Last week my boyfriend treated me to a trip to Dublin for my birthday! How amazing?! Dublin has been on my travel bucket list for a long time. I’ve always wanted to visit since I have Irish roots and last week my time finally came!
Dublin is the capital of and largest city in Ireland. It’s located in the province of Leinster on the east coast of Ireland, at the mouth of the River Liffey. The city has a lot of history to it, once being a settlement to the Vikings plus it was briefly the second largest city in the British Empire before the Acts of Union in 1800.
I really didn’t know what to expect. I thought it might be all cobbled streets, leprechauns, pints of Guinness and I was kind of half right. No leprechauns though!
My boyfriend, being the savvy traveller he is, managed to get flights in the recent Ryanair sale! I’d really recommend travelling with Ryanair for city breaks even though they have a really bad reputation. Every time I’ve travelled with them it’s been stress-free (touch wood!). I think he said he paid around £80 for 2 people, for a 4-day break, there and back… what a bargain!
We travelled on a sunny Thursday morning, our flight was around 11ish so we grabbed our standard Burger King breakfast washed down with a pint! Is there a better way to start your holiday?!
The flight to Dublin was only 45 minutes! I think the standard time is around 45-60 minutes, great for any nervous flyers. Dublin airport is a big airport but easy to find yourself around.
We picked our bags up and it was time to explore. The airport is around 30 minutes from the city centre. There are great transport links into the centre from the airport, there’s a shuttle bus that will only cost you €7.
We stayed a few miles out of the City Centre at a hotel called Aspect Park West. We decided on this hotel for a few reasons, mainly because it was the cheapest hotel we could find that was actually of a decent standard! It is so expensive to stop in the City Centre, we’d priced up a 2* hotel which came back at £700 for three nights, whereas the Aspect is £67 a night (without breakfast).
Despite being a few miles out of the centre, there were great transport links with a train station over the road and a bus stop. The train into the city came hourly and it was a short 8-minute journey into Heuston Station costing around €4 for two return adult train fayres. The 79A bus runs from the city centre to just the hotel and takes approximately commute 35 minutes, costing around €4.
I’d really recommend this hotel to anyone on a budget travelling to Dublin. It was extremely clean and the rooms were a great size, the staff were lovely and it’s only an extra €10 for breakfast!
After unpacking and freshening up we headed into the city. We were so lucky with the weather all weekend, to be honest. Temperatures ranged from 19-22 degrees, according to the locals it was an Irish heatwave!
Dublin has a huge ‘pub’ culture so I was desperate to see what the fuss was about and we did have my birthday to celebrate after all! We grabbed lunch at a traditional Irish Pub which is worth a visit, the O’Shea Merchants. We then visited The Brazen Head which is officially Ireland’s oldest pub, dating back to 1198. While it is unclear how much of the original 11th-century coach house is still intact, there is a palpable sense of history within these timeworn walls!
For the rest of the day, we visited popular tourist hotspots such as Temple Bar, O’Connell Street, and Penneys, the original Primark! We walked everywhere meaning we were absolutely knackered but we did get to see everything and gather our bearings. We crafted our weekend plan on the train back to the hotel.
On the Friday we got up early and headed to the incredibly famous Guinness Storehouse! We’d both have never really tried Guinness until this trip and now Jorden’s calling ‘his’ drink! I’m not overly keen on it but it’s drinkable!
The storehouse is located in the heart of the St. James’s Gate Brewery and is Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction. It’s the home of the Black Stuff and the heart of Dublin! The sense of pride surrounding Guinness from the locals really is present when you talk to them about the city, they believe if it wasn’t for gold old Arthur Guinness their city wouldn’t be what it is today.
The journey begins at the bottom of the world’s largest pint glass and continues up through seven floors filled with interactive experiences that fuse the exquisite long brewing heritage with Ireland’s rich history. At the top, you’re rewarded with a pint on the world-famous rooftop Gravity Bar. It’s a great experience and I’d urge anyone visiting the city to go along. You can get tickets online before you go for €17.50 and the tickets entitle you to jump the queue and get fast-track access. We got up early to beat the queue’s as a few people had told us the queues are crazy!
After spending around half a day in the Guinness Store House, we hopped on (no pun intended) a ‘Hop On, Hop Off’ bus and went on a guided tour around the city which was amazing! DoDublin tour guides are Fáilte Ireland Trained and specialise in delivering entertaining tours with a unique blend of cultural and historical commentary, as well plenty of jokes and songs. Again, something else I’d really recommend anyone doing who are visiting. You can get around for just €22 for 48 hours. We managed to get so much done in one day, we literally fell into bed when we got back to the hotel!
Our last day soon came around and we decided to head to Dublin Zoo. Located in the beautiful Phoenix Park in the heart of Dublin city. It’s one of the world’s oldest, yet popular zoos, the 28-hectare park is home to some 400 animals in a safe environment where education and conservation combine for an exciting and unforgettable experience! I really enjoyed the Zoo it was surreal being up close and personal with such amazing animals! It’s cheaper to get your tickets pre-visit €17.50 and you can jump the queue.
We spent half a day at the zoo, there’s lots to see! We then headed back to Temple Bar area to enjoy a few beverages and make the most of our remaining hours in the city!
Overall I absolutely loved Dublin. It’s such a beautiful, lively and fun city. There’s such a buzz about the place and the locals are so friendly! I could write a list of why it’s so fantastic but you’re probably sick of being rattling on about why I’d recommend it!
There were a few things I was disappointed in about the city and one of them was the food. The foodie scene isn’t big over there and O’Connell Street is mainly made up of fast food joints. We struggled to find any nice restaurants but maybe next time we visit we should do more research on where to eat! I did manage to grab a delicious doughnut from The Rolling Donut though!
Dublin is also expensive, I don’t think it’s as expensive as people make out but we did spend a fortune. Drinks are priced quite high the nearer you are to Temple Bar area, for example, a G&T ranged from €9-11 but, having saying that you’d probably pay that in a nice bar in Newcastle!
Apart from the above, we had a great trip and we’ll definitely be back! I fancy Belfast next time I’m in Ireland! Have you been to Dublin before?