Often referred to as the Emerald Isle (and for good reason with all those rolling green hills), Ireland is the land of rugged coastal landscapes, Guinness, leprechauns, bag pipes, shamrocks and of course – St. Patrick’s Day! The name ‘the Emerald Isle’ refers to the island as a whole but Ireland is actually split into two countries – Northern Ireland to the North, with the Republic of Ireland making up the Southern part of the island. From Dublin to Galway to County Cork, there is so much wonderful Irish history and culture to discover!
Republic of Ireland Facts & Tips
Did you know?
- There are no snakes in Ireland
- Ireland has the highest number of red-haired people per capita in the world
- Ireland’s nickname is the Emerald Isle
- Both St Patrick’s day and Halloween originated in Ireland
- It’s estimated that 50% of Dublin’s population is aged 25 or under
- A pint of Guinness has fewer calories than a pint of orange juice
- There are around 30,000 castles in Ireland
- Famous writer Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin
Visas & Passports
Australian passport holders travelling to the Republic of Ireland do not need a visa at this time.
We require that your passport is valid for travel for at least six months from the date you are planning to return to Australia. Your passport must be valid to travel internationally and must be machine-readable. You also need to carry a valid return ticket on you.
Whether travelling on an Australian passport or the passport of another country, all travellers require visas for a number of countries, and it is your responsibility to secure what may be required before departing Australia. You can consult with your travel agent, but it is also recommended that you check the foreign embassy website for your respective destination as it can also provide you with useful information.
Australian Embassy in Republic of Ireland:
47 - 49 Street Stephen's Green
Dublin 2, D02 W634
Ph. +353 1 664 5300
Fax +353 1 678 5185
The official currency of the Republic of Ireland is the Euro. Notes come in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5.
The recommended currency to take to Ireland is the Euro. Ensure you change a small amount into small denominations.
Advise your bank of your travel plans so that they can make a note of it, otherwise they may cancel your credit card as a safety measure due to the overseas transactions. Also make a note of the 24-hour emergency contact number of the bank or building society which issued your credit card in the unlikely event that your card is lost or stolen.
Whenever possible use ATMs when the banks are open (Mon – Fri) so that if a machine ‘eats’ your card you can then deal with it straight away. It is always advisable to carry a supply of cash in addition to your credit card.
If you don’t have Euros with you on arrival, we advise you to exchange some money into the local currency at the airport even if the exchange rate is not the best, this way you’ll have money to get a drink, snack or give a tip during those first few hours of arrival. Your guide will be able to advise you on the best places to exchange money.
Small change is also useful for paying for toilets while on tour which is customary in many places outside of Australia.
- The price of a cappuccino in Dublin is approximately €3.50
- The price of an inexpensive lunch is approximately €15
- The price of dinner in a moderate restaurant is approximately €70
- The price of a beer in a local pub is approximately €5.50
Given Ireland’s geographical location and climate, you won’t be surprised to learn that Irish cuisine is not that dissimilar from some of the UK’s popular dishes. When you think of Irish food, you probably think of cosy pub fare or comfort foods such as Irish stew. Some more well-known dishes include Beef and Guinness pie or stew, black or white pudding, soda bread or the ever-popular fish and chips! On a chilly Winter’s Day, the Irish love to indulge in an Irish coffee – a cup of black coffee traditionally spiked with Irish whiskey (and served topped with cream – yum!). Some modern variations may substitute whiskey for an Irish cream or coffee liquor.
Depending on who you ask, the national dish of Ireland is either the good ol’ Irish stew or the carb-heavy dish, Colcannon. Colcannon consists of mashed potatoes mixed with kale or cabbage plus milk, butter or cream added to give a creamy consistency and taste. Onions, bacon or chives are commonly added for flavour and texture. It is usually served as an accompaniment to meat.
A less well-known but also popular dish in Ireland is the Boxty. It’s a potato pancake (can you tell potatoes are a bit of theme in Irish cuisine?) that looks like a fritter or hashbrown. Traditionally it was served plain but today is often served like a tortilla, filled with meat or vegetables.
Important: When dining at buffets (i.e. breakfast) please refrain from taking food away with you to ‘save’ for later! If you feel that you’ll need snacks between meals, pack some dried fruit, nuts, muesli bars etc.
If you have specific food allergies and/or preferences, we highly recommend you take every precaution before your tour, including carrying a small card with your food allergy listed in each language of every country you are travelling to show to table staff when ordering. Whilst we take all dietary requirements seriously, due to the serious nature of potential allergic reactions, it is your responsibility to be as prepared as possible.
Ireland’s climate is known to be cool, damp, cloudy and rainy year-round. The sunniest part of the island is the south-eastern coast. Ireland can be quite windy, particularly in late Autumn and early Spring. However, both Summer and Winter are quite mild. In Winter (Dec-Feb), the temperature is between 7-15 degrees Celsius. In the Summer months (Jun-Aug), the temperature hovers around 17-20 degrees Celsius (though during heatwaves may creep above 25 degrees).
Want to get out and explore on your own?
