A weekend trip to Dublin? Why didn´t we think of it before. For this year´s birthday I have, as the past years, chosen to take a little city trip because I prefer new memories & experiences instead of material presents. I wished it to be somewhere I have not been before. Dublin seemed to be an easy choice and the city ended up surprising us in a very positive way. It would have been great to have a couple of weeks time to explore some of the country´s countryside as well, but I guess that will wait for our next visit. More about what there is to see and do in Dublin with loads of pictures in this new blog post.
USEFUL INFORMATION FOR TRAVELLING TO DUBLIN, IRELAND
The cheapest and easiest way to get into Dublin (if you are living in Europe) should be a flight with RYANAIR. We flew from Berlin for 40€ return per person. If you are an EU citizen you can officially enter Ireland with your ID CARD, but I do recommend travelling with a PASSPORT – it was pretty busy at immigration check-ups and there is a special faster line for those with passports and locals with ID´s. The easiest way to get into Dublin city from the airport is taking BUS. There are more companies, we chose AIRLINK. The return ticket was 12€, depending on where your hotel is at you can take lines 747 or 757. Just check the bus stops online before you go. Don´t forget you need a suitable ELECTRIC PLUG, although we were lucky our modern hotel room had USB plugs everywhere. Also don´t forget they DRIVE ON THE LEFT. Bring a RAIN JACKET and LAYERED CLOTHING, the weather changes quite quickly. Cheaper LUNCH OR DINNER is available between 5 and 7pm in most restaurants, serving their EARLY BIRD MENU. If you want to party it might be a good idea to find ACCOMMODATION in Temple bar area, if you want peace while sleeping the Docklands area was a great choice for us. Most of Dublin´s sights are easily reachable on FOOT, but in cases of worse weather or if you simply don´t like to walk, consider taking the HOP ON HOP OFF BUS. It is quite practical actually and the explanations over the speaker are useful and informative too. You also get a bunch of discounts for museums, restaurants etc with your bus ticket.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN DUBLIN
MUSEUMS & GALLERIES | from archaeological to historical & art museum, palaces, prisons and graveyards
There are a ton of museums here and they are quite good to visit especially if the weather is bad. From HISTORY, NATURE, ARCHEOLOGY, SCIENCE, ART and more, you will find one that interests you the most. Same for the galleries. For a slightly different experience, check out the former KILMAINHAM GAOL PRISON and the GLASNEVIN CEMETARY. Of course it is impossible to visit them all in just a couple of days – we can totally recommend the newer EPIC museum of Irish emigration. It is super interactive, interesting and informative, we learned a lot about the country´s history.
TRINITY COLEGE | a unique University in Ireland
This magnificent UNIVERSITY, established in 1592 by the former English Queen on the outskirts of the city, is not situated in the city center basically. It is a pleasant walk around the courtyards, surrounded by nice buildings – if you´ve ever been to Cambridge or Oxford, this might have a similar feel to it. The more known buildings here are the CHAPEL, the THEATRE and of course the OLD LIBRARY. You can enter the complex from many sides, but the MAIN ENTRANCE, which brings you straight to the Parliament Square inside the University is from College St.
TRINITY COLEGE LIBRARY & THE BOOK OF KELLS | impressive museum library and one of the most famous books in Ireland
Honestly, this was one of my highlights during the weekend and I strongly suggest you visit. In total there are over 5mio books at the University´s library, including the most famous of them all, THE BOOK OF KELLS. Today, the OLD LIBBRARY is turned into a MUSEUM and is actually divided into 3 parts. In the ground floor you can first visit a special room dedicated to the Book of Kells, which is famous for its magnificent 9th century manuscript that documents the four Gospels of the life of Jesus Christ. It is also considered Ireland´s NATIONAL TREASURE and the world´s best example of medieval manuscript. Also in the ground floor there is a bigger shop if you wish to buy a souvenir.
But the most impressive room is definitely upstairs. The so-called LONG ROOM in the OLD LIBRARY has an amazing and unique atmosphere and besides old books and statues hosts another important artefact, the TRINITY COLLEGE HARP. This medieval Irish harp, the symbol of which we find on Guinness glasses and Ryanair airline´s logo, is one of the three oldest surviving Gaelic harps.
