Updated: Mar 18, 2019
If you're living in the UK, have a weekend or a couple of days free and you’re looking to escape the harsh realities of the working world, then go to Dublin. It's a fantastic city of strong Irish heritage, traditional folk music and barrels full of beer! Though through it’s history, the capital has fallen victim to the odd scandal, early Dublin was an illustrious town that excelled in education and culture. This magical little city encompasses the treasures and legends that are woven into its very foundations, from it’s victorious Viking origins to the chaotic Easter Rising of 1916, and it’s renaissance as a home to scholars, saints, artists, poets and playwrights including literary icons Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett.
BOOKING + PLANNING
I booked the flights from Birmingham Airport to Dublin through Ryanair for a jaw-dropping total of just £17.98pp. That was a gob-smacking £9.99 flight out there and a £7.99 return - which is pretty much the price of an Odeon cinema ticket! There are always great deals on Ryanair for flights to Dublin for under £20 for a return - so even if you're on a budget there are no excuses not to go.
I managed to also snaffle some great accommodation from booking.com (which is ace because you don’t have to pay until after your stay) which if I remember correctly, was around £165 for a lovely double room for three nights. I bought the trip as a 21st birthday present, so doing it within a tight budget was essential! We ventured out to Ireland for four days and three nights, which in my opinion, was an ideal amount of time to see, do and experience the best of the capitals bucket list.
Ireland is a country extremely proud of it's culture and you'll find reminders of everything associated with the Emerald Isles as you pass along the cobbled pavements; bustling pubs full of thriving musicians, street corners showcasing talented buskers and 'Auld time' architecture on O'Connell Street. Full of character and charm is the whimsical epicentre of the city; Temple Bar. We were lucky enough to bag a room at The Blooms Hotel which was situated in the Temple bar area amidst the bohemian bars and musically alive venues that are nestled into the back streets. Blooms was a great stay - bank account friendly with helpful staff and lovely rooms - we ended up adding on an optional continental breakfast each morning too!
For transport around the city we bought a two day hop-on hop-off sight seeing bus ticket - which I am a BIG fan of. There’s no better way to travel round unfamiliar territory than to jump on a double decker, plug in your ear phones and listen to a delightful Irish accent tell you stories of their cities history and tourism. Exploiting their captivating stories and traditions with an infectious humour, you felt educated by their knowledge yet thoroughly entertained by their rib-tickling commentary.
On our first day there we decided to do the full two hour city sightseeing tour using the buses, in order to get a feel for the city. That way, we also got to see the whole route before then travelling around again and hopping off at the stops we were most interested in exploring. Of course when most people head over to Dublin, their social media pages become a shrine to pints of Guinness and leprechaun adorned souvenirs - but the Guinness Factory and gift shops are a must-see when visiting, so we jumped on the band wagon. We also got to do a tour around Kilmainham Gaol where we engaged in a thrilling walk of the non-functioning, historical prison and heard tales of the criminals, their death sentences and their hauntings!
We then spent a day at Dublin Zoo where I managed to make a 300 second SnapChat story of elephants taking a bath and penguins zooming past the multiplex - it was very amusing (for me, perhaps not my Snapchat followers). It rained a lot that day but when you’re THAT entertained by mother nature, who really cares? We spent the evenings in local pubs and bars where there was always some form of live music - on the Tuesday there was a Johnny Cash tribute act playing next door to our hotel, which is great when you know all the words to A Boy Named Sue.
However, my favourite activity (and those who know me will no doubt roll their eyes at how bloody typical this is of me), was the Dublin Ghost Bus Tour. An evening on board an impressively decorated double decker, hosted by a comical tour guide who used a sound board and props to enhance his terrifying tales of Dublin’s grim history. With plenty of historical facts and gruesome, blood curdling stories slotted in between team games and graveyard visits, this fright night was everything I adore about a cheesy themed tour.
We, of course, got picked on several times during the evening (I seem to constantly attract that highly unwanted attention), but having paid £24 each to take part in the tour, the interaction made it seem all the more worth while. Despite the activity bringing us over budget, it ended up being the funniest night out of them all, and so wins my vote for the best bucket list activity.
To get the full benefit of the city, I would recommend going for between 3/4 days, which will allow you time to relax and enjoy what Dublin has to offer as there were a few museums and shows we would have liked to have visited. Though all in all, most of the obvious tourist attractions could be done in around two days - so it really depends on what you want to get out of the trip.
Trinity College visit
Hop-on hop-off bus tour for the full 2 hours
Evening in Temple Bar
Cathedrals and park visit
Guinness Factory tour
Kilmainham Gaol tour
City Docks Tour
Evening Ghost Tour Bus
Last minute souvenir shopping in the city centre (I got a pretty funky looking sweater)
And in case you were wondering...yes I did manage a whole pint of Guinness at the Guinness Factory, despite the many planted seeds of doubt.
TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
TAKE WARM CLOTHES - I made the mistake (as I always seem to) of only taking one jacket. A cropped leather. Needless to say that it was absolutely freezing and I spent most of the trip with my scarf wrapped up to my eyeballs and blowing warm breath into cupped hands. I’m ever the optimist when it comes to weather predictions, so please don’t follow my lead and pack sensibly.
BE PREPARED TO SPEND - I was surprised by how much things cost over in Ireland. Of course they use the Euro, so try and get as good of a rate as you can before you get there. It worked out pretty pricey to try and get drunk in the bars themselves, so pre-drinking in the hotel was a must.
TRY A GUINNESS - Even if you’re like me, and the taste for dark ale is a gift you have yet to receive, make sure you give it a go. I managed to stomach a pint (just about) but a half would also be socially acceptable for the lighter drinker. The Irish constantly boast about how their Guinness is the finest in the land, and that having it fresh is far better and tastier than cracking open a can from the supermarket.
GET IN EARLY - Most pubs close at 11:30pm on weeknights and 1am on weekends whilst convenience stores lock up at 10.30pm, so don’t expect to be partying all night.
MY ONE REGRET - was not doing the Viking Splash Tour; a bright yellow vehicle that takes you by land and water on a historical tour of Dublin, revisiting their Viking DNA. Which sounds great but I just really wanted to yell ‘ARGH!’ and wear a funny hat.