A tour or hire car is the most convenient way to explore Ireland – particularly if you are wanting to get out of the cities and into the countryside. There is an extensive bus and train network for travel between significant cities and towns. Within metropolitan areas, taxis are a great option – or if it is a nice day, hiring a bicycle to see the sights is particularly memorable.
When catching taxis, have small change on you and choose one with a meter, if it doesn’t have one then negotiate the price before getting in. Also, ask your guide or hotel staff the names of reputable taxi companies.
So, you’d love to bring home a special souvenir from Ireland…
One of the more popular Irish souvenirs is the Claddagh ring. This ring, usually in either silver or gold, features two hands holding a heart with a crown atop. Depending on how you wear it, this ring signifies your relationship status. There are also other Celtic jewellery designs which might take your fancy.
Alternatively, how about some Irish breakfast tea? It is more robust than the English version with a malty flavour and reddish colour.
If you prefer a different kind of drink, how about some Guinness merchandise from the direct from the Guinness factory in Dublin? You can also do a tour here and learn how to pour the perfect pint.
Another option would be some popular Waterford crystal – a nice set of crystal whiskey glasses could be the perfect way to remember your time in Ireland (along with a bottle of Irish whiskey, of course!).
- The quickest way to make new friends in Ireland is to buy a round at the pub. When drinking with a group, it is customary for each person to buy a round for his or her companions
- The Irish are known to be very chatty so don’t be surprised if a local strikes up a conversation with you, likely about the weather or where you are from
- While hospitality staff do not rely on tips, they do appreciate a little something extra for exceptional service. Most sit-down restaurants will add a service charge to your bill but a 10-15% tip is a good guide for any ‘above and beyond’ service you receive. Tipping is not required for take-out, self-serve, bartenders, or counter meals
Celebrations & Public Holidays
Ireland’s most well-known celebration is of course, St Patrick’s Day. It is their national holiday and is celebrated with parades and festivals which honour Irish culture and traditions. Saint Patrick (born around 387 AD) was a missionary who played an important role in bringing Christianity to the Ireland’s inhabitants. Legend says that he drove all the snakes from the island, though it is thought the snakes are a metaphor for pagans and druids. It is believed he died on March 17th, which is when St Patrick’s Day is celebrated. Though he was never formally canonized, Saint Patrick is viewed as a saint within Christian society. St Patrick’s Day became a public holiday in 1903.
May Day is celebrated each year in (you guessed it!) May. This holiday is associated with the Celtic festival La Bealtaine which marked the start of the season of blooming flowers. Traditionally, on the eve of May Day, large bonfires known as belfires are lit using different types of wood (the different woods had different spiritual meanings). The belfires were believed to play a role in the fertility of the land for the coming year. May Day falls on the first Monday in May.
On what we know in Australia as Boxing Day, Ireland celebrates St Stephen’s Day. This day commemorates the life of St Stephen, a Christian martyr. According to legend, he was betrayed by a wren while hiding from this enemies and was consequently killed. Irish citizens will often attend church services on this day, or they might go and families might see a pantomime (often based on fairy tales). In some parts, children go door-to-door with a wren in a cage (real or otherwise) and may sing or perform traditional dances to collect money for their community, school or local charity.
Other national public holidays to be aware of include:
- New Year's Day
- St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th)
- Good Friday
- Easter Sunday
- May Day
- June Bank Holiday
- August Bank Holiday
- October Bank Holiday
- Christmas Day
- St. Stephen’s Day (December 26th)
Republic of Ireland Highlights
A vibrant city full of history, music, nightlife, gastronomy and culture, the capital of the Republic of Ireland has it all. Dublin is also a visually appealing city, centered on a river with cobblestone streets, picturesque historic buildings and plenty of green spaces. It can be described as a social city with a plethora of festivals and events throughout the year, not to mention the bustling nightlife in the Temple Bar neighbourhood. Some of Dublin’s top attractions include The Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College (specifically the library which houses The Book of Kells), Dublin Castle along with the city’s many museums and public parks. Photo by Adobe Stock.
On the West Coast, you will find the charming city of Galway. Known for its lively arts scene and creative food scene, Galway serves as a great place from which to explore some of Ireland’s stunning West Coast which is often described as rugged and wild. While you’re in town, why not check out one of Galway’s popular seafood restaurants or sample the local produce at a weekend market? Photo by Adobe Stock.
The original city of Cork sits on an island in the middle of the River Lee but it is now the Republic of Ireland’s second biggest city. Like many other Irish cities, it is not short of remarkable churches, interesting museums, and medieval history but one not-to-be-missed attraction is the English Market – hailed by chef Rick Stein as the “best covered market in the UK and Ireland”. Located just outside of the city is the famous Blarney Castle, where tourists flock daily to kiss the Blarney Stone to gain the gift of eloquence. Photo by Adobe Stock.
United Kingdom & Ireland Destinations
Green rolling hills, lively cities, quaint villages, cobblestone streets and an incredible amount of history are waiting to be explored in this fine country.
Soak up the culture of the country's vibrant capital, Edinburgh, step back in time as you visit quaint towns, and take in the serenity when you explore the country's incredible natural beauty.