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7 Big Mistakes To Avoid When Planning A Trip To Ireland

There is plenty of information on the web about planning a trip to Ireland, but most of it focuses on what you should do. We even have an Ultimate Ireland Road Trip Itinerary that tells you what to do and how to plan. But this guide is different. This is going to tell you what you should AVOID doing when planning a trip to Ireland. Don’t worry, it isn’t all as scary as you may think. Ireland is an easy-going country to visit, but there are a few things to keep in mind when planning your Ireland itinerary. 

We have been to Ireland countless times at this point and have made countless mistakes. This [unfortunatly] has given us first-hand knowledge on what you should NOT DO when planning a trip to Ireland. Ireland was the very first country abroad we have ever visited. We have since been back many times and have covered just about everywhere on the island. From the quaint small towns in Ireland to the rugged north of Donegal, these tips apply to everyone planning a trip to Ireland!

Save money on your trip to Ireland! Get a FREE $55 Airbnb coupon by using our code when you book! 

Mistakes To Avoid When Planning A Trip To Ireland

7 Big Mistakes To Avoid When Planning A Trip To Ireland

Mistake #1: Spending Too Much Time In Dublin

Ask pretty much every native Irish or Northern Irish person and they will tell you to get the heck out of Dublin. This is a mistake we made on our very first trip to Ireland. We flew into Dublin and stayed there the whole time, with the exception of taking small day trips to the nearby towns of Howth and Bray [highly recommend!]

If you only have one day in Ireland, then sure, spend it in Dublin because that makes sense. But if you are planning a trip to Ireland that is longer than just a day or two, you should avoid spending too much time in Dublin. Why? Dublin is a nice city, but it is extremely expensive and hotels and restaurants will break the bank. While there is a lot to see and do, it is really not that interesting when you compare it to the rest of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Spending too much time in Dublin is a common mistake people make when planning a trip to Ireland [we did too!] We highly encourage you to NOT make the same mistake we did and only spend a short time in Dublin before leaving to see the rest of this beautiful country. We recommend 1-3 days at the most, depending on what you want to see and do. If you can swing 1-2 days, that is even better! Check out this guide on How To Spend 2 Days In Dublin

If you do choose to stay in Dublin for your 1-3 days or how many ever, we recommend the below hotels for your visit! Ireland has many fantastic hotel options including the ability to stay in castles, even in Dublin!

Where to Stay In Dublin:

Luxury: Clontarf Castle Hotel. Check prices: Booking.comHotels.com

Budget: The Charles Stewart Guesthouse. Check Prices: Booking.com | Hotels.com

Mid-Range: The Artist Residence Dublin. Check Prices: Booking.com 

Get out of Dublin when planning a trip to Ireland

Mistake #2. Trying To Do Too Much In One Trip

Another huge mistake people make when planning a trip to Ireland is trying to pack in too much into one trip. Again, how do we know this? Because we did it too and constantly see others doing the same thing. Ireland may look small on the map, but it is actually quite big when you have to explore the whole thing. There is also so much to see and do. This is why we have been back to Ireland so many times! We have never been able to see and do all we want in one trip so we have to go back.

When planning a trip to Ireland, we highly recommend NOT burning out. By burning out, we mean trying to do way too much in a short amount of time. We recommend choosing a few things to do and spending longer at those things than choosing a lot of things to do and only getting a few hours at each. Of course, whatever type of trip you want to spend is completely up to you, but slower travel will really let you know more about Ireland and it will be much more enjoyable. 

While you are planning your trip to Ireland, we recommend choosing your highlights and then going from there. Choose the places you must see and make those a priority. If they are all spread throughout the country and you have only a short amount of time, you may want to rethink your Ireland itinerary.

Sometimes it is better to do the top half or the bottom half of the country if you only have a short time, say, 5 days. If your main reason to visit Ireland is to see some fantastic scenery, then make that your priority and don’t try and fit in shopping and pubs and cultural stops all in a few days. This will make you feel burnt out and at the end of the day, you really won’t enjoy the nature that you traveled all the way to Ireland to see! 

