I was sitting in a tourist office a few days ago and I was flicking though a couple of the Ireland tour books they had for sale. One of them seemed ok, the other not so great. I started thinking to myself – what would I like to see in a tourist book?
The top attractions need to be in there of course, but probably with minimal detail. It’s easy to find information on those places online and in dedicated books. A good tourist book should probably include a decent list of “off-the-beaten-track” attractions as well. Places that you’re not going to have to wear shoulder pads to enjoy. It may come as a surprise but not everyone wants to kiss the Blarney Stone, or sip Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse.
I figured a couple of other things I would like to see in an ideal tourist book are good local maps especially of city center streets, the phone numbers and websites for local businesses and maybe some “Do’s and Don’ts”. Self guided tours, photos, public transport information and restaurant/hotel reviews would also be very useful information for the first time visitor.
Even if Ireland is quite possibly the friendliest place in the world – (can you sense the bias?) – there’s a good chance a tour book will help you out, when one of those friendly freckled-face folk aren’t around to give you directions.
So, here’s 5 of the top rated Ireland Travel Guides that you can find on Amazon.com ***List updated for 2013***
Rick Steves’ Ireland 2013 (my personal favorite)
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Ireland
Frommer’s Ireland Day by Day (Frommer’s Day by Day – Full Size)
The Everything Travel Guide to Ireland: a complete guide to the Emerald Isle
Ireland (Country Travel Guide – Lonely Planet)
Besides the traditional book-form travel guide, travel apps for smart phones are becoming increasingly popular. There’s plenty of them available if you search the iTunes store, and I’m sure there are plenty available for Android and other non-Apple smart phones also. The one drawback I see with these apps when you are abroad, is you probably are going to need a network connection to use them. Unless you can find a WiFi connection while you’re out and about, having a book in your backpack or handbag may be the better option.
So let’s have ‘em….what travel guide have you used that you found to be very helpful? I’d love to hear your suggestions.
Happy vacationing for the year ahead.