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Hints and Tips for Your Visit To Ireland

If you’ve long dreamed of visiting the Emerald Isle – but you just haven’t made it – now is the time. The Cliffs of Moher, Killarney National Park, and Blarney Castle have waited long enough.

We applaud your decision to visit Ireland, but before you start booking your adventure, here are a few tips to ensure a more enjoyable trip. 1. Consider car travel The best sites in the Emerald Isle can be seen via public transportation or tour buses, but renting a car is the best way to get off the beaten path and discover those hidden gems.

Be sure the vehicle you rent is the smallest one you can fit in, as rural roads in Ireland are narrow.

Oh, and the Irish drive on the left side of the road and pass on the right. It takes a day or two to get the hang of it. 2. Keep your receipts Ireland has something called VAT – Value Added Tax – similar to sales tax in the United States. The difference is that the VAT is included in the cost of goods in Ireland – not added on at the end. VAT rates range from 9%-25%, and are applied to almost every product you purchase. Non-European Union visitors to Ireland can get a VAT refund quite easily. If you can, apply for a Fexco card and register it before you leave for Ireland! -If not, simply ask for a Fexco Horizon Card when you make your first purchase, and present it each time you make a qualified purchase during your trip. You will be able to apply for your refund at the airport - or online once you return home. Because goods must leave Ireland in order to qualify, you cannot apply for a VAT refund for hotel stays, car rentals or meals. 3. Currency If you plan to visit the entire island, you will be dealing with two currencies. That is because Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. As such, they use pound sterling. The Republic of Ireland is part of the European Union and uses the euro. 4. Prepare for weather Irish weather is not extreme, but the country does get a lot of rain, particularly along its west coast.

During winter, know that the season's days are short. The sun rises at about 8 a.m. and sets at about 4 p.m., which means you have to cram a lot of sightseeing into a few hours. But in the summer, the sun may set as late as 10 pm!

Be mindful of these seasonal changes, pack light layers of clothing and a pair of rain boots or waterproof shoes, and you should be just fine.

5. Consider a Heritage Card If you plan to visit the country's many cultural attractions, picking up a Heritage Card from the Office of Public Works is a great idea. They aren’t free, but if you plan to visit enough of the included sites, there can be quite a savings.

This card entitles you to free admission to all heritage sites managed by the state for an entire year.

These sites include castles and national parks. 6. Slow down Ireland is fairly small, and people often look at the drive times between towns and think it makes sense to see the whole island in a week. Rethink. The best part of Ireland is slowing down and taking the time to enjoy. If you’re anything like me, one visit won’t be enough. I think I’ve been fourteen times – and I just returned from another adventure. You don’t have to see it all at once. Céad míle fáilte, literally meaning “a hundred thousand welcomes” is a typical greeting and the Land of a Thousand Welcomes will be happy to have you back…over and over again.

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