Republic of Ireland
Currency: Euro (check rates)
Languages: English (prevalent); Gaelic
Per Diem: $271 L / $168 M&IE
In years gone by, Dublin might have been remembered for its exceptionally poor coffee. These days, the city is as cosmopolitan as any in Europe, and the coffee, provided by various multinational chains, is what you'd expect in a national capital.
But then, no one comes to Dublin for coffee. More than a thousand years of history, including the multi-volume Book of Kells on display at Trinity College as well as dozens of museums and cathedrals, beckon those who wander past. There's an endless array of pubs and clubs to be found, especially in the Temple Bar area, and a number of impressive shopping districts, including charming stores that line busy Grafton Street.
While in town, most visitors also tour the Guinness Storehouse; I did, and I'd call it a "must see" for anyone visiting Dublin. The near-religious vibe of the place, combined with several opportunities for free tastings and complete with a free pint served on the top floor against the backdrop of a panoramic city view, make the price more than worthwhile.
How expensive is Dublin?
For much of its history, Ireland has been economically depressed. That changed about a decade ago, and the country underwent its first boom; today, it is experiencing its first recession.
That's bad news for the Irish, but good news for tourists: when I visited Dublin in February, discounted flights were available for less than $300 round-trip and average nightly hotel costs were under $100.
Ireland uses the Euro common currency. (Check current exchange rates at XE.com.) As of March 2009, U.S. government Per Diem rates for Dublin were $168 M&IE / $271 lodging.
The Republic of Ireland is part of the European Union but is not a signatory to the Schengen Protocol, which means that you'll need to go through passport control to travel from Ireland to any European country on the continent.
Ireland does, however, maintain an open border with the United Kingdom (which is why it could not adopt the Schengen treaty, as the U.K. does not want open borders with continental Europe), so travel from Dublin to Belfast or other parts of Northern Ireland is transparent.
U.S. citizens do not need visas to visit Ireland.
- Air: Dublin Airport (DUB) is about 10km outside of the city. Buses to the city center leave almost constantly.
- Rail: Dublin-Connoley Station offers Iarnrod Eireann rail service across Ireland as well as the Irish-U.K. cooperative Enterprise line that connects Dublin to Belfast.
- Bus: Busarus central bus station, with Bus Eireann coach service across the country.