Sometimes travelling to one location will open the door for short stops in others. On my most recent trip to Spain I saw an opportunity to make a stop in Ireland on my way there. For the trip I knew only the dates. No reservations were made in advance, no plans set in stone. It’s a fun way to travel. What I did know was the goal was to get to some part of Spain during part of our two-week trek. My travel partner and wonderful girlfriend joined me for the excursion. Anywhere we could end up would turn into a new adventure, and I don’t mind travelling into the unknown. It’s so easy to research new destinations on the go these days. There are so many great travel tools available online!
When looking to book flights I was able to find great fares into Dublin out of Newark (EWR) that would fit our dates. Neither of us had ever been to the Emerald Isle, and we both wanted to check it out. There were also cheap flights available from Dublin right into Barcelona on the southern coast of Spain, another one of our destination goals. It was a match, and we would be on our way shortly after a last minute booking.
Ireland is one of the closest European destinations from the USA. The flight over the Atlantic takes well under seven hours from the east coast. After arriving in Dublin you can connect to almost anywhere in Europe on one of many airlines. It’s a good place for a lay over, especially when the price is right.
We opted to have a couple of days in Dublin before heading to mainland Europe for the rest of our trip. We literally booked our hotel in EWR before departing. We got a very reasonable price on a room for a few nights right in the heart of Dublin.
Getting to the City:
Getting from the Dublin Airport to the city is very easy by cab or on the airport bus that runs frequently. The fare on the bus is €7per person, and you get a discount if you buy a round trip ticket. Heading into the city we opted to go for the cab ride. It’s never a bad idea to get a ride to exactly where you’re headed for your first time in a city. The cab cost about 24 euro, but the ride was worth it. We had a great driver who gave us lots of information about the area during the ride. She took us right to the hotel and made some suggestions for our time in the city. It turned out that the hotel was right next to a bus station, so it would be able to catch the airport bus on our way out a couple of days later.
Where We Stayed:
The 4 star Ashling Hotel had everything that we needed for our short stay. There is a restaurant serving breakfast lunch and dinner, and a bar that is open late into the evening. The room was cozy and had a great shower! Always nice after a long flight. All of the staff was very helpful, and all of our needs were taken care of during our stay.
We only planned to stay in Dublin for two days, which is hardly enough to really take in the city, but we were determined to make the most of it, and fit in lots of activities, and of course a few drinks along the way!
Here’s what we saw:
This is a must when spending time in Dublin! Buy a ticket to the Guinness Storehouse for about €17 and learn the history of Ireland’s famous beer. Guests are rewarded at the top of the seven-story building with an amazing 360-degree view of the city, and a pint of Guinness that you get to pour yourself. Check out the gift shop at the end to get some unique Guinness souvenirs and apparel.
You’ll find Temple Bar right in the heart of Dublin! Day or night you will be able to find a great atmosphere and fun in this area. The narrow streets in Temple Bar are full of pubs and restaurants. Stop into any of the pubs for a pint of Guinness and you’ll find live music and plenty of football (soccer) on any of the pub’s many TVs. We found a small outdoor market in this area during the day with lots of vendors selling different kinds of food and drinks. Some of the best pastries I’ve ever had, the cronuts were amazing.
Check out Leo Burdock fish and chips for a late night snack. Piping hot fried food is always great after a night of drinking.
The oldest church in Dublin. A €2 euro admission fee gets access to the main cathedral and the crypt below. The basilica is not large compared to many of the cathedrals located throughout Europe, but it is definitely very old, and has a lot of character. There is a continuing argument amongst the Church of Ireland and the Roman Catholic church about which religion it belongs to which I found to be interesting. The spat dates back centuries, and it is currently considered to be part of the Church of Ireland.
The Brazen Head
Dating back to 1198, this is Ireland’s oldest pub. Stop in for a pint of Guinness and enjoy some live music or storytelling. Its located just south of the Liffey River and is very easy to find. The pub also serves great food. It’s been renovated and added on to since it opened centuries ago, each different room has its own character. A must visit!
Phoenix Park and Wellington Monument
On the west side of Dublin this large park has plenty of walking and biking trails to spend time on. Lots of trees, flowers and ponds line the paths. It’s a beautiful place to spend some time outdoors when it’s not raining. The wellington monument is hard to miss. It’s the tallest obelisk in Europe and sits right in the middle of the park.
Cliffs of Moher: Bus Tour
You’ve probably seen them in the movies. I recognize them from The Princess Bride; they were the Cliffs of Insanity. The cliffs are on the west side of the country, so it takes a while to get there. Book a tour with one of the many bus companies and they’ll set you up with a whole day of activity. It takes about three hours to get to the cliffs, but the drive is worth it. You’ll get to see what our guide called “proper Irish countryside.” The scenery on the way is beautiful, and the cliffs are a breathtaking sight.
You’ll want to prepare for cold, windy, and wet weather, and you might get a little muddy when you’re walking the path along the cliffs, but the trip is worth it! The bus tour will stop for lunch at a little bar/cafeteria. This bar obviously has a deal with the bus companies to bring their passengers there. The food is mass-produced and really isn’t that good. If you have enough time you might want to explore the town a little bit for some other food options.
Keep an eye on the weather when considering the optional boat ride to the base of the cliffs. It will cost an additional €15 per person, and if the weather is windy/rainy you may be in for a rough boat ride. Our experience on the boat was wet and cold with very rough water, many of the passengers got seasick. We couldn’t even get close to the cliffs due to the choppy sea conditions. On rough weather days you may just want to stay on land.
Try Black and White Pudding
It’s part of a traditional Irish breakfast. We went to the breakfast buffet at the hotel on our last day and both kinds of puddings were served. If you don’t know, black pudding is sausage made with several pork parts, (entrails may be included) oats, and port blood. White pudding is the same, with the exception of the blood.
I like to try the local food anywhere I go, regardless of how disgusting it may look, so I had to try the pudding. It was not my favorite item, it was a little crusty, but I at least can say that I’ve had it. The rest of the breakfast was very good with several different types of meats, eggs, fruit, vegetables, and pastries.
This was all we were able to accomplish in two days in Dublin, and now we are ready to return in the near future to see more of the city, and the country. Getting around Dublin is pretty simple, and as long as it’s not pouring rain, the city is very easily walked. I found the people in Ireland to be very welcoming and accommodating throughout our stay. Whether you are in Dublin for just a couple of days, or and extended period of time it is a great European destination.
What did we miss? Where do you like to visit when you’re in Ireland? Let me know below in the comments section. I would love to hear suggestions on what to see next time!