Dublin, capital of the Republic of Ireland, the home of Guinness and one of the best short breaks you can take from the UK, in my opinion.
Just a quick 40-minute flight from Manchester on nobody’s favourite airline (Ryanair), we landed in Dublin. A quick Google search highlighted that Dublin was nothing short of things to do, so it was difficult to narrow down our options for just 48 hours in this diverse city.
Having never been to Dublin before, I wanted to take a walk around to get a feel for the city. I love just aimlessly wandering through streets and seeing what I might find. Nothing irritates me more than a set minute-by-minute plan. Where’s the fun and spontaneity in that? From the airport, we jumped on the 747 bus for €7 each, and were in Dublin City Centre within half an hour. After dropping our bags at the accommodation – a Trinity College student residence, (Dublin is expensive) we headed down towards the Temple Bar area.
I’d heard so much about Temple Bar, but never actually knew that the name represented an entire area until a few days before we left. Unsurprisingly, this area is fit to burst with bars, restaurants and cafes, and is also the area we paid the most for a pint of Guinness (€7). The narrow, cobbled streets with singers on every corner make it quite a romantic place to walk around. We were ravenous having not eaten since breakfast, so we settled quite quickly on a late lunch at The Norseman – just a few doors down from the Temple Bar pub.
Food here was surprisingly delicious. I went for the sweet potato and feta pie, and Jo a traditional steak and Guinness. All washed down with…more Guinness.
Much of the rest of the day was spent aimlessly walking around the city, stopping to see Dublin Castle, and stumbling upon an indoor market housed in a gay nightclub. We finished off the evening in what became our local – The Celt. A gorgeous traditional pub just outside of the Temple Bar area, The Celt was my favourite pub in all of Dublin.
I had been most looking forward to our second day in Dublin for one reason, and one reason only. The Guinness Storehouse. As is the case with many of the main attractions in Dublin, tickets for the Guinness Storehouse must be booked in advance. Admittedly, this does take away from the spontaneity of things, as previously mentioned; but is very much necessary if you’re planning on getting in anywhere.
We weren’t booked until the 3:30pm slot, so spent the morning walking around the beautiful Trinity College grounds and frowning at the huge queue to see its stunning library. Having done a bit of research since returning, it seems as though this queue moves fast. And, if you get there half an hour before closing, they might even let you in for free!
We then headed to Merrion Square to see the sculpture of Oscar Wilde, before taking a slow walk towards the Storehouse, stopping on the way for a bit of lunch at a local café.
The Guinness Storehouse
We were about 25 minutes early for our allocated time-slot, but this didn’t seem to matter, as we were granted entry straight away. After a brief introduction from a member of staff, we were sent off on our self-guided tour of the Storehouse. We’d read that people spent in excess of 3-4 hours here, but didn’t believe it’d take us that long. Boy, were we wrong.
Opened in 2000, The Storehouse covers seven floors, circulated around a glass atrium shaped in the form of a pint of Guinness. How clever. As you rise up through the floors, you learn about the brewing process from start to end, with a few extras thrown in.
The place is massive, and if you stop to read all of the information and take your time in each section, you will literally spend hours here. Highlights for us included our visit into the ‘Tasting Rooms’. On the hour, every hour, the bar staff become performers as they get up on the tables to perform some Irish dancing. It was epic. This was also where we got to try a number of new brews from the factory, including an incredibly strong porter. Other highlights including pouring our own pint, and drinks in the famous Gravity Bar, with 360 degree views of Dublin.
The Storehouse was one of my favourite things to do in Dublin – it’s the number one tourist attraction in Ireland, and it’s clear to see why.
We were keen to visit Kilmainham Gaol on our final day in Dublin, though had messed up and forgotten to book tickets online before they’d sold out. However, a tip for those of you less organised (like me!) is that the gaol release any cancelled tickets for that day on the same morning between 9:15 and 9:30am. We were lucky enough to score tickets for the 11:15am tour, and so were rather thankful we’d only had the one pint in Temple Bar the night before.
Kilmainham is easy to get to using the Luas (tram) system. From the city-centre area, it’s a single 25-minute tram (red route) to Suir Road, and then an 8 minute walk to the gaol from there.
First built in 1796, the gaol was a prison intended to serve the city and its surrounding areas. Many Irish revolutionaries, including the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, were imprisoned and executed in the prison by the British, before it was closed in 1924. It now serves as a tourist attraction, with multiple tours taking place everyday.
Our tour took a little over an hour, and gave us an insight into the oldest part of the prison, as well as the iconic Victorian Wing. Our tour guide was a little too polished, in that everything she spoke about came across as over-rehearsed and a little robotic. Maybe I’m being picky, but I prefer a tour guide with a little personality and charisma. Having said that, she was very informative and we learned a lot in an hour.
The tour ends in the gaol’s museum, with artifacts from prisoners, and stories from their time there. For the €8, it was a good way to spend a couple of hours that day. On the way back to the tram station, we stumbled across Union8 – a neighbourhood cafe bar and restaurant with an incredible menu. Food was incredibly delicious, though service was a little slow. Either way, I’d highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area.
We hopped back on the tram, alighted at the Temple Bar area (again) and had one last walk around before heading back to the accommodation to pick up our luggage.
Dublin was a fantastic way to spend a long weekend, and I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to return. There’s plenty more we’d like to see, including the port area, the EPIC museum, and a walk to the Poolbeg Lighthouse.
The only drawbacks for this incredible city are the prices for accommodation, and food and drink in general. Dublin is expensive, but not as bad as many people made out before we left. Having said that, you’d struggle to do it on a budget.
The people, the place and the atmosphere make this wonderful city what it is, and with such cheap flights available from the UK, it’s worth the short hop across the water.
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