With the celebration of St. Patrick’s day this past weekend I’ve been a little nostalgic about my time in Ireland last Spring. I spent 2 beautiful weeks on the Emerald Isle and it simply wasn’t enough. I can say with certainty that Ireland is a place I will return.
My travel diary will consist of 4 posts, one for each leg of my journey. Starting in Dublin -my first stop and a mere 6.5 hours from Toronto, makes it an easy flight and into the city bright and early, ready to take on the day – or at least until jet lag sets in. From the airport I took the convinient and comfortable Aircoach right to the O’Connell Street stop – luckily my hotel was a stop on their route making my transfer hassle free.
Where I Stayed: For my 4 night stay I chose the Gresham Hotel which is located right in the heart of Dublin. The LUAS lines are very close by and it’s walking distance from many attractions. While I didn’t think the hotel lived up to its 4* status I would recommend it based on the 3 C’s – clean, comfortable and convenient.
From O’Connell Street my first stop (after I recharged with an Irish coffee) was Trinity College & The Book of Kell’s. While there are guided tours I would recommend the audio guide.
From Trinity College I traveled back across the river over the famous Ha’penny Bridge and into Temple Bar for lunch. For those of you who don’t know any better (just like me) Temple Bar is actually the city’s pub district and not just the name of a pub. While the infamous Temple Bar does exist, there’s much more to explore than just this pub in Temple Bar.
After lunch, I walked up Parliament Street to the Dublin Castle where I signed up for a guided tour. After, I visited the nearby Christ Church Cathedral.
Where I Ate: For lunch Bunsen is a cozy and casual spot that has some of Dublin’s best no-fuss burgers! For dinner Madigan’s Bar & Kitchen is where I enjoyed my first hearty and traditional Irish meal, pint and song – this was going to be a good trip!
Extremely tired and jet lagged I called it a day and caught some z’s for my early morning start. You can read more about my first day in Dublin in my post ‘The First 24’.
Just a short hour away on the DART from Dublin, lies the beautiful seaside fishing village of Howth. I can still remember the smell of seasalt hitting my nose as soon as I arrived. If you have enough time in Dublin I cannot stress enough how amazing this day trip is.
Since I’m not a professional hiker I started my way towards Howth Head to pick my walking route on the cliffs. There are 4 route options for every level of walker but what I can assure you is that you’ll be rewarded with scenic views of the cliffs, beautiful traditional Irish homes and the Baily Lighthouse. My cliff walk took me about 3 hours before I returned back to the pier where seafront restaurants were preparing their daily catch for hungry hikers coming back from the trails.
I enjoyed a beautiful stroll and meal on the pier before browsing around Howth Market where you’ll find local crafts, handmade jewellery and vintage antiques.
Once back in Dublin I took the LUAS to Kilmainham Goal. I highly recommend visiting this prison as the guides are fun, informative and if you’re a history buff like me the tour will give you some really good insight into Dublin’s dark history. It’s extremely important to book this tour in advance – I practically had to beg being let on the last tour of the day!
Where I Ate: Seafood of course is king at the pubs and restaurants in Howth – what more should you expect from a fishing village?! I was excited to eat Fish n’ Chips at Beshoff Bro’s which is a much loved Dublin institution! Get all the delicious details of my visit to Beshoff’s in my post ‘Hungry in Howth’.
Day 3 took me on a day trip to Glendalough & Wicklow with Collins Day Tours. This full day tour takes you into the heart of the Wicklow mountains where you’ll see some of the most spectacular scenery (think Braveheart and PS I Love You – they were shot here) as you travel through the Wicklow Gap. In Glendalough you’ll visit a 6th century monastic settlement.
The tour stops off in Kilkenny for lunch and gives you time to explore the castle gardens and take a walking tour of the city which is included.
On my final day in Dublin I took a Sandeman’s walking tour (my go to in Europe!) to catch any of the last sights I had left to see. Walking tours are a great way to meet people especially if you’re traveling solo like I was. I’ve met some of the nicest people on walking tours and still keep in touch with some of them today.
Tip: In new cities I often like to start off my itinerary with a walking tour so I have time to go back to any spots that I enjoyed. Since the weather in Ireland is highly unpredictable I played my itinerary by ear.
Weather you’re a beer lover or not, the Guinness Storehouse self-guided tour is a must when in Dublin. Again, I highly recommend purchasing tickets in advance as the crowds and lines are just so large. In addition to the process and history of Guinness, you’ll learn how to do the perfect pour and enjoy a free pint up on the 6th floor Gravity Bar while taking in views of the city – the perfect end to my time in Dublin.
What I Ate: Breakfast at Queen of Tarts is a must – the scones are to die for! Read more about this yummy joint in my post ‘All Hail the Queen of Tarts’. When I travel I love to check out local food markets. Temple Bar’s food market is held every Saturday and is a foodie’s paradise – it’s definitely on my list for my next visit. For dinner, I ate at Boojum which is a casual Mexican burrito bar with locations across Ireland. Service is simple, fast and friendly on the wallet – not to mention delicious!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my travel diary – next stop Killarney!
Have you been to Dublin? What was your favourite part?