A modest hotel in Dublin costs about €120 a night for two; this figure can drop below €90 if you stay in a registered guesthouse or inn, and to about €70 in a suburban B&B. Lunch, consisting of a one-dish plate of bar food at a pub, costs €10–€14; a sandwich at the same pub costs about €5. In Dublin's better restaurants, dinner runs €45–€60 (dinner being a three-course meal) per person, excluding drinks and tip.
Theater and entertainment in most places are inexpensive—about €20 for a good seat, and triple that for a big-name pop-music concert. For the price of a few drinks and (in Dublin and Killarney) sometimes also a small entrance fee of about €5, you can spend a memorable evening at a seisun (pronounced say-shoon when referring to this folk music session), in a music pub. Entrance to most public galleries is free, but stately homes and similar attractions charge anywhere from €4 to a whopping €16 per person.
Just about everything is more expensive in Dublin, so add at least 10% to these sample prices: cup of coffee, €2.20; pint of beer, €5; soda, €2.40; and 2-km (1-mile) taxi ride, €8. Due to the exchange rate, Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, and U.K. residents find Ireland a little pricey when they convert costs to their home currency.
Hotels and meals in Northern Ireland are less expensive than in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Also, the lower level of taxation makes gasoline, alcoholic drinks, and tobacco cheaper.
Prices throughout this guide are given for adults. Substantially reduced fees are almost always available for children, students, and senior citizens.
Banks never have every foreign currency on hand, and it may take as long as a week to order. If you're planning to exchange funds before leaving home, don't wait until the last minute.
ATMs and Banks
Your own bank probably charges a fee for using ATMs abroad; the foreign bank you use may also charge a fee. Nevertheless, you usually get a better rate of exchange at an ATM than at a currency-exchange office or even when changing money in a bank. Extracting funds as you need them is also a safer option than carrying around a large amount of cash.
PINs with more than four digits are not recognized at ATMs in many countries. If yours has five or more, remember to change it before you leave.
ATMs are found in all major towns and are the easiest way to keep yourself stocked with euros and pounds. Most major banks are connected to Cirrus or PLUS systems; there's a four-digit maximum for your PIN.
It's a good idea to inform your credit-card company before you travel, especially if you're going abroad and don't travel internationally very often. Otherwise, the credit-card company might put a hold on your card owing to unusual activity—not a good thing halfway through your trip. Record all your credit card numbers—as well as the phone numbers to call if your cards are lost or stolen—in a safe place, so you're prepared should something go wrong. Both MasterCard and Visa have general numbers you can call (collect if you're abroad) if your card is lost, but you're better off calling the number of your issuing bank, since MasterCard and Visa usually just transfer you to your bank; your bank's number is usually printed on your card.
If you plan to use your credit card for cash advances, you'll need to apply for a PIN at least two weeks before your trip. Although it's usually cheaper (and safer) to use a credit card abroad for large purchases (so you can cancel payments or be reimbursed if there's a problem), note that some credit-card companies and the banks that issue them add substantial percentages to all foreign transactions, whether they're in a foreign currency or not. Check on these fees before leaving home, so there won't be any surprises when you get the bill.
When using your credit card, check that the merchant is putting the transaction through in euros or pounds sterling. If he or she puts it through in the currency of your home country—a transaction called a dynamic currency conversion—the exchange rate might be less favorable and the service charges higher than if you allow the credit-card company to do the conversion for you. Be sure to ask at the time, and insist on being billed in euros to get the most advantageous rate and avoid the service charge.
Reporting Lost Cards
American Express. 800/528–4800; www.americanexpress.com.
Diners Club. 800/234–6377; 514/877–1577; www.dinersclub.com.
MasterCard. 800/622–7747; 636/722–7111; www.mastercard.com/ie.
Visa. 800/847–2911; 410/581–9994; www.visa.com.
Currency and Exchange
The Irish Republic is a member of the European Monetary Union (EMU). Euro notes come in denominations of €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10, and €5. The euro is divided into 100 cents, and coins are available as €2 and €1 and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1 cent, though 1 and 2 cent coins are being phased out of circulation
The unit of currency in Northern Ireland is the pound sterling (£), divided into 100 pence (p). The bills (called notes) are £50, £20, £10, and £5. Coins are £2, £1, 50p, 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p, and 1p. The bank of Northern Ireland prints its own notes, which look different from the English and Scottish sterling.
Check out today's rates at www.oanda.com.
At this writing, €1 is equal to U.S. $1.14. One pound sterling is equal to U.S. $1.55. Rates fluctuate regularly, particularly for the euro, so monitor them closely.
Even if a currency-exchange booth has a sign promising no commission, rest assured that there's some kind of huge, hidden fee. (Oh . . . that's right. The sign didn't say no fee.) As for rates, you're almost always better off getting foreign currency at an ATM or exchanging money at a bank.
Traveler's Checks and Cards
Some consider this the currency of the caveman, and it's true that fewer establishments accept traveler's checks these days. Nevertheless, they're a cheap and secure way to carry extra money, particularly on trips to urban areas. Both Citibank (under the Visa brand) and American Express issue traveler's checks in the United States, but Amex is better known and more widely accepted. Whatever you do, keep track of all the serial numbers in case the checks are lost or stolen.