Ireland has a famous pub culture. If you're thirsty and want to drop by a for a pint, however, you should know some of the basics. First, smoking is banned in all pubs and restaurants in Ireland. Second, pubs often close earlier than American bars. On weekends many places will be open until 12:30 a.m., with 11:30 p.m. being the standard closing hours during the week.
Ireland can be a blustery place. If you plan to spend a lot of time in the elements, you will want to be prepared. Expect both rain and wind, and pack accordingly. Remember both a raincoat and a rain cover for your backpack. Coats with cinches are best, since Irish rain is often accompanied by wind and chill. Weather can also vary by region, with the west coast experiencing both higher rainfalls and warmer temperatures. While the coast may have occasional snow or hail, there are typically far fewer days of below-freezing weather. Ireland is known for its open terrain and infrequent lightning, making the Irish countryside a reasonably safe place in a storm.
Most goods and food in Ireland have a Value Added Tax (VAT), which adds 17 to 22 percent to any bill. Luckily, when it comes to goods, tourists are entitled to a refund. Keep track of your expenses and fill out a refund document at the airport. Just by saving your receipts you can get a bundle of money back when you leave for home.
Ireland is famous for its remarkable history, but there are also a number of natural attractions worth seeking out. Check out the Cliffs of Moher and the Giant's Causeway for natural sights that don't involve castles, pubs or historical battles.
Cliffs of Moher
Over 133 miles in length, the Kerry Way is one of the best opportunities for experienced walkers to explore Ireland. The trail is designed to accommodate a number of skill levels by avoiding many of the highest peaks in the area. There is also a well-marked bicycle trail that follows roughly the same route as the trails on Kerry Way.
Hostels and Camping
While camping in Ireland might sound easy because of its open terrain, the difficulties can quickly stack up. The weather is only the first obstacle. Camping is subject to the explicit permission of the property owner, meaning that no matter how remote the field you set your tent in may seem, you are likely breaking the law. This leaves commercial pay sites. Hostels are an exceptional alternative to camping for backpackers. Hostels often have their own rules. While many hostels will offer towels and other amenities, service is likely to be inconsistent. Bring your own towel. Many hostels are connected through Hostelworld, allowing you to plan your trip in advance.