Saturday 17th March 2012…of course…it’s St Patrick’s Day! A nationwide excuse to head down to a local pub and drink Guinness and wear lots of green garments …a pleasurable experience I’m sure…however I suggest a far more interesting way to spend the weekend! Fear not alcohol fans…this plan does include the opportunity to drink proper Irish alcohol (not the fake stuff we’ve got over here dare I say!). On this fine Irish celebration, I suggest we do not walk down to Kitty’s and buy a Guinness! I suggest we book a flight to Ireland itself! Intrigued? Read on and find out about some cheap, fun and adventurous ways to travel this St Patrick’s weekend!

Firstly I’d just like to point out that I’m not being paid to advertise the following companies, I just think they provide amazing travel experiences!

I’d like to start off with Shamrockers Irish Adventures – a specialised branch of the company Busabout Europe. This company provide you with holiday packages ranging from basic Dublin Weekenders to 4-day Dublin St Patrick’s Parties, and for those with more time to kill, week-long tours around Ireland! In specific regard to the 4-day Dublin St Patrick’s Parties the price includes accommodation and breakfasts, a Shamrocker t-shirt, a Guinness Storehouse ticket, local sight tours, a welcome pack and of course Shamrocker hosted St Patrick’s parties! A chance not to be missed, to party with the Irish, until you see Leprechauns dancing around your Guinness pint glasses!

Moving onto another tour company…Pillow – this is a UK based company that provide festival, adventure and motor sport tour holidays. This company offer a 4-day, 3-night Dublin tour running from the Friday 15th March to Sunday 17th March, staying at the Jacobs Inn Hostel. Famous for its small group sizes, which is often preferable for those that enjoy socialising within a tightknit group, Pillow take their tour groups to the Dublin St Patrick’s Day Parade and then onto a string of local Irish bars for the main day’s event – drinking! The best thing about this tour company is that they ensure the best venues are booked especially for their tour groups! So do not worry! You shall not be stood outside, experiencing the gusty winds of Ireland, waiting to get into a pub, instead of drinking a nice warming pint of beer!

For those however, who prefer planning their own trips, here are some tips for travelling in Ireland this March!

Firstly, how to get there! I’ve always flown with Easyjet and Ryanair as they’ve always provided me with the most affordable flights! You can also fly direct from Bristol to Dublin and get bus or train transfers to and from the airports into town. Booking a flight separately from your accommodation, in my experience always works out cheaper and provides you with a lot more flexibility on where to stay!

Secondly, where to sleep! Travelling in and around St Patrick’s Day can be expensive if you don’t know where to look, if you’re booking late or if you’re going through a travel agent! Using websites such as Hostelbookers or Hostelworld, may mean you sleep in a dorm with a few people, but at an affordable price with provided lockers, free maps and breakfast included, it’s certainly worth it! Many hostels also provide single rooms and double rooms, for those who prefer not to sleep in dorms…so check these out; you get the fantastic relaxed atmosphere of a hostel, without sleeping in a dorm! Aside from Dublin, look-up Belfast, Londonderry, Dun Laoghaire and Craigavon!

Finally, when you’re out and about, ask the receptionist at your accommodation and consult the local tourist information centre for travel information!  They can provide you with loads of handy tips on how to travel on the cheap in the area, what sights to see,  where walking tours and bus tours leave from and where all the nice restaurants and bars are!  Don’t forget checking online resources also – check out Discover Ireland for an array of travelling tips!

So this St Patrick’s Day, do something different and experience the real Ireland! Remember…an Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups…alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat! Happy St Patrick’s Day!

For more information on Shamrockers Irish Adventures visit: http://www.shamrockeradventures.com/Tours/StPatricksDay

For more information on Pillow visit:
http://www.pillow.co.uk

For hostels/hotels in Ireland:
www.hostelbookers.com
www.hostelworld.com

For Discover Ireland visit:
http://www.discoverireland.com/gb