how to do Dublin in 3 days
For some reason, when I used to think of Ireland I had a real backwards idea of what it was. I watched some harrowing documentaries and movies about Dublin in the 80s when I was a kid and as an adult my idea of Ireland never updated itself. I kept thinking it was this forever cold, seedy, semi modern city. How wrong I was. Visiting Ireland's capital and largest city was probably the best suggestion that my partner Shawn ever made, and I was not going to say no to visiting a new country altogether despite my huge reservations about such a short visit within Ireland itself. We didn't have time to do a road trip or visit Belfast even, since we smacked this plan together between London, Edinburgh and a week in Lisbon.
As such rom-coms go, obviously I fell in love with Dublin the minute I stepped into the city. It had a fresh, thriving vibe and the people were so warm and friendly. Although brief, the introduction I got to Dublin was enough to convince me it was a place I'd seriously consider moving to if I had the chance. Unfortunately it's pretty expensive to move to Dublin. It's ranked 24th as the world's most expensive city to relocate to where the average expenditure comes up to about €1,500 monthly. This isn't as high as London (€2,500, eep!) but it is definitely not cheap overall. Oh, but the accent (makes my knees weak)! The dry Irish sense of humour (even when I sometimes need a minute to decipher what they've said)! The genuine warmth of the people we met and even the random chats and smiles we'd have with locals while buying food were such a far cry from the chill you'd get from people in London. Furthermore I love the cold so Ireland is perfect for me. I visited in summer when it was 17°C in the day and blisteringly cold because of chilly winds, and I overheard a lady cancelling an order of cappuccino because it was too hot outside. Loooove it.
Turns out, there's plenty of things to do in Dublin and most of them fit nicely in to a three day plan. Like I said, the only thing I missed out was a road trip which would've been perfect in the romantic rolling Irish countryside (swoon). Since it was my first visit to the city I didn't want to miss out on the sights here, and swore I would return one day to do Ireland properly as it deserves.
Now, if you were just in town for a bit where should you stay? I have to absolutely recommend the Dean Hotel. It is a bit of a designer thrill with a solid location being walking distance to all the shops, pubs and restaurants on Grafton Street.
It's very easy to get around the city by bus, which we took almost everywhere. You can get a Leap card to use on multiple rides or pay per ride. Note that you'll need exact change for the latter and you can only pay in coins. To find the exact fare all you have to do is ask the driver so be sure to keep hold of your loose change. We checked bus numbers on Google maps and then double checked with our bus drives on where to get off. Everything very nicely congregates towards the Dublin city center, so you're never really far out of the action. The furthest we went was to the Gaol, which was a bus ride away about 15 minutes from the city center.
Free walking tour by Sandemans
Sandemans runs one of the best (seriously, no joke) free walking tours in Europe and we try to never miss one in any of its locations. It's usually the first thing I look out for when I'm in a new Europe city since they cover a great deal of information about popular sights peppered with local anecdotes and history in just two hours. Our Dublin tour guide was absolutely hilarious (our favourite guide so far by leaps and bounds) and had such fascinating stories to tell about Ireland's history along all the sites on our route. He told us the history of Dublin's name, a few choice anecdotes about the Queen and Barack Obama, and ranted on about Gerald Butler's gratingly awful Irish accent in P.S I Love You, which was filmed in Dublin. It's the best way to get a lot of interesting information in a short time while taking in the key sights.
Guinness Storehouse Tour
St James's Gate, Ushers, Dublin 8, Ireland
OF COURSE you have to visit the home of Guinness! My favourite beer of all time has an incredible storehouse. There's the usual standard tour stuff, they tell you about the history of the recipe, the brewing specialties, and you get tasting along the way. What's exceptional is you get to enjoy a complimentary pint at the end of the tour which you can take up to their rooftop for 360 views of the city. At the Brewer's Dining Hall we also tasted various exclusive brews, such as the Guinness West Indies Porter. I want to rave about their gift shop as well, where I excitedly bought one too many giant black (obvs) mugs with pelicans on it (Shawn's like =/), Guinness flavoured chips, and basically had to be wrestled away from the Guinness T shirts and key chains. One of the cool kids, I am.
