Ireland was my first real solo travel destination. I’d moved from my home in California to Detroit, Michigan, so I’d had a few years of experience doing things on my own like going out to eat and meeting new people. I decided to use my PTO to visit Ireland for the first time as opposed to going back home to California. As I began planning my trip to Ireland, one question continued to pop up: Is Ireland safe to travel alone? Especially as a woman traveling alone.
If you’d like the TLDR answer, it’s a resounding yes. Ireland is one of the safest countries, especially for women traveling solo.
Since that first solo trip to Ireland, I’ve been back seven times (and am currently planning another trip). I’ve visited the major cities and more rural areas, and never once have I worried about my safety as a solo female traveler.
That’s something I can’t say about my years spent living in Detroit or, more recently, San Francisco.
Ireland Ranks Top 5 on the Global Peace Index
While it’s nice to know that my personal experience has been positive, let’s put some facts behind that for support.
The Global Peace Index ranks 163 independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness, which is based on the level of societal safety and security, the extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarization.
In 2023, Ireland was ranked the third most peaceful country in the world. The other countries in the top five include Iceland, Denmark, New Zealand, and Austria.
Crime in Ireland
It would be naive to say that crime does not occur in Ireland because it does. However, it has a relatively low crime rate when you compare it to the United States, for instance.
There are gangs and drugs in Ireland that lend to violent crime. However, savvy tourists really shouldn’t have much interaction with them.
Petty theft does occur in tourist areas, like Temple Bar, as it does in many major cities throughout the world.
However, as a whole, Ireland is a safe country to visit.
Why You Should Travel Solo in Ireland
Ireland is the perfect place to go for solo female travelers to take their first solo trip.
As you’ll learn in this post, Ireland is considered one of the safest countries for travel in general. Since Ireland is well known for its safety, it has become a popular destination for solo female travelers.
English is the common language in Ireland, so if you’re an English speaker or even have a limited knowledge of English, there isn’t much of a language barrier. You’ll easily be able to navigate public transportation and chat with people!
Speaking of chatting with people, Ireland is filled with friendly locals. Most will happily engage in conversation with you, even if it’s just the bartender! You’re almost guaranteed to have a good time in Ireland thanks to Irish hospitality.
Ireland is also perfect for nature lovers. There are a number of National Parks with miles (km) of hiking trails, plenty of beautiful beaches to go for a sea swim, and puffin sightings on the Aran Islands!
Ireland is also a small country, so you can see a great deal of it in a short amount of time.
17 Safety Tips for Visiting Ireland as a Solo Female Traveler
Ireland is generally known for its warm hospitality, beautiful landscapes, lively cities, and being one of the best countries to travel solo. Solo travelers should utilize normal solo travel safety precautions when traveling around the Emerald Isle. Here are some tips for staying safe while traveling solo in Ireland.
- Keep an eye on your belongings. Don’t leave valuables out on your bar table, and leave your passport in your accommodation.
- Be vigilant in popular tourist areas, train stations, and bus stations. This is where petty theft is most common. Don’t distract yourself by listening to loud music. If you look vigilant, you’re less of a target.
- Use one airpod/headphone for directions. If you’re using your phone to give you directions, put only one airport or headphone in your ear so you can listen to the directions without having your phone out and still being aware of your surroundings. Then, walk with a purpose!
- Use your credit card. Throughout Ireland, credit cards are readily accepted. Use your travel credit card for your purchases and carry only minimal cash that you might need for the bus or a tip. It’s much easier to recover from having your credit card stolen than a few hundred euros (speaking from experience).
- Share your location with people at home. I share my location constantly with people back home, and they have a general idea of my travel plans while in Ireland. If they decide to check on me and see I’m somewhere I didn’t mention, they can reach out. This has happened, and it’s usually because I’ve spontaneously decided to go somewhere else!
- Enjoy a few pints – responsibly. Pub culture is one of my favorite things in Ireland, and I’ll be in a pub most nights on my trips. While I’ve definitely had a few drunken nights in Ireland with new friends, it’s important to monitor and moderate your drinks so you continue to use common sense.
- Take a taxi at night. If you’ve got a long walk back to your hotel at night, take a taxi. There are Ubers in Dublin, but I prefer the FreeNow app as it’s used throughout the country.
- Don’t share where you’re staying. I made this mistake on my first solo trip to Ireland. I was in a pub in Ennis when a flirt Irish gentleman offered to walk me back to my accommodation. I tried to ease myself out of the situation by saying, “Oh, it’s just right there; you can see it,” and then gave him my incorrect phone number. The next morning, I woke up, and the front desk had a note from him for me. Now, I pick a different hotel or hostel to tell people where I’m staying instead of the actual one. When people ask about where you’re staying, I do believe it’s out of genuine curiosity, but it’s a good idea to have a different accommodation to give out.
- Check reviews before booking your accommodation. Look out, especially for reviews from female travelers and any safety concerns in the comments.
- Stay in a hostel or B&B. I like staying in hostels while traveling alone in Ireland as they’re a great way to meet people. And while it’s not your hostel roommate’s responsibility to take care of you, they may notice if you need help. I also love B&Bs, and Ireland is like the land of B&B. B&Bs are a great way to gain more insight into the local area and ask questions about where to go and where to avoid. Plus, they expect to see you around breakfast time.
- Strike up conversations with people. Irish people are usually up for a nice chat over a pint. They may also be able to tell you their favorite places to visit or places to avoid.
