Ireland is world renowned as a friendly and easy going place. That mainly comes down to its social fabric. Ireland has a self-confident and outward-looking culture which is very proud while not taking itself too seriously. This makes the Irish a close-knit global community which is very welcoming to (and curious about) visitors and outsiders.
Heading to the pub at night and having 'the craic', especially on weekends, has been an Irish way of life for generations. New faces from out of town are always welcome whether you're alone or part of a group. This makes Ireland a dream destination for solo travellers. Just pull up a bar stool and join in the fun.
This page sets out some recommended solo travel experiences to help you get the most out your Irish adventure. It even helps you find solo travel accommodation. You can also use this page to find useful information before visiting as well as picking up top tips during your stay.
Solo travelling is a bit different to most other trips you will go on. So it pays to be prepared. Here are just a few of the fundamentals to consider before you start your journey.
Number 1 on the list of items to pack for an Irish Vacation is a raincoat, regardless of the season. It is not uncommon to get heavy rain showers in the peak summer months and a raincoat in such situations becomes invaluable. Depending on what type of activities you are planning on undertaking good quality water-proof footwear and leggings will also come in handy. A good pair of general walking shoes and a solid rucksack are also ideal as both the countryside and the cities of Ireland are great for exploring on foot.
The majority of airlines will allow 20kg luggage when flying into Ireland. It is worth checking the exact weight with your airline first. It is also worth booking some extra weight in case you go over your allowance.
Most hotels in Ireland are priced by double rooms. Some Bed & Breakfasts will have single rooms. For a much cheaper price, although you will have to share a room with strangers, hostels are probably the best value for money.
Dining alone is perfectly normal in Ireland for both men and women at all establishments. A lunch of soup and sandwich with tea/coffee would be about €8-10 per person. The price of food and drink varies from region to region, a pint of Guinness in Dublin is about €5.50 and about €4.50 in Cork/Kerry.
Ireland has a low crime rate in comparison with other countries in Europe and North America. It is a relatively safe place to travel solo, especially when travelling outside of the major cities. Obviously, the standard precautions should still remain in your mind. In any country making it obvious that you are a tourist can attract the wrong kind of attention, more-so when you are seen to be travelling on your own.
The Irish Police are known as Gardaí or "the Guards". They are quite visible with Ireland's major cities. The emergency number for the Gardaí, Ambulance and Fire is 999. The legal drinking age in Ireland is 18.
Women can travel alone in Ireland without any problems. Again,taking the obvious precautions is always a good idea. If you don't know any local ask a staff member, where you are staying, if the place you plan to visit is safe. Let somebody know where you are going and what time you intend on coming back. If you have a mobile phone that is working in Ireland, give someone your number and take down theirs. Avoid drinking to excess and keep the name and address of your accommodation written down, on your person, in case you forget.
You're in Ireland, after all.
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.
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 for two men to go to a pub for one drink".
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.
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 travels.
If you're interested in finding out more about walking in Ireland, you might like to consult the wide range of Ireland adventure travel articles which is available through the outdoor adventure specialists, AWE365.
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 bizarre 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.
Why not swing by the Irish Redhead Convention in Crosshaven, Co. Cork? Describing itself as "the heart of the global redhead scene", this fun summer festival is devoted entirely to celebrating people with ginger hair.
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. More info on Irish Festivals & Events.
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.
Residential courses are a great way to mix with open-minded local people. And they usually come with accommodation provided, too. This makes them ideal for travellers who would like to meet people along the way.
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.
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.
Solo travel doesn't have to be about finding people to mingle with. It can be just that, solo travel. Sometimes, it can be nice to embrace the solitary aspect of travelling alone, allowing yourself to slow down and be mindful — even just for a day or two.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is said that travellers should give what they can but take only memories. 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.
See here for more information on Volunteering & Working in Ireland.
On any solo travel trip, even the most experienced solo traveller will find a few things that they wished they had thought of before they left. And a solo vacation in Ireland is as likely to throw up a few surprises as anywhere else you visit.
This section is our attempt to make your first Irish solo trip that little bit easier.
Ireland has a mixed climate but it can rain at any time of year. So packing a waterproof jacket is always advisable and waterproof luggage can be a life-saver for those on foot.
If you are on a budget you can line your luggage/backpack with thick black bin bags. This also works with your footwear. If not on a budget you can buy some decent waterproof gear that will you be grateful for later.
Most Irish supermarkets have late-in-the-day deals where you can pick up items that are going out of date soon for a fraction of the price. Similarly a lot of Irish restaurants have early bird menus, usually, pre 6 pm, that can help save a few euro. Tap water in Ireland is perfectly clean and safe, signs will usually indicate if not, stock up whenever you can.
As with any destination, visitors to Ireland are well advised to write out a budget and stick to it. You will thank yourself towards the end of the trip.
If you are staying in a hostel you could be sharing a room with 10 or 12 people. So be sure to bring ear plugs to make the arrival of anyone past your bedtime go a little more unnoticed.
If the hostel doesn't supply an individual locker a bike U-Lock is a great device to strap your luggage to your bed.
Most bars and restaurants in Ireland have free WiFi. Usually, it's just a matter of asking the staff for the code.
Talk to the other guests, they will know the cheapest places to eat and other useful titbits.
Try to have your accommodation organised well in advance and share it with a family member or a friend. Just one reliable person might be better than a group, where everyone thinks someone else is checking up on you.
Ireland is a great country to travel around solo, leaving the big cities and heading into the town and villages might see you greeted with curiosity but it is always wrapped in Irish hospitality.
As a hugely popular tourist destination, Ireland has a wealth of accommodation options to suit all budgets. To get the best locations and prices, you're advised to book ahead but, booking late as a backpacker on the fly, you're likely to find something last-minute if you're willing to be flexible. Choose the region you're visiting to see your accommodation options.
If you are interested in something a little different then why not check out The Ski Gathering. The provide ski and snowboarding holidays for singles and solos of all ages. Their specialised Beginners Ski Holidays, Intermediates Ski Holidays, Off Piste Ski Holidays, Over 40's Ski Holidays and Single Parent Ski Holidays are great for all walks of life on the piste.