So many backpackers don’t make it to Ireland because they don’t want to add an additional flight. That was why I didn’t go my first time to Europe. Even with budget airlines, sometimes flights seem out of the question. I absolutely loved Dublin, although I was there only 4 days. I hope that anyone who is counting Ireland out on their list, pinches a few pennies and gets there! Dublin has old cobblestone streets, vintage pubs, little shops instead of massive malls, and extremely nice people.
7 travel tips you shouldn’t miss in and around Dublin, Ireland.
1. Take the double decker sightseeing bus. Not just for sightseeing, but to save money! I’m aware how lame it sounds. Dublin isn’t the only city where I’ve found this is the case. It was cheaper for us to get a 2 day “student” Dublin Bus Tour pass, at 14 euro, which stops at 23 places, than it would have been to pay for a 2 day metro pass, the extra cabs we’d have to take. You can get on and off the tour bus as you like and pick up the next one when you’re ready. It saved money, showed us places we hadn’t realized were worth seeing, and we didn’t have to use as many brain cells staring at maps. Remember to check the tour bus cost in cities you visit to see if a pass can save you transport money! Some of the more memorable places in Dublin on the tour were Trinity College (Oscar Wilde is an Alumni of, and students will give you tours), St. Stephen’s Green, and Kilmainham Gaol, a museum and former prison.
2. Check out the “secret” Dubh Linn gardens where many locals go to have lunch. This is where Dublin gets its name; Dubh Linn meaning Dark Lake. These are located just behind the Dublin Castle, which you can wander around for free. Like most castles, you’ll have to pay to go inside (I didn’t due to budgeting, but will when I go back).
3. Learn to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. To save money, go to the Guinness Storehouse right before it closes and use those free pints as a little pre-game for your night out. After an afternoon nap, the tour bus took us to the Storehouse. Next a tour through the factory learning about hops and other beer related terms, we went to the rooftop at Gravity Bar for a free pint and an amazing view. We actually ended up for a few extra tickets somehow and chugged down as much free Guinness as we could, considering that’s a hard beer to drink fast! We’re told over 10,000,000 glasses are drank a day all over the world! It was only 11 euro to get into the Storehouse.
4. After learning to put the perfect shamrock in the foam of your beer, head to Temple bar, the main area for nightlife, food, and entertainment. But don’t go to Temple Bar neighborhood only at night, it’s full of activity during the day. Wash down your Irish potatoes or stew with a glass of Carlsburg beer and then head out to a pub. We got lucky, there was a Gaelic football game and people were celebrating. So many guys tried to explain what Gaelic Football is and what I got from it is, it’s like American football, except with your feet? You don’t have to stay in Temple bar area to have a good time. Some great pubs include: Temple Bar Pub, the Long Hall, the Porterhouse, Kehoe’s, or Stag’s Head.
5. Do some shopping! Near St. Stephen’s Green (the tour bus goes here) is a large mall. Or get some very Irish-looking tweed at Kevin & Howlin. The Loft Market has loads of new designers as well as vintage pieces of jewelry and clothing. Also, the last Sunday of every month is a flea market. My favorite place to shop was a local handicraft market outside of Dublin, in Howth. Which brings me to my next point…
6. Get out of Dublin! There are so many little coastal towns you can take the train to for a day trip. Glendalough is very popular, but we chose Howth, a small fishing town. The market in Howth had one of my favorite markets full of breads, cupcakes, jewelry, fudge, nuts, gyros… you name it! The vendors also offered samples. At Howth, we took a long hike up the coastline. Everyone says Ireland is so green, and it did not disappoint! Although it rained, the views were spectacular and the grass was so green and fresh you wanted to roll in it. We saw seals, horses, and a very vintage looking lighthouse. Its so picturesque it’s hard to imagine the people who live there. On the way back from Howth, we stopped at Bray, another coastal town that was having a festival.
7. I did not get a chance to do this in Dublin, but like most cities they offer pub crawls, bike tours, and free walking tours. Our hostel was full of information about these, as most hostels will be.
For me, the joys in Ireland were outside of Dublin center.
I think it’s like that in a lot of cities because I enjoy the countryside so much more than seeing buildings. I have barely even touched on all Dublin has to offer, but it’s a huge city and I only had 4 days to wander around. There is SO much more to see, and definitely the kind of place you can’t go to only once. Even if you’re only 5% Irish, you’ll feel just like you belong there! You won’t run out of things to do in Dublin!
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