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  • Tara Woodbury

Tips for Your First Trip to Ireland

One of the most beautiful countries to visit, whether you are Irish or not, is Ireland. Who can resist all of the folklore, castles, and history? Visiting Ireland has been on my bucket list for a while as I have a great deal of Irish heritage.

Maybe you have put off visiting the Cliffs of Moher, Killarney National Park, and Blarney Castle long enough? Before you book that castle tour or get too excited about seeing the Ring of Kerry, here are tips to make for a wonderful trip:

Consider Car Travel

You can get to the top sites in the Emerald Isle by public transportation or tour buses, but renting a car is almost necessary to get to those lesser-known sites and small towns, some of which you may want to visit if researching your ancestry. Be sure the car you rent is small, as rural roads in Ireland are relatively narrow. And remember, the Irish drive on the left and will pass on the right.

Tax-Free Shopping!

Professional shoppers will be happy to know that everything you buy on Grafton Street is tax-free! Even travelers who live outside the European Union can take advantage of tax-free shopping in Ireland. Apply for a Fexco Horizon Card before your trip so you can use it in affiliated stores in the country and claim any sales tax back on the purchases.

Differing Currencies

On the topic of shopping, be aware that the Republic of Ireland uses the euro while Northern Ireland uses the British pound. It can be a little confusing for vacationers.

Dress Appropriately

Ireland does get a lot of precipitation, especially along the west coast. If you're traveling to Ireland during winter, know that the winter days are short. The sun comes up at about 8 a.m. and sets again at about 4 p.m., which means you have to fit a lot of sightseeing into a short day. However, during summer, the sun sets as late as 10 p.m. Keep these seasonal changes in mind, pack light layers of clothing and rain boots or waterproof shoes, and you will be okay.

Public Transportation Pointers

The trains in Ireland are pretty comfortable, but they are expensive. So if you intend to travel by train, make sure to book your ride in advance to take advantage of online discounts. If you want to travel by bus, be aware that you must flag down the bus to get it to stop.

Heritage Cards Are Helpful

If you plan to visit the country's many cultural sites, grab a Heritage Card from the Office of Public Works. This card allows you free admission to all heritage sites managed by the state for an entire year. These sites include castles and national parks.

So now that you have the tips for a terrific first trip, be sure to call or email me to help you plan your Ireland vacation!

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