Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, as seen on one of our Ireland Tours Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, as seen on one of our Ireland Tours

Solo Travel in Ireland Ireland Travel Guide

The definitive bucket list of experiences for any solo traveller visiting Ireland. This insider's guide shows why Ireland is so attractive to independent travellers, drawing thousands of solo voyagers from all across the world year on year. Pack your toothbrush, your camera and a real sense of adventure...

The Bucket List of Unique and Unmissable Experiences in Ireland What makes Ireland so perfect for Solo Travellers?

Whether you're looking to meet new people or just yearning get away from it all, Ireland is a great place to travel independently. Famed for its legendary hospitality, its good 'craic' and its céad míle fáilte (hundred thousand welcomes), Ireland will greet you as a friend, wherever you're from and wherever you're heading to.

Safe, enchanting and above all welcoming, Ireland is an ideal destination for the solo traveller. Meeting people and breaking the ice is never difficult in Ireland, so you can expect good company and good memories. But, that doesn't mean you can't just get away from it all: if quiet solitude is what you really need, the peaceful isolation of Ireland's spiritual sites and unspoiled landscapes might be just what you're looking for.

St Patrick's Day Parade, Cork City, Ireland St Patrick's Day Parade, Cork City, Ireland

Experience a real Irish Festival

"Craic agus ceol"

Irish communities love to get together, enjoy the 'craic', and have the kind of party where everyone is welcome. If you're travelling alone in Ireland, and want to experience real Irish culture, you should be sure to find out what festivals are happening in the areas you visit.

You might be surprised by the number and variety of festivals in Ireland: we Irish don't need any excuse to get together and enjoy good company, good music and the occasional pint of Guinness. Popular and famous festivals include Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann traditional music festival, The Dublin Horse Show, Fairyhouse Easter Festival, the truly bizare Killorglin Puck Fair (where a goat is formally crowned king in the Kerry town of Killorglin), and the All-Ireland Finals in Hurling and Gaelic Football.

Some of the festivals have to be seen to be believed. There's The Rose of Tralee beauty pageant, a self-ironic throwback and one of Ireland's guilty pleasures, famously satirized as "The Lovely Girls Competition" in hit Irish comedy show, Father Ted.

Then there's the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, which has been finding spouses for shy farmers for as long as anyone can remember. Expect a fun, tongue-in-cheek pageant of innocent, semi-awkward flirting. It's good-humoured, unobtrusive and well-meant Irish fun.

Aside from these and other quaintly caricatured examples, each local community will have its own festivals, celebrating pretty much anything, and they're a great way to experience Irish culture, meet the locals, and find some unmissable photo opportunities to take with you. There will be dancing, drinking and plenty of laughter at them all so let your inhibitions go and get involved.

St Patrick's Day Festival and Parades

The most unmissable of all Irish experiences is St Patrick's Day, celebrated on 17 March every year not only in Ireland but across the globe. Traditionally a commemoration of Ireland's patron saint, St Patrick's Day has come to represent much more than this, becoming a unifying symbol of togetherness, acceptance and good-natured fun for individuals from all backgrounds. It's hard to imagine a mainstream festival better suited to the open-minded solo travel community.

Beach in Kerry, Ireland Beach in Kerry, Ireland

Retreat into Ireland's peaceful Surroundings

Inner peace

Finding inner peace in solitude, and escaping into a place of "retreat", has a long history here in Ireland. Since the Seventh Century, monastic hermits have sought out the grounding isolation of Ireland's magical landscape, its plunging valleys and hidden lakes. Hundreds of years on, Ireland's peaceful landscapes remain as tranquil, calm, and unspoiled as ever.

It's no surprise, then, that Ireland remains such a profoundly spiritual destination, whatever your faith or beliefs. Today, Ireland attracts visitors from across the globe who retreat to Ireland's peaceful escapes for a summer's escape, a week's leave, or just an afternoon of time-out during a hectic travel schedule.

To explore Ireland's isolated locations and sacred sites, you can join spiritual group tours, visit designated 'retreat' accommodation, attend yoga or meditation retreats, book a fitness vacation of Ireland, or simply 'go it alone' and explore Ireland's most peaceful destinations in your own way and at your own pace.

