublin, Kerry and southern and western coasts.

Shoulder (Easter–May, mid-Sep–Oct)

A Weather often good: sun and rain in May, often-warm ‘Indian summers’ in September.

A Summer crowds and accommodation rates drop off.

Low Season (Nov–Easter)

A Reduced opening hours from October to Easter; some destinations close.

A Cold and wet weather throughout the country; fog can reduce visibility.

A Big city attractions operate as normal.

Useful Websites

Entertainment Ireland (www.entertainment.ie) Countrywide listings for every kind of entertainment.

Failte Ireland (www.discoverireland.ie) Official tourist-board website – practical info and a huge accommodation database.

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/ireland) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.

Important Numbers

Include area codes only when dialling from outside the area or from a mobile phone. Drop the initial 0 when dialling from abroad.

Exchange Rates

The Republic of Ireland uses the euro.

For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.

Daily Costs

Budget: Less than €80

A Dorm bed: €14–25

A Cheap meal in cafe or pub: €10–18

A Intercity bus travel (200km trip): €14–25

A Pint of beer: €5–6.50 (more expensive in cities)

Midrange: €80–180

A Double room in hotel or B&B: €100–180 (more expensive in Dublin)

A Main course in midrange restaurant: €17–30

A Car rental (per day): from €32

A Three-hour train journey: €60

Top end: More than €180

A Four-star-hotel stay: from €200

A Three-course meal in good restaurant: around €70

A Top round of golf (midweek): from €100

Opening Hours

Banks 10am–4pm Monday to Friday (to 5pm Thursday)

Pubs 10.30am–11.30pm Monday to Thursday, 10.30am–12.30am Friday and Saturday, noon–11pm Sunday (30 minutes ‘drinking up’ time allowed); closed Christmas Day and Good Friday

Restaurants noon–10.30pm; many close one day of the week

Shops 9.30am–6pm Monday to Saturday (to 8pm Thursday in cities), noon–6pm Sunday

Arriving in Ireland

Dublin Airport Private coaches run every 10 to 15 minutes to the city centre (€6). Taxis take 30 to 45 minutes and cost €20 to €25.

Dublin Port Terminal Buses are timed to coincide with arrivals and departures; they cost €3.50 to the city centre.

Belfast International Airport Airport Express 300 bus runs hourly from Belfast International Airport (one way/return £8/11.50, 30 to 55 minutes). A taxi costs around £30.

George Best Belfast City Airport Airport Express 600 bus runs every 20 minutes from George Best Belfast City Airport (one way/return £2.60/4, 15 minutes). A taxi costs around £10.

Getting Around

Transport in Ireland is efficient and reasonably priced to and from major urban centres; smaller towns and villages along those routes are well served. Service to destinations not on major routes is less frequent and often impractical.

Car The most convenient way to explore Ireland’s every nook and cranny. Cars can be hired in every major town and city. Drive on the left.

Bus The extensive network of public and private buses is the most cost-effective way to get around. There’s service to and from most inhabited areas.

Bicycle Dublin operates a bike-share scheme with more than 100 stations spread throughout the city.

Train A limited (and expensive) network links Dublin to all major urban centres, including Belfast in Northern Ireland.

For much more, see Getting Around

Need to Know (NI)

For more information, see Survival Guide


Pound sterling (£)


English, Irish


Generally not needed for stays of up to six months. The UK is not a member of the Schengen Area.


ATMs widely available. Credit cards accepted in most hotels and restaurants.

Mobile Phones

International roaming charges can be high, and you’ll probably find it cheaper to get a UK number. This is easily done by buying a pay-as-you-go SIM card (from £5 including calling credit) and sticking it in your phone.


Western European Time (UTC/GMT November to March; plus one hour April to October)

When to Go

High Season (May–Aug)

A June is the best time to spot puffins nesting at the Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre.

A Warm weather makes July the best month for hiking in the Mournes and Sperrins.

Shoulder (Mar–Apr, Sept–Oct)

A April can be a great time to visit Belfast, with spring flowers blooming throughout the city’s parks and gardens.

A The Belfast International Arts Festival brings three weeks of theatre, music, dance and talks.

Low Season (Nov–Feb)

A Experience popular attractions such as Titanic Belfast and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge without the crowds.

