My favorite country in the whole world, Ireland! Both of my grandparents are from Ireland so I’ve been fortunate enough to make a few trips over in the past to visit family and tour the country. But this time was different. I was the one making the travel choices, and was ready to explore my favorite place with my friend Elizabeth. I’ve spent time traveling around the country on previous trips but mostly spending time with family in various small towns but never the big city. So this time, my main focus was on exploring Dublin.
We grabbed our passports and overweight luggage and headed out. #TandEJumpTheSea
Day 1- Carrick-On-Shannon
We landed in Dublin early Sunday morning, determined but jet lagged. We stumbled through the airport and found the bus that took us out west to a small town called Carrick-On-Shannon, where we planned to meet with some of my family for our first night. A few hours later, we made it! Our first stop! We were greeted by my sweet cousin, Niamh, straight off the bus and made our way to The Landmark Hotel to find my Grandma Mary (Grandpa’s sister) sitting by the fire in the lobby.
After checking in to this sweet hotel in the center of town, we headed to Grandma Mary’s house out in the country for tea and bread. I asked Niamh if she would walk us down to my favorite lock near the house, so we ventured out. I was so excited to share this little spot with Elizabeth as I’ve been going to Clarendon lock since I was a kid to watch the boats move up and down the river under Knockvicar Bridge. One of my favorite spots in the world.
A little later, my Aunt Patricia met up with us and she planned a special dinner for us at a near-by castle. It’s not every day you get to eat a five course meal in a castle! It was dark by the time we arrived so I wasn’t able to get any exterior shots but you can check out the Kilronan Castle‘s website. It was BEAUTIFUL. A bit rainy outside as well, our dinner was a spectacular mixture of confusing names and exotic tastes. Such a lovely evening with the family.
Day 2- Beer and a Dancing Waiter
We woke up early on day 2 to catch the train back to Dublin, but started with a quick breakfast at the hotel. My first morning cup of tea and croissant, vacation bliss.
Once back in Dublin, we were able to navigate our way to our Airbnb fairly easily through the bus system. We stopped at a little cafe called Rosie’s around the corner before meeting our host. Such a sweet shop and cute place to grab a coffee!
After checking in, we suited up and mapped out our walk over to the Guinness Storehouse. I had been before but Elizabeth was interested in seeing what it was all about. I wasn’t about to turn down a 360 degree view of the city in The Gravity Bar or a free pint, so obviously gladly joined in. We purchased our tickets online before heading over. You save a few bucks doing so and don’t have to wait in line once on-site, highly recommend doing this!
We made a quick stop for lunch at Bakers Irish Pub & Restaurant on the way to the Storehouse. We both enjoyed the local and friendly feel of this place along with the yummy food.
Once at at Storehouse, we enjoyed learning the history behind the brand and seeing how Guinness is made. Even took a turn playing the Guinness harp and posing for some advertisements.
At the Storehouse, you start on the bottom level and make your way up to the top, The Gravity Bar. Here we enjoyed an earned pint of Guinness for free (or included in the ticket price), depending on how you look at it!
Both still a bit jet lagged, we headed back to the Airbnb for a quick nap. I went out to walk around the area a bit and to scope out a few places for dinner while Elizabeth slept. I circled the nearby streets before walking to the River Liffey in the middle of the city. It was lightly raining and the skies were already dark, but I enjoyed this time familiarizing myself with the beautiful city and blending in with the locals during ‘rush’ hour.
With a bit more energy, Elizabeth and I agreed upon a restaurant called The Oak for dinner. I ordered a hot pea soup and panini, it was delicious. We were entertained by our young waiter who found it humorous that we didn’t know what half of the words on the menu were. Classic hits and holidays decor filled the restaurant and we’d catch him singing and dancing along as he walked by our table throughout the night. He was charming and the food was charming. Rated with 4.5 stars on Trip Advisor, we highly recommend this place.
Day 3- Back To College, Ed Sheeran Song References, and Art
We started the day off by stopping at Queen of Tarts, as recommended by my Aunt Patricia. Yummy tea and scones for the win! Loved this little spot.
First stop of the day, Trinity College. I’ve only ever seen the exterior of campus on a previous trip to Dublin so I was excited to be able to explore it on foot. We walked in optimistic but were almost immediately disappointed when we learned the particular day we were on campus, free tours weren’t happening. Whoops. Be sure to check that out before heading over. Guided tours are only offered on certain days of the weeks.
