Looking for important travel information while backpacking in Ireland? Here you will find information on working in Ireland, entry visas, Ireland hostels, and much more.
Table of Contents
- Facts About Ireland
- Things to do in Ireland
- Entry Visa Requirements for Ireland
- Work Permits and Backpacker Jobs in Ireland
- Ireland Hostels & Budget Accommodation
Facts About Ireland
Ireland is a popular tourist destination due to its relaxed culture, historic traditions, and of course, its love of Guinness. American travellers particularly fall in love with the people of Ireland and their charming and unique accent.
In light of the divergent modern histories of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, making generalisations about Irish culture is tricky. However, although there are still occasional outbreaks of violence in Northern Ireland most of these are between organised criminal groups and centred in very specific areas of Belfast. Indeed, visitors to Northern Ireland will be surprised at the reality of the country, with Belfast still a perfectly safe city for people to explore.
- Currency: Euro
- Time Zone: GMT
- Language: English
- Telephone Services: Country code +353, International Access number 16
- Emergency Numbers: 112 for all services
Climate in Ireland
The climate in Ireland is very similar to that of mainland Britain, you can expect a reasonable amount of rain all seasons round and none of the seasons are particularly extreme.
Things to do in Ireland
Dublin is the capital city and thriving hub of the Republic of Ireland, famed for its welcoming nature and extremely popular with tourists historically. As well as the obligatory Guinness dispensing pubs filled with traditional live music, Dublin has a thoroughly refined cultural side, with attractions such as the Dublin Writers Museum, the James Joyce Museum and the Shaw Birthplace.
The Republic of Ireland is also packed with architectural wonders. Located just outside Dublin is Malahide Castle, a beautifully restored castle dating from 1185. With over 250 acres of adjoining parklands and the nearby Fry Model Railway, there is plenty to keep you occupied for a day.
Other highlights include a ferry hop over to the Aran Islands which gives you a taste of what Ireland must have been like before the general population migration to big cities. Finally, no trip could be complete without an expedition to Blarney Castle, home of the famous Blarney Stone which is said to give the ‘gift of the gab’ to all who kiss it. The Castle itself is a fabulous stop-off for those visitors taking in Cork or Killarney.
Unique Activities in Ireland
Since popular places in Ireland can get crowded during tourist season, it is wise to reserve tickets and activities ahead of time. GetYourGuide sells entrance tickets to museums and landmarks at face value so you can avoid the lines and save that precious time for more exploring.
Viator is another popular travel website that helps you book things to do in Ireland. They work directly with local tour operators in Ireland, so you won’t have to scour the internet or roam around town trying to find the best deal.
If you know your schedule ahead of time, a great insider tip is to buy tickets for major tourist attractions ahead of time. Tiqets has entrance tickets and skip-the-line passes for major attractions in Ireland which can be a worthwhile cost for mega attractions during peak tourist season.
How to Find Cheap Flights to Ireland
If you’re flying to Ireland or plan to take short flights within the country, we recommend using a few different flight comparison search engines. Kiwi is a new favourite among travellers. On average, we have found the cheapest flights to Ireland with them compared to the other websites out there.
Of course, it is always worth checking Skyscanner to guarantee you’re getting the best deal. Both websites offer great flexible search options, allowing you to search the whole country of Ireland to find the cheapest airport to fly into, and also see prices for a full month if you’re flexible on travel dates.
Another way to travel to Ireland on a budget would be to take a ferry. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Ireland is divided from England in the east by the Irish Sea and St. George’s Channel. It is through this route, with ferry tickets to Ireland in hand, that tourists often arrive in Dublin.
How to Travel Around Ireland on a Budget
Train and long-distance bus are the standard modes of transport for how to get around Ireland. Buses are the more economical option, nevertheless, they are well-equipped with the usual modern conveniences that expect when travelling in Europe. Train travel, on the other hand, is the fastest way between two cities in Ireland, and the train stations are conveniently located right in the center of town.
Certain routes are better suited to one mode of transport than the other. To compare your options for journeys from A to B, you can try Omio. They compare trains, buses (and even flights) so you can decide for yourself the tradeoff between cost and travel time.