A Outside is chilly, but you can enjoy the warmth in snug pubs across the north.

Useful Websites

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/ireland/northernireland) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.

Culture Northern Ireland (www.culturenorthernireland.org) Entertainment news, reviews and listings.

Translink (www.translink.co.uk) Public transport information.

Northern Ireland Tourist Board (www.nitb.com) Official tourist site.

Important Numbers

All Northern Ireland landline numbers begin with 028, which you can omit when calling from another local landline. Drop the initial ‘0’ if you’re calling from abroad.

Exchange Rates

For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.

Daily Costs

Budget: Less than £55

A Dorm beds: £18–25

A Cheap meals in cafes and pubs: £7–11

A Bus or train ticket: £3–12

Midrange: £55–120

A Double room in midrange hotel or B&B: £50–120

A Main course in midrange restaurant: £15–28

A Admission to museums: £7–17

Top end: More than £120

A Four-star-hotel room: from £130

A Three-course meal in a good restaurant: around £40

A Car rental per day: from £35

Opening Hours

Opening hours may vary throughout the year, especially in rural areas, where many places have shorter hours or close completely from October or November to March or April.

Banks 9.30am–4pm Monday to Friday; some 9.30am–1pm Saturday

Cafes 8.30am–5pm

Pubs & Bars noon–11pm Monday to Saturday (many to midnight or 1am Friday and Saturday), and noon–11pm Sunday

Restaurants noon–2.30pm and 6–9pm

Shops 9am–5.30pm Monday to Saturday and often 1–6pm Sunday

Arriving in Northern Ireland

Belfast International Airport Airport Express 300 bus runs to the Europa Bus Centre (one way/return £8/11, 30 to 55 minutes). A taxi costs about £30.

George Best Belfast City Airport Airport Express 600 bus runs to the Europa Bus Centre (one way/return £2.60/4, 15 minutes). A taxi fare to the city centre is about £10.

Victoria Ferry Terminal (Belfast) Bus 96 runs from Upper Queen St (£2, 20 minutes). A taxi costs about £10.

Larne ferry terminal Located 37km north of Belfast; trains connect the terminal at Larne Harbour with Belfast’s Great Victoria St station (£7.70, one hour).

Getting Around

Car The easiest way to get around Northern Ireland is by car; roads are good and traffic is rarely a problem (although avoid routes in and around Belfast at rush hour).

Bus Buses serve urban areas and connect the province’s main towns and cities, with less frequent services to most (but not all) rural villages.

Train Some towns are linked to Belfast by train.

For much more, see Getting Around

First Time Ireland

For more information, see Survival Guide


A Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months past your arrival date

A Make all necessary bookings (accommodation, events and travel)

A Check the airline baggage restrictions

A Inform your debit-/credit-card company

A Arrange appropriate travel insurance

A Check if your mobile phone is compatible

What to Pack

A Good walking shoes, as there’s plenty of walking to do

A Raincoat – you will undoubtedly need it

A UK/Ireland electrical adapter

A Finely honed sense of humour

A A hollow leg – all that beer has to go somewhere

A Irish-themed Spotify playlist

Top Tips for Your Trip

A Quality rather than quantity should be your goal: instead of a hair-raising race to see everything, pick a handful of destinations and give yourself time to linger. The most memorable experiences in Ireland are often the ones where you’re doing very little at all.

A If you’re driving get off the main roads when you can: some of Ireland’s most stunning scenery is best enjoyed on secondary or tertiary roads that wind their narrow way through standout photo ops.

A Make the effort to greet the locals: the best experiences are to be had courtesy of the Irish themselves, whose helpfulness, friendliness and sense of fun has not been exaggerated.

What to Wear

You can wear pretty much whatever you want: smart casual is the most you’ll need for fancy dinners, the theatre or the concert hall. Irish summers are warm but rarely hot, so you’ll want something extra when the temperatures cool, especially in the evening. Ultimately the ever-changeable weather will determine your outfits, but a light waterproof jacket should never be beyond reach for the almost-inevitable rain.


From basic hostels to five-star hotels, you’ll find every kind of accommodation in Ireland. Advance bookings are generally recommended and are an absolute necessity during the July–August holiday period.

