Safety comes first, this is especially true when travelling alone. Travellers often ask me how safe they will be in Ireland, while there are never any guarantees about this kind of thing, lets talk about how safe Ireland is to travel alone.
Is Ireland safe to travel alone? Yes, Ireland is one of the safest countries in the world. There are far fewer instances of violent crime in the republic of Ireland than most other parts of Western Europe and the English-speaking world. While safe, common-sense precautions should be taken while travelling in Ireland alone.
If you choose to travel to Ireland, you will find public safety more relaxed than if you were to travel to most other parts of the world and this is a point of pride among the Irish. Having said that, there are some safety issues in Ireland that you should look out for.
Safety in Ireland for a Solo Traveller
Ireland is statistically one of the safest countries in the world and has been for a long time. If you are planning on visiting, you will not need to worry too much about your personal safety. The United States’ Diplomatic Service assessed that any threat to the safety of U.S. citizens in Ireland is low, for more detailed statistics, click HERE. While this shows that Ireland is a place that you can feel secure in, you should keep your wits about you, if you use the normal precautions that you would at home, you should be safe travelling Ireland alone.
Crime has been on the rise in the last couple of years, though the rate of crime in large cities like Dublin has remained roughly the same. If you make your way to Ireland, you will rarely be in danger yourself, though there may be some risk in your property being stolen. Theft is by far the most common form of crime in Ireland. Though the country is still safe, there are opportunists everywhere and you should take whatever precautions you deem necessary for the protection of your possessions.
When in Ireland it is easy to make friends with both the locals and other travellers, so there will usually be others around to ask questions or help if you need assistance. Generally, while travelling, if you are in desperate need of assistance, seek out other people and the Irish are generally helpful to tourists and all of them speak English. If you are alone, away from people, be aware that certain parts of Ireland can be remote, especially along the West Coast. If you are staying alone for a prolonged period, remember to check in with others from time to time and make sure you consult the Irish weather service regularly.
Emergency Contact Numbers
The number for the emergency services in Ireland is 999 or 112.
Solo Female Traveller
If you are a solo female traveller, Ireland is about as safe as places like the USA, Canada or most of Western Europe. So, use whatever safety procedures that you normally would when travelling to those nations. The sexual revolutions that were famous all over the world largely missed Ireland, until recently, and things like sexual education and sexual health are not discussed as widely as they should be in the country. This means that the chances of catching an STD are slightly higher in Ireland than elsewhere. It is also still common for Irish schools to be segregated by gender right up to college, this means that young Irish men are often unable to tell when their Irish charm is not working.
If you find yourself in an uncomfortable position, avoid any ambiguity and use clear language. A loud and clear “no” should make your point. If not seek assistance from others, ideally members of staff at the establishment you are in. Remember that there are extreme people everywhere and Ireland is no exception, if you find yourself in trouble your best solution is to run and find safety.
Though this is important information, the amount of sex crimes in Ireland has been declining recently [OPW Report]. The sharp rise in these crimes in recent years was due to better reporting methods of marital abuse. This situation is improving in Ireland and it is unlikely (though still possible) that you will run into any serious trouble while here.
This will be your biggest worry in Ireland, especially in larger cities like Dublin. When visiting, always try to make sure that you know where your possessions are at all times. Theft can be an issue in public places like parks or on the street and there are opportunists in major Irish cities, just like any other part of the world. When in busy areas, like Templebar in Dublin, you should be extra careful. These places will usually be crowded, and I have personally seen people robbed in this part of the country. In areas like Templebar, there will usually be a strong police presence. Though the Irish police force (an Garda Siochana) are unarmed, they will usually have a stronger presence in crowded parts of the country.
If you are staying in a hostel, the usual travel precautions should apply. Most hostels will give you access to a locker, though you will have to provide your own lock. If you make sure your possessions are all locked away in your locker, you should be fine while staying in Irish hostels.
Weather Warnings on the West Coast
The Irish weather is reliably unreliable, I have had a Christmas barbeque in Dublin and seen snow in Sligo in July. The average year in Ireland gets about 300 days of precipitation of some kind. Most of the time this will be a light rain, we hardly ever get snow and if you don’t like the weather, just wait 20 minutes! Seriously, it changes all the time. If you come to Ireland, one of the best pieces of advice you can get is to layer up.
The strange thing about the Irish weather is that you get used to it after a while, this can cause some difficulty when the weather gets truly bad. There are rarely any natural disasters in Ireland, we don’t have any volcanoes, we don’t get earthquakes or tornadoes. Recently though, we have been getting more rough weather from the Atlantic Ocean. Several bad storms and small hurricanes have hit Ireland in the last couple of years. While they aren’t anywhere as damaging as though felt in other parts of the world, they are something to look out for, especially in winter. Many have caused flooding and if they involve snow, the country comes to a standstill. We rarely ever get snow here, so when we do, it’s a big deal.
The best way to deal with extreme weather in Ireland is to simply keep an eye on things. Make sure that you check in with someone regularly, this could be someone either at home or in a hotel. And make sure to have a look at the Irish weather service, Met Eireann, for any extreme weather warnings.
Click HERE to see the Irish weather service.
When travelling around Ireland there are a couple of things you should keep an eye on, even if you are only staying in a small town. The biggest deal for people is that we drive on the wrong side of the road here. When crossing any road in Ireland, make sure that you look right first! In the centres of large cities like Dublin and Galway there will be reminders on the street of where to look when you cross and most of the traffic crossings will make noticeable sounds for your benefit.
This information is especially important if you are driving yourself. Make sure to drive on the left side of the road! If you do drive, be aware that there are no laws against jaywalking in Ireland, so people will tend to wander around the middle of the streets if given the opportunity! Most of the streets in Irish cities were made before the invention of the car, so they may be a little difficult to traverse for people unfamiliar with them.
Is Northern Ireland safe for tourists? Yes. The troubles that impacted the North have been over for about 20 years now and the area has experienced 2 decades of peace. Despite the unrest over Brexit, there has been no indication of any increased danger to tourists.
What side do you drive on in Ireland? The Left! Keep to the left side of the road while driving in Ireland. It is mostly the same as the UK, though we use the metric system and have some unique road signs. Be aware of this if you are a driver or a pedestrian.