A couple of months ago I was getting itchy feet and wanted to explore a Dublin again for the second time. The first time was 10 years ago and I felt I was overdue a visit. I popped a post on Facebook asking my friends if anyone fancied a short weekend break to Ireland and three of my lovely blogger friends agreed to come. Katie, Jay and Sophie all said they would be up for a girly weekend to the Emerald Isle.
We met the night before and had dinner in Sherwood as we put the final preparations to our mini break. Getting up at 4 am for a 6.30am flight from East Midlands Airport was a bit of a killer but arriving 40 minutes later it was definitely worth the early start.
After a short bus ride into Dublin City, we were at Temple Bar at 8.30am! It was a great time to grab a quick photograph outside the most famous pub in Dublin as the streets were deserted! Wandering the streets at this time of the morning meant I paid a little more attention to our surroundings than I would usually do and spotted some great street art.
After about 40 minutes of wandering we headed to a super cute cafe called The Bakehouse right on the river Liffey. Obviously we had been up for hours now so it was only natural to want a cocktail! I went for an elderflower prosecco and poached eggs on sourdough toast with avocado, spinach and hollandaise sauce. It was the perfect breakfast to start our break in Dublin.
After breakfast we were able to nip to our Air B&B to drop our bags in, freshen up and have a few minutes to decide what to do. The apartment was located right next to the Ha’penny bridge, a fantastic location to explore the delights of Dublin.
Heading straight out, we had agreed to head to the Guinness Storehouse to learn the history of the national drink. The Guinness Storehouse was about a 20 minute walk from our apartment and as we strolled through the city we took in the sights.
The tour is €25 for an adult and €22 with a student card (god I wish I was a student, they get money off virtually EVERYTHING!).
The tour is divided into 7 floors and over a couple of hours you can learn about the history of Guinness, the process in which it is made, the history of the advertising and more. The Storehouse is also shaped like a pint glass! Your ticket entitles you to a free Guinness in one of the 4 bars, and I would recommend waiting until the top floor so you can enjoy it with panoramic views of the city. You also get a taster of Guinness while you learn about the history of the black stuff. We were also treated to a fantastic show of drumming and Isiah dancing which was really fun to watch. I definitely had a little jig, much to the embarrassment of my friends!
This is the second time I have visited the Guinness Storehouse and it is definitely somewhere to go on your Dublin trip.
From there we decided to walk to Kilmainham Gaol, a former jail and now a museum dedicated to its history. Opened in 1796 and closed in 1924 it housed many prisoners including those during the Irish civil war.
However by the time we arrived, all tickets for the guided tours had sold for the day and so we were advised to return the next morning at 9am to get in line for tickets. I would highly recommend booking tickets in advance if you are only in Dublin a short while.
From there we headed back towards our apartment, weaving in and out of the streets to various landmarks. We saw Christchurch Cathedral, the oldest of the two cathedrals in the city….
…Dublin Castle (barely any of it still exists)…..
…and various street art along the way.
After arriving back at the apartment we spent a couple of hours of relaxing and getting tipsy with a game of ‘getting to know you’ and ‘I have never’ and headed back out for dinner.
We had decided on a Thai restaurant called Neon, a 20 minute walk back through the city, and while waiting for our table we headed for a couple of beers at Devitts Bar over the road. They played live music and we managed to bag a table next to a stag do who wanted to chat to us, but to be honest we were more interested in getting to know each other better and continued playing ‘I have never’. Some of the stories were hilarious and ‘what goes on tour, DEFINITELY stays on tour’!
At Neon, we decided on a selection of starters to share and then to get a main dish each. The idea was that Jay, who had never had Thai food, could experience as many different dishes as possible. Thai is one of my favourite cuisines and always reminds me of my trip to Thailand a couple of years ago (you can read more about this trip HERE). The food was really good with stand out dishes being crispy rice balls; Jasmine rice, herbs and red curry paste rolled in panko breadcrumbs and deep fried, and my main of Thai red curry with chicken. I’d definitely go back and at €86 for the four of us including drinks it was really good value.
A little tipsy (and a LOT better acquainted) we headed back to the apartment to sleep as we needed to be up early to bag tickets for the Gaol.
The next morning (and with a breakfast of cereal bars bought the night before from a Tesco Express) we took a taxi (€15) to the Gaol. We arrived at just before 9am and managed to get tickets for the 10.15am tour, so headed to the cafe for a tea and a cake while we waited.
This is the second time I have visited the Gaol and again I really loved it. The tour took one hour and we learned about some of the prisoners housed in the jail throughout the time it was open, as well as the conditions they lived in and the crimes they had committed to get there. The youngest prisoner is believed to be only 7 years old! It is a very interesting place and the guide we had was so knowledgeable, it is definitely in my top 3 things to do in Dublin. Tickets are only €8 per adult (€4 if you’re a student) and this also gives you entry into the museum, fantastic value for money.
From the Gaol we walked for about 35 minutes to the Molly Malone statue, a bronze statue of the fictional fishmonger/prostitute based on the song of the same name. My mum used to sing the song to me as a child and the statue is fabulous. It’s now located on the corner of St Andrews Street and Suffolk Street, by the St Andrews Church. It depicts Molly pushing her wheelbarrow, just like the song.
From here we walked 5 minutes to Trinity College to continue our historical adventure, taking a tour of the college campus and learning about the architecture of the buildings and their famous alumni, including Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett. We also visited the famous Trinity College Library, the biggest I have ever been in. Thousands upon thousands of books are here, not arranged by author name or title, but by the size of the book!
After our history lesson we realised that we should probably have lunch and headed to Il Fornaio for a sandwich and a cold San Pelligrino. I had the Ventricina, made up of salami, roasted peppers, tomato and rocket. It was bloody delicious and I contemplated taking another home. We also had delicious Italian treats, the pistachio cone being my favourite.
From here we had a couple of hours to kill before getting the bus back to the airport and so decided to head to The Temple Bar for a beer and a sing song. The Temple Bar is the most famous pub in Dublin, painted bright red and in the centre of the Temple Bar area, it’s hard to miss. With more people standing than sitting, the atmosphere is always a joyous one and many many pints are sank by tourists and locals alike. Although not too many, at nearly €8 per pint (and more in the late evening) it’s not a Wetherspoons by any means. However, no trip to Dublin would be complete without a visit. There is constant live music and it’s a great way to waste a couple of hours.
From here it was time to head home. We walked to the bus stop on Grafton Street, grabbed the next bus (every 15 minutes during the day) and we were on our way.
Dublin is a perfect location for a weekend break. With just a 40 minute flight from Nottingham and a 30 minute bus ride from Dublin Airport to the city centre, the travel time is minimal. There is a lot to do but I think an early Saturday flight and a late evening Sunday flight means you get a good amount of time to explore the city. Of course you could extend your trip a few days and visit the Jameson Distillery, visit Howth Cliffs or take a trip to Wicklow, but two days felt like the perfect amount of time for us. Also with close to 53,000 steps covered in 36 hours, I don’t think my feet could have taken another day of walking!