Hotels From chain hotels with comfortable digs to Norman castles with rainfall showers and wi-fi – with prices to match.

B&Bs From a bedroom in a private home to a luxurious Georgian townhouse, the ubiquitous B&B is the bedrock of Irish accommodation.

Hostels Every major town and city has a selection of hostels, with clean dorms and wi-fi – some have laundry and kitchen facilities.


ATMs are found pretty much everywhere. They’re all linked to the main international money systems, allowing you to withdraw money with your own card, but be sure to check with your bank before you travel.

Credit and debit cards can be used almost everywhere except for some rural B&Bs that only accept cash. Make sure bars or restaurants will accept cards before you order. The most popular are Visa and MasterCard; American Express is only accepted by the major chains, and virtually no one will accept Diners or JCB. Chip-and-PIN is the norm for card transactions – only a few places will accept a signature.

The Republic of Ireland uses the euro (€). Northern Ireland uses the pound sterling (£), though the euro is also accepted in many places.


Ireland doesn’t do bargaining.


Hotels A tip of €1/£1 per bag is standard; tip cleaning staff at your discretion.

Pubs Not expected unless table service is provided, then €1/£1 for a round of drinks.

Restaurants For decent service 10%; up to 15% in more expensive places.

Taxis Tip 10% or round up fare to nearest euro/pound.

Toilet attendants Loose change; no more than 50c/50p.



Although largely informal in their everyday dealings, the Irish do observe some (unspoken) rules of etiquette.

Greetings Shake hands when meeting for the first time and when saying goodbye. The Irish expect a firm handshake with eye contact.

Conversation Generally friendly but often reserved, the Irish avoid conversations that might embarrass. They are very mistrustful of ‘oversharers’. Not surprisingly politics and religion can be touchy topics in Northern Ireland: take your lead from locals and don’t make any assumptions or assertions.

Round System The Irish generally take it in turns to buy a round of drinks for the whole group and everyone is expected to take part. The next round should be bought before the previous round is drunk.


Booking ahead is recommended in cities and larger towns; same-day reservations are usually fine except for top-end restaurants – book those two weeks in advance.

Restaurants From cheap eats to Michelin-starred feasts, covering every imaginable cuisine.

Cafes Open during the daytime (rarely at night), cafes are good for all-day breakfasts, sandwiches and basic lunches.

Pubs Pub grub ranges from toasted sandwiches to carefully crafted dishes as good as any you’ll find in a restaurant.

Hotels All hotel restaurants accept nonguests. They’re a popular option in rural Ireland.

What’s New

Ireland has rediscovered the mojo that made it such a dynamic economic force in the 1990s. The tourist trade is booming and, in the Republic at least, the forces of liberalism continue to win battles against conservative traditionalism. Meanwhile, the spectre of Brexit casts a shadow over everything.

The Tourism Boom

The year 2018 was a bumper one for Irish tourism, with a record 11.2 million visitors to the island. To meet the growing demand, dozens of new hotels are being added to the country’s stock – at the end of 2018, 21 hotels were under construction across the country (70% more than at the same time in 2017), with at least another 20 to be built by 2020.

More hotels won’t necessarily mean lower prices, however, as the government has raised value added tax (VAT) on the hospitality industry back to 13.5% – up from the 9.5% lifeboat thrown in 2011 to help the sector weather the effects of the global financial crisis. Many hoteliers and restaurateurs have responded negatively, arguing that the rise puts pressure on operators’ margins already stretched by rising wage and rent costs.

What is almost certain is that the VAT hike will be passed on to the consumer. Many cafes and restaurants have already raised their prices, while hotel and B&B owners will be forced to mitigate what is effectively a 50% increase in their VAT bill by bumping up their room rates even more than the standard rate of year-on-year inflation.


Ireland’s city skylines are once again dotted with cranes, just one of the more visible signs of the renewal that’s continued apace over the last several years. New hotels are opening along with so many new cafes and restaurants that it’s almost impossible to keep count, while the country’s infrastructure is once again being improved after nearly a decade of stagnation.

But politics is the subject that casts a long shadow over many coffee-shop conversations, notably the looming spectre of Brexit (the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union) and the fate of the ‘Irish backstop’, an insurance policy designed to ensure that the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland – the only land border between a post-Brexit UK and the EU – remains open as per the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, irrespective of the future relationship with the United Kingdom. Whatever the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, the backstop will be part of it until a solution to the border question can be found.

