Ireland is one of my favorite countries in the world. The people are friendly, the landscape is just gorgeous, and of course, Guinness is available everywhere. I spent last summer doing a road trip around Ireland, and realized that I haven’t even written a single post on it yet! I’ll be posting my experiences in the upcoming weeks, and today I’ll start with the first place where my road trip started – Dublin.
There’s plenty of tourist activities to do, but I was lucky enough to have a friend to show me around the city to avoid some of these. Here’s a basic guide along with some different ideas to do next time you’re in Dublin.
How to Get Around
You don’t have to worry about renting a car if staying in the city. There are several options to get around. Taxis are available throughout the city if you need to get somewhere fast, although they’re a bit expensive. You can also take the Luas, a light rail tram that runs through certain parts of the city. It conveniently ran right in front of the hotel I stayed at.
Busses run all day long and are a better choice when not going somewhere that’s a straight shot (like the Luas), and are fairly inexpensive. The last option is the DART, an electronic train that runs above the ground. This will get you to places further outside the city like the suburbs. If coming from the airport, you can take a bus or the Airlink, which will drop you off in the city center. I was pleasantly surprised that public transportation was better in Ireland than I had expected.
If you plan on venturing outside the city, I’d recommend renting a car. I did this and was able to pick up a car from Auto Europe right at the airport. I had no problems with the car at all, and they were easy to work with. It allowed me to explore the outskirts of Dublin much easier.
Where to Stay
I found very affordable lodging at the Albany House. It’s on Harcourt Street, which is full of restaurants and shops. It’s about a five-minute walk to St. Stephen’s Green and a 10-minute walk to Grafton Street (the main area for shopping). I recommend staying here for the convenience of where it’s located alone.
Watch a Hurling Match
When I was there, the GAA Hurling semi-finals were going on. I’d never seen a game before, much less knew how the rules worked, so we bought tickets. There was so much excitement around the area with people coming from all directions in their team’s colors chanting and cheering. We sat in the student section since it was cheaper, but I ended up loving the energy of everyone in there. The rules were a bit confusing at first to understand, but I now have a general idea.
Visit the Local Pubs
Please don’t go to touristy places like Temple Bar. I know all the guidebooks recommend them, but for a real Irish experience, you need to go where the locals go. Mulligans on Poolbeg Street is one of these, and one of my favorite pubs I visited in all of Ireland. It was packed wall to wall with people who just got off work and were relaxing with a pint with their friends.
We ended one of the nights at The Old Storehouse, where they had the original Guinness factory. If you know Ireland’s demand for Guinness, you’ll easily see why they had to move out of here to a larger location fast. It’s now a bar which has Irish bands playing live music. Having a pint of Guinness while listening to live Irish music was one of the items I wanted to check off my list, so I was glad to find this place.
Walk Around St. Stephen’s Green
This beautiful park is in the middle of town, and the perfect place to bring a picnic or walk off your hangover. There are a few old brick buildings left that I loved admiring. A ton of ducks are here though due to the lake, so watch your step. I saw people reading, painting, and people-watching here. It’s a very relaxing place to go to get away from the hustle of Grafton Street just next door.
Go Into the General Post Office
I walked right by this without knowing what had happened here until my friend told me the history of it. The post office is the home of the famous 1916 Easter Uprising. A group of Irishmen wanted to end the rule of Britain in Ireland, and decided to revolt with weapons. Britain sent in thousands of armed troops to fight back, and the battle took place right in the streets of the city. Unfortunately, the British had more troops and the Irish had to surrender. Over 500 people died during the six-day battle and several thousand injured were injured. Many parts of Dublin were left in ruins after all the heavy fighting.
Walk Across Ha’Penny Bridge
This was another place I walked right by without knowing the significance. Originally there were no bridges over the River Liffey, and ferries were in charge of getting people back and forth. They were in bad condition, so they were ordered to be fixed or have a bridge constructed. The bridge was built in 1816, and anyone crossing had to pay a ha’penny (British half penny). The toll was eventually dropped in 1919, and now thousands of people cross it every day.
Try the Local Food and Drink
Even though I can’t understand it, I know a ton of people who don’t like Guinness or think they won’t because it’s so dark. I encourage you to try it in Ireland though. They say Guinness doesn’t travel, and I believe that’s true because the drink tastes much better than anywhere else. You should also try fish and chips with a side of mushy peas. I don’t really like peas, so I wasn’t fond of these, but wanted to try an Irish staple.
Visit the Guinness Factory
Okay, this is touristy – very touristy. If you love Guinness as much as me, though, you have to visit this factory. Allow at least a few hours to go through the whole museum. You can either go on a guided tour, or do a self-guided tour, which I chose. Besides impatiently waiting for my pint at the end, I found the whole history of how they make Guinness and the people involved fascinating. You have a chance to pour your own pint so they can teach you the proper way. At the top is your reward, where your admission ticket gets you a Guinness at the bar overlooking all of the city.
Would you add anything to this list of what to do in Dublin?
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