Don't cram too much in when planning a trip to Ireland

Mistake #3: Being Too Scared To Drive In Ireland

We are from the United States so we drive on the “right” side of the road. As you may know, in Ireland they drive on the “left” side of the road which scares many people away from renting a car. This is a HUGE MISTAKE when planning your trip to Ireland because renting a car will provide you with so much freedom. If a tour is more your style then that is totally fine and there are some great tours in Ireland that will take you out of Dublin with ease if you are only in Ireland for a few days. You can see our favorite Day Tours From Dublin here!

We suggest checking out AutoEurope.com to find the best and most affordable rate when renting a car in Ireland. This is what we personally use and it allows you to compare rates across a variety of popular car rental websites including Hertz, Sixt, Europcar, Alamo, Dollar, Enterprise and more. This way, you can see a bunch of different prices for your Ireland car hire without skipping around through a bunch of different websites. Make sure to check out the larger cities such as Dublin, Belfast, and Cork for the best deals on car rentals in Ireland! 

We are talking to those of you who are planning a trip to Ireland and WANT to drive but are AFRAID to. We have driven on the “wrong” side of the road multiple times in Ireland and now we feel like professionals at it. We want to really and truly tell you that it is is NOT as bad as you think and skipping renting a car in Ireland is a mistake! If you rent a car from the airport, you will immediately be on motorway [aka insterstate] and that is the EASIEST place to learn how to drive on the opposite side of the road. Unlike driving in your home country where everything is memorized and you drive like a machine and don’t think about it, you DO have to “think” about driving in Ireland because it is so different from the norm.

We actually think this makes you into a safer driver because you have to put some thought into what you are doing. Our best advice is to drive SLOWLY and CAREFULLY but with confidence. If you turn on your GPS and plug in the location you are heading to, the GPS will put a “path” on your smartphone and you can easily see which way you are going to turn and how. This makes it a little easier for you to visualize when driving.

Driving in Ireland opens the doors to so many more things to see and do. You can drive out to sunset at the Cliffs Of Moher and then down to dinner at a pub. You can drive up to a castle ruins in the distance and spend as long as you want there. You can take a car ferry to a small Irish island for Ice cream. All of these intimate and memorable experiences can be done when you rent a car in Ireland and have a little bit of confidence when driving yourself.

If you have never driven on the “wrong” side of the road, make sure to rent an automatic transmission car. Manual vehicles will be so much cheaper, but it will be very difficult to learn how to drive a stick shift car ” backward. An automatic transmission is driven the same way on the left side of the road as it is on the right side of the road and the pedals are in the same order. With a stick shift, you will have to gear shift with your left hand instead of your right and the narrow roads of Ireland aren’t exactly where we recommend doing things. 

Don't be afraid to drive when planning a trip to Ireland

Mistake #4: Spending Too Much Money On An International Cell Service Plan

Luckily, with Sprint and T-Mobile, we get free international data and text messages so we don’t have to pay for a pricey international plan like others who have AT&T or Verizon. If you have a phone carrier with an expensive international plan, DO NOT GET IT! You don’t need it. Spending too much money on a pricey international cell phone plan is one of the biggest mistakes people make when planning a trip to Ireland. We were spared from making this mistake because our plans had it included, but know so many people who don’t know this simple trick we are about to share.

When planning a trip to Ireland, you are going to want to get a SIM CARD for “3” NETWORK. The SIM card was for UNLIMITED smartphone data in Ireland and we paid around 30 Euros for an entire month of data. Now, our first time using an international SIM card was in Ireland so we were skeptical at the coverage. And we are here to tell you that the coverage was BETTER than we get in our own home in the USA. The 4G speeds were so fast and allowed us to use all of our apps and social media just like a local Irish person would. All for the price of 30 euros for an entire month. We were shocked. We were impressed. We think it will be a huge mistake if you buy an expensive international plan instead of getting a 3 SIM card when planning a trip to Ireland.