New Distilleries

The number of operational distilleries in Ireland has grown from just four in 2013 to 25 and counting as of mid-2019 (and there’s another two dozen planned or already in development). Whiskey must be aged in the barrel for at least three years before it can be legally sold as Irish whiskey, so many distilleries have been turning out craft gin while they wait for the whiskey to mature – there are more than 30 Irish gin brands to choose from.

Typical of this new wave is the state-of-the-art Clonakilty Distillery in West Cork. It opened in 2019, and produces gin infused with local rock samphire, as well as a triple-distilled single-pot still Irish whiskey made with grain grown on the owners’ family farm nearby.

In Dublin, several new distilleries have opened up in the city’s very own whiskey quarter, the Liberties. Teeling Distillery were the trailblazers, but have been followed by the Pearse Lyons Distillery, the Dublin Liberties Distillery and Roe & Co.

Sea-Inspired Food Tours

Ireland has cottoned on to the popularity of food tours, with a slew of new (and often unusual) offerings all around the island. The fad for wild food gets its feet wet on the Ring of Kerry, where new outfit Atlantic Irish Seaweed offers guided beach foraging for edible seaweed, followed by a tasting session of seaweed-based dishes and drinks. And a new factory tour on Achill Island, off the west coast, explains exactly how sea salt drawn from the waters around the island becomes the salt with which you might flavour your food. Plenty of samplings included.

Belfast’s Asian Fusion Scene

There are a bunch of excellent new Asian/Asian-fusion restaurants in Belfast, notably Bia, Jumon and Yügo, an excellent new restaurant where Asian dishes are given an Irish twist.

14 Henrietta Street

Dublin’s most complete Georgian street is home to this refurbished townhouse. It is now a museum showcasing the history of the dwelling, from its construction in the 1740s as an elegant family home to its dereliction in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Gobbins

Rockfalls and slips delayed its full opening, but this spectacular guided cliff walk on Islandmagee is finally complete, and you can now fully enjoy its collection of tubular bridges, rocky surfaces, tunnels, caves and narrow crevices.

Mayo Dark Sky Festival

A three-day festival focused on the celestial displays in Mayo’s International Dark Sky Park. As well as stargazing there are talks, walks and workshops in Newport, Mulranny and Ballycroy.

Creative Hub, Wexford Town

In 2018 a brand new arts centre was established in an abandoned 20th-century mall; the shops are now full of artists, craftspeople and local musicians making (and selling) their work.


For inspiration and up-to-date news, visit www.lonelyplanet.com/ireland/travel-tips-and-articles.

Insta @lonelyplanet Inspiring images from our writers on the road.

Insta @chrishillphotographer Stunning landscapes from one of Ireland’s leading photographers.

All the Food (www.allthefood.ie) Top Dublin food blog.

Life of Stuff (www.thelifeofstuff.com) Irish travel, culture and lifestyle blog.

Irish History Podcast (irishhistorypodcast.ie) A fascinating look at Ireland’s past.


Food Trend Foraging and food tours

Mobile Phones 98 per 100 people

Language in the Republic, 1.7m people claim to be able to speak Irish Gaelic, but only 73,800 say they speak it every day.

Pop Republic of Ireland: 4,840,508; Northern Ireland: 1,810,863


Find more accommodation reviews throughout the On the Road chapters

Accommodation Types

Hotels From chain hotels with comfortable digs to Norman castles with rainfall showers and wi-fi – with prices to match.

B&Bs From a bedroom in a private home to a luxurious Georgian townhouse, the ubiquitous B&B is the bedrock of Irish accommodation.

Hostels Every major town and city has a selection of hostels, with clean dorms and wi-fi – some have laundry and kitchen facilities.

Camping Campsites range from rustic farm-based retreats in rural areas, to bustling, family-oriented places in seaside resorts.

Horse-Drawn Caravan Get back to nature by hiring a traditional horse-drawn caravan to explore the rural backroads of the country.

Canal Barge An unhurried way to see the countryside involves renting a barge on one of Ireland’s canal systems.

Rental Accommodation Self-catering accommodation is often rented on a weekly basis and usually means an apartment, house or cottage where you look after yourself.