DOCKLANDS | modern area with interesting bridges over Liffey river
The most MODERN PART OF DUBLIN rises up on both sides of LIFFEY RIVER, between the city center and DUBLIN PORT. Here, we find lots of interesting architecture, buildings from FINANCIAL CENTRES and OFFICES to LIVING AREAS and other. It´s a nice walk around in this more calmer part of the city. Due to the financial crisis almost a decade ago no, lots of projects in this area has been stopped though, but things are improving in the last years. Here you will find an interesting bridge as well, the famous SAMUEL BECKETT BRIDGE. There are a few hotels around here too, we were staying here as well and found it a good part of Dublin for peaceful nights, but still 10-15min walk from most of the attractions.
In the middle of this very modern area, you cannot miss to notice this wonderful WOODEN SHIP, which is actually a replica of the original JEANIE JOHNSTON ship. The latter took Irish emigrants over to Canada & North America 16 times in the 19th Century. It is estimated there have been around 2500 people onboard in total. When the emigration wave slowed down, the ship was sold and used for timber transportation, during which it eventually sank on one of the voyages. Nowadays there is a MUSEUM where you find out more about the history of the ship.
GUINNESS STOREHOUSE | museum and beer tasting experience
Everything and more about this ICONIC IRISH BEER on 7 floors? Well, you really should not miss visiting this NUMBER ONE ATTRACTION IN THE WHOLE COUNTRY. The museum is situated on the grounds of the original company 6 factory from the 18th Century, the museum building itself is built in a shape of a Guinness glass. The entry fee is slightly higher but you really get a lot for that., we had a fantastic experience.
Inside, you can get entertained for hours, participating in all the interactive presentations. There is also a BEER TASTING included in your ticket of course, and a big PINT OF GUINNESS either in the bar on the top, in the GRAVITY BAR (great city views btw!), or in a special room where you LEARN HOW TO PROPERLY POUR A PERFECT GUINNESS. Even if you are not a fan of (dark) beer at all I bet you will still enjoy the whole experience, after all Guinness is also a great part of Irish history.
TEELING WHISKEY DISTILLERY | whiskey tasting experience in Dublin
Besides beer, there is also IRISH WHISKEY. For many many years in the 19th Century the Irish whiskey had a reputation of being the best one out there. But then, the Scottish & others started to catch up and became even better, more innovative and modern. From the original over 30 distilleries in Ireland from its best years there have only been 3 left by the end of 19th Century. But, in the last years Ireland is coming back and Dublin is the center of it all. So, VISITING ONE OF THE DISTILLERIES is a good choice. There are a few to choose from, JAMESON being the most famous one probably, then there is PEARSE LYONS, ROE & CO, DUBLIN LIBERTIES DISTILLERY, TEELING and possibly other smaller ones. We were deciding between Jameson and Teeling and chose Teeling at the end – it is smaller, family owned and again, it was a great experience.
THE TEELING DISTILLERY is situated in the iconic Dublin´s neighborhood called THE LIBERTIES and has been opened only since 2015. You need to take a GUIDED TOUR which takes you around the distillery and ends up with a WHISKEY TASTING. When you buy the tickets you have to choose how many different whiskeys you want to taste – we opt for the middle version, so 3 whiskeys. I´m really not a fan of strong liquor, but slowly sipping these whiskeys while listening to the stories behind the production is a great things to do while in Dublin. Obviously I can´t directly compare it to visiting another distillery but our experience here at Teeling was what we came for and very informative. There is of course also a BAR and a SHOP, which you can also visit without taking a tour around, and IRISH COFFEE is a good idea sometimes.
CHURCHES | cathedrals and other churches in Dublin
Besides all the other interesting buildings in the city, there are of course many churches as well. You surely won´t be visiting all of them, but a few might be a good idea. For instance the CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL or the ST. PATRICK´S CATHEDRAL to name just a couple of more known ones.
