Ireland, Europe - Stein Travel
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Ireland

The lure of Ireland lies in its landscapes and its people, and it is through involvement with both that visitors get to experience the soul of this ancient land of saints and scholars.

Ireland's hills are a walker's paradise, not only because of the extensive network of trails, but because by being on foot one gets to appreciate the lakes and rivers, the coastal views and ever-changing sky-scapes that are so much part of the Irish landscape. Watersports such as angling, sailing and surfing are popular too, and many visitors come for the golf, but the real passion of the Irish is horses - there is a potential Derby winner in every valley and a packed betting shop in every high street.

The Irish weather is not the most predictable in the world, but then much of the beauty of the Irish landscape is due to its climate and there has to be a price tag on being nicknamed the 'Emerald Isle'. Poor weather has had positive influences on the Irish way of life. Music and song plays an integral part in daily life and visitors are able to experience this in the many pubs so characteristic of the social landscape of Ireland.

Over the years, Ireland has survived invasions, famine and civil war, but has recently come into its own, benefiting from peace in the North, support from the EU and a new vitality which has caused the country to be dubbed the 'Celtic Tiger'. There has never been a better time to visit.

Information & Facts

Attraction Overview

Ireland is truly one of the great sightseeing destinations. The local people are wholehearted in their welcome, there is an abundance of charming natural landscapes and historical sights, and the Guinness really tastes better here at the source. The country also has a wider significance for many American visitors whose ancestors came from these shores in great numbers.

Although there are must-see attractions like Blarney Castle, Trinity College and the soaring cliffs of Moher, the real magic of Ireland lies in the unexpected encounters with the local people and unplanned evenings in country pubs where impromptu gigs can set your soul alight.

Winter is not the best time to visit as it is cold and rainy so plan your trip for the summer months between April and September when Ireland is at its best. The ideal way to get around is by rented car (although petrol prices are among the highest in the world), and by bicycle which you can use to explore the photogenic country lanes.

Business

The Irish are very sociable and although the usual elements of business etiquette apply (punctuality, formal wear, a courteous manner), expect good conversation and a rather relaxed air. Handshakes are customary on introduction, and take the lead from the host with regards to using first names or surnames. Business hours are usually from 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday, with a lunch break from 1pm to 2pm.

Climate

Ireland has a temperate climate and is cold and damp much of the year. Summer (May to September) is the warmest and driest season and is the best time to visit, though attractions can get crowded in July and August. Winter is characterised by short, wet, foggy days and long night, but the temperature rarely gets below freezing due to the tempering Gulf Stream winds that buffet the west coast of Ireland. Some attractions are only open in summer.

Communications

The international access code for Ireland is +353 (do not dial the first zero of the area code). The outgoing code is 00, or 048 for Northern Ireland, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). City/area codes are in use, e.g. 1 for Dublin. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most international operators. Internet cafes are available in the main tourist areas.

Customs

Smoking in pubs, cafes and restaurants is illegal. Visitors should refrain from forcing discussions of political and religious differences, and show respect if the topics are brought up.

Duty Free

Travellers over 17 years arriving from non-EU countries do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars, 250g tobacco or a proportional mix of these; 1 litre spirits with more than 22% alcohol volume, or 2 litres dessert wine with a maximum 22% alcohol content, or a proportional mix of these products, and 2 litres table wine; perfume up to 50g or 250ml eau de toilette; and other goods for personal consumption to the value of EUR175 per adult or EUR90 for children under 15 years. Prohibited items include meat or dairy products or raw vegetables.

Electricity

Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. UK-style three-pin and round three-pin plugs are in use.

Health

There are no special health requirements for visitors to Ireland. Health insurance is advisable unless from the UK or other EU countries, most of which have reciprocal agreements with Ireland. A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) should be obtained before departing for travel to Ireland. Medical facilities are good, and payment for treatment is usually required in cash.

Language

English, Irish (Gaelic) is spoken in some Western areas.

Money

The unit of currency is the Euro (EUR). Currency can be exchanged at banks and bureaux de change and ATMs are widely available. Credit and debit cards, as well as travellers cheques, are widely accepted.

Passport Visa

All foreign passengers to Ireland must be able to show proof of sufficient funds to cover their stay in the county. Additionally, passengers should hold return/onward tickets, and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination, as immigration officers might demand that they demonstrate proof of their intention to leave Ireland. If the traveller's passport bears a British inadmissable stamp, unless the immigration officer is convinced that they will NOT travel on to the United Kingdom, entry may be refused to Ireland. Note that all visitors need to contact the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), if their stay in Ireland exceeds their visa-free period, or their stay is longer than the period for which their visa is valid. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Safety

Most visitors to Ireland enjoy a fairly high level of personal safety. However, travellers should take sensible precautions against petty theft. Terrorism is no more a threat than in other Western countries.

Time

GMT (GMT +1 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in October).

Tipping

A 10% tip will be welcomed in restaurants and cafes, but tipping is not usual in bars and pubs. Tipping is not common for other services.

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