House Swap Several agencies facilitate international house swaps, and use of the family car is sometimes included.


Accommodation prices can vary according to demand, or there may be different rates for online, phone or walk-in bookings. B&B rates are more consistent, but virtually every other accommodation will charge wildly different rates depending on the time of year, day, festival schedule and even your ability to do a little negotiating. The following price ranges are based on a double room with private bathroom in high season.

Republic of Ireland (excluding Dublin)

€ less than €80

€€ €80–€180

€€€ more than €180


€ less than €150

€€ €150–€250

€€€ more than €250

Northern Ireland

£ less than £50

££ £50–£120

£££ more than £120

Best Places to Stay

Best on a Budget

Budget accommodation usually means hostels, so you’ll find the widest choice in places that traditionally attract backpackers – cities such as Dublin, Belfast and Galway have a wide range of attractive and competitively priced spots. You’ll also find a good choice in places which attract hikers, surfers and other outdoors enthusiasts – Donegal, Kerry and the west coast, for example.

Best budget accommodation:

A Isaacs Hostel , Dublin

A Kinlay Hostel , Galway

A Valley House , Achill Island

A Sandrock Holiday Hostel , Malin Head

A Vagabonds , Belfast

Best for Families

The best family-oriented places tend to be holiday resorts, country hotels (though they can be expensive) and farmhouse B&BS within weekend getaway distance of cities like Dublin, Belfast, Galway and Cork – so consider looking at counties Wicklow, Kildare, Offally, Cavan, Antrim, Down and Waterford, and regions such as West Cork, Connemara and the Ring of Kerry.

Best family accommodation:

A Sheila’s Hostel , Cork

A Slieve Russell Hotel , Co Cavan

A Station House Hotel , Clifden

A Aghadoe Heights Hotel , Killarney

A Annaharvey Farm , Tullamore

A Faithlegg , Co Waterford

Best for Solo Travellers

Many guesthouses and hotels in Ireland charge much the same for a single traveller as for a couple sharing a double room; in fact, single rooms can be downright hard to find. If you want to meet other travellers, your best bet is backpacker hostels with buzzing common rooms, and convivial B&Bs where guests enjoy breakfast conversations around a communal kitchen table.

Best solo traveller accommodation:

A Black Sheep Hostel , Killarney

A Olde Bakery , Kinsale

A Top of the Rock Pod Pairc , Skibbereen

A Fortwilliam Country House , Hillsborough

Best Historic Hotels

Ireland has a rich legacy of country houses, castles and stately homes that have been converted into hotels. Places like these offer the chance to indulge in four-poster beds, Victorian baths, antique furniture and candlelit dining rooms, and to stroll through landscaped gardens that would once have been the preserve of the rich and powerful.

Best historic hotels:

A Glenlo Abbey Hotel , Galway

A Cahernane House Hotel , Killarney

A Belleek Castle , Ballina

A Old Inn , Crawfordsburn



Daft.ie (www.daft.ie) Online property portal includes holiday homes and short-term rentals.

Elegant Ireland (www.elegant.ie) Specialises in self-catering castles, period houses and unique properties.

Imagine Ireland (www.imagineireland.com) Holiday cottage rentals throughout the whole island, including Northern Ireland.

Irish Landmark Trust (www.irishlandmark.com) Not-for-profit conservation group that rents self-catering properties of historical and cultural significance, such as castles, tower houses, gate lodges, schoolhouses and lighthouses.

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/Ireland/hotels) Recommendations and bookings.

Dream Ireland (www.dreamireland.com) Lists self-catering holiday cottages and apartments.

If You Like…

Traditional Pubs

Everybody’s got their favourite, so picking the best ones is a futile exercise. What can be done, however, is to select a handful that won’t disappoint you, especially if you’re looking for a traditional pub in the classic mould.

Blakes of the Hollow Ulster’s best pint of Guinness in a Victorian classic.

John Benny’s Stone slab floor, memorabilia on the walls and rocking trad sessions in this Dingle pub most nights.

McCarthy’s A pub, restaurant and undertakers, all in one, in Fethard.

Tigh Neachtain In Galway, one of Ireland’s best-known traditional pubs.

