By Lauren Ponsi
Photo credit: Photo by Madelon 🇫🇷
Your bags are packed, visa in hand and you’re off to start a new adventure in Ireland. Going to a new country can be a little bit scary and maybe even a little overwhelming. But, you’ve already made the biggest leap by taking a gap year. Taking a gap year allows you to transition from tourist to local and after spending almost a year in Dublin, here are my tips and tricks to a year in Ireland
Dublin is an ever growing city with great diversity. There is something always going on for everyone.
A big city with a small town feel
Dublin is an ever growing city with great diversity. There is something always going on for everyone. Utilize social media to find out what’s happening within the city. If you’re like me you want to find the Instagram worthy hot spots. I like to use the explore page on Instagram to find different places to go. You can find great brunch spots, or those little coffee shops that wouldn’t pop up on your average tourist guides. Also, the events tab on Facebook is another great way to find what’s happening in Dublin. This allows you to filter by where you’re living or even by your interests.
My favourite Instagram finds:
‘Round the Island
With the whole country the same size of the state of Indiana, it’s not hard to get out of Dublin for a day. Ireland is made of 26 counties and 6 counties part of Northern Ireland. Each county is unique to one another and you’ll find that such a small country is full of so much culture. There are tons of day tours that will take you to the popular hotspots around the country. But, the public transportation around Ireland is also really simple to use. You can get to most places by bus or rail and sometimes just getting out of the hustle and bustle of the city is relaxing.
Cork & Blarney Castle: Get the gift of gab and make sure to pick up some fresh finds at the English Market in Cork
Galway & The Cliffs: Travel along the Wild Atlantic way and see the breathtaking views of the west coast of Ireland
Belfast & Northern Ireland: layered with troubled past and Irish folklore. And fun for you fans of Game of Throne fans.
A Hop, jump and skip Away
Centrally located, Ireland makes traveling mainland Europe super convenient. Dublin is the home to budget airline RyanAir which you will have a love-hate relationship by the end of your gap year. Utilize RyanAir’s frequent sales to travel on the weekends. With most destinations being no more than an hour to two away you can find yourself wandering the streets of a new city on a Saturday and be back in Dublin by Sunday afternoon. At the beginning of your gap year create a list of all of your dream countries and cities to see, then list out your bank holidays (three day weekends). Bank Holidays are the perfect weekends to schedule that weekender away. I personally like to use flight and travel apps on my phone to set alerts on certain flights for bank holiday weekends.
Skyscanner: Finds the cheapest flights available and allows price alerts
Hopper: Predicts the best time to book flights
EuropeWSA: plans guided and unguided weekend tours (great if you’re lazy at planning like me)
Now, this is only a peek into what to do on a gap year. Ultimately, the year is what you make it and the possibilities are endless. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something you possibly never imagined. Transform from being that lost tourist to that knowledgeable local.