11 Staycation Tips For Holidaying in Ireland During Covid-19

Holidaying in Ireland during Covid-19? Check out my top staycation tips to help you make the most of your break away.



I’ve been fortunate to enjoy two staycations over the last month, one to Kilkenny and the other to Mayo. I was really surprised at how easily I adapted to holidaying in Ireland during Covid-19. I recall the first few hours fixating on who was wearing masks, whether there was the appropriate social distancing in place, and how long I would have to enjoy my meal… The funny thing is this uneasy feeling only lasted a few hours. In no time we were enjoying fantastic experiences, delicious food and luxurious crisp cotton sheets – I was on my holidays! 


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I had a great experience on both trips, although both hotels had different Covid policies. With most hotels and restaurants trying to follow the new government guidelines during Covid-19, there are some things that you should be aware of. I learned lots of staycation tips and tricks along the way and thought I would share them with you.





1. Check the hotels Covid-19 policy


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Before you book any hotel, apartment or Airbnb, check their Covid-19 policy. You should find this on their website, but if not, call the hotel to confirm. You should be able to find out if the hotel is operating all of their usual facilities, or if there are restrictions in place. Some spa treatments, kids clubs and live music shows may not be available, but there may be substitutions put in place.


If you are concerned about social distancing you can find out if the hotel bar / restaurant has 1 or 2 metre social distancing in place, and if they have restrictions on meal times. The guidelines for re-opening of hotels state that if a restaurant has 2 metre social distancing in place that they do not have to adhere to the 105 minute rule for meal times. However, in many cases if hotels enforce 2 metre social distancing, tables have to be removed. This means that they will have to allot specific meal times to allow for more sittings. 


The guidelines with regards to face coverings is that they are only recommended in situations where it is difficult to practice physical distancing. This means that while most restaurant and bar staff will wear face coverings, other staff may not. I visited two hotels in Kilkenny, one had face coverings, the other did not. If this is an issue that concerns you, check with the hotel you are booking to find out what their policy is.



2. Book a room with free cancellation

Marlfield House

Luckily most hotels have relaxed their cancellation policies, and non-refundable rooms are not as prevalent as they were before Covid-19 emerged. It may transpire that some facilities that you were looking forward to, have to be withdrawn at the last minute, or perhaps you have to cancel for personal reasons, either way having a free or small cancellation fee can give piece of mind.



3. Don’t forget Ireland’s hidden heartlands 

The Vee Drive Munster Vales

Ireland’s coastal towns are without a doubt the top choice for staycations this summer. However, not only is availability hard to come by, but prices are much higher in popular beach towns than they are in the midlands.

When we think of summer holidays we tend to think of swimming and water sports, but remember we have plenty of great lakes where you can enjoy an Irish swim. Towns like Athlone, Boyle and Drumshanbo provide great water-based activities at a fraction of the cost of our beach towns. Another bonus – SUPing or kayaking is a lot easier on a lake than in the sea…. 


Tipperary and Kilkenny should not be overlooked either. The Suir Blueway in Tipperary is a 53km kayaking and canoe trail and a 21km walking and cycling trail along the River Suir. You can also visit places like Cahir Castle and Swiss Cottage (below).


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Read: Top things to do in the Munster Vales

Kilkenny is another favourite city of mine. It is packed with experiences for everyone to enjoy and has a great food scene. You can go SUPing in Graiguenamanagh, get lost in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle, try falconry in one of its luxury 5-star hotels, or feel the buzz as you go down the longest zipline in Ireland.

Read: My review of Mount Juliet, Kilkenny

Read: Top things to do in Kilkenny with kids


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4. Contact the hotel 48 hours before arrival 

Lough Erne Resort

Most hotels will contact you by email 48 hours before arrival, listing their Covid-19 policies. This may include advice on pre-booking breakfast, swimming pool slots and spa treatments, as well as some staycation tips. This correspondence should also tell you about their turndown service and housekeeping policies.


However, if you have booked through an intermediary, such as Booking.com or Trivago, they may not have passed on your contact details and therefore you may not receive an email. I suggest calling the hotel 48 hours before arrival if you haven’t received any correspondence, so you can be fully informed before arrival.



5. Prebook everything and plan for early nights!


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It is vital to pre-book evening meals and top attractions in advance. Most have restricted numbers, so if you are staying in a busy town or city you may find it difficult to get a booking. It is also important to pre-book breakfast times, swimming pool slots and spa treatments, as numbers will likely be restricted in hotels too.


I recommend booking a late sitting for dinner. Hopefully you wont be asked to leave after 105 minutes, assuming the hotel has the correct social distancing in place. I also recommend booking off-peak times for breakfast if you are in any way nervous about being in a busy dining room. 9am – 10am is usually the busiest time, so why not pre-book 830 or 845am instead?


