OH MAN! I am so jealous! I studied abroad in Ireland for two months in college and it was the best trip of my life. I wish we were going there on our honeymoon!
Firstly, the people are extremely friendly in the Republic of Ireland (Southern Ireland). They love to chat and are extremely helpful if you need directions or ideas on what to do. The people of Northern ireland, UK, are also lovely, however it was my experience there (I was only there for about three weeks through my two month stay) that they were a tad anti-American. However, both countries in the island are wonderful and have plenty of good things to offer.
Dublin is a vibrant, metropolitan, and culturally rich city. You don’t want to miss it. However, prepare to spend the bulk of your money there. Food and lodging are expensive, however, the pubs and shops have so much character you don’t want to miss them. A pint of beer or cider usually runs around five euro throughout the city, and obviously coctails are more expensive. If you’re not picky about where you stay, there are plenty of hostels where you can get private rooms, and you can get them as cheaply as 20 euro a night.
While in Dublin, be sure to see Trinity College, it has a gorgeous, historic campus and museum. Also, go to Grafton street to see all the fancy shops if you feel like looking at street vendors, coffee shops, and fancy stores. I wandered Grafton five million times while I was there just because it was so entertaining. When you feel like a hitting the best part of the resturant, pub, and club scene, go to Temple Bar. It’s an individual bar, but also a whole area of the city that is quite bustling. There is also the Guniness Factory, where you take a tour and they give you free beer in a glass room overlooking the entire city! But you will not have to look hard to find casual, fun pubs, shops, and markets.
I also went to Galway, which is as far as I know the 2nd largest city in the Republic. It is charming and not too big, has a darling town center and great pubs. While there, take a ferry to the Aran Islands and rent a bike. It is literally the most beautiful area of the world I have ever seen. Also, in very backcountry Galway, there is Kylemore Abbey. If you’re into extremely little towns steeped in authentic, real life Irish culture with a big castle, this is for you. There is also a national park there that is beautiful with nice (and not too difficult) hiking trails. Be warned, it is in a two-pub town of Connemara, and it’s a long trip from the city center of Galway to get there…I think about two and half hours by bus. I stayed there in a very inexpensive B&B with a friend for a night and got to see the Kylemore Abbey, and although it’s not a *huge* tourist attraction, it was well worth the travels to see it, and was the most inexpensive leg of my trip.
County Wicklow is also beautiful if you feel like going to a low key, not super rustic national park.
Ok, Northern Ireland is a whole different story and I do not have as much experience there as I do in the Republic, but if you go, go to the north and go to Carrick-a-rede bridge in Giant’s Causeway. You’ll see some of the most beautiful natural landscapes you have ever seen with the coolest hexagonal rock formations. Keep in mind that they use the pound, not the euro, so thing will be a bit more expensive.
When you travel around, I would suggest taking the bus system. I don’t remember the exact cost of the bus fare, but as I did it through the duration of my trip, it could not have been that expensive.
Have a wonderful time!!!!