Where do you buy a 3 SIM card? You can buy it at a 3 store in Dublin or anywhere around the country. Simply tell them you want the unlimited plan and pop it in your phone. It is so easy anyone can do it. WORD FROM THE WISE: Make sure that your smartphone is “unlocked” for International SIM card usage. This involves calling or tweeting your cell carrier to ensure that it is unlocked for SIM additions. Simply tell them you are traveling abroad and want to get an international SIM and that you need your phone unlocked. This is one of the easiest tips we have for you when planning a trip to Ireland because it makes getting around so much easier. 

Mistakes to avoid when planning a trip to Ireland

Mistake #5: Completely Writing Off Northern Ireland 

Northern Ireland is part of the UK but is located on the island of Ireland. The “Republic of Ireland” is the place that most people travel, but Northern Ireland is so worth the trip. Many people make the mistake of never considering visiting Northern Ireland for one reason or the other. Maybe they think Northern Ireland is dangerous, as Belfast once was. Maybe they think there isn’t much to do. Or maybe they just aren’t all that familiar with Northern Ireland to even put it on the map when planning a trip to Ireland.

We are here to tell you that Northern Ireland has so much to see and do. It is easy to visit and Belfast is just 2 hours from Dublin. The country is 100% SAFE to visit and the natural scenery is unparalleled. In Northern Ireland, there are castles that tower over the ocean and look fake, even when you are standing in front of them, there are sea cliffs and enchanting forests and rolling hills and bustling cities and towns. Maybe you have heard of a little show called “Game Of Thrones.” Game Of Thrones was actually filmed in Northern Ireland and you can visit all of the places where filming took place. We even put together this Game Of Thrones Ireland Itinerary to show you the best of the filming spots and activities. 

You can easily drive, take the train, take a bus, or fly into Northern Ireland. Visiting Northern Ireland is a fun way to technically visit two countries on one trip [UK and Ireland] and as soon as you cross the border you will see the British flag fly and the dialect change. We think a huge mistake people make when planning a trip to Ireland is writing off Northern Ireland from the itinerary and we just wanted to shed a little awareness so you can make an informed decision! 

Check Hotel Prices In Belfast: Booking.com | Hotels.com

planning a trip to Ireland Don't miss Northern Ireland

Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland is a magical place to visit

Mistake #6: Prioritizing The Ring Of Kerry

We had heard so much about the famed Ring Of Kerry drive in Ireland. After four trips to Ireland, we FINALLY decided to drive the Ring Of Kerry drive and we are here to tell you that it was a total waste of time. It was also moms first time to Ireland and she was on the floor of the car super sick from the narrow roads and unimpressed from the scenery. We had been to pretty much everywhere else in Ireland before we made it to the Ring Of Kerry so we had high standards and the Ring Of Kerry fell flat. 

A huge mistake people make when planning a trip to Ireland is putting too much focus on driving the Ring Of Kerry. You heard it here first! Skip the Ring Of Kerry. It doesn’t offer the best scenery in Ireland or even in the area. It is overly crowded with massive tour buses who try and make their way down incredibly narrow roads at incredibly fast speeds. And you even have to PAY to see attractions such as the Kerry Cliffs. It was just….unimpressive and we think you should skip it.

So if you skip the Ring Of Kerry what should you do instead? If you are in southern Ireland [near the Ring of Kerry area] we HIGHLY recommend the Dingle Peninsula. We cannot suggest visiting Dingle enough. It is everything the Ring Of Kerry should be and more. Epic views, Star Wars filming locations, little cottages, cute small towns, and not many massive tour coaches. A friend recommended Dingle to us and we only budgeted one night on the peninsula which was a HUGE MISTAKE! Skip the Ring Of Kerry and spend that time on Dingle instead. You can check out this list of 10 Things To Do In Dingle Ireland too! 

If you aren’t going to Southern Ireland, DO NOT WORRY there are so many other scenic drives other than Ring Of Kerry and Dingle. The “Causeway Coast” drive in Northern Ireland is stunning and way easier to drive than Ring Of Kerry. If you are in the far north of Ireland in Donegal, pretty much every road is fantastic. Pretty much anywhere along the Wild Atlantic Way is scenic and beautiful and was less crowded than Ring Of Kerry. Do your research and do whatever you want anyway, but we want you to go into planning a trip to Ireland with full knowledge that there are way prettier things to see in Ireland than the Ring Of Kerry. 

