When I’ve talked about guidebooks in the past, I’ve put them into three categories: text-heavy reading material, picture-heavy dream books and the hybrids that try to collide words with thousands of pictures. Frommer’s Ireland Day by Day falls into the last category; and all in all, it does it well.
As expected the photos are gorgeous, and it engages a Top 10 style to focus its information… Best of Ireland, Favorite Moments, Best of Ireland Outdoors, et al. The format works. I especially like that nearly every feature is mapped — that’s key for helping visitors understand the proximity of the sites they are considering.
Things I Loath
- The Forgotten Midlands: The book is entirely focused on the coasts of Ireland. Only the most popular inland sites get a mention.
- Hot is Hot: If it’s not one of Ireland’s most popular destinations, it probably didn’t make the cut.
- The Undrivable Map: The contributors strongly recommend seeing Ireland by car, but their map would prove useless to anyone who gets off the main roads. No attractions are highlighted on the map either (aside from the mountain peaks) — the only advantage is that you can write in your own dream sites.
- Unmapped Routes: The interior maps do a great job labeling sites, but I’m shocked the suggested drives don’t highlight the route on the map. Instead readers must rely on the written directions… I’m disappointed their designers didn’t spend a few extra minutes adding the routes to the maps.
- The Obligatory Best Places to Stay and Eat: Hybrid books just don’t do accommodations and restaurants well (unless they stick to a Top 10 list). This one continues the tradition of giving an extremely narrow view of Ireland’s accommodation and restaurant scene.
- Digital Please: As far as I can tell, this book is not available for portable devices like the iPad yet… sorry Kindle users, this book and it’s heavy use of photos and maps will be of little use to you.
Things I Love:
- Staying Focused: Day by Day doesn’t attempt to cover everything — I know, I just complained about that above. What they have chosen to cover, they have done well.
- Generous Maps: Although the pull-out map falls short, the maps inside are in close proximity to the content being covered and provide a good snapshot.
- Dublin Extra Credit: There’s an abundance of information on the Republic’s capital city.
- Realistic Travel Experiences: Day by Day emphasizes what a visitor can see in a day, three days or a week. If a traveler follows their advice, they’ll be keeping a very reasonable pace.
- Travel First: This book breaks away from some of its competitors by jumping right into the travel scene. It includes sections on History and Culture, but keeps those to the back of the book or in small sections.
- Travel Size: Although portable devices are leading me to leave books at home, the size on this fits nicely into a day pack — it’s not bulky.
- Real Prices: Thankfully, this guide prints an actual price range of a hotel or restaurant in local currency rather than using an ambiguous $$$ system. Sure you have to convert the price to your home currency, and as the book ages the prices will likely be a little farther from reality.
- Featurettes: They’re short and sweet, but these articles give the guidebook a bit of a magazine feel.
Emphasizing the points above, I’d give Ireland Day by Day my recommendation. It will be perfect for someone looking for a book to compliment a guided tour or trying to plan a first-time visit. I’d have to say, readers will benefit by teaming it with more comprehensive guidebooks like Pauline Frommer’s Ireland (read my review) or Pat Preston’s Ireland Travel 101 (read my review).
Congratulations to Elizabeth Joyce! She won our review copy of Frommer’s Ireland Day by Day courtesy of Wiley Publishing.