John Mulligan’s The most famous of the capital’s traditional pubs and a star of film and TV – where it usually plays itself.

Sean’s Bar An ancient bar in Athlone with peat fires, sloping floors and lots of music.

Vaughan’s Pub Superb bar in Kilfenora with an outstanding reputation for traditional music.

Powerscourt Estate, County Wicklow | EPBFOTOS / SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Great Views

Irish scenery is among the most spectacular in Europe, with breathtaking views and stunning landscapes throughout the whole country. There are the famous spots, of course, but they’re not alone.

Binevenagh Lake Spectacular views over Lough Foyle, Donegal and the Sperrin Mountains from the clifftop at the height of Bishop’s Rd.

Kilkee Cliffs Jaw-dropping views of soaring cliffs that aren’t the Cliffs of Moher.

Powerscourt Estate The view of the Sugarloaf from the entrance road to this Palladian mansion is one of the best along the east coast.

Connor Pass Stand at the top of the 456m pass through the mountains of the Dingle Peninsula and inhale the views of the valley below.

Poisoned Glen The views down this Donegal valley are breathtaking; the final touch is the ruined church at the foot of the glen.

Priest’s Leap A scenic mountain pass near the Beara Peninsula with sensational views of Bantry Bay and its eponymous town.

Sky Road Astonishing views over the sea from this dramatic coastal road just outside Clifden in Connemara.

Connor Pass, County Kerry | MNSTUDIO / SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Ancient Ruins

Thanks to the pre-Celts, Celts and early Christians, ancient and monastic sites are a feature of the Irish landscape. Thanks to the Vikings and Henry VIII, many of them are ruins, but no less impressive.

Glendalough Ruins of a once-powerful monastic city in tranquil surroundings.

Brú na Bóinne Europe’s most impressive Neolithic burial site.

Clonmacnoise Ireland’s finest monastic site.

Athassel Priory Sublime and haunting ecclesiastical ruin.

Carrowkeel Megalithic cemetery and majestic views.

Athenry A magnificent castle, Dominican priory, an original market cross and lengthy sections of town walls.

Devenish Island Ruins of an Augustinian monastery and near-perfect round tower on the biggest island in Lough Erne.

Dun Aengus Stunning Stone Age fort perched perilously on Inishmore’s cliffs.

Literary Corners

Four Nobel laureates for literature are just the highlight of a rich literary tradition. Ireland is one of the English-speaking world’s most notable heavyweights of the written word, a tradition that continues to thrive through contemporary writers and literary festivals.

Cape Clear Island International Storytelling Festival The storytelling tradition is kept alive by tales tall and long from all over the world.

Seamus Heaney Home Place A new museum and arts centre in the Nobel laureate’s home town of Bellaghy, County Londonderry.

Cúirt International Festival of Literature Galway attracts writers from far and wide to its April literary showcase.

Dublin Literary Pub Crawl A fine selection of literary tours takes full advantage of the city’s rich literary reputation.

Writers’ Week The Irish literary festival, held in June in Listowel, the home town of John B Keane.

Town of Books Festival The Kilkenny town of Graiguenamanagh aspires to be Ireland’s answer to Hay-on-Wye with this annual festival.

Yeats International Summer School Now in its sixth decade, this prestigious 10-day festival in Sligo town features lectures, workshops, drama, readings and walking tours.

Traditional Music

Western Europe’s most vibrant folk music is kept alive by musicians who ply their craft (and are plied with drink) in impromptu and organised sessions in pubs and music houses throughout the country. Even the strictly-fortourists stuff will feature excellent performances.

An Droichead Excellent music sessions at a Belfast arts centre dedicated to Irish culture.

Matt Molloy’s The Chieftain’s fife player owns this Westport pub where the live céilidh (session of traditional music and dancing) kicks off at 9pm nightly.

Miltown Malbay Every pub in this County Clare town features outstanding Irish trad sessions.

Tig Cóilí Galway’s best trad sessions are held in this pub whose name means ‘house of music’.

Marine Bar Wonderful music three times a week at this 200-year-old pub on the Ring Peninsula.

Cobblestone The nightly sessions in this Smithfield pub are the best in the capital.

Tracing Your Roots

Roughly 80 million people worldwide can claim to be part of, or descended from, the Irish diaspora, with about 41 million of those in the USA alone. Most major towns have a heritage centre with a genealogical service.