Where To Stay On The Dingle Peninsula:

Mid-Range. Dingle Benners Hotel. Check Prices: Booking.com | Hotels.com

Affordable: Dingle Skellig Hotel Check Prices: Booking.com | Hotels.com

Skip Ring Of Kerry and head to Dingle when planning a trip to Ireland

See this epic view? This is Dingle! You really want to go here!

Mistake #7: Only Traveling To Ireland In The Summer

Most people think that they can only plan a trip to Ireland during the summer. Why? Because that is when it will be the greenest with the best weather. We are here to tell you that this isn’t exactly true. You can plan a trip to Ireland any time of year and we highly recommend visiting during the off-season. When we visited during the summer or warmer months, the entire island was crowded as locals were off work for bank holidays and the heat made hotels without air conditioning unbearable.

We recommend checking out Skyscanner to find the best and most affordable time of year to visit Ireland. We use this tool to discover the best flights for our trip because you can easily compare rates. We also suggest booking your Ireland itinerary on a travel credit card so you can earn points towards future travel! These are the travel credit cards we personally use! 

When we visited Ireland in the spring or fall, we had a fantastic time every single time we visited. The weather was cool and pleasant, the tourist season was low, prices were cheaper, and we didn’t need AC in a hotel. We were also SHOCKED to discover that Ireland is pretty much green 24/7 due to high rainfalls so if you want to see Ireland green, you can visit any time of year. We visited Ireland once in October and fall in Ireland was just stunning. The weather was beyond fantastic and there were hardly any other visitors. On the other hand, when we visited in June, we were fighting with tourists for a parking spot and everything was overcrowded.

If summer is the only time you have to plan a trip to Ireland then please, feel free! But we just want to let you know that summer isn’t the ONLY time you have to plan your trip. Ireland is essentially a year-round destination and we have had great experiences visiting when the air is cooler and more pleasant outside. 

Fall is a wonderful time when planning a trip to Ireland

We hope this post helped you figure out a few mistakes to avoid when planning a trip to Ireland. Ireland is the first country we visited abroad and remains one of our favorite countries without fail. We can’t wait for you to experience it and we hope that these tips help you when planning your Ireland itinerary. They aren’t meant to scare you, but to make you “think” about a few alternative mindsets! 

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Big Mistakes To Avoid In Ireland

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big mistakes to avoid when planning a trip to ireland

10 big mistakes to avoid in ireland


39 thoughts on “7 Big Mistakes To Avoid When Planning A Trip To Ireland

  1. Kitti mcnamara

    Omg. Ty. Ty. Ty. I will be changing so much. You are a godsend. Perhaps my husband will love what I will plan now. Ty. Ty. Ty

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Awwww! Thank you for this kind comment! I hope you have SO MUCH FUN in Ireland! It is a fantastic place!

  2. Katie

    I’ve been to Ireland 3 different times. And each time I tell myself that the next time I’ll rent a car. But it still freaks me out. Thankfully they have good bus services!

  3. Michael Sheehan

    Very good tips thank you. I respectfully disagree that the ring of Kerry is that bad. The road from Killarney to Kenmare and across the mountains like the gap of Dunloe and Ballaghbeama gap along the spine of the mountains to glencar are wild and spectacular. Maybe not so much the ring itself. Go get lost in ireland outside Dublin ( and I lived in Dublin for 15 years) And don’t forget to talk to the natives. They are very friendly especially outside Dublin. They are Ireland’s true treasure. It’s not known as ireland of the welcomes for nothing.

    1. Joanne

      Completely agree with you. Just returned a week ago and the Ring of Kerry did not disappoint. Wouldn’t suggest missing it.

    2. Kate

      For the more adventurous, The Kerry Way through hike can be a fantastic way to see Co. Kerry without the tour bus crowds.
      Lasr July, I tracked the entire trail hopping between towns and staying at B&B’s. it can easily be done in selected shorter spans.

      it is a treasure.

  4. Kathy

    Thanks so much for the tips! My daughter & I are going in October. The cell phone info was very helpful. Dingle Peninsula and Northern Ireland are on our list! Thanks again!

