Top 10 Mistakes First Time Visitors Make in Ireland

This post contains links to affiliate websites, such as Amazon, and we receive an affiliate commission for any purchases made by you using these links. We appreciate your support!

These top tips for your first visit to Ireland will help you avoid some of the mistakes I made during my trip to Dublin.

A green field of daffodils in front of a historic castle in Ireland.

One of the many wonderful things about traveling to Ireland for your first international trip outside of the US is the lack of language barrier.

But just because everyone speaks English doesn’t mean there are a few things that could trip you up. It is still a European country, after all. And things are fantastically different than what you might be used to at home.

Here are the top 10 things I think you should know before you visit Dublin.

1. Geographical Confusion

If you’re visiting Ireland it is important to understand the geographical implications of your destination.

Northern Ireland is not the same thing, Ireland and Northern Ireland are two separate countries.

Northern Ireland is part of the UK and uses pounds for their currency.

Ireland, where Dublin is the capital, is an independent country that is part of the European Union and uses euros as their currency.

2. Calling it “St. Patty’s” Day

First, it is either “St. Patrick’s Day” or it is “St. Paddy’s Day” since the Gaelic name for Patric, is Pádraig.

Nothing will tell them you’re an American faster than asking for corned beef on St. Patty’s Day. Corned beef is an Irish-American custom and not something you’ll find in Dublin.

3. Misusing the Power Adapter

A black hair dryer.

Yes you have an outlet converter and you can plug in that device. That doesn’t mean you should.

Double check to be sure that your device is a dual-voltage device or the electrical currency will melt your product down. Specifically things like hair dryers and curlers are of concern.

Your cell phone and most laptops should be safe but definitely double-check before you plug it in.

4. Turning On the Hotel Room Lights

If it has been a while since you’ve stayed in a hotel or this is your first time out of the US, you may wonder how to turn the lights on when you enter your Irish hotel room.

Use the keycard you’re given for opening the door and insert it into a card slot on the inside of your hotel room near the door. This will power on the electricity in the room and activate the rest of the light switches.

5. Worrying About Water

Ireland is not Mexico, there’s no reason to worry about the safety of the drinking water.

In fact, you will quickly discover that tap water actually tastes better than the bottled water sold at convenience stores. Bring your own reusable bottle and just fill up at the tap.

6. Pulling the Wrong Cord in a Public Restroom

If you see a red cord in the public toilet in Ireland, do not pull it unless you’re having an emergency and need help.

While sometimes a European bathroom may have a white pull cord that powers on the electricity for the room, a red cord is specifically an emergency contact cord and should be avoided.

7. Trying to Use a Debit Card

When you travel outside of the US, be sure to get a foreign transaction-free credit card to use for your purchases. Never Ever use your debit card, you’ll be hacked within a very short time.

I made the mistake of bringing my American Express to Ireland because it has no foreign transaction fees but it was hardly accepted anywhere at all. I had no choice other than to use our bank card, which immediately got hacked within the first 24 hours of use.

So definitely look for a travel-friendly card that will help you avoid the foreign transaction fees which really add up over the course of a trip.

8. Expecting Something Specific an Irish Pub Menu

One of my biggest surprises in Dublin was just how short the pub menus actually are. I had hoped to find classic Irish pub foods like bangers and mash or the famous Dublin coddle, but never did find them at any of the pubs we tried.

You’ll still find delicious options, but might be surprised to see how American-feeling they tend to be. Think: hamburgers, chicken tenders, nachos, and the like. You can see my list of 14 foods to try in Ireland here.

9. Trying the Black Pudding

A plate of traditional Irish breakfast has black pudding under the tomatoes.

Black pudding isn’t the kind of “pudding” you’re thinking. Rather, it is a blood sausage that is sliced and served as part of a traditional Irish breakfast.

You can try it. Just know what it is first so you’re not shocked.

10. Assumptions about Irish Drinking Habits

During our visit to Ireland, we were lucky enough to have the best tour bus driver in the whole world, Jimmy.

He shared with us several stories and insider tidbits over the course of the trip but one of the bits I enjoyed hear most was that real Irish folk don’t actually drink all day like the stereotypes say. They wait till the evening and drink with friends at the pub as a social experience, generally not something to be done alone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *