When in Dublin... with Molly Malone. A guide to enjoying Dublin with Kids. Ireland travel tips.

How Not to Look Like a Tourist in Ireland

Tourist: a person who is traveling or visiting a place for pleasure.

I'm not sure when ‘looking like a tourist' became taboo, but it is a statement I hear quite often. After a while it became clear that what was really being asked was less about ‘looking' like a tourist and more about how to blend in and have local experiences in Ireland.

tourists at Molly Malone statue in Dublin
Embracing looking like a tourist in Dublin

Blend In: Tips to Avoid Looking Like a Tourist in Ireland

If you want to truly immerse yourself in Irish culture, these handy tips will help you blend in (and maybe enjoy your vacation more!).

  1. Dress the Part
    When it comes to dressing in Ireland, comfort and practicality are key (unless it's a dress-up occasion then you go all out!). The weather can be unpredictable, so layers are essential. (Grab my packing list here!)
    Dress for your location. Nice, casual clothing and comfortable shoes for walking in the cities, comfortable clothing with water resistant outerwear and sturdy shoes for exploring the countryside. And ditch the umbrella, opt for a hooded jacket.
    Though you might adore the Aran sweater and tweed cap you bought, those will mark you as a tourist. Personally, I would wear them and embrace it, but if you want to blend in save those for when you return home.
  2. Learn Some Irishisms
    Every Irish person has ‘tá cúpla focal‘, or a few words of the Irish language. While most aren't fluent, the Irish language is important to the culture and learning a few basic phrases will not only make people smile but it may also impress the locals in rural Gaeltacht areas.
    Some simple words to pepper into your speech are slán (slawn) = goodbye and slaintѐ (slawn-che) = means ‘health', but usually used in a toast, ie: cheers.
    Remember that chips are French fries, crisps are potato chips, a biscuit is a cookie, and craic is all good fun, not an illicit substance.
    And, whatever you do, never act the maggot and say ‘top of the mornin'.
    (Learn more Irishisms in podcast episode 109 with author Denise Deegan!)
  3. Slow Down and Enjoy the Craic
    In Ireland, life happens at a slower pace. Drop your hurried itinerary and embrace the concept of craic – a unique blend of fun, laughter, and good company. Take time to chat with locals in pubs, strike up conversations with people you meet, or join a traditional music session.
    When you immerse yourself in the local social scene you are more likely to experience the true essence of Ireland.
  4. Explore Beyond the Main Attractions
    While iconic sites like the Cliffs of Moher and the Guinness Storehouse are must-sees, don't limit yourself to just the popular tourist attractions. Ireland is full of off the beaten path spots waiting to be discovered. Take the chance to experience breathtaking landscapes, warm hospitality, and local life without the crowds.
    (Check out the Amazing Ireland Experiences articles and podcasts to find terrific attractions and experiences off the tourist trail.)
  5. Use Public Transportation
    I am a huge proponent of a self-drive vacation to easily reach all of the ‘out of the way' spots in Ireland that you may add to your itinerary. But it's important to keep in mind that Ireland has an extensive network of buses and trains that can take you almost anywhere you want to go. If you can fit in a train journey or bus trip- even a short one- do it! Strike up a conversation – you may get some insider tips along the way.
    A couple ideas:
    – If you arrive in Dublin but you plan to rent a car and immediately drive to Galway, Cork, or Killarney consider an Express bus to your destination and pick up your rental car there.
    – If you are staying in Dublin consider taking the train on a few daytrips; Howth, Kilkenny, and Malahide are great options.
  6. Respect Local Customs and Traditions
    Irish culture is rich in traditions, and it's important to respect them during your visit. For example, when visiting churches or sacred sites, dress modestly, keep your voice low, and behave respectfully. If you find yourself in a pub during a traditional music session, remember to keep your voice down and show your appreciation for the musicians' talent.
    By showing respect for local customs, you'll not only fit in better but also gain a deeper appreciation for Irish culture.
  7. Embrace the Weather
    Ireland is known for its lush green landscapes, which wouldn't be possible without their fair share of rain! Sure, the Irish complain about the weather (don't we all!), but don't let the drizzle ruin your plans– embrace the weather as part of the Irish experience.
    Put on your layers, top with a waterproof, hooded jacket, tie on sturdy shoes, pack a few pair of socks, and get out to enjoy the day. Usually the rain will blow over after a while.
    Be sure to have a plan B in case the day is particularly wet. Ireland has amazing museums and galleries, or you could while away your afternoon near a fire in a pub and listen to stories.
  8. Support Local
    Small, local businesses are the backbone of Ireland, so support them whenever you can. Seek out family-run accommodations, dine in locally owned pubs or restaurants, and browse through shops that promote local artisans. Not only will you have a more authentic experience and some great chats, but you'll also be contributing to the local economy and supporting the livelihoods of Irish communities.

Follow these tips, you'll be well on your way to blending in and experiencing a more authentic Ireland.

Traveling in Ireland podcast episode 216

Jody Halsted
Follow Along

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.