That didn’t stop us though! We enjoyed exploring campus ourselves and blending in among the students and professors, even stopping in the student union building to see the different club booths and study spots. If was funny being on a college campus again. Exciting atmosphere of high education but weird butterflies filled my stomach with anxiety like I had forgotten to write a paper or do a homework assignment.
We headed over to the Book of Kells museum next, located in The Library of Trinity College Dublin. The details on each page in the book are amazing, no wonder it has a whole building dedicated to its history. The library was my favorite part though. Kind of an iconic tourist photo, it was so beautiful! Dark wood, tall shelves lined with ancient books bordered by marble heads of literary greats and historic figures. One of my favorite spots on this trip.
Next, we strolled over to the National Gallery of Ireland. In doing research for this trip, I learned that all National Galleries in Ireland, Scotland, and England have free admission so we were determined to make the most of this opportunity to see some of the greats! Paintings by Picasso, Monet and Yeats, of course we had to go.
We went to Kilkenny for lunch, originally lured in by the shops jewelry, we noticed the cafe upstairs and I literally had the best sweet potato soup of my life. Nothing better than hot soup on a chilly day.
If you’re an Ed Sheeran fan or familiar with popular shopping in Dublin, you’ve probably heard of Graftin Street (referenced in Ed Sheeran’s ‘Galway Girl‘). We made our way through the busy holiday shoppers, stopping to look at the overhead holiday decor, popping into a few shops, and listening to a young lad busking in the street, surrounded by swooning teenage girls of course.
On one of the streets before hitting Graftin, I stumbled upon Tower Records. They had such a large collection of CDs, used and new vinyl, I wanted it all. Unfortunately, my luggage was already pretty much at the max weight and we had a few more stops planned along the way to I reluctantly left without a purchase. So hard sometimes!
Across the street was St. Stephen’s Green, a lovely park in the city. We strolled through, watched people get attacked by pigeons, played in the leaves, and contemplated being a local business gal stopping over to eat lunch with these views every day.
We walked through some more shops and even ran into a wedding reception that we contemplated crashing by ultimately opted out…ha. We found The Temple Bar next. Decorated in beautiful holiday lights, the red exterior and cherry cheeks of the folks lining the bar invited us in to this tourist hot spot. We weren’t able to find a spot to sit so we walked through and found a standing spot in the corner where we listened to the musician for the evening sing Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love.’
We continued exploring more shops on the North side of town and more streets lined with Christmas lights. We stopped for a pint at the pub at Oshea’s Hotel before heading back closer to our place for dinner.
We landed on an Italian restaurant for dinner, Cafe Topolis. A snug spot with yummy pizza, pasta, wine, and chocolate cake.
Day 4- Dessert for Breakfast, Wet Pants, but Scenic Views
We had to check out early from our Airbnb but still had most of the day in the city before our flight that night. Our host suggested we take our luggage to the Visit Dublin Centre Office so we didn’t have to lug it around all day. The Centre offers luggage storage for a small fee, and honestly we were so glad we did this. Easy to drop off, and super easy to pick up with a very helpful staff. I’d recommend this spot if you need something similar. The office is also loaded with tourism information, as you can imagine, including trips and tours you can book.
So, on our final day in Dublin, we opted to get out of the city for the day, but not before stopping for breakfast at The Rolling Donut. A breathtaking display of decorated donuts greets you through the shop window and the smell when you walk in might just knock you over.
After stuffing our face with breakfast dessert, we walked to the train station and made our way to a town called Dún Laoghaire which runs along the coast. Unfortunately, it was raining pretty hard this day and the wind was really strong. As much as we wanted to enjoy the view of the harbor, it was a bit difficult. Still managed to get a few good photos from it though but we were drenched!
After walking through a bit of the town in our wet clothes, we stopped for lunch at The Forty Foot restaurant for its wide array of menu items, by mostly for the view of the harbor.
That was a wrap on Ireland! We headed back to Dublin, picked up our luggage and headed to the airport to catch our flight to Edinburgh.
More about our Edinburgh journey here!
Have questions or planning your trip to Dublin? Let me know in the comments below!