In the past few weeks, many friends and their families have planned trips to come visit Ireland this coming spring and summer. Because they know I’ve been living here, they have asked for suggestions of places to visit, and more specifically things in Dublin, like the good restaurants and tours to do.
Therefore, I’ve decided to post about some of the great trips and tours I’ve done in my free time between my crazy school, basketball, and coaching hours. Even with the busy schedule, I always make sure I take trips to different places and take full advantage of the beauty Ireland has to offer. For people planning a trip to Ireland, whether it be on vacation, or for future scholars, here is a quick list of things to do in Dublin.
Tours- I did the Guinness Storehouse tour which I liked because it was self-guided, so I was able to pick and choose the things I wanted to learn about. The best part was the top floor, which was a bar with a 360 degree view of Dublin and served a complimentary Guinness. I also did the Jameson Factory tour that was very well done. Shan and I got a complimentary drink and then got to taste different types of whiskeys and compare the tastes. I also have heard the Teeling whiskey tour is great, and I hope to do that one in a few weeks when my family visits. Do NOT do the leprechaun tour, it is an absolute waste of money that sucks in idiot tourists like Shan, Alex, and myself. Although we do find it funny looking back on how naive we were. I’ve taken my friends and Mom through the Book of Kells tour, which is the old Trinity College library that has been around for centuries. As a whole, it is interesting to see, but not worth waiting in a long line and paying for it. Students get free admission and guests, so that is the only reason I’ve done the tour.
Pubs- The pubs are great atmosphere and you really can’t go wrong with any of them in Dublin. The ones in Temple Bar can rip you off with prices, but they are a great time because there’s always live music and a good crowd. My favorite bar in Temple Bar is Oliver St. John Gogarty’s because there’s one Irish man who is an awesome performer.
If you want to try your first Guinness, everyone says to go to Grogan’s or Long Hall. Personally, I don’t taste the difference, but I like the atmosphere of Long Hall better. Other pubs I like are O’Neills (serves great food and in the evenings they have live music and Irish step dancers) Kehoe’s, PMac’s (has board games to play at the tables), Stag’s Head, Toner’s (great for sporting events), Whelan’s, and Mary’s (excellent burgers). Obviously there are tons, but those are just a few of the many that I like.
Places Outside Dublin- Right outside of Dublin, about an hour away that is very easy to get to by bus, is Wicklow National Park (from the movie P.S. I love you). I wrote about it in my other blog post, but it’s a gorgeous hike that has breathtaking views, especially if you go on a nice, sunny day. Also, right outside of Dublin is a fishing harbor called Howth, which takes about a half hour by train. It has a mini boardwalk full of seafood places that sell amazing food, and it also has a cliff walk/hike with a great view looking out to the ocean.
Coffeeshops- One of the great things about Ireland, and Europe in general, is their coffeeshops. Over here, coffee is more than just a drink you chug to stay awake, and I’ve grown to love it. There are so many artsy/alternative coffeshops that sell amazing coffee, as well as food. Some of my favorites are Beanhive (who actually do artwork in the lattes), Accents, Shoe Lane, 3fe, Butler’s (need to get their hot chocolate), and Brother Hubbard (great for breakfast as well).
Breakfast- First of all, people lied when they said the food is “bad” in Ireland. It’s DELISH. For those looking to get that “full Irish breakfast”, a decent amount of the pubs in town usually has it, and its amazing. Some of the more popular places I’ve been to are Hairy Lemon, Bank on College Green, and Beanhive. Aside from that, there are a ton of great breakfast/brunch places in general. Places I loved were Lemon Crepe & Coffee Company, Whitefriar Grill, Bow Lane, Metro Cafe, Avoca, and Brother Hubbard. On top of that, there are a few donut shops around town that I have to avoid walking by because it’s nearly impossible to restrain from buying one.
Lunch/Dinner- The options are endless. When you are looking for a hearty Irish meal, go to a pub, or get fish & chips from Leo Burdocks. Also, I’m not much of a burger person, but Ireland has changed me. In my opinion, the best burger is Bunsen, and people claim the one in Temple Bar to be the best and most original. Mary’s Wowburger and O’neills are also great choices. Other than that, you can get great Italian, Mexican, Thai, Japanese, Moroccan, and more. It’s safe to say that every place I’ve been to has had me leaving extremely satisfied.
Desserts- There are a bunch of gelato places (Gino’s and Scoops) around town that have gelato (obviously), crepes, waffles, and shakes, as well as some frozen yogurt places (Mooch), both being delicious. In my opinion, the place you need to try is Murphy’s ice cream. Their sundaes are TO DIE FOR, especially the Dreamy Caramel. You also can’t pass up a Butler’s hot chocolate, especially on a cold, rainy evening to warm you up! Finally, if you prefer to keep it simple, go to a convenience shop and buy any flavor of the Cadbury chocolate. This smooth, creamy chocolate is the reason I have developed a terrible sweet tooth in the past year.
I can go on for pages about places to go and things to see, but those are the main spots. Sometimes, the best tour you can get is self-guided because that is how you truly get an understanding of the culture. Even after all the places I’ve visited (I may be biased), Dublin still finishes as my favorite!