The Cliffs of Moher, pints of Guinness, myths and legends, and the greenest grass you have ever seen; Ireland is somewhere every traveller should visit at least once in their lifetime. Already on your list but you can’t convince your friends to come with you? Don’t worry about it. Pack your bag, grab your passport, and board the next flight, because solo travel in Ireland is pretty epic. Need convincing? Here are a few reasons why.
A Choice of Accommodations
Ireland is one of few places that actually has a decent choice of accommodations that won’t burst your travel budget. Hostels are always a favourite among solo travellers, and there are plenty to be found around the country (many of which are, conveniently, attached to pubs!).
However, for those who aren’t big fans of the hostel life, yet don’t want to spend all the money on a hotel room, I recommend B&Bs. Irish B&Bs are some of the best in the world; with friendly hosts and full Irish breakfasts to start your day, you may never want to leave.
Owners are helpful and often willing to go out of their way to help solo travellers experience the best of what the area has to offer. This is especially true in terms of solo female travellers, whom most owners tend to keep an extra eye out for.
Tip: Keep in mind when booking a B&B; some are located quite a ways out of town. So if you don’t have a car, make sure to ask about the location and make sure it’s either within walking distance or there is public transportation.
Ease of Transportation
There’s no need of worrying about having to rent a car to travel around which is one of the best benefits of solo travel in Ireland (although, road tripping it is a great way to see the country). Ireland is well connected by a network of buses, and for some routes, trains. Tickets can be purchased in advance (online or in the station) or right before departure at the station. Student fares are available, though purchasing them in person is not recommended as some stations only accept Irish student ID. So to be safe, it’s best to book online.
Another bonus: bus tickets are not specific to certain times, only certain days. So if your trip has a stopover in a small village and you want to stretch your legs and explore, there’s no issue with getting on a later bus. Express buses are also available on some routes, though they will cost you a little extra. However, depending on the route they may be worth it.
Tip: Bus tickets are significantly less expensive than train tickets and in many circumstances (ie Dublin to Galway), the bus route is faster.
Major Irish Bus lines include: Bus Éireann and City Link.
Many Options of Affordable Day Trips
Ireland is small, and there is plenty you can see by just taking day trip. Local tour offices in major cities offer a variety of tours targeted to your needs and interests to multiple destinations across the Island. It’s a great way to see the sights, and if you get a good guide, hear some great folklore and stories about the area. It’s also a great way to meet fellow travellers. Before you book, check and see if your hotel has any discounts or affiliation with a certain company, and check online for discount codes. Student fares are available on most tours if you have proper ID (any student ID is accepted).
There are plenty of day trip options available from both Dublin and Galway, many of which are priced around the $50 mark. Some of my favourites to recommend are:
The Irish are known for being friendly, and this stereotype doesn’t disappoint. If you are looking to get in with the locals, Ireland is a great place to do it, and what better place to find yourself some local friends than at the pub.
Pubs are great and many serve as restaurants as well as the watering hole for your nightly entertainment. All age groups can be found here; from young and barely legal teenagers to old grandfathers with hearing aids and jaunty caps. The pub culture of Ireland is one of the best things in the country and everyone is welcome.
Don’t worry about being alone, just grab a seat at the bar and chat to the bartender. Sooner or later you’ll fall into conversation with some fellow patrons and before you know it you’ll have some new drinking buddies.
*Tip: Proper Irish drinking etiquette is to buy everyone a round. So if people are taking turns buying you drinks, it’s not just because you are alone or good looking. Keep things going by buying everyone a round when it’s your turn, or else you might lose your new found friends.
So if you dream of chasing leprechauns (or more likely, sheep), dancing to traditional music in pubs, and drinking your weight in Irish beer with locals, then head to Ireland for an epic solo travel experience.
Tips to Keep in Mind: aka How NOT to Make a Fool of Yourself in Ireland
- When people tell you the ‘crack’ is great, they aren’t talking about drugs. Craic is the Irish word for a fun atmosphere. So if you are looking for a good time, yes you want to go somewhere with great craic.
- If you are waiting to be served and someone asks if you are alright, they don’t actually care how your day is going. They are ready to help you or take your order.
- A proper Guinness is poured in stages, so don’t panic if you order and the bartender pours half your pint and then moves along to someone else. He/ she didn’t forget about you, just give it a minute.
- Drinking in Ireland is a social event; it’s not a race to see who can pound back the pints the fastest. Pace yourself.
- Baby Guinness shots are the best things ever. Trust me.
Must Have Travel Accessories for Solo Travel
I love solo travel, but it does mean I need to take some extra precautions. For any other solo travellers out there, especially my ladies, I highly recommend you pack the following:
- A lockable backpack for when you are in crowded areas and have nobody to keep an eye on your back.
- A whistle in case of an emergency. It’s an easy and reliable way to get attention worldwide
- A lightweight power bank. There is nothing worse than your phone dying when you are using it as a map!
- Activated charcoal for tummy troubles– the best solution when there is nobody you can count on to go to the pharmacy for you.
- Door stopper. Most hostels/hotels are safe, but if you are worried this will help you sleep better.
Psst: Need more help planning your trip to Ireland? Check out my Ireland-specific blog, Ireland Stole My Heart for tips and advice.
A Note on Travel Insurance in Ireland
Please, do NOT travel without travel insurance! I’ve had to rely on mine twice before (once for damaged luggage, once because I developed a lung infection while traveling). While the cost may seem annoying and better spent elsewhere, trust me when I say you’ll be sorry if you don’t have it. For just a couple bucks a day, you can save yourself a whole lot of stress and money. I like to recommend SafetyWing for travel medical insurance. With prices starting at $37 for 4 weeks, they are one of the most affordable options I’ve found. Learn more about the importance of travel insurance here.
*This article was updated Jan 2018.