Where I went: Dublin, Ireland
How long I stayed: Three nights with two and a half days, close to three days as I left quite late in the afternoon on my third day.
How long I should have stayed: This was more than enough for me. I felt a little bit underwhelmed by Dublin and I easily did everything I wanted in this time frame.
Where I stayed: I stayed at the Best Western Academy Plaza Hotel and it was really nice, plus the staff were incredible. Just really lovely. It’s situated in the city centre so it’s a really easy walk anywhere you want to go, such as Grafton Street, Temple Bar and Trinity College. There’s lot of shops and places to eat nearby, it’s safe and there’s a bus stop for the airport bus only a couple of hundred metres away. It set me back around $120 a night for a single room with single bed.
What I did: The Spire, Guinness Brewery tour, Trinity College including the library and Book of Kells, Grafton Street shopping, Temple Bar, walk along the Liffey River, St Stephens Green, red bus tourist tour.
Getting around: I walked pretty much everywhere – Dublin is surprisingly compact and it’s quite flat so no need to worry too much about getting tired. The only place that you will need transport for is the Guinness Brewery and it’s easiest just to get dropped off there and then collected on one of the tourist buses.
What I thought: Before I went to Dublin I had so many mixed reactions to my plans to visit. Half the people I spoke to said it was one of their favourite cities ever, the other half told me they didn’t rate it at all. Sadly, after spending some time there, I probably fall more into the second category and I found Dublin to be a bit underwhelming overall. Let me say this though: the people are amazing and probably my favourite in the world. They could not have been lovelier or friendlier or more helpful. None of that tourist snobbery here.
There’s actually not a whole lot to do in Dublin so three nights was probably a bit excessive but I wanted to make the $300 return flight to London worthwhile. It was my only stop in Ireland so I didn’t have the luxury of having fewer days then travelling elsewhere. The must see things are the Guinness Brewery and you can do a brilliant and interesting tour there then finish with a pint in the Gravity Bar which has 360 degree views across the city (below). Don’t miss out on it just because you think you don’t want to drink a Guinness (plus it tastes better in Ireland, truly). There’s a lot of great places to have lunch while you’re there and I had a beautiful shepherds pie with salad and bread in the dining hall café.
The second must see is Trinity College (third and fourth pictures). The grounds are exceptionally gorgeous so it’s worth going in just for that but the absolutely best thing is the incredible library and Book of Kells, which is an illuminated manuscript dating back to around 800AD. The library is like something from a dream, it’s just stunning. They don’t let too many people in at once so it’s easy to look around and there’s a good gift shop at the end.
The shopping in Dublin is good without being great and has much of the same High Street stores as the rest of the UK. Grafton Street is the best place for a wander and it has a good mix of shops there including a Space NK. For drinking and eating and drinking then Temple Bar is the place to go. You can wander from pub to pub and there’s plenty of decent food on offer. I had dinner at a pub called O’Neill’s which is just out of Temple Bar on Suffolk Street and I highly recommend the food there. St Stephens Green is a huge park in the middle of the city and it’s a lovely place for a wander, as are the banks of the Liffey.
Overall I liked Dublin well enough without loving it. I think after travelling all these grand European capitals like Barcelona and Paris and Lisbon it will always feel underwhelming to walk into somewhere that’s more like a sprawling well populated village than a city. Also I think if I had of been in Dublin with family and friends then that would have made an enormous difference because it’s a place to have a drink and a good time. On your own it’s a little bit harder. I’d love to go back some time and have another shot and I definitely want to do some more travelling through Ireland.
So after arriving home nearly four months ago I’ve finally finished cataloguing every city I visited on my European adventure – Athens to Dublin. I can now move on to some more planning for my upcoming trips! I have two planned for this year and one will span three months, so that’s a lot of planning to take care of… I’ll keep you posted.