Sacred Sites and Locations in Ireland

In planning your spiritual retreat in Ireland, be sure to look up destinations and sacred sites such as the below. These are just some of Ireland's recognised sacred locations.

Irish Retreats: Locations, Attractions and Organisations

Ireland is such a perfect place to retreat and get away from it all, but even in planning your alone-time, you don't have to go it alone. There are various destinations, organisations and individuals which can help you to achieve the kind of escape you're looking for.

Pat Shortt's Pub, Castlemartyr, County Cork, Ireland Pat Shortt's Pub, Castlemartyr, County Cork, Ireland

Buy a Round in a traditional Irish Pub

The Irish Pub Experience

The traditional Irish pub lies at the very heart of Irish culture and, if you want to meet people and get a real taste of life in Ireland, the pub is the first place to go. The traditional Irish pub is one of life's great levellers: social status is irrelevant, age is forgotten (for over-eighteens, at least), and personal background is just something to pry about over a few drinks.

Pull up a stool in an Irish bar and it won't be long before people introduce themselves. Buy them a drink and you'll have great company for the duration of your stay. We Irish are great talkers, and we love to pass the hours with engaging banter and good old Blarney. If you're lucky, you might even catch a trad session - a traditional celtic music night, where local musicians play for their own amusement and for anyone else who happens to be there.

Buying a Round

A crucial element of Irish pub etiquette is the round system, where each group member takes their turn at buying a drink for the others. To avoid or skip your 'round' is a serious social faux pas, whatever your own cultural background. In Ireland, it is often said: "It is impossible to two men to go to a pub for one drink".

Walking on the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland Walking on the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

Walk the Irish Landscape

Walking Ireland

Ireland has so much to attract foreign visitors - the history, the culture, the friendly familiarity of the people - but it is the landscape which underpins each of these charms and keeps people coming back year after year. Travelling alone gives you the flexibility to fasten up your boots, get out there and see the world. And the Irish landscape is something you don't want to miss.

Wild and untamed, the landscape of Ireland's coastline is something you have to experience for yourself. Head to the west coast for the embracing majesty of the Atlantic, to the North for the world renowned Giant's Causeway, or to the East for the charming, calming presence of the Irish sea, ever to your left as you head south from Wicklow to Wexford and then Waterford.

Inland, you will find no shortage of glens, mountains, forests and dales to keep you occupied and your camera clicking busily. Walks will often, but not always be hilly. Ask at the local outdoors shops which are the best routes for your level experience, fitness and enthusiasm.

Walking Tours in Ireland

A great way to break up your walking adventure in Ireland is to join a walking tour. With the help of a guide, you can put your map and compass away, take in the scenery, and know that you are experiencing some of the best routes, approved by local experts. Perhaps more importantly, you will be able to chat with others about where they have been and what they have experienced, getting great tips for where to head off to on the next leg of your solo tour of the globe.

Top Tip:

If you're interested in finding out more about walking in Ireland, you might like to consolute the wide range of Ireland adventure travel articles which is available through the outdoor adventure specialists, AWE365.

Horse Riding, Dingle, County Kerry Horse Riding, Dingle, County Kerry

Learn Something New

Residential Courses

If you're looking to break up your alone-time in Ireland, and would like to spend a day of even a few days with like-minded people, you might consider taking a class or attending a residential course.

If you have a special hobby already, re-discovering it abroad is a great way of reconnecting with the people, places and experiences that you miss most about home. Learning new things about your hobby abroad can also give you a fresh perspective to take back with you when you are ready to return home.

But what about just learning something totally new and different? What better opportunity can there be to learn new things than when you are surrounded by new people and new places?

Classes or courses for beginners in particular are a great way to meet local people, because they are such great levellers: everyone in attendance is new to the experience, out of their comfort zone and maybe even feeling slightly out of their depth. Suddenly, you're the confident, broad-minded one with an interesting story to tell - you've travelled all this way after all...?

Have a jam with local musicians. Try your hand at drawing and painting. Give ceramics and sculpture a go. What about joining in with Irish sports and games?

There is a strong culture of lifelong learning in Ireland and you won't have to look too hard to find courses and classes which interest you. For short, informal sessions, look out at the local community and arts centres. For longer, more structured and even residential courses, check out some of the below.

