- Blarney Castle (County Cork): Though a pretty impressive medieval castle in itself, Blarney has grown to become a veritable font of touristy tat. Before you say “I really must kiss the Blarney stone!” ask yourself this: Do you really want to stand in line for ages so that some strangers can hold you upside down to twist around and kiss a piece of rock that thousands upon thousands of visitors have already kissed?
- Cliffs of Moher (County Clare): The cliffs themselves (pronounced “More”) are one of Ireland’s great natural wonders. But perhaps, given how they’re managed, they’d be better off called the Cliffs of “Gimme More.” In practice it’s difficult to see them without entering through the gleaming, multimillion-euro visitor center, complete with steep parking charge and—ker-ching!—a very well-stocked gift store.
- The Book of Kells (County Dublin): No one’s saying the book itself isn’t beautiful. But to see it (or rather, the tiny portion on display) you’ll have to crowd around a small display case with a roomful of people who, like you, have paid handsomely for the privilege. Meanwhile, a short walk away at the Chester Beatty Library, you can see a stunning collection of illuminated gospels and other ancient religious texts, every bit as magnificent in their artistry—and for free.
- The pub crawl: The idea of the pub crawl, essentially, is to visit as many pubs in a single night as you possibly can, while drinking constantly along the way. At best they’re jolly, convivial, well-lubricated affairs. In practice, they’re usually loud, rowdy, and fun for no one who isn’t several pints down already. You will inevitably encounter groups on pub crawls in big towns and cities, especially on weekends—especially in places like Dublin’s Temple Bar, where they seem to be virtually 24/7. (Exception: There are some fantastic pub crawls organized by tour groups, which are really more like walking tours in disguise—such as the Literary and Traditional Irish Music Pub Crawls in Dublin.)
- The “Full Irish”: It’s amazing how many small B&Bs and hotels assume that everyone’s going to like the “full Irish breakfast.” Huge plates of sausage links, thick-cut bacon, and black pudding (made from fat, blood and oatmeal—yum!) are among the meat-heavy delights that await on nearly all breakfast menus. To be fair, they can be delicious. But boy, does it get tedious after a while, and it’s surprising how many smaller places still don’t offer other choices. We’ve done our best to point you toward some of the best and most varied breakfast options in the “Where to Stay” section.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.