Train travel in Ireland
Rail services operate between Ireland’s major towns, with Dublin acting as a hub for most routes. A Britrail pass covers the UK as well so it is quite economical. However, if you want to get off the beaten track a little, buses cover a larger area and, although quite expensive, the standard of service is generally good.
Driving in Ireland
By far the best way to travel, however, is by rented car. It gives you flexibility and the ability to enjoy going off the typical highways to experience undiscovered Ireland. If you decide you want to rent a car, you can use DiscoverCars to compare offers from the major car rental agencies in the region.
Backpacking Tours in Ireland
Though part of the fun of backpacking Ireland is exploring on your own, there are situations, especially when venturing off the tourist trail, when it does make sense to go with a guide or a small group.
The most popular option for a social travel experience is Contiki tours. Contiki trips offer more than just transportation, they are organized social group travel for travelers aged 18-35. Whether you’re traveling by yourself or going with a group of friends, Contiki tours are perfect for people looking to have a blast, meet new friends, and form lifelong memories. They offer tours that travel primarily in Ireland or longer tours that cover other nearby places.
G Adventures is another great option for organized travel, but with a smaller group. It’s a great choice for anyone backpacking Ireland alone who would like to meet up with like-minded travellers. It’s also a practical option for exploring places where you need an experienced guide, like a long hiking adventure or visiting a place well off the beaten path. You can choose from different styles of small group tours like active, wellness, hiking trips, 18-30somethings, and more.
Health and Safety in Ireland
The health service in Ireland is very good, with modern equipment and highly skilled staff. Provided you have travel insurance, you will be sure to get a very high standard of care. All food and drinking water should be considered safe and there are no special health precautions that you should take beyond that which you take at home.
As with travel to all other countries abroad, it is vital that you get travel insurance before you leave. Even for short trips, our go-to travel insurance provider is World Nomads, which is also recommended by Lonely Planet, HostelWorld, and other major travel companies.
Entry Visa Requirements for Ireland
EU nationals do not require a passport as long as they carry an ID card (a driver’s licence will suffice for Brits). EU nationals also do not require a visa for stays up to 90 days. Visas for longer stays are normally granted to EU or US citizens without too much bother; you can contact the Irish Embassy for details.
Visa requirements for Ireland can vary widely depending on your country of origin and can change over time. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, be sure to check the latest visa requirements while you’re still planning your trip.
Foreigner Work Permits and Backpacker Jobs in Ireland
Working in Ireland during your gap year or time abroad has many advantages: cheap travel from the UK, familiarity with the language, and no need for a work permit if you are an EU national. Since language should be no barrier for those from the UK, going from place to place enquiring about casual work, in bars, restaurants and the like, as well as consulting local job papers, notice boards, and writing to hotels and bars could land you some temporary employment.
Au pair in Ireland
Most au pairs in Ireland, as well as the UK, are Europeans who usually want to improve their English. Popular areas to find au pair work are in places such as Dublin and Cork. Au pairs receive around €50 (approx. €35) a week for working up to 35 hours. Inter-S jours is an au pair recruitment agency and places men and women in six to 18-month au pair positions.
Seasonal work in Ireland
Try Dublin, Cork, and Kerry as well as other large tourist-populated areas for work in pubs, bars, restaurants, and hotels. Some hotel jobs can pay up to €230 (approx. €160) per week and accommodation is sometimes provided. Jobs at activity centres are also worth investigating, for example, the Blessington Adventure Centre, which specialises in water sports activities, the Atlantic Adventure Centre in Lecanvey, and Neptune Adventure in Baltray, to name but a few. There is no guarantee of finding a job at any of these places but it is always worth contacting them to find out. See the Irish Tourist Board website for more details of tourist areas with possible job opportunities.
Internships in Ireland
Dublin Internships is a company that organises ten to fifteen-week internships for students. Internships give you a chance to experience a job that might set you up for a future career, and will always look good on a CV.
