5 Things That Might Surprise You On A First Trip To Ireland
Ireland has a certain image and reputation that’s fairly widespread in the world. People have general expectations of what it’s like there and what there is to do, and to some extent these expectations can accurately inform what your experience will be like if and when you visit. Despite the strength of Ireland’s general image though, it is – like most countries – a bit more dynamic in reality than most people tend to assume it might be.
As a result of this fact, Ireland can surprise you in some interesting and wonderful ways. So you don’t risk missing some of the unexpected joys of visiting the country, we’re listing some of the very best surprises people tend to encounter.
There’s Terrific Food
Ireland is a little bit like the new Great Britain in this regard. Not so very long ago, Britain had a reputation for a lackluster culinary scene. Now, it’s thought to have a very enjoyable one. There’s an appreciation for British comfort food around the country, fresh local fare and French preparations are rampant, and London is a legitimate foodies’ paradise. Ireland doesn’t quite have a given city or area to match London’s prowess, if we’re being honest, but there are truly great food experiences around the country these days, and together they’ve boosted Ireland’s culinary reputation a lot. Fresh seafood and high-end comfort food in particular are easy to come by.
Sports Culture is Big
Here again, Ireland mimics Britain in more ways than many realize. Because of the massive worldwide popularity of the English Premier League – as well as the passionate following for cricket and rugby, international events like Wimbledon, etc. – Britain has a stellar sporting reputation. Ireland shouldn’t be considered too far behind though. Football and rugby are both big, and there are also some more uniquely Irish sports that draw huge crowds and inspire passionate following. Sports betting, too, is a fairly popular form of recreation connecting supporters to sports. Britain leads the way for Europe in this regard as well, and overseas Canada has a lot to offer in the sports betting category. But Ireland shouldn’t be overlooked, as it also hosts its own busy sports markets, separate from the British ones.
The Beaches Are Worthwhile
Simply because it’s fairly far north, Ireland is more or less an afterthought for people pursuing beach destinations. And we won’t pretend you should go to Ireland specifically for a beach vacation. However, there are beautiful beaches around the country that are thoroughly worthy of travelers’ attention. Murlough Beach in County Down is otherworldly in its beauty; Dog’s Bay and Gurteen Bay in Connemara can look almost tropical in nice weather; Portsalon Beach in County Donegal is suitable for laying out in the sun, or swimming in the shallows. And there are more beyond just those three!
Whiskey Is More Important Than Beer
Whether or not it is in a financial sense, Guinness beer is Ireland’s greatest export in terms of popularity and recognition. Many past a certain age knows of or has tried Guinness. Most associate it very closely with Ireland. That, plus the common image of dusty-but-pleasant old Irish pubs, could lead you to believe that it’s a country of proud breweries and beer bars. It is in a way, but whiskey is actually the more significant local drink. Touring the country’s distilleries is a fairly popular activity among tourists. It doesn’t mean you can’t grab a Guinness, or other local beers – but whiskey is king in Ireland.
Ireland Is Very Laid Back
This is a fairly broad assertion, but some are surprised by how generally laid back Ireland is. Irish people tend to be quite friendly to visitors, and there’s also a perception that the Irish are more easygoing about time and scheduling. There are more specifics that go into this idea, but overall the country can just feel relaxed in a way not every place does.