As you pack your bags, don’t forget to pack some apps for your iPod, iPad or smartphone, too. There are tons of nifty little apps that’ll help you get the most from your trip to Ireland. Most of them are free, too – now how handy is that?
It’s true, the sounds of Belfast are sweeter than any other city, and we’ve got the Belfast Music App to prove it. The Music Heritage tour on the app will explain what we’re on about, showing where Belfast music legends came from and the venues that are still going. The Hall of Fame will show our legacy in names, and with the gig listings and news you can catch the next big thing in Belfast’s music halls. Did we mention it’s free?
Ireland - Travel Guide is free and a handy intro for what Ireland has to offer. GoExplore NI packs video tours for your trip to Northern Ireland, as well as GPS maps to show where you are on the different routes, what’s nearby and all the contact details along the way.
Save a pretty penny with the Ireland Discount Guide App: discounts range from 10% off to ‘two-for-one’ offers on over 90 of Ireland’s attractions, including castles, gardens and museums. It’s easy to navigate – just choose a region and browse the attractions with directions, photos, official links and the all-important discount. Definitely worth a tap.
The My Tour Talk App for Northern Ireland is a handy number. The audio tours, ranging from Belfast Pub Tour to the Causeway Coastal Route, are plotted by location on a very nifty map. Download the app for free (on Wi-Fi preferably, it’s a very big file) and then pay for just the tours you need (costing from £1.79 to £3.99). The local voices share interesting facts and stories about the area as well as practicalities like directions and where to park.
Dip into Ulster Scots Heritage via the very slick and user-friendly Ulster Scots App by My Tour Talk. The app itself features audio driving guides, interactive mapping and links to events, accommodation and an extensive list of Ulster Scots surnames. A real winner. If you’d prefer info via podcast, Irish Fireside has great snippets on Ireland travel and culture that with some relevant to Irish-American interests.
For those keen to keep Ireland as green as they found it, grab the Ireland Green Travel app. Established eco-tourism writer Catherine Mack here lists over 120 eco-friendly places to stay, from yurt camps and island retreats to eco-castles and lakeside lodges, and how to reach them using public transport (of course!). She also details things to do including farmers’ markets, bike hire and cycling routes, craft markets and restaurants that think green.
Dublin’s City Walls
There’s even an app for time travel, if you fancy exploring medieval Dublin. The Dublin Walls app uses videos, photos and 3D animation to deftly illustrate the history of the part of the city you’re standing in. Think computer generated Vikings popping out of the quays and replacing modern buildings as they drop into the ground. The app also provides an interactive walking tour pointing out towers, gates, prisons and other places of interest. All for free.
So you’re here! Where to go, what to do? We’ve got seriously handy apps if you ever dare suggest you’re bored. The jam-packed Entertainment.ie app has extensive listings for all the cinemas, music, clubbing, theatre and comedy on that day. The map will show you what’s going on closest to you, with links to reviews on their website. Don’t leave home without it!
If culture vulture is your middle name, we’d like you to meet the Dublin Culture Trail app. Videos and photographs present Dublin's museums, galleries, and historic buildings, while introducing the people and artists behind them. Details of each venue, location and other nearby attractions will make the blazing your own trail easy.
Being such a bastion of culture and activity (UK City of Culture 2013 if you don’t mind!) Londonderry has its very own What’s On App to navigate all the events, activities and attractions across the city.
Where to Eat, Drink and Stay
So many choices of where to stay, where do you start, you ask? Start with Ireland’s Blue Book App, a list of Country House Hotels, Manor Houses, Castles and Restaurants, with a gallery and contacts for each. The Restaurants.ie App is heaven-sent for the hungry: tap ‘Near Me’ for a list of restaurants in your vicinity, with cuisine and contact info. Some even have menus. Georgina Campbell’s Ireland App does all this, allowing a search for places to eat, drink and stay around the country. The best part is – they’re all free!
