Solo Travel in Ireland
A Bucket List of Unique and Unmissable Experiences which make Ireland Perfect for Solo TravellersSolo Tours of Ireland
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.
The Bucket List of Solo Travel in Ireland
This Insider's Guide presents list of reasons why Ireland is attractive to independent travellers, and a set of experiences which you might consider when planning your own solo voyage on the Emerald Isle. Think of it as the Bucket List of Solo Travel in Ireland. Pack your toothbrush, your camera and a real sense of adventure.
Experience a real Irish Festival
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.
Click to find Festivals & Events in Ireland ▼
Music Festivals and Walking Festivals
Music Festivals and Walking Festivals are expecially good ways to meet local people and soak up the culture, seeing it through their eyes and hearing it through their ears.
Dublin & The East
Galway & The West
Cork & The South-West
Kilkenny & The South East
Donegal, Sligo & The North West
Retreat into Ireland's peaceful Surroundings
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, 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.
Yoga & Meditation Retreats ▼
Artists' & Writers' Retreats ▼
Fitness & Health Retreats ▼
Spiritual & Sacred Tours & Retreats ▼
Eco Tourism & Permaculture Retreats in Ireland ▼
Buy a Round in a traditional Irish Pub
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".
Walk the Irish Landscape
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.
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.
Dublin & East Ireland ▼
Northern Ireland ▼
Donegal, Sligo & The North West ▼
Sunny South-East Ireland ▼
Cork, Kerry & The South West ▼
Galway & West Ireland ▼
Landscapes of Ireland
Learn to do something totally new
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 attendace 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?
Classes and Courses in Ireland
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.
Irish Music & Dance ▼
Irish Cuisine & Cookery ▼
English Language ▼
Pay it Forward: Volunteering in Ireland
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.
Click for Useful Volunteering Contacts ▼
- www.volunteer.ie | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Volunteer Ireland, 18 Eustace Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Ireland
- Tel: +353 1 636 9446
Volunteer Now - Northern Ireland
- www.volunteernow.co.uk | email@example.com
- Volunteer Now, 129 Ormeau Road, Belfast, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, BT7 1SH
- Tel: +44 28 9023 2020
Volunteer Dublin City
- www.volunteerdublincity.ie | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dublin City Volunteer Centre, Unit 4 Whitefriars, Aungier Street, Dublin 2, Ireland
- Tel: +353 1 473 7482
Go Overseas - Volunteering
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 Traveler 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.
Where to Stay?
Hostels & Group Accommodation ▼
Hostels in the North-West of Ireland
Hostels in the West of Ireland
Hostels in South-East Ireland
Backpacker Accommodation & Hostels in the South-West of Ireland
Hostels in the North-West of Ireland
We are currently working to add new listings to this section of the Ireland Travel Guide. If you know an attraction or lodging which you think should be listed here, please get in touch to let us know.
Hotels in Dublin
Hotels in the East of Ireland
Hotels in the West of Ireland
Hotels in the South-East of Ireland
Hotels in the South-West of Ireland
Hotels in the North-West of Ireland
Hotels in the North and Border Regions
B&Bs and Guesthouses in East Ireland
B&Bs and Guesthouses in West Ireland
B&Bs and Guesthouses in Central & South-East Ireland
B&Bs and Guesthouses in South-West Ireland
B&Bs and Guesthouses in Donegal and Sligo
B&Bs and Guesthouses in Northern Ireland and the Border Region
Self-Catered Cottages & Holiday Homes ▼
Cottages & Holiday Homes in East Ireland
Cottages & Holiday Homes in Western Ireland
Cottages & Holiday Homes in South-East Ireland
Cottages & Holiday Homes in South-West Ireland
Self-Catered Accommodation in North-West Ireland
Safety for Solos: Staying Safe in Ireland
Ireland is a very safe place to visit and you will find most people to be friendly and welcoming. Statistically, it is among Europe's safest travel destinations. (Caveat: travellers may wish to avoid Belfast around 12 July which marks the height of the politically-charged marching season.) But despite the reputation for friendliness and safety which Ireland enjoys internationally, you should apply all the usual solo travel precautions, protecting yourself, your documents, your money and your possessions in that order.
The Irish police are called Garda (pl. Gardaí). If you require ememergency assistance from Gardaí, ambulance, fire service, coast guard or mountain rescue, dial 999 or 112. The Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS) is specialist service offering immediate support and assistance to tourists who are victimised while visiting Ireland. They have a list of safety tips for visitors to Ireland.
Click to reveal 5 Safety Tips for Solo Travellers ▼
A well-respected solo globetrotter of huge experience, Janice Leith Waugh of solotravelerblog.com sets out her five principles of safety as follows:
- Public is safer than private: stay in busy public places wherever possible, especially if you're travelling with new acquaintences you've met along the way.
- Proactive is better than reactive: if you're lost or confused and need help, confront the situation and ask an appropriate person for help. Don't wait for an inappropriate one to find you.
- Engage others in your personal safety: connect with officials, security guards, bar staff, and so on so that they know you're alone. They will look out for you and move unwanted attention away.
- Decisions should not be rushed: so often, people who have been conned or robbed will say how stupid they feel for having fallen for a scam. Take your time over every deicision and don't let anybody pressure you into anything you're not sure about.
- When politeness fails... being polite is definitely the best way to enter into any interaction, especially when you're abroad and travelling alone. But, if you feel threatened or pressured, it's okay to be direct, blunt or even rude.
Beyond Ireland: Onward Solo Travel
In its location, it language and its culture, Ireland is a clearly marked trail leading towards neighbouring nations, equally suited to independent travel. Scotland, England, Wales and France are only a short ferry journey away. By air, the whole of Europe beckons.
Having met travel buddies in Ireland, you might want to move on as a pair or group. Equally, you might consider joining a group for the next leg of your adventure. And, of course, for the truly independent of spirit, you can strike it out on your own once again and explore the vast world which is right on Ireland's doorstep. Ireland is the perfect gateway to all that Europe has to offer.
By the time you leave, Ireland will be your new home so don't wait too long before you come back.