    1. Dawn

      We were there last October one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. We had a blast hoping to make another trip next year. Have fun. We loved the Ring of Kerry. Do agree Dublin is a waste to spend too much time. Roads were fun to us a little scary in some places. Can’t wait to return.

    2. Joanne

      Dingle is spectacular. Check out Harrington’s fish and chips and Murphys ice cream. What a beautiful part of the island!

  5. Kerry Kissane

    Great post and tips. It’s a shame you didn’t enjoy the Ring of Kerry, though I definitely wouldn’t call it a “total waste of time”! Yes it can very overcrowded and both the Dingle Peninsula and Beara Peninsula offer stunning alternatives but there is some incredible scenery along the route, particularly between Kenmare and Killarney. Valentia Island is also stunning. The views from Geokaun Mountain and Bray Head on the island are outstanding. Skellig Ring Scenic Drive is another favourite and I love the Kerry Cliffs and the views out to the Skellig Islands and over the surrounding countryside. Spend some time exploring beautiful St Finian’s Bay and sample the chocolate at the nearby Skelligs Chocolate factory before grabbing lunch or dinner in the colourful village of Portmagee. It’s a wonderful part of the country and I wouldn’t rule it out. Just my two cents!

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Thanks so much for sharing! We should change it it isn’t a TOTAL waste of time but there are so many other great things to see and do too that people shouldn’t rule out!

    2. Melanie McNamara

      I agree with you Kerry…the ring of Kerry was beautiful and this is coming from someone who is anxious on narrow winding roads…so glad that I didn’t miss it and we are going back in May.

  6. Sami

    Just finished my 5th Ireland trip. These are awesome tips and want to reinforce a couple.
    Every trip has been in either February or March and it’s been fantastic. Less crowded and lower costs. Lots of green and the people are friendly year round. Lol
    The dingle peninsula is amazing. Ringing Kerry is overrated and usually foggy.
    Belfast and the Giants Causeway are not to be missed.
    While driving may be intimidating at first, pay the extra for a car with automatic transmission and take lots of breaths! You’ll be fine!
    Thanks for a great post-go soon-airfare has been so low!

  7. Elaine Stover

    I need info before I plan my first trip to Ireland, a guided tour. I will be alone, my husband died and I will be coming in July. I plan to stay 3 days after the tour ends. From Dublin I want to see Newgrange but heard it is too crowded and under some construction preventing me from seeing the area. I also wanted to take the Maeve Binchy walk but some postings say it also is not available, do you know?

  8. Taiss

    So glad for these tips! Really good info for us going this summer. We ARE planning on going to Northern Ireland, too, so it’s good to know we are good for doing that! I think we will be sure to rent a car since we did it in Scotland and it was fantastic! For two weeks, ti think we will get to see a lot but will try not to plan too much!

  9. Tina

    Thank you for the post. Great read and the phone idea, $$ saver! We are going to Scotland after Ireland this Summer…do you happen to know if the SIM card will work in Scotland as well?

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      I want to say yes that the 3 network works in the UK too because it is also in London but go ahead and check just to be sure!!

    2. Follow Me Away Post author

      From what I understand, SIM cards may work through the EU, but can only by reloaded in the country it was purchased in.

  10. Christine Ross

    Great article. You reinforced what we have planned for our trip this summer through Ireland. I’m glad to read about the Ring of Kerry as I have heard that from others as well. Dingle for sure!

  11. Laura Shoemaker

    Do NOT stay at the Holiday Hotel in Galway! Not heat, no hot water, LOUD music until 1:30 am, broken tv. Horrible, horrific, horrible!!!

  12. Liz

    Thanks for the wonderful tips and information. My friends and I are visiting Ireland in June. We have left out Northern part but after hearing what you say we will add it on our list. Thank you.

