Visiting Ireland was a dream of mine for years, and I honestly thought I knew everything about the country from watching movies. Boy, was I wrong! Okay, it’s probably not very surprising; movies aren’t exactly the most reliable source of facts! So in view of that, I am sharing with you what I learned while traveling Ireland.
The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are two separate countries
Most people already know this, but it’s important to bring it up. Although there is no need to show your passport or have a different visa when going from one to the other, there are some things to keep in mind.
If you’re visiting both, you will need to keep in mind that the currency is different. Northern Ireland, often referred to as the North, is part of the UK and therefore uses the Pound Sterling. The Republic of Ireland, the South, as part of the European Union uses the Euro.
Also, the North uses the Imperial system as unit of measurement, whereas the South uses the metric system. Remember that if you’re driving around!
It is easy to do on a budget
The most surprising thing I found while traveling the green island is that it’s easy to do on a simple budget. I’m not sure why I expected it to be expensive, maybe since Europe has a tendency to be on the higher end? But I was pleasantly surprised.
Fresh out of college, my friend and I had little to no savings. This trip was simply a spontaneous decision that we had made after coming across a flight deal. Sure, we stayed in hostels and used public transportation to get around. But overall, Ireland offers a very reasonable cost of living.
Dublin and Belfast are the two cities in which we spent the most amount of time, and both offer a variety of free or cheap activities. From a visit of Trinity College and the Temple Bar area in Dublin to the beautiful Belfast Castle and Botanic Garden in Belfast, you can find something for every taste.
Fish and chips get old fast
In the North especially, you will find the typical British pub scene with fish and chips on every menu! We actually had a hard time finding fresh vegetables and healthy meals that fit our budget!
Make sure to put some variety in your meals so you don’t start feeling sick from all the greasy food, like we did.
Don’t forget to check out the Top 12 Things to do in Ireland!
When you get a drink, buy a round
As freshly out of college, new to the adult scene, naïve twenty somethings, we were not familiar with the “I’ll get the next round” phrase. We didn’t realize until a bit later that we were expected to take our turn buying too!
What started out as “wow, free drinks!” soon turned into painfully high tabs at the end of the night. When meeting up with a group of locals, make your intentions clear at the beginning if you’re not a heavy drinker and will not be buying rounds for the table. And if you want to join in on the fun, remember to order the round before anyone’s glass is done, as no one should have an empty glass!
There is so much more to see than endless fields of green
When someone who has never been thinks Ireland, they usually think bright green fields as far as the eye can see and lots of rain. But there is so much more to this beautiful island!
You will definitely find said green fields, with grass as soft as a carpet. But you will also find enormous cliffs and ocean waves hitting the rocky sides, planes of rocks and volcanic rock formations, big modern cities, small stone villages and old historical towns. And let’s not forget beautiful, friendly people, with a taste for good beer and whiskey, ready to lend a hand if you need it!
It’s obvious that we absolutely loved our experience in Ireland, and we recommend it to everyone, from families to solo travelers!
What surprised you the most about your visit to the beautiful island that is Ireland?
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