Northern Ireland – Travel Culture
The nice thing about visiting countries in the United Kingdom is that there is no language barrier….mostly! In Northern Ireland, although English is spoken, Irish (Gaelic) is also spoken and sometimes the two get mixed together, and don’t even START with the accents and how difficult understanding them can be!
Another wonderful benefit of traveling in Northern Ireland is you can always find kindness and generosity from the people there. The locals have such a hospitable nature and are also a lot of fun!
We can’t forget the political culture that continues to shape Northern Ireland as well. Quite different from the Republic of Ireland and not as volatile as it was in the 1970’s and 1980’s, there is still much influence from the country’s opposing political views and not talking politics or religion in public is highly recommended. However, travel is much easier now and there are no border crossings left between the Republic and Northern Ireland.
The currency is the British Pound (GBP), not the Euro, as it is part of the UK. As always when traveling internationally you get the best exchange rate by using credit cards for purchases charged in the local currency and debit cards to draw cash out of bank ATM’s.
The current is 240V, so you will need a converter for 110V appliances that aren’t rated for both and you need an adapter as their plug styles are three flat prongs, unlike our American 2 prongs with a third round ground. Most hotels provide hair dryers and many have free WiFi, so staying in touch is quite easy.
Tipping in Northern Ireland is simple, generally a 10% rule for taxis and restaurants, assuming no tip is automatically included in the bill and there is table service. Porters and hotel maids also appreciate a small tip for their service and tour guides and bus drivers would expect 3-5 GBP and 1-3 GBP respectively per person per day for their services. Pub tenders don’t expect a tip, unless food is served at the table. All of these are also earned on merit, so if someone provides excellent service, tip away and if someone is rude, walk away!
The best time to travel to Northern Ireland is really anytime between April and November. The weather is reasonably consistent, without wide swings of temperature. The summers are not hot, usually in the 70’s and the winters are not frigid, usually in the 30’s. There is always the chance of rain and on the coast, wind, so dressing in layers and having an umbrella along is highly recommended.
We found the Titanic Museum in Belfast a not-to-be-missed attraction and the cliffs of Slieve League to be a great opportunity to view Northern Ireland’s natural beauty. The Giant’s Causeway and
Carrick-A-Rede bridge were also tourist sites with breathtaking views and worth the visit. No matter where you go in Northern Ireland, take time to stop in a local pub for an Irish stew and a pint, and you’ll get a better sense of the country’s culture!