You may find that bars will close earlier than usual, or that you will be restricted to the 105 time limit – this means you may be back in your hotel room earlier than anticipated. Bring cards, board games, a good book, or download movies from Netflix before you leave home. Check out local restaurants that offer delivery service too. Many top restaurants are offering take away or delivery service now (not just pizza or Chinese). It might be nice to enjoy a relaxing night in with a bottle of wine during your staycation.



6. Ask at check-in about room cleaning and fresh towels

staycation tips - ask if you want your bed made
Trident Hotel, Kinsale

Most hotels have a policy of limiting the amount of time staff will spend in your room. This means that unless you ask for fresh towels or your bed to be made, it probably won’t happen. This should be listed in the hotel email that you receive before arrival, however this is something that you should confirm at check-in too. If you would like your bed made and fresh towels every day – just ask.



7. Visit top attractions and beaches during off peak times


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We are living in a country where it rains most of the year, so you can assume if the weather is good the beaches will be busy – especially the best beaches! I suggest getting up early and going to the beach first thing in the morning. We did this when we visited Achill recently and it worked a treat. We got a parking spot right beside Keem beach and had no issues with traffic. Our hotel Manager told us that if we left an hour later the journey would have taken us twice as long, and we would have to park about a twenty minute walk away from the beach. 

The same applies to top attractions – go early before 10am, or late in the afternoon, after 4pm. There will be less crowds, you will have much more enjoyable experience – and get much better photos!



8. Be prepared for an Irish summer

staycation tips - bring your own wetsuit for outdoor activities

Unfortunately you will have to swap the Mediterranean Sea for the Irish Sea this year, but as the old saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weatheronly unsuitable clothing.” ― Alfred Wainwright.”  These are not just staycation tips, they are advised for any road trip in Ireland: Put towels, rain jackets and a spare change of clothes and shoes in the boot of the car – and don’t forget your umbrella!


Buy wetsuits and surf shoes before you travel. Most outdoor adventure companies will have wetsuits for rent, but it is more practical (and better value) to bring your own, especially if you are swimming in the sea and not partaking in any of the paid activities. Kayaks, SUP boards, bikes, bike racks and tents are also part and parcel of holidaying in Ireland now. So why not invest in some outdoorsy equipment before you take off on your staycation? 



9. Use Google Maps – for more than just directions

staycation tips

Did you know that within Google Maps you can find secret scenic spots recommended by local guides, or find out where to enjoy the best views over lunch? You can even find out what the most popular dish is in a restaurant! I love that you can create and share lists with friends of top places you want to visit, and how you can add your favourite attractions or restaurants individually.


If you are planning a staycation, it is vital you install Google Maps on your phone. You can also download maps offline before you travel so you don’t need to use your data, or worry about poor network coverage in Ireland’s country villages. Google Maps will even find out where you parked your car!

Read: 7 Google Maps tips to help you plan the perfect staycation.



10. Take advantage of the government ‘Stay and Spend’ tax rebate scheme

staycation tips - take advantage of the government spend and save scheme

The government have announced a new ‘Stay and Spend’ incentive whereby you can reclaim 20% of money spent on accommodation, food and non-alcoholic drinks, up to a maximum of €125. If you spend €625 on accommodation from October 2020 to April 2021, you can claim back €125. If a couple spends €1250, they can claim back €250 between them. How we claim this refund has not been confirmed yet. There is talk of being able to do it via an app on your phone, but we are awaiting confirmation from government.



11. Relax and enjoy it!


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There is no doubt that staycations during Covid-19 will be a different experience to what we are used to. However, we have adapted remarkably to simple every day tasks like grocery shopping and getting our hair done, and we will adapt in the same way to holidaying in Ireland.


Remember, travelling, be it in Ireland or abroad, isn’t just about discovering new places. Travelling is also about switching off work, enjoying family time, and doing things you don’t do at home. Try not to fixate on the new restrictions, you will be surprised at how quickly you will adapt to holiday time! You will also find a new found love for our own country, I know I certainly did.


holidays in Ireland


I hope this post on staycation tips will help you plan your next break away. Note this post was published on 30th July 2020, travel advice and updates are changing on a daily basis. It is important to check with the hotel you are booking for individual policies. 



The Travel Expert


  • Enjoyed your account of holiday stays in Ireland. Having a look re what and where might work over next while for someone who would, in other circumstances, enjoy visiting a European city, or learning to sail in Med, as a complete switch off from very busy work. Am thinking of a family member and partner. For myself, I’m doing a little think also. A lovely night away was spent in Clifden a couple of weeks ago- Sky Rd onward to a little beach, also Dogs Bay, which was busier but little groups and plenty space for all, Kylemore- went early and had it almost to ourselves for first hour or longer. Had a stop off in Ballinahinch, where we walked the river walk and then had a little food and glass of vino/ coffee for driver. Would like to commend the delicious dinner in Station House Hotel, it was top quality. Mightn’t have been our first choice, but it was a last minute booking and turned out so very well. We also stopped off at a lovely wine bar in Clifde as we had almost two hours before dinner, lovely. I live in Mid West.

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