Quick Guide to Ireland: Visa-free travel for South Africans

2018-06-20 15:07 - Saara Mowlana
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ireland map

Plan your trip to Ireland with this Quick Guide. (Photo: iStock)

Ireland is rich in lush natural beauty, runs deep with river veins and is dense with cathedrals galore. 

Discover the history and architectural wonders that tell the story of the different Irish cities.

Get lost in breathtaking countryside towns that are more nature than concrete or find yourself in the bustling city of Dubling hopping between Cathedral tours and pubs and back.

Take to the streets with your feet and a map in hand and navigate your way around the quaint and quiet towns decked in niche cafes and stores.

Or tuck yourself away with a good book in one of the many city parks offering green havens amid the concrete centres.

SEEIreland’s Top Insider Experiences

Here's what you need to know if you go:

  • Visa requirements: No. Visa-free holiday or business travel up to 90 days for South Africans with a valid passport up until six months after the date of departure. 
  • Population: About 4 798 460 +/- presently
  • Capital CityDublin
  • Flight time: About 14 hours at best with one stop over

READ: 4 Great ways to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in SA

  • Currency: Euro (€) Current Exchange Rate: €1 = R14.74
  • Medical and health: To avoid illness and dampening your trip experience, be sure to heed the warnings and get the appropriate vaccinations beforehand. All Travellers: Routine Vaccinations. Some Travellers: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Rabies.
  • Religion: Ireland practices Roman Catholicism predominantly. However, other religious groups in Ireland include the Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist Churches as well as Eastern Orthodox, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons and Salvation Army Communities. There are also centres for Buddhists, Hindus, Baha'is and those of the Islamic and Jewish faiths. Read more here.
  • Country code: +353
  • Emergencies: Dial 112 or 999 - for more emergency numbers: click here.
  • Public Transport: A network of busses, trains, taxis, ferries are available for transport and travel around Ireland. Read more here.
  • Climate: Ireland has a Temperate Maritime Climate. Ireland's weather is influenced most by the Atlantic Ocean. As consequence, it doesn’t have the extreme temperatures that other countries at a similar latitude would have. The average temperature sits at a mellow 10°C.
  • Popular Cuisine: Must try dishes include: Bacon, sausages and eggs, or a dessert dish made by boiling bread in milk with sugar and spices to name a few, check out more here.

CHECK OUT: Ireland craic and why you have to visit

Useful phrases to know: 

Gaelic is the official language of Ireland - even though English is commonly spoken. Learn a few key phrases in Gaelic to make your stay more enjoyable.

Useful app to download - Duolingo makes learning a new language easy and fun. 

  • Hello - Dia duit (pronounced Dee-ah gwit); Hello to you too - Dia is Muire dhuit (pronounced Dee-ah iss Mwir-eh gwit)
  • What is your name? - Cad is ainm duit? (pronounced Cod iss anim gwit?)
  • My name is... - *name first* ...is ainm dom (pronounced ... iss anim dum)
  • Goodbye - Slán leat (pronounced Slawn lat)
  • Please - Más é do thoil é (pronounced Maws aye duh hull aye)
  • How are you? - Conas atá tú? (pronounced Kun-ass a-taw to?)
  • I am well - Tá me go maith (pronounced Taw may guh maw)
  • Excuse me / pardon me - Gabh mo leithscéal (pronounced Gov muh leh-scale)
  • Thanks - Go raibh maith agat (pronounced Guh rev mah ah-gut)
  • You are welcome - Tá fáilte romhat (pronounced Taw fall-che row-at)
  • Where are you from? - Cad as dhuit? (pronounced Cod oss gwit?)
  • I am from... - Is as na .*insert country name*. mé (pronounced Iss oss nah ... may)
  • What's up? - Conas atá an craic? (pronounced Kun-ass a-taw on crack?)
  • What? - Cad? (pronounced cod)
  • Where? - i gcás ina?
  • Who? - a?
  • When? - Cathain?
  • Why? - cén fáth? 
  • What's the price? - cad é an praghas?
  • Where's the toilet? - Cá bhfuil an leithreas?
  • Do you speak English? - An bhfuil Béarla agat?

Practical Tips

When travelling to Ireland, make sure you have the following on your packing list:

  • A valid passport, arrival ticket, return ticket, adequate funds;
  • a camera;
  • basic essentials;
  • comfortable, lightweight, and casual clothes;
  • comfortable and strong shoes or boots if you decide to trek the rougher landscapes;
  • a warm jersey or jacket - preferable with fleece;
  • gloves, a beanie and neck scarf;
  • formal / occasional wear (depending on your reason for travel);
  • basic toiletries;
  • hand sanitiser;
  • prescription medication;
  • sunglasses (for sunnier seasons);
  • a medical or first aid kit;
  • a flashlight (for exploration);
  • video camera and accessories;
  • vaccination certificates;
  • insurance documents;
  • your credit / debit cards;
  • Ireland maps - city / town maps and travel guides;
  • a notebook, tablet or smartphone.

Other

  • Get a waterproof cover / pack for your phone or tablet - to keep them protected from rain or the many rivers that run through Ireland
  • Get a Irish sim card quickly and easily at the airport when you arrive - it will save you a lot of data-roaming charges. 
  • Always carry a lightweight and powerful powerbank to ensure you've always got juice on the move - snapping pics and navigating Google maps tend to chow up battery life rather fast. Make sure you have your charger and a universal adapter too while you're at it.
  • As much as the urge to take as many pictures of the beautiful country as possible is strong, be sure to ask permission before you begin to snap pictures of houses or people. In some cases, you may be required to offer a tip for those pictures.
  • Watch your money - Make sure that, when changing currency you do so in a reputable hotel, foreign exchange bureau or bank.
  • Drinking water - it is best to drink bottled or water from purified sources to be safe, read more here.
  • Tipping is okay in Ireland and ranges between 10% - 15% depending on the service provided. 

Top attractions in Ireland

Ireland has over a thousand churches and cathedrals. Even the smallest of Irish towns - like Letterkenny - is known to hold a cathedral or two. Visit one of the many dotted all over Ireland to immerse yourself in the architecture, history and maybe even a tour.

This breathtaking cliffhanger is in Liscannor. Admire awe-inspiring vistas that dreams are made of from the edge of the world and get ready to encounter nature in its wildest, purest form along this rocky edge of Ireland.

The Irish are well-known for their beer industry. The secret to their thriving pub scene and iconic tainted coffee could lie behind Guinness' gates. Guinness is the largest brewery in the world. So grab your brews and a beer and give it a cheer.

This natural beaut is housed in Kerry. The McGillycuddy's Reeks, the highest mountain range in Ireland, has the lakes of Killarney nestled in its valleys. Head out and explore the expansive wonder on foot and snap away at all of the gram-worthy views. 

This hidden gem is in the quaint County Donegal. Enjoy an other-worldly experience as you meander along the winding river with Hogwarts-esque views. After your scenic walk (or short bus ride) visit Glenveagh castle and its cafe for some snacks and a tour.