Ireland is famous for its Bed & Breakfasts – the delicious scones, the attention of an Irish Mammy and insider tips from local hosts. Find the right one with this free B&B app: over 1,000 approved B&Bs from all over the island of Ireland can be browsed, located by map, and even booked through the app. Search by county and town, or tap “B&Bs Near Me” to see those within a set radius. Photos, property descriptions, customer reviews and tourist board star ratings give a plenty of information for each listing. Extra handy is the “Useful Information” tab with nearby festivals, events and attractions.
You’ll probably use public transport at some point during your stay, and there are some great apps to help you get where you’re going. Greater Dublin is criss-crossed with a web of bus routes, and the infinitely useful Dublin Buster App plots them all on a map with bus-stops, timetables, and GPS to tell you your nearest stop. If you’re taking the train, take the Ireland Rail app, too. It combines timetables with real-time info for all stations in the Republic of Ireland, including the DART and intercity services, and a journey planner will show the distance, time and any to connections make. The GoExplore NI app offers three signature Northern Ireland tourism experiences covering Belfast, Causeway Coast and Derry/Londonderry.
If you’re coming here for the full Ireland experience, you’ll have to catch some sport. Our native Gaelic Games makes for some electric matches to watch, so get the Official GAA App for fixtures, results, photos and info on tickets and venues. Rugby is a not-so-native game but we’re still rather good at it! The Official Irish Rugby App also does fixtures, results and player profiles, so you’ll know who to cheer for. If you’re feeling lucky, grab the GoRacing.ie App for Ireland’s horseracing fixtures, festivals and Race cards.
The Clonmacnoise App is definitely one for the history buffs. The ancient site of Clonmacnoise is brought back to its former glory with this educational and fun app. Although heavily associated with its monastic origins, between the 10th and 12th century Clonmacnoise became a thriving market town. This App allows you to explore the sights and sounds of Clonmacnoise in its hey-day. You’re presented with a 3D reconstruction of the settlement on your iPhone or iPad, explore the surroundings and collect items along the way revealing the sites buildings and history. Perhaps the best feature of the app is the GPS and compass connectivity when you use the app on site at Clonmacnoise itself. Scan your iPhone or iPad around the ruins to see what they looked like hundreds of years ago, very cool. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter to share your experience with your friends. A great accompaniment for a visit to Clonmacnoise.
My Irish Guide App
The My Irish Guide App provides you with six witty and informative audio-tours (available for In-App purchase) for your visit to Dublin and Ireland’s top six scenic driving routes. It’s basically like having your very own tour guide living in your phone, very handy! There is also a GPS link to all the best pubs, restaurants and attractions Dublin City has to offer, so you’ll know exactly how to get to them. Throw in GPS links to Dublin City’s free Wi-Fi areas and discounts at major attractions when you show the app, and you’ve got yourself one useful app for visiting Ireland. Oh, did we mention it’s free! Available on iPhone and Android.
The scenic driving routes covered in the My Irish Guide App are:
• Dublin Craic Tour (Dublin City)
• The Garden Route (Wicklow)
• Into The West (Mayo & Galway)
• Atlantic Drive (Galway & Clare)
• Slea Head Drive (Dingle Peninsula, Kerry)
• Ring of Kerry (Iveragh Peninsula)
Explore West Cork App
West Cork is one of Ireland’s most beautiful regions, full of stunning landscapes, picture perfect towns and friendly locals. The Explore West Cork App is a handy and free guide to the entire West Cork region. It offers access to up-to-date maps and historical information for all the towns and villages. West Cork’s famous walking routes are also detailed on the app so you are free to explore this beautiful area. Available on bothApple and Android.
Lakelands Treasures app
This is a family-friendly FREE app that is both a game and a guide to help you make even more of your visit to Ireland’s lakelands. Bonus: Once it's downloaded you don’t need WiFi to use it. Start off with your own photographic treasure hunt based on your GPS location: Use the app to find treasures at historic locations such as Birr Castle and Clonmacnoise, then take a picture to unlock its ancient secrets. It’s also packed with loads of historical and need-to-know information on each location, such as what to eat, do and see nearby. You can even share your experiences on the dedicated Facebook and Twitter pages. Available on both Android and Apple.