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The Irish Countryside
Ireland is a wonderful country to explore on your own with a rental car. It has beautiful countryside, with some hidden gems and great, family owned bed and breakfasts sprawled throughout the country. Bed and breakfasts are a quintessential way to experience the Irish countryside, and it truly is something that you shouldn't skip out on during your trip to Ireland, even if you are on a tight budget.
In larger cities, you really won't be at a loss for places to stay. There are countless hotels of every quality, price range and style. There is also a well organized hostel system throughout the country that maintains a certain standard among these facilities.
Tips to Save Money
In Ireland you'll find a range of accommodation types and a wide variety of prices and quality. It is possible to find budget accommodation in most touristy destinations. There are no real tricks to saving money on hotels in Ireland, aside from the typical rules. You'll get the best deals if you travel in the low season. You'll also spend less money if you head outside of the expensive cities and visit some of the countryside. After all, that is part of what makes Ireland a top travel destination in Europe.
Ireland is also a great country to consider couchsurfing. There's an active community and you're likely to meet some lovely people who are eager to show you a good time in this wonderful country. If couchsurfing isn't your style, bed and breakfasts are a great way to meet some locals. They're usually family run facilities and the owners often take some time to chat with their guests. It's a great alternative to hotels, and a great way to feel like part of the community while you're in this lovely and outgoing country.
Traditional Irish Options
You'll find the typical types of accommodation throughout Ireland. Bed and breakfasts are a great option, and are often reasonably priced. Hotels have star ratings and you usually get what you pay for. If you travel in the low season you may be able to spot some unique and excellent deals. Hostels are abundant throughout Ireland, in part because it is such a popular destination among backpackers and budget travelers. Independent hostels market themselves as "Independent Holiday Hostels of Ireland" and can be quite nice. They are all approved by a tourist board in Ireland. Other hostels are affiliated with An Oige, which is an official youth hostel association. These hostels are usually in remote locations and beautiful scenic spots that give you an excellent opportunity to experience the Irish outdoors. Alternatively, there are some campgrounds sprinkled throughout the country as well.
You'll find every type of accommodation in Dublin. The cheapest options are usually the hostels. There are plenty of hostels throughout the city and many offer dorm beds for a good price with breakfast included. Hostels usually provide a shared kitchen facility, laundry service (for an additional fee), sheets and towels, and shared bathrooms. There is often a television room and common area available to guests where they can socialize and get to know each other. Some hostels also have and attached bar and occasionally a restaurant. Bed and breakfasts are usually another affordable option. They're usually more comfortable than hostels and couples find this option to be ideal because it is both affordable and private. They are also a great option if you're looking for a more homey setting where the owners enjoy socializing with the guests. Hotels are generally a little more expensive depending on their star rating. They can be less personal and often have a more corporate or commercial feel.
You'll find the cheapest accommodation in Dublin around the main bus station. Most of the more expensive options are located in the areas that are to the south of the river.
There are plenty of international chains throughout the city. Some of the most popular include the Holiday Inn, the Radisson, the Ritz, and the Four Seasons.
You'll usually get the best deal if you book at least several weeks in advance. This is true whether you stay in a hostel or in a high end hotel.
Cork has plenty of hotel options and you'll find a wide variety of hostels, bed and breakfasts, and budget hotels throughout the city. There are plenty of independently run facilities that are a great quality option and a good value. There are also some well known international chain hotels you can choose from if you're looking for a brand name that you're familiar with. Some of the more popular chains in the city of Cork include the Radisson and the Clarion Hotel. There are also some cheaper options like the Travelodge, although these budget options are often not well located. Some of the more budget hotels can also be found out by the airport.
There's also a camping facility available to travelers. Blarney Camping Ground is actually in the town of Blarney which is about a ten minute drive from Cork. This is a good option if you arrive in town and find that all of the hostels are booked up. At the campground you'll find a kitchen, laundry facilities, showers and a television room.