Inchicore Rd, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, Ireland
Daily: 9.30AM - 7pm
As if I had never travelled before, I had completely forgotten you sometimes needed a ticket to enter places of attractions, which is why Shawn and I rolled up to Kilmainham Gaol at 4pm one day and oh shite, they were sold out for the day. Without checking we'd not realised that entry to the museum was by timed guided tours only which you had to book in advance online. We were very lucky though as someone had bought tickets they couldn't use and the staff at the door gave us their slots instead. It's a very enriching, inspirational tour.
Trinity College Tour and Book of Kells
College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
The Trinity college tour is amazing for this grand library. It's most baffling fact? That the books are sorted by size. Makes it incredibly difficult to find anything. There are guided tours through the college by students, and I'm not sure if they memorised a script but our guide's dry wit had us laughing all throughout, which made it all the more fascinating (that Irish wit! Charm! Accent! Shivers). You can get a ticket online or by walking up to the entrance, there's usually a booth out front.
Old Jameson Distillery Tour
Bow St, Smithfield Village, Dublin 7, Ireland
Different opening hours on their site
Whether you love it or not, a whiskey tour is a must do when in Dublin, very much like Guinness. The Jameson Whiskey Tour was quite interesting for us but there's a few others you can check out as well. For this, you can buy your ticket on site.
Highly recommended by our hotel, this little café is super popular and was packed on a weekday lunch when we visited. Avoca is actually a lifestyle brand and the whole building sells everything from beauty to homewares to clothes. They have a few locations, the one we went to was on Suffolk Street. The menu is a little fusion and changes seasonally, but overall it's refreshing and very delicious. Absolutely loved the food here.
Leo Burdock Fish & Chips
4 Crown Alley, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Mon-Wed: 11.30am - 10pm / Thu-Sat: 11.30am - 4am / Sun: 12pm - 10pm
Proud Dublin fish & chips for almost 100 years, this non-greasy fish and chips is really tasty. Some of the best chips I've had (sorry, London). How often would you say that of the chips in this two ingredient dish? Very popular with Hollywood celebrities too, apparently. They have a few locations but you would probably visit the one on Temple Street.
Dublin's finest burgers was really good if a little insane size-wise. Their restaurant is a little tight but we loved the bar seats where you could see your burgers made fresh on the grill. Locations and opening times here. The one we visited was on Wexford Street which was near our hotel.
63 Dame St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Ireland
Various opening hours.
At some point of time on any trip I'll crave Chinese food, almost always noodles. Chinese restaurant food in Dublin is NOT cheap (maybe that's what I need to do in Dublin to be able to afford to move here, cook some of my mom's recipes), but we did find a really good option with Stir Crazy, a budget hole in the wall fast food joint. You can customise your dish by selecting one base, choice of ingredients and then finishing off with a sauce. At €4.90 it's a pretty good budget meal. Just don't do the currency conversion in your head.
6-8 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2, Dublin, Ireland
This bar sits in a hotel owned by U2, which they bought after one of the underage band members was denied entry once.
Bank on College Green
20 College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
Great place for a pint and food, directly opposite Trinity College. Very high reviews for the food.
Farrier & Draper
Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, 59 William St S, Dublin 2, Ireland
This opulent three-storey restaurant and bar has great cocktails and a fabulous ambience. They were still very new when we visited so we had the whole place to ourselves to drink till the wee hours of the morning. Though it was summer so we were having cocktails at 10pm still in broad daylight.
Porterhouse Temple Bar
16-18 Parliament St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, D02 VR94, Ireland
The reason to be here, other than the lovely rustic, folksy ambience, is the Oyster Stout. Yes it sounds icky but trust me, if you love Guinness, you'll absolutely adore the Oyster Guinness. It's the smoothest, creamiest, sweetest Guinness I've ever tasted. You can also order a sample paddle to try 3 different types of brews at only €6!
TEMPLE BAR STREET
You absolutely have to spend at least one night in the ruckus of Temple Bar. Forget that it's chockfull of tourists, plenty of locals come here to the “heart and soul” of Dublin too, get sloshed and walk away arms around each other singing Irish folk songs (or U2, I couldn't tell). Here, if you're paying more than €4-€6 for a pint of Guinness, you're getting ripped off. If you have time in the day, wander the square as it's the cultural site for centers like the Irish Film Institute, the Project Arts Center, and Irish Photography Center.
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