Visit the Dublin Internships website to find out more information and to apply for an internship position. Applications should be made three months before you want to start an internship. 15-week programmes begin either at the beginning of the autumn or spring semester, and 10-week internships take place during the summer.
Volunteering in Ireland
If you are intending to stay in Ireland for a whole year, want something to last for the entire duration, and earning money is not your first priority, there are many opportunities for volunteer programmes. Camphill Communities runs projects across the world in communities for adults with special needs. Work includes assisting a few residents on a day-to-day basis, and accommodation is provided for volunteers who are asked to work for at least one year.
Careforce also runs one year projects for volunteers who work as Christian volunteers and again provide accommodation, food, and pocket money. If you are more interested in environmental projects, Conservation Volunteers Northern Ireland (CVNI) require volunteers for at least six months at a time, to help with conservation work such as tree-planting, and general management of the environment. Accommodation is sometimes, but not always, provided by CVNI.
Agriculture and Farming jobs in Ireland
If outdoor type of work appeals to you, WWOOF is a voluntary organisation that provides work on organic farms and includes board and accommodation for a membership of €10 per year, check their website for more information.
Ireland Hostels & Budget Accommodation
All types of accommodation are on offer, from youth hostels and B&B’s right up to high-class hotels. The best value for money are the small family run B&B’s which offer a much better standard of accommodation than youth hostels for a negligible extra charge. You will be able to find literally hundreds of B&B’s and hostels online which will accept reservations.
We have had good experiences finding hostels in Ireland on HostelWorld. They have the largest inventory of hostels worldwide, and with over 10 million reviews and ratings from other travellers, you know exactly what to expect.
Another good way to find accommodation in Ireland is by checking booking.com. You’ll find hotels, homestays, hostels, and other unique accommodations. They have the most reviews and advanced filtering of any accommodation-booking site, so you’ll be sure to find a great place in your budget. Many of the places on booking.com also offer free cancellation, which takes the pressure off the planning phase of your trip to Ireland.
If you are backpacking with another travel companion, we highly recommend booking a rental via VRBO. With a vacation rental in Ireland, you’ll have more space, your own kitchen, and you’ll get a better feel for how the locals live. Plus, the cost of a vacation rental can be split among your group, oftentimes making it cheaper than doing individual hotel rooms.
If you’re looking to save even more money while backpacking in Ireland, there are plenty of creative ways to get free accommodation in exchange for work. For example, one of our favorite ways to stay in amazing locations for free is by signing up as a petsitter with Trusted Housesitters. The site connects responsible animal lovers with petsitting opportunities in Ireland and all over the world. It’s a win-win for both sides – travellers can stay in amazing locations for free, and homeowners can rest easy knowing that someone is watching over their place.
And lastly, CouchSurfing is a great community that connects travellers with local hosts in Ireland. You can stay for free with verified hosts, who will usually take some time to show you around the local spots.
Useful Links for Backpacking in Ireland
- Eurail – Rail Passes for travellers who plan on doing lots of train travel in a short period of time. Single-Country passes for Ireland as well as Multi-Country passes available
- Omio – Train, bus, and flight search for Ireland and all of Europe. Offers online booking and mobile tickets
- DiscoverCars – The world’s leading rental car search engines to rent a car in Ireland
- Kiwi and Skyscanner – Flight comparison search engines to find the cheapest flights to Ireland and within the country
- GetYourGuide and Viator – a collection of local tours and activities in Ireland. Also offers Skip the Line tickets for crowded attractions
- Tiqets – Website selling entrance tickets and skip the line tickets for major tourist attractions in Ireland
- GAdventures – guided small group tours in Ireland, great for solo travellers or for those interested in a more adventurous trip which would require a guide
- HostelWorld – #1 hostel search website to find accommodation while backpacking Ireland. Thousands of hostels and millions of reviews from fellow travellers
- Booking.com – commonly used booking site for accommodation in Ireland. Find hostels, hotels, and other unique accommodation in Ireland with advanced filtering and millions of reviews
- World Nomads Travel Insurance – Comprehensive travel insurance for long and short trips when backpacking Ireland
There you have it, the ultimate Ireland backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Ireland.
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