  13. Kerstin

    Thank you, Victoria and Terrence, for these helpful tips, especially the pep talk about driving and not packing too much in. I’m taking my fourteen-year-old daughter to the Republic in June, and we’re spending two nights in Dublin, staying in a dorm at Trinity College. I think it’ll be a novel experience, especially for her! It’s close to shops and restaurants and a couple of museums. I think our real visit will begin once we leave the city. I would offer another tip for your readers: fly into one airport and out the other, to make your trip more efficient. I haven’t been to Ireland yet, and I’ve already made that mistake. I wish I had booked tickets to fly into Dublin and out of Shannon, as we are concentrating on the West Coast, ending in Killarney. On the day before we leave, I have to book it back to the Dublin area, which could be a four hour trip-or more. We’re staying at an Air bnb for two nights beforehand. If you have any advice about this, such as staying only one night in Killarney (I wanted to stay two nights to make it more relaxing), I’ll gladly take it. Thanks!

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      Hey!! That is a great tip! We have stayed on the west coast of Ireland and traveled back to Dublin airport for a flight the day of. Just make sure you are at the airport 3 hours before your flight and then budget enough time to get there and drop off your car. Our flights usually aren’t until the afternoon so if you have an early flight of course this won’t be able to happen. have so much fun!

  14. Lauren Grieger

    LOVE THESE TIPS! Last time I was in Ireland was on a tour so I am SO EXCITED to travel it properly!
    Where is the last photo taken? The stunning gateway across the road? Looks beautiful!

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      That is in Tollymore Forest in Northern Ireland. It is an INCREDIBLE place! So magical and stunning

  15. Bridget Pertlicek

    Thanks for the great tips! Do you know anything about buying a cheap prepaid phone over in Ireland and using it while there instead of the SIM card?

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      No I am sorry we don’t have more information on this as we have never done it! Consider emailing or calling the tourism board! Have fun!

  16. JUDY S

    Thank you so much for these tips. I’ve been trying to plan for 2 days and was completely overwhelmed. I was trying to pack so much into 7 days, that I was to the point of tears trying to figure it all out. I’m so glad you wrote about the ring of Kerry because I get car sick. So I’m crossing that off my list.

    1. Follow Me Away Post author

      YES!!! You will get VERY VERY car sick on Ring Of Kerry!! Do Dingle Instead it is super pretty and way less crazy. The Slea Head loop is very narrow but you can take it slow and you won’t get sick and it is very short only like 30 min vs 4 hours!

  17. Rasyiqah H

    You are absolutely true. I almost skipped Belfast but then my friend told me I should swing my plan a bit and it was a total blast!. I enjoy every moment in both countries. I travelled during winter and it was raining all day long but i never stops me from enjoying every scenery.

  18. Mary

    I would completely agree with this list (except for the Northern Ireland part because we did not have time to experience that area). We just returned from Ireland a week ago. Driving is great for all the reasons listed, but be sure to get an automatic if it is your first time. We should have as my husband ended up driving for the entire week by himself. I would have been comfortable driving on the left side, but only with an auto transmission. The roads can be quite narrow and there are lots of bikers, walkers and areas where you need to pull over to the side of the road for other cars which requires a lot of shifting. I’m glad we went to Dublin but I agree to spend only 1 or 2 nights. Dingle was our favorite part of the trip with a stop in Doolin after that. As far as cell service, we used the travel pass option with our provider. Even then I would advise not always counting on having service. We found ourselfs a bit lost on the Isle of Mull trying to find our cottage rental and no service to call the owner. Luckily we did find a red pay phone in the middle of nowhere that was in working order.

  19. Carter

    I wanted to drop you a line to thank you for this. I just got back from 10 days in Ireland. I was nervous about driving there, but I followed your advice about renting an automatic, and starting from the Dublin airport and hopping right onto the motorway. By the time I got down to the peninsulas in the southwest I was reasonably comfortable, which was good because the boreens presented a whole new challenge — but again, after a little time on them I got the hang of it and actually really enjoyed driving on Ireland’s narrow country roads!

    Also, as another alternative to the Ring of Kerry, I actually liked the Beara Peninsula even more than Dingle. It was very quiet, a bit isolated, and seemed very off the normal tourist paths. Several places I went, there was literally not another human in sight, so if that’s something you like (I certainly do), consider Beara!

    Thanks again!

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