Classes and Courses in Ireland

Farm Show, Cork, Ireland Farm Show, Cork, Ireland

Volunteering in Ireland

Pay it Forward

Volunteering is a great way of enhancing your connection with the places you visit, and can give a strong feeling of reward that you have given something back to the community you have learned to love. If your stay here in Ireland is only brief, volunteering might not be easy (though local charities and organisations certainly won't decline your help!), but solo travellers spending more than a week or two in Ireland will certainly be able to find ways of contributing.

It's a huge misconception of solo travel that people think travelling alone means being alone, even being lonely. For most experienced solo travellers, the reality couldn't be further from the truth, and volunteering is yet another means for independent travellers to meet and connect with local people and the causes which matter to them most.

How to find other Solo Travellers

Ireland is known throughout the world for its friendliness and hospitality and you will find this wherever you choose to stay. It's a classic tip for solo travellers that hostels are the ideal place to meet potential travel buddies, but here's a sneaky tip: you don't have to stay in a hostel to meet people there. Most hostels will have a lounge, a bar and an internet connection, all which make them very popular gathering places for travellers of all kinds. Drop in, pay for a drink or a meal, and say 'hello'.

Solo traveller Online Community

As a solo traveller, you are never alone: you are part of a proud global community which is tight-knit and very organised. Here are some of the people and the resources around which this community agglomerates.

Lonely Planet
Solo Traveller Blogs
Solo Ski Holidays

Accommodation in Ireland

My Ireland Travel Guide

Barrels at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland

Dublin City

Ireland's much-loved capital and the gateway to the Emerald Isle. A vibrant, modern and outward-facing city, most Ireland tours and vacations begin here. Read more...

  • Guinness Storehouse
  • Trinity College
  • Temple Bar Quarter
  • The Book of Kells
  • Dublin Castle
About Dublin
Lighthouse in Hook Head

Wicklow & the East

This wild landscape of gorse and bracken is home to many of Ireland's most significant archaeological finds, as well its grandest estates. Read more...

  • Powerscourt Estate
  • Glendalough Settlement
  • Brú na Bóinne
  • Battle of The Boyne
  • National Stud
About the East
The Cliffs of Moher

Galway & the West

Pack walking boots, a camera and a sense of adventure as you head west for Galway, County Clare and the Wild Atalantic Way. Heritage, tradition and Read more...

  • Kylemore Abbey
  • Cliffs of Moher
  • Clonmacnoise Settlement
  • Clare Music Sessions
  • The Burren Landscape
About the West
Kilkenny Castle by the riverside

Kilkenny & South-East

The sunny South East. Ireland's warmest and driest region is also one of its most popular destinations with tourists and locals alike. Read more...

  • The Rock of Cashel
  • Waterford Crystal
  • Lismore Castle
  • Tintern Abbey
  • St Canice's Cathedral
The South East
Sheep in Kerry, Ireland

Cork and Kerry

Wind-swept, welcoming and rugged, Ireland South West typifies what visitors expect Ireland to look like – vibrant, vivid and verdant. Read more...

  • Cork English Market
  • Blarney Castle
  • The Ring of Kerry
  • Killarney Nat. Park
  • Skellig Michael
The South West
Trad Session in Donegal, Ireland

Donegal and Sligo

Less well-trodden than Dublin, Belfast or Killarney, this picturesque region invites you to get outdoors. Don't forget your camera! Read more...

  • Slieve League Cliffs
  • Lakes and Loughs
  • Maghera Beach
  • Errigal Mountain
  • Glencolmcille Village
The North West
The Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland

Belfast & The North

In peace, Belfast and the North have staked their rightful claim as some of the Island of Ireland's most iconic and cultural regions. Read more...

  • The City of Belfast
  • Titanic Belfast
  • Giant's Causeway
  • Carrick-a-Rede
  • The City of Derry
Northern Ireland
Solo traveller admiring the coastal view in Ireland

Ireland Solo Travel

Whether you're looking to meet new people or just yearning get away from it all, Ireland is a great place to travel independently. Read more...

  • Experience the Culture
  • Find Your Inner Peace
  • Discover New Paths
  • Start a Course
  • Experience the Nightlife
Northern Ireland

Find your Way Around