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Good morning everyone, I hope your weekend is off to a great start. My friend Shelli is a personal health and fitness blogger at Joy In Movement and she recently returned from a trip to Ireland. We were emailing on St. Patrick’s Day and she mentioned that several other travel bloggers were talking about Ireland and Guinness. After a few emails back and forth, she wanted to write a quick guest post about her trip to Ireland. Take it away Shelli…
St. Patrick’s Day was a few days ago, so let’s leave the Guinness behind us, only for a moment, and focus on all the other wonderful sites, restaurants, coffee, day trips, and hotel options for making your Dublin visit a success! Having just spent 9 days in Dublin, I can certainly vouch for it as a great city to visit and here are my top reasons why.
It’s an amazing city for those of us who like to walk and get out of touristy areas.
Phoenix Park is a wonderful destination. It’s the world’s largest enclosed municipal park and it’s filled with monuments like the Papal Cross, the Dublin Zoo, gardens and lots of open spaces and views of the city. After you leave Phoenix Park, it’s an easy walk back into town to the Guinness Storehouse for your tour and free pint!
Another good walking destination is Glasnevin Cemetery. Maybe I’m weird but I always like to see the old cemeteries, especially in Europe. This is the famous cemetery that opened in 1832 and is the resting place for the Irish revolutionary leader, Michael Collins. A great walk to get here would be to start from town and walk along O’Connell Street across the bridge through the heart of north Dublin. You’ll see many monuments and statues along the boulevard. You’ll pass through Parnell Square and the Gate Theater area. Don’t forget to stop in the Garden of Remembrance. From there you can make your way to Glasnevin.
Merrion Square, on the southside of Dublin, is a lovely park to walk through and don’t forget to look for the statue of Oscar Wilde. It’s quite wild!
For sites closer to the center of town, check out the Book of Kells at Trinity College. It’s the book of Gospels and the New Testament. Even better than the Book of Kells, at least for me, was that on the way out you pass through The Long Room Library. This place is truly amazing. It houses 200,000 old books many of them originals. The room itself is spectacular. Take some time to chat with one of the guards because they’ll show you some special books and tell you more about the library.
And while we’re on the subject of the arts, one thing I always do when I travel is see a film with a local audience. Dublin didn’t disappoint. Right in the heart of Temple Bar area is the Irish Film Institute, a very special art house cinema. It houses old style small theaters, a pub, and restaurant. On some Saturdays, they pull Irish films out of their archives and show them for free!
Food is one of the main attractions in Dublin and when you need something besides fish and chips and Irish stew, try these places.
Avoca, right off Grafton Street, is a great place to meet friends for brunch or just enjoy some baked goods with your flat white. I can recommend their scones with clotted cream and jam!
Boxty, right in the heart of Temple Bar, has excellent food. A boxty is an Irish wrap, and they have a very creative menu of other Irish food as well. They don’t serve Guinness, but they do serve Beamish, which I like just as well. And you’ll enjoy the staff there too. They all have the gift of Irish gab – in a good way!
If you’re not feeling like a proper sit down meal, and just want some incredible food to take away or eat cafe style, you must go to Fallon and Byrne. All their food is great (I really love the chicken cacciatore), the prices are right and the portions huge.
And don’t forget a visit to Queen of Tarts. Many people like their breakfast, but I think the bakery goods are what’s special.
I hear you asking, but what about coffee places. While Dublin is unfortunately filled with Starbucks, if you’re like me and want to support the local coffee houses when you travel and actually want a great cup of coffee, then head to The Bald Barista or Coffee Angel. The Coffee Angel location on Leinster Street is central no matter where you’re staying. Coffee Angel became my go to place for coffee so much so that when I left Dublin they gifted me a pound of the beans! Great people, great vibe, and excellent coffee. I’d rank this in my top 5 coffee places ANYWHERE!
Dublin also lends itself to two special day trips.
I suggest going to Belfast, at least for a day. There’s lots to see and do but I’d make seeing the political and peace murals on Falls Road your top priority. The train goes to central station in Belfast so hop on the local train to Great Victoria Station and you can walk to Falls Road from there. Read up on some Northern Ireland history before you go and the murals will have more meaning.
An easy, though challenging if you hike up in the hills, day trip outside of Dublin is the seaside town of Howth. It’s a charming town! Take the D.A.R.T. from Tara Station and it’s about 30 minutes to Howth. Walk out to the lighthouse, and then take the challenge and walk up the cliff trails so you get above the sea. The path is well marked and the views are spectacular. After your hike, you’ll be hungry. Stop at one of the many small restaurants along the fishing pier – just don’t go to Crabby Jo’s. I had the worst seafood chowder there – it should be called seafood-LESS chowder!
If you’re looking for a hotel you can stay at using your hotel points, or even the 4th night free benefit that comes with the Citi Prestige card, I’d recommend both the Westin and the Raddison Blu. They are about a mile apart putting them in slightly different areas but each are easily accessible to everything you’d want to see. The staff at the Raddison Blu was one of the best I’ve encountered anywhere (read Grant’s Radisson Blu hotel review). Friendly, helpful, wonderful to talk with and get the low down on all things Dublin. And if you score an upgrade or choose to have breakfast included with your stay, the buffet is perfect! Broad range of choices, cooked fresh or to order. Don’t forget to try their soda bread…..it’s addicting!
I flew Aer Lingus business class and it was a great way to start and end my Irish adventure. One tip is not to forget that when you fly business class into Dublin, they have an arrivals lounge. I used it to shower and get refreshed. There was only one other person in there, so I have a feeling most people don’t use it, but it’s certainly good to know about and a brilliant addition to the business class experience.
Enjoy your Dublin time and of course, in between all these ideas for fun outings there is still plenty of time for your Guinness!
Thank you Shelli for the wonderful trip report of Ireland. If anyone has been drinking too much Guinness and needs a personal overhaul, check out Shelli’s blog Joy In Movement.
After I read Shelli’s email, I looked at my pics from Ireland. In 2012, my family traveled around Ireland for 2 weeks. We rented a car and my dad drove (on the left side of the road) all around the country. There is so much beauty in Ireland, just outside Dublin. Beautiful castles, stunning waterfalls, majestic sea ports, and green acres for miles to see. Here are some pics of the Cliffs of Moher. Be careful, since it is wet, muddy, and slippery and there are not many barriers to protect you from falling off the cliffs.
Last photo from my Ireland trip. This castle is Kylemore Abbey in the Connemara part of Ireland – it is relatively close to the Cliffs of Moher. This photo made our Christmas card for 2012. Safe travels everyone!