Travel Sustainably in Ireland
You’ll soon be travelling to Ireland and we’re here to help you get prepared in the best way possible.
During your trip, you’ll be experiencing the local culture and heritage and exploring the lush, green scenery Ireland is so famous for. Through all this, it’s good to keep in mind the importance of preserving it all for future generations to enjoy.
At Nordic Visitor, we believe in doing our part for the planet and our local environment. For that reason, we want to encourage you to do the same when visiting our beloved nation, Ireland.
That said, sustainable travel is not just about conserving the environment. It’s also about supporting local economies and having a positive impact on the local communities.
On this page, you’ll find some friendly suggestions on how you can do your part.
Packing for your visit to Ireland
You can arrive in Ireland prepared to be as green as possible by bringing a couple of items from home:
1. Carry a reusable water bottle
The drinking water in Ireland is clean and water quality standards are extremely high. The majority of water comes from rivers, natural springs and rain. It is collected in reservoirs before going through water treatment works.
That means it’s safe to drink the tap water and you can refill your bottle as you go. This way, you can save money and be environmentally friendly all at once.
2. Bring a reusable shopping bag
Shops in Ireland are required by law to charge for every shopping bag. So an easy way for you to reduce the amount of waste from your holiday and save money is to bring a reusable shopping bag with you. Win-win situation!
Making the most of the local culture
Come to Ireland and you’ll see more than rolling hills, imposing sea cliffs, and mythical castles. You’ll also discover a culture rooted in Celtic heritage, with a storied past stretching generations. The country and its people have developed their own festivals, traditions and tasty food.
By supporting the local culture, you’ll embrace your Irish experience while making a positive impact on the economy and people.
1. Shop local for souvenirs
If you plan on buying souvenirs while in Ireland, why not purchase items made locally? Here are some suggestions of true Irish souvenirs:
- Belleek Pottery – you can purchase collectables from this famous company from outlets around the country, or visit their shop in Belleek, Northern Ireland.
- Dingle gin – go home with a taste of Ireland as this distillery uses many local infusions.
- Handwoven wool clothing – Avoca Handweavers is Ireland’s oldest working handweaving mill and it is still family-owned. Here you could buy woollen scarves, wraps, blankets and more.
- Galway, Dingle and Waterford Crystal – it might be fragile, but these are exquisite souvenirs to take home and they are all carved locally.
- Burren perfume – Burren Perfumery uses unique plants from the Burren region so it’s the real smell of Ireland. This shop is still family-run.
2. Visit sites outside peak times
If you can, try to visit popular attractions outside peak times. Not only will you help reduce the pressure on these spots, but you’ll enjoy a more relaxed experience when you visit.
3. Eat local
An easy way to support the local economy while travelling is to eat out at Irish restaurants. You need to eat, after all!
We recommend especially looking for menus that feature local, seasonal produce. Ireland is very fortunate to have a varied natural larder that changes throughout the seasons, so it’s always worth looking at the special menus when dining out.
For example, Irish soft fruits such as strawberries and raspberries are particularly good in the high summer. Why not visit a local fruit farm where you can “pick your own” to enjoy on your onward travels – if they last that long!
4. Visit farmers’ markets
Another way to sample local produce is to visit farmer’s markets. These are usually held once or twice a month in towns and cities around the country. Farmers' markets bring the local area's top producers together to sell their fresh, locally grown produce.
It’s a great way to meet local suppliers, learn about Ireland’s food heritage and try some really delicious local cuisine. Farmers’ markets usually have stalls selling local crafts such as pottery, textiles and artwork. So they are a great place to pick up some unique souvenirs as well.
5. Attend Irish events
Going to festivals and special events hosted in Dublin or around the country is a great way to immerse yourself in and support Irish culture.
Check out Tourism Ireland’s What’s on page to find events on the dates you’re visiting. It includes sporting and cultural events as well as seasonal festivals, such as St Patrick’s Day.
6. Be respectful of local traditions and customs
When visiting cultural and historical sites, remember to be mindful of the importance these sites have for locals. Sometimes they represent their culture and hundreds of years of tradition and are great sources of pride.
Using sustainable transportation
1. Walk around if you can
Ireland’s capital, Dublin, is very easy to get around on foot. Wander through the city centre, walking along the River Liffey and to Temple Bar.
Your accommodation is likely to be central so you can access restaurants and shops.
