The best part about travelling in Ireland is not the Guinness, the picturesque castles, or quaint villages. Ireland's charm lies in the Irish — their warmth, hospitality, music, and humour. In small-town Ireland, old men will still tip their hat to you and wish you good morning, and youngsters will join in a bit of laughter and 'craic' at the local pub. Add to this the lush green beauty of Ireland's 32 counties, and you have a trip you will never forget.
Although Dublin, the Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands, and Blarney Castle are on the tourist circuit with good reason, head off into Ireland's smaller towns like Galway, Doolin, Dingle, Cobh, and the Connemara peninsula to get a real sense of the country that has inspired hundreds of legends, myths, and pots of gold at the ends of rainbows.
Irish food has come a long way since its infamous days of boiled meat and potatoes. The country now has seven Michelin-starred restaurants and in the coastal towns there is great fresh seafood to be found. Irish alcohol fares much better, and there are hundreds of local breweries producing world-famous ales and whiskeys.
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Dublin (DUB) is the main international airport for Ireland, but some airlines from North America fly to Shannon (SNN) in the southwest, Knock (NOC) in the west, and Cork (ORK) in the south. From the UK, you can also get flights to Belfast (BFS) and Derry (LDY) in Northern Ireland. If you're starting your journey in the west or south of Ireland, it is cheaper to fly to Shannon, Knock, or Cork. Ireland is a small country but taking a bus from one city to the other could put you on the road for three hours or more from Dublin to Cork or Galway.
The average temperature in Ireland is approximately 10°C, sometimes dropping below freezing during the winter. Snow is uncommon in most parts, but rain is something you can depend on. The weather can go from bright and sunny to rainy and windy in under half an hour, so always carry an umbrella or raincoat. Ireland is coldest from January to March when temperatures are an average of 7°C. July and August average a comfortable 16°C, although sometimes it can get as high as 30°C. Ireland's northerly location means that in summertime there are up to 18 hours of daylight, so you have plenty of time for fun in the sun. Book your flights for March to April or August to October to avoid paying peak season fares from May to June.