Tourist traps in Ireland? Yes, every country has them — those "attractions" or "specialties" that are more hype than substance. Or those attractions that do not seem so attractive any more close up. Ireland is no exception. Give them a miss. Or enjoy them with a pinch of salt, the choice is yours. But if you are traveling Ireland on a budget, you would be well-advised not to fork out here.
Dublin's "Bohemian Quarter" Temple Bar
Despite being among the top attractions of Dublin, the "bohemian quarter" is (at least partially) expensive and overrated. Some pubs and restaurants may well be described as tourist traps — caveat emptor! I never warmed to the "Left Bank of Dublin", maybe because it is on the right bank of the Liffey. So, give Temple Bar a miss, even though there are some decent pubs.
Many an Over-Priced Souvenir Shop...
About 98% of all merchandise in souvenir shops is available in all other souvenir shops as well, sometimes even in supermarkets, or the dreaded discount stores, so it pays to shop around.
Also, bear in mind that a huge number of souvenirs actually originate in third-world factories and are outrageously overpriced. Check my list of the best Irish souvenirs and invest wisely.
Because, you know, those lime-green Aran sweaters are not really authentic, and donning a t-shirt with "Kiss Me I'm Irish" is cornier than a corn dog.
The Blarney Stone (Blarney Castle)
You pay for the privilege of climbing around 120 steps and then being photographed snogging (Irish vernacular for "kissing") a wall while hanging upside down from the castle tower. All this to get the "gift of the gab", as Irish eloquence is being commonly called. Meaning you'll talk a lot of Blarney afterward.
The Blarney stone once made it into the top rankings of the world's most unhygienic visitor attractions ...
Fungi the Dolphin
Ever since 1984, this bottlenose dolphin has been behaving decidedly unnaturally and thus become a godsend for the residents of Dingle. A Daingean, as the town is officially called, has taken to building a Fungi-industry like a duck to water.
And the more trusting tourists assume that Fungi's behavior is natural, with sometimes painful consequences: Since 2005 a number of enthusiastic tourists have been hospitalized after disgruntled (and often unnamed) dolphins rammed them at high speed, usually hitting with perfect marksmanship below the belt.
The Tower on the Cliffs of Moher
Sir Cornelius O'Brien built his tower right on the Cliffs of Moher to get a better vantage point. Today you can follow in his footsteps, climb a few dozen steps and ... see not really more than standing on the ground. You will be slightly higher up and your purse will certainly be two Euros lighter. And you'll be asking yourself "Why?"
The Majority of Irish Seaside Resorts
Acres of closely spaced mobile homes, small beaches with cold water, tacky amusements and jaded fun-fairs, exorbitant prices, screaming kids at day and at night a taste of a culture that confuses being blindly drunk with having a good time. Best avoided. Or better — enjoyed the season, with bargain prices in very good hotels.
Do not expect more than from them than you would in Orlando — the menu is fairly generic and somewhat basic, the setting is more Renaissance than Middle Ages and the entertainment is strictly middle-of-the-road. That said the castles are real, like Bunratty to name but one, and it is a fun way to spend an evening. Avoid if on a budget, splash out if it tickles your fancy.