2. Hop on public transport
If you would like to give your feet a rest, an easy, cheap, and sustainable way to travel around Dublin is by tram. There are also buses.
The public transport system, Luas, runs a regular and extensive network of routes throughout the city.
3. Drive gently to be more eco-efficient
If you are going on a self-drive tour, there is still a way for you to be more sustainable if you want.
The easiest way to limit the fuel consumption of your vehicle is to drive gently, evenly, and smoothly. Acceleration and braking require more energy, so avoid sharp acceleration and abrupt braking. Try maintaining a constant speed to be more economical and eco-friendly.
You can read more advice on driving safely in Ireland on our travel guide.
Conserving the natural environment
One of the main attractions in Ireland is its sweeping landscapes, whether inland or by the coast. There is lots you can do or keep in mind to help preserve it during your trip.
1. Leave no trace behind
Ireland is known for its unspoiled and clean nature. Help keep it this way by putting your litter in bins and recycling if possible. If there are no bins where you are visiting, take your rubbish back with you to your accommodation so you can dispose of it there.
2. Don’t go off-road driving
Driving and parking sensibly will help preserve Ireland’s natural landscape. Keep to marked roads and parking spots and do not create an obstruction.
3. Hike along marked trails
Hiking is a great way to discover more of the natural scenery in Ireland. You’ll find many beautiful hiking trails of all levels and through a variety of landscapes.
A comprehensive guide of footpaths and rights of way can be found on Sport Ireland’s site. Hikers have freedom to roam within Ireland’s national parks.
If marked paths are available, please use these. They are there to keep you safe and to help protect our natural habitat.
4. Be mindful when visiting national parks and protected areas
You need to show extra consideration for the natural environment when visiting national parks and protected areas. Some sites in national parks may have restricted access during wildlife nesting and breeding seasons. Make sure to honour these restrictions so as not to disturb the wildlife.
5. Observe wildlife without disturbing it
When visiting Ireland and going wildlife spotting, your goal should be quiet observation. Make sure to keep your distance. To not disturb the different species, we recommend you do not make quick movements or loud noises. And do not try to touch them.
Ireland is very fortunate to be home to over 450 indigenous species of sea and land mammals as well as birds. Here are some you might spot during your visit:
You might instantly recognise the red deer. They are even more noticeable in the autumn. When exploring the great outdoors, you might see or hear the annual rut. This is when male deer battle each other to ensure a claim over their territory and mating rights.
The best time to see deer is from late September to November.
One of Ireland’s oldest native species is the Irish hare, these elusive animals having graced the Irish landscape since the last ice age. The arrival of spring brings mating season. This is when the well-known ritual, boxing moves of male hares take place as they battle to secure a mate.
If you find yourself in North West Ireland between April and September, you may be lucky enough to catch sight of the world’s second-largest fish – the Basking Shark. The sharks are an endangered species in the North Atlantic.
The seas off Inishowen in County Donegal are a good starting point if you’re on the look out for these gentle giants of the sea.
You can also see many domestic animals on your travels around Ireland, mainly sheep and cattle. This includes the very distinguished Galway sheep, which can be recognised by its wooly legs and bob on top of its head.
After the lambing season in May, the sheep can roam freely around rural areas, including on land where single-track roads run through farmland. Please be mindful of that when driving in Ireland during the summer as they can often be close to the roads.
A good thing to keep in mind is that if you see the ewe (female sheep) on one side of the road and her lambs on the other side of the road, you should slow down. That’s because you might scare the lambs and they might try to run into the road to join their mother.
The Connemara pony is another native to the Galway region. They are prized for their hardiness, agility and strong jumping ability. This pony breed is also known for its very good temperament, making them an excellent match for children and adults who wish to ride.
Reducing your carbon footprint
If you appreciate the incredible nature that Ireland has to offer, you may want to think of other ways to reduce your carbon footprint while in the country. Ireland’s carbon-neutral target is becoming increasingly important, especially in the efforts to preserve the country’s wild and incredible landscapes.
There are many ways that we can all play a part, such as leaving the car behind when possible. Public transport is easily accessible in towns and cities. You might also enjoy discovering the landscape on foot, bike, horseback, kayak and such.
If you’re looking for more resources, you can also check out our Ireland Travel Guide. Here you’ll find information on climate and weather conditions, health and safety, what to pack and other useful tips to prepare for your trip.
By travelling in a sustainable way you are helping us preserve our beautiful country so that future generations can also enjoy visiting.