- Travel light. This is the best way to have a stress-free vacation. It’s a pain to lug a huge suitcase with you through the streets of Dublin or Galway. Or on and off buses. If you can, pack carry-on only.
- Heed warnings such as staying away from the cliff edges at the Cliffs of Moher.
- Take caution in the sea. Sea swimming is a very popular activity in Ireland, and if you decide to participate, make sure there are people swimming around you.
- Street harassment is incredibly rare in Ireland. Catcalling just doesn’t happen here, which makes exploring so much more enjoyable!
- Don’t drink and drive. Not sure this needs more explanation.
- Dial 999, the emergency number in Ireland.
Places to Visit on Your Ireland Trip
Below are some of the most common places people include on their Ireland itinerary.
Safety in Dublin, Ireland
Dublin is likely your first stop on your Ireland itinerary, as it should be! Dublin is a beautiful city with great restaurants, pubs, and lots of history to explore.
As Ireland’s capital city, it attracts a large number of international tourists every year. As such, the city has a bit higher crime compared to other large cities in Ireland, but it’s mostly theft and pickpocketing in tourist areas like Temple Bar.
Additionally, the area around O’Connor Street can get a bit rough at night, so it’s best to take a taxi back to your hotel if that is where you’re staying in Dublin.
That being said, if you follow normal precautions and don’t get belligerently drunk, you should be ok.
Safety in Galway, Ireland
Galway is my favorite place to visit in Ireland. I love the pubs, the live music, and the friendly atmosphere.
Galway is also a really great place to meet new people, as the local Irish here are so friendly and welcoming! Galway is also a great base for day trips to see more beautiful places in Ireland.
Galway has lower crime rates than Dublin, and I’ve personally walked home at night from a pub a time or two. Avoid isolated areas and travel on well-known and well-lit paths. Walk with a purpose and pay attention to the area.
Safety in Cork, Ireland
Cork is the second largest city in Ireland and is considered Ireland’s southern capital.
There are a lot of fun things to do in Cork and smaller villages to explore in the county. While a large city, it is still a very safe place to explore the main attractions. You should also be OK at night, but avoid walking the banks of the river at night as it’s very dark and secluded.
Safety in Belfast, Ireland
Located in Northern Ireland (which is actually a part of the United Kingdom), Belfast has a troubled history. Today, however, Belfast is a perfectly safe and incredibly fun city to visit. The people in Belfast are incredibly friendly, and you’re almost guaranteed to have a good night out in Belfast.
As long as you avoid silly tourist mistakes like talking about The Troubles, religion, or politics, you’ll have a great time. Save those questions for a black cab tour.
Safety on Public Transportation
I’ve traveled extensively throughout Ireland using only public transport and can confirm it is relatively safe, especially after the horror stories from when I was in Ecuador.
On buses, you’ll put your larger luggage underneath, and your personal item goes on the bus with you. I keep this in my lap usually as an extra precaution, but people generally leave you alone on buses.
I use bus rides to catch up on sleep when I’m not staring in awe out of the window!
Bus drivers are also full of good information. If you need to know where to get off for a certain activity, they usually know and are helpful in getting you there.
Trains are also safe and will have an area to store your luggage as well.
Safety Driving in Ireland
If you’re looking for a more scenic route throughout Ireland and want to be able to visit rural areas that are not well served by buses or trains, a car rental is the best way to get around Ireland.
While I’ve not rented a car in Ireland yet, I have in Scotland and think the same safety tips apply.
- Get Insurance: Whether you’re using your credit card’s rental car coverage or you purchase extra coverage from the rental agency, make sure you are covered!
- Stay on the left: I literally sang Beyonce’s “To the Left to the Left” driving in Scotland. You get used to it after about 30 minutes.
- Keep your tank at least half full: Anytime you see a gas/petrol station – fill up the tank!
- Download Google Maps Offline: Service is likely spotty in the places you’re going, so download Google Maps so you can use it when you don’t have service. Also, have a general idea of your route before you hit the road.
How to Meet People Traveling in Ireland
A great way to stay safe while traveling alone is to meet new people! It’s incredibly easy to meet new people when traveling in Ireland. And that is coming from an introvert who isn’t the best at striking up conversations with strangers.
Ireland also lends itself to being easy to meet people as the Irish enjoy a good chat, and fellow travelers catch on to that energy and are open to meeting new people as well. There is a lovely community feel that you get in Ireland.
Here are a few of my tried and true ways to make new friends when traveling in Ireland:
- Join a group tour: Group tours are a great way to see many of the beautiful places in Ireland and to meet new people along the way. Here are some of my favorite group tours in Ireland.
- Join a walking tour: I’ve met so many people on free walking tours in cities throughout the world. As you walk from stop to stop, say hi to someone who looks like they’re traveling alone.
- Say hi: Say hi to the person you sit next to in the pub, the bus, the restaurant. Say hi to the bartender. Let the rest unfold naturally.
- Stay in a hostel: If you’re unsure about hostels, read my guide to staying in hostels as a solo female traveler, then book one in Ireland. The hostels in Ireland are amazing. I’ve borrowed a bike from a hostel roommate to cycle in Killarney National Park, have met drinking buddies for the night, and have a friend to walk Salthill Prom with.
As with anywhere you travel or live, things happen. Not everywhere is 100% safe these days. But it would be a shame to let that fear stop you from seeing beautiful places in the world. Ireland is one of the safest European countries, with beautiful natural landscapes to explore and lovely people to meet. Use common sense, follow the safety precautions here, and do your research, and you’ll have an unforgettable experience in Ireland.