You might be more concerned about how to get to the sights or where to enjoy your first pint of Guinness, but for those visiting the Emerald Isle for the first time, here are a few things to consider before hitting the streets of Dublin.
1) Take the bus
Hop-on Hop-off sightseeing buses are nothing new, but if you’re short on time or just want to save your feet from blisters, Dublin’s open-air tour buses make a handy way to get from A to B and beyond. The buses cover all the central sights, including Christ Church Cathedral, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin Castle and the Guinness Storehouse, among many others. Alternatively, hire yourself a bike – Dublin’s bike rental stations allow you to rent from numerous locations with your credit-card.
2) Pack your umbrella
The cheerful Irish capital has many draw cards, but the weather, unfortunately, is not one of them. Even if the forecast looks fine, it’s best to plan for the odd shower and pack an umbrella. Don’t be put off by the rain though – with suitable rain gear you can head to popular outdoor sights on rainy days and make the most of the vastly reduced crowds.
3) Don’t waste your money on tips
While struggling waiters will be happy to see generous international tourists descending on their tables, a 10-15% tip is plenty to add to your restaurant bill (unless the service was really outstanding) and there’s no need to leave a tip for taxi drivers or barmen.
4) Beware the pub-crawl
It’s the home of Guinness, so you can’t visit Dublin without downing a few pints of the black stuff, but all too-often tourists forget that for a successful pub-crawl you need to pace yourself accordingly, especially if you’re not accustomed to drinking so much. While a few rowdy locals might encourage you to down your pint as fast as possible, it’s far better to stick to one drink per pub, fill up with a hearty pub dinner and plenty of bar snacks, and know when to call it a night. Be wary of the numerous advertised ‘pub crawls’ too, which may not be such a good deal as they make out – the ‘free’ drinks are often only in addition to drinks that you purchase and you can quickly wind up with a pricey bill. If you’re in a group, it’s often easier and cheaper to plan your own independent pub-crawl.
5) Keep an eye on your belongings
While Dublin is certainly not going to make the list of the world’s most dangerous destinations, it’s still a big city and plenty of petty crimes occur every day. As a tourist, you’re a target, so make sure you keep your bags closed and at hand (not hung up on the back of your chair), leave valuables in your hotel safe (not in your back pocket) and take a licensed taxi back to your hotel at night. If you’re heading for a night on the tiles, be extra cautious of what you take with you – many thefts occur after a beer too many.
6) Steer clear of religion and politics
While the Irish might seem remarkably proud of their independence from Britain, the scars of recent conflicts are still fresh and are subjects best avoided by opinionated outsiders, especially if you don’t know your facts (even if you do, it’s probably best left alone). That said, the Irish are notoriously enthusiastic conversationalists and heated debates are commonplace down the pub – just steer the topic onto more lighthearted topics like football or rugby before you start joining in. And whatever you do, don’t ever call an Irishman a Brit!
Consider hiring an expert, private tour guide for your first trip to Dublin!