Note: some of the photography in this post is courtesy of my good friend, Lora Chard.
Four of us went to Dublin for a long weekend in March, which just so happened to not only be the weekend after St Patrick’s Day but at the time of their Six Nations victory too. This meant that the city was buzzing with excitement, entertainment and friendly people, happy to chat to you.
I have always described myself as an ‘urban explorer’ – that’s what my Trip Advisor says! – in that I love going away to places that are busy hubs for transport, attractions, food and drink. I was in my element in Dublin because it had all of this and much more, we packed our days with cool things to do and see.
From Dublin Airport, we got an Aircoach to the city centre which took less than half an hour, and a single only cost €7pp. We stayed in the Sandymount Hotel near the Aviva Stadium. The hotel was clean with very nice décor and all of the staff were very friendly and helpful. The Hotel is in prime location for those who don’t want to stay bang in the centre, as it is less than five minutes’ walk away from Lansdowne Road DART station. We got return tickets from the hotel into town for only €3.80 and it is only three stops so it takes less than 10 minutes, not bad! A taxi back from the centre if you miss the last train was between €10-12 too so if you are in a group, it’s really not a bad distance to travel and it won’t cost a lot.
We prebooked our tour tickets for the Storehouse online here, which meant virtually no queuing for entry and saved a little bit. However despite it saying on the website that you can bring an E-Ticket, the staff still required us to email and print the ticket at the desk so I would advise that you print yours before you go.
The tour is completely self-led, you are given a map and an introductory talk that explains what you can find on each floor. There are many interactive parts to the tour including a beautiful waterfall-type feature, some quirky advertising exhibits (my favourite bit) and old footage describing the Guinness process from the beginning.
Your ticket price includes a complementary pint (or soft drink) in the Gravity Bar, which has astounding panoramic views of Dublin. There is also a tasting experience on one floor but unfortunately we didn’t have time to queue for it.
We also prebooked online for Jameson’s, which was good as the earliest tour we could get on with our tickets was still two hours after arriving!
Unlike the Guinness Storehouse, the Jameson’s Distillery tour is guided, which we really enjoyed because our guide was full of jokes and interesting facts, as well as being approachable with any questions about whiskey and distillation.
Your ticket price includes a whiskey-tasting session comparing American, Scotch and Jameson’s- not for the faint-hearted! – followed by a complementary Jameson’s drink in the bar. We opted for the Jameson’s, ginger ale and lime which was served with ice and tasted really nice and refreshing!
St Stephen’s Green/Iveagh Gardens
Dublin is full of beautiful parks for more family-friendly activities or even if a few of you just wanted to take a picnic and enjoy the scenery. Iveagh Gardens has many beautiful statues and water features (which were unfortunately turned off on the day we went so I didn’t get a picture!) or if you prefer a busier place, St Stephen’s Green has a lake full of birds to feed, a bandstand, and lots of beautiful flowers and features.
The National Wax Museum
We were really impressed and surprised by the amount of different things to do in what looked (from the outside) like such a small building. The Museum has lots of different and really interactive zones from loved children’s characters to heroes of mythology, great historical figures to villainous criminals… even Jedward are lurking somewhere. There is a great science zone where you can learn all about forces and motion and a recording studio where you can make your own music video! I thoroughly recommend the Chamber of Horrors – again, not for the faint hearted.
Dublin Science Gallery
Just around the corner from Pearse Street Station, the Science Gallery was a really interesting place to visit. Their current exhibition, ‘Lifelogging’, ” asks ‘where do we go from here’ and questions whether we can record and analyse happiness, beauty and aesthetics the same way we record footsteps and heartbeats… [and] will explore novel methods for capturing data, for visualising, and for analysing the insights that new data affords us about ourselves and society.” (Science Gallery website)
A project affiliated with Trinity College, admission is free and there’s lots to explore and look at, as well as guides on hand to explain a bit more about each exhibit.
Food & Drink
The Grafton Street area is absolutely packed with shops and restaurants, and it was here that we found the incredible Captain America’s Grill and Bar. Huge portions of great tasting food and so much to choose from! I opted for a chicken enchilada and fries -yum. Another place for great American food is the adorably-retro Eddie Rocket’s on O’Connell Street. Apparently a big chain in Ireland, Eddie Rocket’s is open all hours, giving you that 50’s diner feel and service with a great big smile (and some cute outfits). I recommend chilli cheese fries!
Fear not my friends, we didn’t just eat fast food! For a breakfast with a great view of Hanover Quay, herbstreet is the place to go. Gooey french toast with bacon, smoked salmon pancakes or simply just a Full Irish… the food is all fresh and so tasty and the staff were great too.
When it comes to places to go and things to see, you’re not short of choices in Dublin City Centre. On the first night, having had a great breakfast at Murray’s Bar and Grill earlier that day, we went to a very odd little place just opposite it, called Fibber Magee’s. This is great for an alternative crowd who fancy a more laid-back place to go drinking, and they often have live music on. Having looked online, we had been convinced that it was a must to go to The Temple Bar during our stay. The place was packed out, with a man performing a crowd-pleasing acoustic set, however this place is not for a spendthrift traveller as drinks prices can be very high!
On the Saturday night, we had prebooked places on the Sandeman’s Pub Crawl. At £9pp, it seemed like a good way to find some great bars and we got free entry to places as well as some shockingly-good drinks deals – BOGOF €4 pints at the first bar! The guides were great at controlling the rabble and were always on hand to make sure everyone was having a good time.
Particular places I would recommend are The Mezz (for another chilled-out, alternative, live music venue), The Mercantile (for a completely bizarre experience, there’s a local sports tavern in one room, a packed out club dancefloor in another and the building is also a hotel ), O’Neills (nothing like the chain pub with the same name here – think line dancers, folk bands, proper craic) and to polish off the night, the well-hidden secret that is Club Hell (only on Saturdays) – a friendly meeting point for those with a great music taste!
I would definitely go back to Dublin for a group holiday because there was still so much more to see and do, without breaking the bank, and people were so friendly and helpful.
Do you live in Dublin or have you also been for a short stay?
What were your favourite spots? Have I missed anything?
Leave your advice and recommendations in the comments below!