Practical Tips for American Tourists Visiting Ireland For The First Time in 2021
There are many Americans who are eager to travel, especially now that Covid vaccines are becoming available. Maybe you want to leave the United States because you’ve never visited a foreign country or because you have and can’t wait to do it again. You’re ready to broaden your horizons and come back with some fun stories to tell your friends and make memories to last a lifetime.
Hopeful travelers are still a little nervous, however, about going somewhere that’s too intimidating. Maybe you only speak English, so you don’t want to go anywhere where you will need to speak a different language. Ireland can be an excellent place for the American tourist who’s ready to start exploring the world. You can definitely go there on a budget if you’re a little careful, and of course, English is spoken, albeit with a delightful accent that’s not always easy to decipher. But fear not, their broad smiles will make you instantly feel welcome.
Here are some of our very best tips if you’d like to try exploring the Emerald Isle in 2021.
Don’t Try to Drink Unless You’re of Legal Age
It seems that much of Irish culture incorporates Guiness, Irish whiskeys and the pub scene. In the United States, the government raised the federal minimum drinking age to 21 in 1984. You may not have realized it, but before that, it varied from state to state. In Ireland, (both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) 18 is the legal drinking age throughout the country. If you’re traveling with your family, and you’re under 18, going into a bar or pub and ordering a drink might tempt you, but don’t do it.
If the police catch you, you’ll have to deal with all kinds of legal issues, and it’s not worth it. You never want to break any laws in a foreign country, but Ireland looks at underage drinking particularly harshly. They’ve tried to crack down on drunk driving in recent years, so that might have something to do with it. Also be aware that some clubs in bigger cities may have higher age restrictions to 20 or 21 for entry. If you’ll be in either southern Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland for an extended time, you might want to look into getting an Age Card to prove your age and identity. These cards can be applied for online.
You Can Stay in a Hostel Very Cheaply
If you want to travel around Ireland on a budget, you can do so. One thing you can do is to check out the various hostels that exist. If you’re staying in a large city, like Dublin, which is tourist-friendly, you will probably have many options from which to choose. You shouldn’t just locate the cheapest one and stay there, though.
Look online and try to collect as much information as you can before selecting any hostile. Some of them are real pits, with only one tiny bathroom for you to share with many other guests. You should also look for reviews that talk about roaches, mice, bedbugs, and other pests. If you pick up some bedbugs or fleas in your clothing or sleeping bag, you can take them home with you, and getting rid of them can be an absolute nightmare.
An alternative might be to spend a little more and stay at some of the many wonderful bed and breakfasts that dot the country.
Don’t Talk Politics or Religion
There is still “Ireland,” by which most Irish citizens mean the island’s southern portion, and then there is Northern Ireland. An American might not know Belfast from Dublin, but the people who live there absolutely know about the country’s division.
Ireland’s fracturing has to do with religion, but also political differences. Essentially, Ireland split after Northern Ireland went to war about a hundred years go against Britain, which ruled over their citizens. At the same time, the Catholics and Protestants were hostile toward one another. There are still skirmishes that take place to this day, even after so many years and so much bloodshed. You can learn all about it in books or online articles, but it’s generally best not to talk about it while you’re there.
As an American, if you meet someone in a pub and want to get to know about their culture, you’ll be much better off talking about soccer than religion or politics. Both of those can be sore subjects.
Explore Both the City and the Country
Ireland is so amazing, in part, because there are decidedly modern cities like Dublin, and then there are miles and miles of beautiful, unspoiled countryside just a short distance away. You might want to stay in the city for a while, but your trip will not be complete unless you rent a car or take a train into the country. Most folks travel south to Killarney, the ring of Kerry and the cliffs of Moher, but don’t limit your exploring to just this area.
You can go somewhere like Connemara. This the untamed hinterland on the island’s Wild West Atlantic Coast. There, you can look out over pristine Galway Bay. You can see shepherds tending to their flocks. This is arguably one of the world’s most beautiful places. Taking a walk there will make you forget about your troubles, and there are bed and breakfasts at which you can stay.
Ireland is quite a small country (175 miles wide and 300 miles in length) that is best explored by car, train or bus service. Travelers with a week to spend should be able to take in most of the hauntingly beautiful landscapes and experience the delightful cultures of Ireland.