Genealogical Office Based in the National Library in Dublin, this is the place to start the search for your Irish ancestors.

PRONI (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland) Belfast’s purpose-built centre is the place to go to track down your Ulster family history.

Clare Heritage & Genealogy Centre Part of the Clare Heritage Centre Interpretative Museum in Corofin.

Cobh, The Queenstown Story Cobh’s superb heritage museum houses a genealogy centre.

Dún na Sí Heritage Park A folk park 16km east of Athlone with an associated genealogical centre attached.

Ulster American Folk Park Ulster’s rich links with the USA are explored in one of Northern Ireland’s best museums.

Rothe House & Garden An excellent genealogical service is housed in this 16th-century merchant’s house in Kilkenny city.

Family Days Out

There are plenty of family-friendly activities throughout the country, from heritage museums to zip lines across a forest canopy.

Castle Ward Estate Game of Thrones was filmed at this National Trust property, which also has an adventure playground and farm animals.

Lough Key Forest Park This 350-hectare adventure playland includes a 300m-long canopy walk and an outdoor adventure playground.

Tayto Park Lots of fun for all the family, including Europe’s largest wooden inverted roller coaster, a zoo and a 5D cinema.

Great Western Greenway Flat and popular bike path from Westport to Achill with plenty of castles and sites to see along the way.

Fota Wildlife Park Huge outdoor zoo just outside Cork city with not a cage or fence in sight; the cheetah run is especially popular.

Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre When you’re done learning about the habitats of this 3000-hectare reserve, you can hop aboard a boat for a 15minute safari ride.


Ireland is one of the world’s premier golf destinations. There are more than 400 courses spread throughout the island, but for a proper Irish golfing experience, tee it up on a links course by the sea.

Ballybunion Golf Club A perennial favourite with visiting celebrities and professionals – the course is as tough as the views are beautiful.

County Sligo Golf Course Stunning links on a peninsula in the shadow of Ben Bulben.

Lahinch Golf Club One of Ireland’s most beloved links was laid out by Scottish soldiers in 1892.

Royal County Down Hallowed links designed by Old Tom Morris often rated as the best course in Ireland.

Royal Portrush A stunner that hosted the Open Championship in 1951 and 2019.

Waterville Golf Links A world-class links with views to match.

Month by Month


St Patrick’s Day, March

Galway International Arts Festival, July

Willie Clancy Summer School, July

Féile An Phobail, August

All-Ireland Finals, September


Bad weather makes February the perfect month for indoor activities. Some museums launch new exhibits, and it’s a good time to visit the major towns and cities.

3 Dublin International Film Festival

Most of Dublin’s cinemas participate in the capital’s film festival, a two-week showcase for new films by Irish and international directors. It features local flicks, arty international films and advance releases of mainstream movies.

3 Six Nations Rugby

The Irish national rugby team (www.irishrugby.ie) plays its three home matches at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin’s southern suburb of Ballsbridge. The season runs from February to April.


Spring is in the air, and the whole country is getting ready for arguably the world’s most famous parade. Dublin’s is the biggest, but every town in Ireland holds one.

z St Patrick’s Day

Ireland erupts into one giant celebration on 17 March (www.stpatricksday.ie), but Dublin throws a five-day party around the parade (attended by over 750,000 people), with gigs and festivities that leave the city with a giant hangover.


The weather is getting better, the flowers are beginning to bloom and the festival season begins anew. Seasonal attractions start to open up around the middle of the month or at Easter.

3 Circuit of Ireland International Rally

Northern Ireland’s most prestigious rally-car race, known locally as the ‘Circuit’ (www.circuitofireland.net), sees more than 130 competitors throttle and turn through 550km of Northern Ireland and parts of the Republic over two days at Easter.

3 Irish Grand National

Ireland loves horse racing, and the race that’s loved the most is the Grand National, the showcase of the national hunt season. It takes place at Fairyhouse in County Meath on Easter Monday.

3 World Irish Dancing Championships

There’s far more to Irish dancing than Riverdance. Every April some 4500 competitors from all over the world gather to test their steps and skills against the very best. The location varies from year to year; see www.irishdancingorg.com.