There is one more very special church you can visit. The FORMER ST. MARY´S CHURCH which closed down in 1964 and eventually ended up in private hands. After renovation it opened its doors as a BAR, later on a RESTAURANT was added in the first floor. Now, this really cool place called THE CHURCH BAR & RESTAURANT also has a BBQ terrace in the summer. Guess where we went for our first dinner? Right here! Food was good and the whole setting is just something really special and unique.
SCULPTURES | tribute to the famous Irish citizens
While walking around town you will come across many SCULPTURES. Many of them are there in memory of various FAMOUS IRISH CITIZENS, from politicians, poets, writers and so on, but some of them are also there to remember important historical times – like this one n the Docklands, called „the FAMINE MEMORIAL“, marking the times of the great Irish emigration. Some others include OSCAR WILDE, ANNA LIVIA – a.k.a. ‘The Floozie in the Jacuzzi’, MARY MALONE, JAMES JOYCE, DANIEL O´CONNELL, CHARLES STEWART PARNELL, CONSTANCE MARKIEVICZ, JAMES LARKIN, EDMUND BURKE, THOMAS DAVIS, PHIL LYNOTT andCONSTANCE LLOYD.
O´CONNELL STREET & THE SPIRE | major pedestrian zone and shopping street
O´Connell street is one of the largest, busiest streets in Dublin. Here around you will find loads of SHOPS, RESTAURANTS, AGENCIES and similar. The most dominant accent here is the 120m tall NEEDLE-LIKE STATUE, called THE SPIRE. Unfortunately we had a moment of heavy rain just here so the picture is quite blurry.
HA´ PENNY BRIDGE | historical iron bridge
This marvelous IRON BRIDGE was built on the spot where ferries used to bring passengers from one side to the other. To cover building costs, everybody crossing the bridge had to pay a small fee, therefore its name. Today of course the bridge is free of charge and quite lovely to cross actually.
TEMPLE BAR | pedestrian zone with lively nightlife and good vibes
If you cross the Ha´Penny bridge over to the south bank, you quickly find yourselves in the famous TEMPLE BAR area. This name refers to this LIVELY PEDESTRIAN AREA as well as to one of the pubs in this area. You might seen this RED TEMPLE BAR PUB on postcards and travel brochures,it definitely is one of those Dublin buildings not to be missed. It gets ever busier in the evenings, where local people & tourists enjoy a pint or two, have lunch or dinner and just hang out. Despite the not so pleasant JANUARY weather, the streets were full. And funnily for me, it was around the 10th of Jan and the city´s CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS were still very much there-
And the glorious TEMPLE BAR pub is so much more than just a dark room where you can drink beer – they have developed a whole bunch of trade marks, offer an endless selection of WHISKEYS (and have their own as well), there is LIVE MUSIC 7 days a week, they are also known for their OYSTERS served with a pint of GUINNESS. You might want to book a table, as you can imagine, this place is packed!
TRADICIONAL DISHES | things to eat and drink in Dublin
Personally, I don´t think any visit to a new place, city and/or country is complete if I don´t try a bite of traditional local food. So as usual, we avoided all the pizzerias, fast food chains, Mexican & other restaurants. Instead we had a TRADITIONAL IRISH BREAKFAST, consisting of eggs, butter toast, beans, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms. Not my cup of tea, but such breakfasts include sausages & black and white blood sausage too.
We had one 3-course dinner with GOAT CHEESE for and SOUP for starters, LAMB PIE & BEEF STEAK for the mains and desserts. The next day I was tempted by the good old FISH & CHIPS and Charlie tried the MEAT STEW. They also have good CLAMS & SEAFOOD in general. For a quick snack in between try the original potato BOXTY PANCAKES.
We had a good time in Dublin and not just because we were celebration my birthday. Even the occasional rain didn´t ruin the atmosphere, in fact it contributed to a more real Irish experience I guess. We could have stayed an extra day actually, I´m sure we would have found something to do. Because we were visiting in winter time we skipped visits to parks, botanical gardens and some other places. We also didn´t do any day trips in the countryside (although this seems to be an easy thing to do with a bus), because we simply wanted to get to know the city as much as we could. I also have to mention the friendliness of local people. We will surely come back to the island one day and make a proper road trip around.
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