If you’re planning your first trip to Ireland, lucky you! You can look forward to visions the Emerald Isle is famous for, from greener than green scenery to soaring heather-covered mountains, beautiful beaches and magnificent castles, along with ever-flowing Guinness and plenty of craic. Craic is something you’re going to enjoy a lot of, a Gaelic word with no English translation, it basically means “fun.”

Whether you’ve just purchased a house among the Charlotte homes for sale and are on a tight budget or you’re looking to splurge on the vacation of a lifetime, these tips can help you make the most out of your visit.

When to Go

While anytime is a good time to visit Ireland, there are times of the year that are better than others, typically in mid to late spring or early fall. Summer can be one of the worst times to go as sunny weather isn’t guaranteed, airfares are high, and the crowds are the thickest of the year. Going in May or from mid-September to mid-October often brings pleasant temperatures, lower airfare and fewer crowds, while the major attractions are open and many activities like dolphin watching excursions and boat tours are available.

Traveling between mid-January and late February means the weather may be chilly, though chances of snow are fairly rare. You’ll get the best bargains on airfare, the cheapest rates on accommodations, and there are unlike to be crowds to battle. If severe weather hits, pubs for enjoying the warmth of a fire, a pint of Guinness and good company are always just around the corner.

Skip the Hotels

One of the best things about visiting Ireland are the people – they really are some of the friendliest on Earth. If you want to really get to know them without being just another one of the countless tourists, avoid staying in hotels. There are hundreds of family-run bed-and-breakfasts to choose from, in fact, B&Bs make up 35% of the country’s accommodation options, according to Fáilte Ireland. There are many different types of B&Bs, from basic guest rooms with Wi-Fi and a TV in simple establishments to four-star accommodations with all sorts of desirable amenities, even excursion options.

Rent a Car

While Ireland has a good bus and train transportation system, in many cases you won’t be able to reach some of its most charming small towns that are more hidden away in mountain and coastal areas. Renting a car is really a must for truly getting out and exploring. While driving in Ireland does have its challenges, especially for those used to driving on the right, the freedom and flexibility are worth it – and, odds are, you’ll get the hang of it fairly quickly. When comparison shopping for rental car companies, make sure everything is included in the price you’re quoted – your U.S. credit card is unlikely to cover the insurance. By purchasing Super CDW, nearly all or all of your liability will be covered if something happens to the vehicle.

Start in Dublin Then Head Elsewhere

Dublin is a sprawling city that’s worth exploring for a day or two, but getting out into the countryside, in the mountains and along the coast is where you’re going to find the best scenery and arguably the most unforgettable experiences. Some of the favorites to include on your itinerary include the artsy town of Kilkenny with its grand medieval castle, Wicklow and Killarney national parks, the Ring of Kerry, the Connemara Mountains, and the Aran Islands, but the list of fantastic destinations to choose from is practically endless.

Instead of driving around trying to see it all, pick three or four places at most and plan to enjoy at least a few days in each, and then plan to come back another time to explore another region.