The May Bank Holiday (on the first Monday) sees the first of the busy summer weekends as the Irish take to the roads to enjoy the budding good weather.

z Cork International Choral Festival

One of Europe’s premier choral festivals, with the winners going on to the Fleischmann International Trophy Competition, is held over five days between the end of April and the beginning of May.)

3 North West 200

Ireland’s most famous road race is also the country’s biggest outdoor sporting event; up to 100,000 people line the triangular route to cheer on some of the biggest names in motorcycle racing. Held in mid-May.

z Fleadh Nua

The third week of May sees the cream of the traditional-music crop come to Ennis, County Clare, for one of the country’s most important festivals.

z Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival

Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter hosts a multidisciplinary arts festival, including drama, music, poetry and street theatre over 10 days at the beginning of the month.

z Listowel Writers’ Week

Well-known writers engaged in readings, seminars and storytelling are the attraction at the country’s premier festival (www.writersweek.ie) for bibliophiles, which runs over five days in the County Kerry town of Listowel at the end of the month. There’s also poetry, music and drama.

z Father Ted Festival

Fans of the celebrated comedy dress up as their favourite characters and quote their favourite lines at this festival in Lisdoonvarna, culminating in tea and cake in the house where the TV show was shot. It takes place in early May. Gwan Gwan.


The bank holiday at the beginning of the month sees the country spoilt for choice for things to do. Weekend traffic gets busier as the weather gets better.

z Cat Laughs Comedy Festival

Kilkenny gets very, very funny in early June (sometimes late May), with the country’s premier comedy festival drawing comedians both known and unknown from around the globe.

z Dublin LGBTQ Pride

Ireland’s most important LGBTQ celebration sees 10 days of events, gigs, screenings and talks that culminate in a huge colourful parade through the capital.

z Belsonic

Ormeau Park in Belfast hosts Northern Ireland’s biggest music festival (www.belsonic.com), with a host of big international names keeping the 5000-or-so fans entertained over two weeks in mid-June.

3 Irish Derby

Wallets are packed and fancy hats donned for the best flat-race festival in the country (www.curragh.ie), run during the first week of the month.

z Bloomsday

Edwardian dress and breakfast of ‘the inner organs of beast and fowl’ are but two of the elements of this Dublin festival celebrating 16 June, the day on which James Joyce’s Ulysses takes place; the real highlight is retracing Leopold Bloom’s steps.

2 Mourne International Walking Festival

The last weekend of the month plays host to a walking festival in the Mourne Mountains of County Down, designated an area of outstanding natural beauty.

z Cork Midsummer Festival

Cork city’s largest celebration of the arts takes place over a week midmonth at various venues throughout the city.


There isn’t a weekend in the month that a major festival doesn’t take place, while visitors to Galway will find that the city is in full swing for the entire month.

z Willie Clancy Summer School

Inaugurated to celebrate the memory of a famed local piper, this exceptional festival of traditional music sees the world’s best players show up for gigs, pub sessions and workshops over nine days in Miltown Malbay, County Clare.

z Galway International Arts Festival

Music, drama and a host of artistic endeavours are on the menu at the most important arts festival in the country, which sees Galway go merriment mad for the last two weeks of the month.

3 Galway Film Fleadh

Irish and international releases make up the programme at one of the country’s premier film festivals, held in early July.

3 Longitude

A mini-Glastonbury in Dublin’s Marlay Park, Longitude packs them in over three days in mid-July for a feast of EDM, nu-folk, rock and pop. In 2019 Grace Carter, Chasing Amy and Stormzy were the headliners.

z Folkfest

Killarney gets all folksy in early July for this festival (http://folkfestkillarney.com) featuring music, beards and flannel from all over Ireland and abroad, including performers from Britain, the USA and elsewhere.


Schools are closed, the sun is shining (or not!) and Ireland is in holiday mood. Seaside towns and tourist centres are at their busiest as the country looks to make the most of its time off.

z Féile An Phobail

The name translates simply as the ‘people’s festival’ and it is just that: the largest community festival on the island takes place on the Falls Rd in West Belfast over 10 days.

z Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann

The mother of all Irish music festivals (www.fleadhcheoil.ie), held at the end of the month, attracts in excess of 400,000 music lovers and revellers to whichever town is

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