Two whole days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Dublin. If you’re from the UK or near, then you could easily fly in Friday morning and fly home Sunday. Therefore, you can have a really nice little weekend away with the minimum amount of annual leave used and still not feel rushed.
My lovely mother and I went to Dublin for exactly this amount of time a few weeks ago. And, whilst I’m not sharing with you restaurants/cafes to go to in Dublin (if anyone knows of any good places, feel free to comment!), nevertheless I am showing you a weekend in Dublin that includes slightly off-the-wall attractions along with the must-sees.
Flying to Dublin…
If you’re from the UK, then it’s dirt cheap to fly to Ireland. I don’t even think flying within the UK is cheaper. And it only took us roughly 40 minutes from Manchester airport to Dublin. Check out Ryanair’s website for really good deals or of course Skyscanner is always good on the off chance another airline is cheaper on the dates you want to travel.
Dublin doesn’t really have a good tram/metro service, so to get from the airport into the city centre you have to use Airlink Dublin. You can buy a return ticket for €10 right outside the airport and then get dropped off in Dublin city centre in a few different places. I recommend utilising Google Maps to check out which stop is nearest to your accommodation.
Dublin is such a walkable city and if you have good weather there’s absolutely no need to use public transport or get a taxi.
Straight off the plane you might not be in the mood for a pint of Guinness straight away, so you can do as we did and head up to King’s Inns Park to check out a rather questionable bench.
I have absolutely no clue how/why, but nature and a man made object collided in such a way that the tree looks a bit like it should be in an art gallery in exhibition entitled something like ‘The Trees Fight Back.’ It’s free, it’s easy to find, and it’s a bit on the quirky side. I loved it.
Next, you can walk straight down Church Street Upper and snap a few pictures of Christchurch Cathedral or go inside. We didn’t, but it’s not often you see grey Cathedrals like that. So, if you’re fond of architecture or churches then it won’t take you long to pop inside.
A very short walk away is Tivoli Car Park. Why the heck am I suggesting you spend a bit of time at a car park? Well, for very good reason…
…For the absolutely AWESOME graffiti/street art that is splattered ALL over the walls. The street art all around Dublin is some of the best I’ve seen, and a lot of it is in this car park. There’s so much to see! And there was so much incredible detail in the artwork that we must have spent about half an hour taking pictures of it all.
Another short walk away from the car park is the Guinness Storehouse. This must be the main attraction in Dublin because it was the only thing I’d actually heard about before booking a trip here. For the underage or for those of you that have never set foot in an Irish or British pub before, Guinness is a brand of stout that was born in Dublin before exploding into the world wide stout scene (probably wasn’t much of a ‘scene’ back then) and generally being loved everywhere.
You could easily get to the Guinness Storehouse early afternoon after visiting all of the above in the morning and grabbing something to eat and I thoroughly recommend booking your ticket before your trip. It requires a bit of planning and there are fewer chances to be spontaneous. But you don’t actually have to turn up at a specific time, just a specific date. And you get to miss the inevitable queues and waltz right in!
The Guinness Storehouse is a ran like a well-oiled machine. They’ve clearly being doing this so long that they’ve got the whole tourist/tour/exhibition down pat. The storehouse tour lets you walk around at your leisure. You learn all about the ingredients, the brewing process, the history of the beer and the brewery. Because we were there over St Patrick’s Day weekend, we were treated to a taste of the West Indian brew which has a much higher alcohol percentage. And some river dancing with traditional Irish music. And of course that free pint at the top bar with panoramic views over the City. If you’re partial to a pint of the dark stuff, check out some other famous pubs in Dublin you can visit.
I’ll be completely honest, Guinness isn’t my bag. I’d never tried it before and, since my first ever pint was poured straight from the source, I doubt I’d like it anywhere else. It’s just got a bit of a coffee-y after taste. Though no one seems to agree with me on this. Sigh. The tour was about €18 but like I said, it’s a well-oiled machine so you won’t be disappointed. And there is literally everything you could possibly want covered with the Guinness logo in the gift shop. Literally. I bought my boyfriend a Guinness glass shaped candle.
