I love the Emerald Isle. Even though I had hoped to start my Eurotrip in Barcelona this summer, I’m glad I got rerouted to Shannon, Ireland instead.
Starting my trip in Ireland had many benefits I didn’t realize at first. I think I will always try to enter Europe via Dublin or Shannon from now on.
This past trip was actually my third visit to the country, but my first time outside of Dublin. Ireland has many alluring qualities: friendly people, beautiful scenery, a fun drinking culture (aka craic), and a rich history.
Even if you only opt for an extended Dublin layover, all of those things are available without venturing far from the city center.
Though rich in history and culture, Ireland is geographically quite small. It’s possible to travel coast to coast from Dublin to Galway in less than 3 hours.
You could spend months in Ireland and still not see everything the country has to offer, but for a backpacker it is easy to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time.
If this isn’t enough to entice you to book a ticket to Dublin, consider the following:
Flying to Dublin is Cheaper and Faster Than Other European Airports
According to a recent survey featured in Business Insider, Dublin ranks number one among Europe’s cheapest arrival points. The average airfare to Dublin from the US was $630, whereas flying into London-Heathrow will cost you $941.
These low fares are due to the fact that Ireland abolished airline departure taxes, passing the savings on directly to passengers.
Flying JFK-DUB takes approximately 6h 50m while flying to Frankfurt takes nearly 8 hours. An hour may not sound that significant, but flights to Europe are always packed in the summer.
Many airlines reported increased ticket sales to Europe this year, since Europe is “on sale” thanks to the declining Euro. Less time spent cramped in an airplane is always better.
Thanks to tailwinds, my flight to Ireland clocked in at approximately 5 hours 45 minutes- which isn’t bad considering we crossed an entire ocean!
Less Jet Lag
Sorry, Australian readers, but this tip also only really applies to North and South American travelers. The rule for jet lag is: “west is best, east is beast.” Jet lag is worse traveling eastwards, such as from the US to Europe.
Ireland is only 5 hours hours ahead of NYC, instead of 6 like Frankfurt, or 7 like Istanbul. Again, one hour might not sound like a big deal, but jet lag is intensified by each time zone you skip.
This little difference could result in you overcoming your jet leg days earlier, instead of losing valuable vacation time adjusting to the time zone changes.
Skyscanner recommends breaking up your trip to ease into time zone changes, and so do I! From my own personal experience, flying into Ireland was much easier on my internal clock than my usual routine of flying into Frankfurt.
Before my plane even landed, I was blown away by Ireland’s lush scenery and green hues.
The Alps and the Mediterranean Sea are stunning, but Ireland has a scenic, rugged terrain you won’t find in continental Europe.
The only comparable scenery I have seen is in Iceland, Scotland or Norway. In all of these countries, you will end up spending way more due to higher living expenses and stronger national currencies.
Once you’re in mainland Europe, things tend to blur together. Maybe Strasbourg, France will seem too reminiscent of Bruges,Belgium. However, Ireland will definitely remain distinguished among your travel memories.
Cheap Flights to Mainland Europe
I firmly believe that Europe is experienced best overland. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible when traveling from Ireland to the mainland.
Ryanair, a bare-bones, budget airline, is based out of Dublin. The low-cost air carrier flies to most of Western Europe, as well as Eastern Europe and North Africa.
Fares vary, and they will charge you extra for some amenities, but it still ends up being an economical option.
I remember my first visit to Dublin was thanks to a $12 Ryanair flight from Düsseldorf!
If you aren’t a fan of Ryanair, other airlines offer cheap fares to continental Europe as well. This can also be attributed to the revoked taxes mentioned above.
For example, last week I flew from Dublin to Vienna for $65 with Aer Lingus. This wasn’t as plush as my recent experience in business class, but it was certainly more pleasant than flying with Ryanair.
Ireland has a lot to offer and deserves its spot on so many traveler’s bucket lists. I had an amazing time in Galway, but would love to explore more of the country soon. If you’ve been to Ireland, what can others not miss?