Solo Travel to Ireland: Everything You Need to Know
Want to travel solo to Ireland? You’re making a great decision. For example, I think Dublin is one of the best places to travel alone in Europe, due to its many great museums, social and fun hostels, and venues for live Irish music. Furthermore, Ireland is a very stress-free trip to anyone planning their first international solo journey. And, duh, Ireland’s totally beautiful.
I’ve written about Ireland multiple times on this website, but I still wanted to dedicate an entire post to planning a solo trip to Ireland since I know the majority of my readers travel by themselves (like me!). I promise Ireland is a great choice for traveling alone.
Reasons I (Highly) Recommend Solo Travel to Ireland.
Let’s break it down. Ireland makes a good first solo trip for quite a few reasons. As I’ve said, Ireland is relatively stress-free for new and anxious travelers. Need some examples? You don’t need to worry about getting travel vaccines, learning a new language if you’re a native English speaker, or avoiding tourist scams that happen in other European countries. The most dangerous thing is missing your connection at the Dublin airport, which is pretty busy; arrive super early so your travel plans aren’t disrupted.
But, anyway, what about travelers who’ve been around the world a couple times? Should they consider a solo trip to Ireland? Absolutely! Ireland isn’t just an “easy” destination for new travelers who wanna get their feet wet. I also highly recommend Ireland to experienced solo female travelers who already have a few countries under their belts. As someone who’s traveled extensively, you can utilize your confidence to “get off the tourist” path and see some truly spectacular scenery, such as rugged cliff sides and forgotten castles.
Now let’s get into specific reasons why solo travel to Ireland is a fantastic idea! Take notes.
1. Everyone Speaks English.
I know, I know. But I felt like I had to include this point since the vast majority of my readers are native English speakers.
While it’s not too much to ask to learn a few phrases of Spanish or French, the fact that everyone speaks English makes going to Ireland alone much more simple, especially for new travelers who might feel shy about using an unfamiliar language. Ireland is used to tourists and has a great infrastructure already in place. Signs are clearly labeled in English and Irish. Menus are straight-forward for English speakers. You don’t need to think too hard.
Furthermore, the Irish are known for being friendly to, well, everybody. Like I said, this is a country that is very used to welcoming newcomers. Sit down in a pub and grab a pint, and I highly doubt you’ll be alone for very long. Just use your manners, and you’ll be fine!
2. You’ll See Breathtaking Scenery.
In Ireland, you’ll spend a lot of time exploring the countryside. Sure, Dublin’s great fun and Belfast’s history is fascinating, but you can’t visit Ireland and not soak up the spectacular nature. Ireland’s utterly gorgeous.
For example, the most famous natural wonders in Ireland are the Cliffs of Moher and Giant’s Causeway, and no trip to Ireland is complete without seeing them. The Cliffs of Moher, in particular, took my breath away.
You’ll also feel a deep sense of peace in Ireland’s National Parks like Killarney and Connemara. And don’t forget about the rocky and other-worldly Burren National Park. I honestly felt like I was walking around on Mars.
3. Ireland is Easy to Get To.
Honestly, if you’re coming from the east coasts of the United States and Canada, Ireland isn’t too far of a flight. Plus the country is very well-connected. Dublin’s international airport has many direct routes to major cities. And like I said, the duration of the flight is nothing insane. For example, it only takes six hours (roughly) to go from Newark Liberty to Dublin. Flying to, say, San Francisco takes just as long.
Not to mention, are you money conscientious and don’t want to shell out over $1000 for your great European solo adventure?
Never fear! Ireland’s usually cheaper to fly than other European countries making it an attractive option to budget travelers who want to go to Europe. I’ve seen prices for as low as $300 to Ireland. You can’t beat a trans-Atlantic flight for that price. Flying to Florida over Christmas is more expensive than that (but that’s a whole other rant for a different day).
4. You Can Listen to Traditional Irish Music.
You can’t talk about Ireland without referencing its musical tradition. Although Dublin has tons of events, you’ll find trad music in even the smallest towns in Ireland. Pull up a chair with the locals and listen to the musicians. Or stand up and dance if you’re feeling super confident.
I enjoyed Irish music every single night of my trip! You ought to do the same. Irish music breathes life into you.
5. See Two Countries for the Price of One.
Are you spending a week or more in Ireland? Then you don’t want to skip Northern Ireland on your adventure. It’s completely worth your time.
Truth be told, visiting Northern Ireland was a major highlight of my own trip way back in 2014 (gosh, I’m old). As a part of the UK, Northern Ireland has a completely different “feel” than the Republic of Ireland. Make sure to bring pounds or a no foreign transaction fee credit card with you to Northern Ireland. Some establishments don’t accept Euros. You don’t want to be “caught” without money.
Planning a Solo Trip to Ireland.
As I’ve said, Ireland’s a relaxing destination for you to visit. However, traveling solo to Ireland still requires plenty of research on your end. Don’t go in completely blind, or you’ll miss out. You have a complete of key decisions to make before your plane takes off the runway.
Read guidebooks and blogs. Check out where guided tours go. Watch travel videos focusing on Ireland. There’s so much to see and do that it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
1. Independent Travel vs. A Guided Tour.
As a solo traveler, you have the option of traveling independently or taking a guided tour. Both forms of travel have their pros and cons.
If you choose to go completely alone, you have absolute and total control over your itinerary. You pick your overnight bases, as well as the length of time to spend in each location. Accommodation, attractions, activities, and food are all within your power.
However, Ireland isn’t like Germany or Italy where it’s easy to hop on a train and reach smaller cities and towns. While Ireland does have a train system, it is impossible to reach the more beautiful areas of the national parks without renting a car (more on that later). Transportation makes planning an entirely independent trip more complicated if you’re not a confident driver. Roads in Ireland a lot different than highways in the United States or Canada.
Going on a guided tour removes the hassle of having to rent a car or navigate the train and bus systems. Personally, I recommend Shamrocker Adventures. This budget-minded tour is geared toward fun-loving backpackers so you’ll make a lot of new friends and smashing memories on your trip.
Of course, there are some downsides on taking a guided tour. You’ll have to sacrifice some independence. Meaning if you really love a place, you can’t extend your stay unless you decide to leave the tour.
2. How to Get Around Ireland.
As I’ve said, Ireland’s not as easy to get around on public transportation as other European countries. Sure, reaching the big cities is very doable without a car, but the natural wonders don’t have specific train stations. Even service to smaller towns is limited.
Book train tickets ahead of time for the best prices. My suggestion, if you’re going by train, is to base yourself in large cities and then take day trips to the harder to reach areas. You’ll make friends on your tours, too.
If you’re planning to rent a car, check out this comprehensive guide to driving around Ireland for all the information you need. Ireland’s road conditions are a lot different.
Packing for Traveling Alone to Ireland.
As a solo traveler, you’re responsible for your own packing. Forgetting items is a lot more of a pain in the neck when you’re alone than when you’re taking trips with friends and family. Don’t leave these essential things at home!
1. Comfortable Walking Shoes.
Don’t wear flashy high heels around Ireland. Your feet will hate you forever. Instead opt for comfortable shoes that are also waterproof. For example, these trek sneakers by Clark’s would be a great option for your solo trip to Ireland. They come in a variety of colors. If you’re planning on more vigorous hikes, then invest in a quality pair of waterproof hiking boots for your adventure. You don’t want to accidentally twist your ankle.
2. Travel Insurance.
Never go abroad without proper travel insurance. Your health insurance might not cover accidents overseas so it’s impeccable you do your research and protect yourself. For my trips, I use World Nomads. Their rates are reasonable, and I’ve never had an issue with them yet!
3. A Rain Jacket and Umbrella.
It rains in Ireland. I know. Stating the obvious. Even if your weather app promises sun, still pack a rain jacket and umbrella, because Ireland’s weather is highly changeable. Get a travel umbrella that’s windproof so you’ll enjoy maximum protection without taking up a ton of space in your luggage.
4. A Reliable Guidebook for Ireland.
Ireland has a lot of hidden gems waiting for you to discover them. You might even find yourself inside a fairy circle of near a leprechaun’s well. Pack a solid guidebook for Ireland so you don’t miss something special. You’re responsible for all the planning, remember?
5. Moisture-Wicking Scarf.
Ireland’s still pretty chilly into the summer months. Don’t only pack tank tops and shorts, or else you’ll be in for a bad time. These outdoor magic scarfs are great options for keeping warm, and they come in several colors.
6. Electric Adapter for Ireland.
Ireland uses different adapters than the United States/Canada, as well as mainland Europe. So, even if you’re coming from nearby Spain or France, you still need to bring an appropriate adapter with you to Ireland. You want the adapter plug with the big three prongs as pictured here.
Is Solo Travel to Ireland Safe?
Yes, absolutely. I’m willing to say that Ireland’s even safer than your native country. As a solo woman, I had zero problems wandering around Ireland alone. The most trouble I had was a homeless man asking me for money – which is honestly nothing compared to other experiences I’ve had at home in New Jersey.
But safety shouldn’t give you an excuse act in a complacent manner. Indifference kills. Therefore, use normal precautions in larger cities, such as Dublin (and Belfast if you’re headed to Northern Ireland). If someone tries to take your wallet or phone, let them. Material possessions are not worth your life.
As a solo traveler, remember that drinking culture is rampant in Ireland. Don’t feel “pressured” to keep up with your new Irish friends. Two or three drinks is my recommended limit.
Another note. Although memories of The Troubles still linger, Northern Ireland is also very safe for solo travelers, especially in the beautiful greenery of the Antrim Coast. Be mindful when speaking about The Troubles, though. Some people might be willing to share their personal thoughts and experiences. However, others might react in a hostile way. To be safe, keep your Troubles-related questions to the guides on the Black Cab tours. They are paid to tell you about the political and social turmoil, and won’t take anything personally.
Traveling Alone in Ireland & Making Friends.
Are you worried about being lonely when you’re traveling alone to Ireland? Don’t be. It’s very easy for you to make friends on the Emerald Isle.
Ireland has a lot of great hostels. Communal accommodation makes it a zillion times easier to talk to other travelers.
Of course, you can also sign up for a fully guided tour of Ireland, creating an instant circle of friends. Granted, you can’t decide who you travel with and your personality might not mess with everyone else’s, but you’re bound to strike up conversations with at least one other solo traveler.
Do you plan on doing solo travel to Ireland in the near future? Have you ever been to Ireland? What are your recommendations? Share in the comments.
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