WHAT TO EXPECT
WHAT TO EXPECT
You may very well experience all four seasons in the matter of a day, so pack accordingly. Average temperatures during the summer range from the mid 50s and 60s and rain can be expected year-round. While Dublin is one of Ireland’s drier cities by comparison, raingear remains highly recommended. No matter the weather, expect it to be a topic of conversation among the locals.
Fortunately for you non-Gaeilge (Irish) speakers, the official language is only spoken in pockets of rural Ireland. In Dublin, as with the majority of Ireland, English serves as the primary language.
Ireland is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. If it is noon on the east coast, it is 5 p.m. in Ireland.
Your hotel experience in Ireland may be different from what you are accustomed to in the U.S. Hotel rooms are generally smaller in Ireland and the buildings much older. Towels may not be changed daily and luxuries like air conditioning are generally only guaranteed in five-star properties. Other properties are often cooled by the Irish “natural air conditioning”- rain and fresh air. Check-in time is typically 3 p.m. and your room may not be ready prior to that time.
From shepherd’s pie to corned beef and cabbage, Irish recipes are known for quality ingredients, use of herbs and spices, and a lack of salt and pepper. Potatoes, grains (especially oats) and dairy products have long been staples in the Irish diet, along with soups, seafood and meats. A typical Irish breakfast includes eggs, bacon, sausages, black/white pudding, beans, tomatoes and mushrooms. The most common everyday beverage is tea. Fast food is available in Dublin, but generally more expensive than in the U.S. If you are a selective or restrictive eater, we suggest purchasing some non-perishable snacks at the local grocery or bringing some with you.
Ireland’s electric system operates on 220 volts with a plug bearing three rectangular prongs. To use standard American 110-volt appliances – including phones – you’ll need to bring a converter and wall adapter. If the appliance is dual voltage, you will only need a wall adapter.
Public Wi-Fi is available in a number of cafés, bars, restaurants, hotels and other public areas. All major Irish airports and most train stations provide Wi-Fi access. Some phonebooths also have built-in Wi-Fi hubs, and it is often possible to pick up these signals from street-side cafés. Most Irish hotels offer high-speed Internet services in the lobby or guestrooms. There are alternatives if wireless and Ethernet service is not available, including cellular cards, Wi-Fi hot spots and dial-up connections. Please note that any Internet charges assessed are the responsibility of the traveler.
Ireland’s official currency is the euro. While each country in the eurozone issues its own coins (Irish coins feature a harp on the reverse side), every coin is considered legal tender in all eurozone countries. Click here for the current exchange rate.
Tipping and taxes for services in hotels and meals listed on trip itineraries are included in tour packages. Tips to the bus driver and tour director are not included. The common rate to tip the tour director is three to four euro a day per person. Drivers who remain with the group for multiple days should be tipped approximately two to three euro a day per person. Tipping ten percent at restaurants is most common, and it is not expected at pubs.
Before leaving the country, it’s a good idea to call your bank and credit card company and let them know about your travel plans. Many banks will put a hold on accounts if they detect unusual spending patterns. They should provide you with a number to call in case you have any questions while overseas or if your card is lost or stolen. It is also a good practice to travel with two different credit cards.
Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in Dublin. American Express and Diners Club are often not accepted at smaller establishments. Be aware that most credit card companies will charge a one to three percent fee for purchases made outside the U.S.
The most convenient and efficient way to get cash abroad is at an ATM. The Cirrus and PLUS ATM networks span the globe; look at the back of your bank card to see which network you’re on. Check with your bank regarding potential fees for international transactions. Large towns generally have easily accessible ATMs but in rural counties they may be few and far between, so have an alternate source of money in case of an emergency.
The price of most goods in Ireland includes value added tax, or VAT of 23%. As a visitor, you can have this sales tax on goods (excluding food and hotel charges) refunded at the end of your trip. A tax-free shopping form must be obtained and completed in the store. Please note that you may be asked to present your passport in order to obtain this form. These forms can be presented at the Global Tax Free Shopping or Tax Back Desks located at all International Airports. Remember to keep receipts from all of your purchases.
European cellphones operate on a GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) standard. To use your existing cellphone, contact your service provider and ask if your phone operates on a GSM standard. If so, your phone should work abroad but may incur international roaming fees. Smartphones and tablets often work in Europe but you may incur huge costs for data roaming if these features are enabled. Please check with your service provider to understand how to enable/disable data roaming on your phone and manage those charges. If your current cell phone does not operate on a GSM, other options include buying a world phone, renting a phone or purchasing phone cards. With phone cards, you can dial the appropriate U.S. number from a public pay phone and have it charged to your phone card. A small handling fee may be applied to the bill. To avoid high fees, use public phones instead of the phones in your hotel room. To call abroad, dial 00, followed by the country code (U.S. is 1), area code and local telephone number of the person you wish to reach. (e.g., 00 1 574 631 7080).
Generally, Ireland is considered safe, however, taking the usual precautions is recommended. Guard your tickets and travel documents as you would your cash. Be alert for pickpockets, especially near tourist attractions such as the Temple Bar area. Place your passport on your body or in an interior pocket of your backpack. We also recommend using hotel safes where available.