Gaol House Rock
Since you’re over that neck of the woods (ie. the west side of Dublin), the rest of your afternoon would be well spent at the Kilmainham Gaol. This is basically a huge disused jail (one of the biggest in Europe) and was inhabited extensively during Ireland’s battle for freedom, in particular during the Easter Rising of the 1920s.
But you will need to book tickets. This is non-negotiable. You HAVE to book before your planned visit date, and I recommend booking before your trip. Unlike the Guinness Storehouse where you simply have to queue up if you don’t have tickets, the Kilmainham Gaol actually sells out. I have no idea why they do this. It’s dumb. And because it’s far out of Dublin, people have to drag their ass only to be turned away at the door.
Yes, this happened to us and we didn’t get to go inside. And whilst I can’t attest to how worthwhile it is, if I were to go to back to Dublin I would make a point of seeing this jail.
You cannot go to Dublin without having an Irish whisky/pint or three in Temple bar. You just can’t. It would be sacrilege. Contrary to it’s name, there is an actual bar called Temple Bar but it’s also used to describe the area of bars around the Temple Bar so it’s a haven for nightlife and hen/stag dos. About 1/4 of our flight to Dublin was filled with women wearing pink sashes. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to get a seat or maybe you’ll get so drunk you won’t care. If you’re really lucky, you’ll be able to hear some traditional Irish music and dance the night away.
To kick off the slightly alternative things to see in Dublin for today, head to O’Connell Bridge. On the West side of the bridge, on the top of the bridge wall, there’s a tiny little plaque commemorating a Priest called Father Pat Noise who drowned in the River Liffey (river which runs through Dublin) under suspicious circumstances. It’s actually complete bollocks and was erected by two brothers as a hoax. The plaque has been threatened by the City council a number of times but it still stands today. It’s a little unremarkable and small, but it costs nothing to look. And I think it’s totally cool of Dublin council to keep it there.
Then, head down to Trinity College. The Oxbridge of Ireland in architecture and reputation. You can get in the grounds for free and take as many pictures as you like. However, while the buildings are nice, most people visit the college to see The Old Library and the Book of Kells. The book of Kells is one of the oldest books in the world and it has been preserved phenomenally well. To me and my mum, they were well worth seeing and paying €9 each for the privilege. You aren’t allowed to take pictures of the book and I would completely understand that for some, especially those on a budget, seeing an old book in a glass case is not worth that amount of money.
Parks and Poets
The final stop of the morning should be St Stephen’s Green, a small park not far from Trinity College. It’s really just like any other city park. Well maintained with a token pond and pretty flowers. However, it had an important involvement in the Easter Rising which you can read about on posters all over the park. And it has statues dedicated to famous Irish poet W.B. Yeats, James Joyce and many others. It’s also got a lot of restaurants/cafes nearby and is a great place to have a picnic if you’re heading to Dublin in the summer.
The area surrounding St Stephen’s Green is the main hub of Museums in Dublin, and you probably couldn’t spend a couple of days in the city without visiting at least one. I think my mum did well with picking the Little Museum. It taught me one of the most important lessons about Irish history: How the Easter Rising came about, who was involved and how Ireland eventually got it’s independence. And it’s all spelled out for you in really fun, well-drawn comic book style posters all around one room. And a whole room is dedicated to Dublin-born band U2. Yeah. I’m not sure why, either. Does anyone really still like U2?
The Little Museum
It was about €8 to get in and though I’ve been spoiled by museums in the UK being free to visit, but it was so worth it. The museum was just like being in someone’s house with desks, fireplaces and nick nacks littered all over the walls and surfaces. But I would check when they do guided tours as they cost nothing more to attend, but only run them on certain times of the day.
There are a few options on what you could do with the rest of your afternoon in Dublin as there are a good places really close by.
Options for Day 2 Afternoon
Some might like to check out Dublin Castle and the Chester Beatty library which are both free to enter. However, I personally found the Chester Beatty Library quite dull and I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures inside.
If you’re going to visit any library on your trip, make it the Old Library in Trinity College. Alternatively, you could check out the National Gallery of Ireland or the National Museum of Ireland which is split up into three different buildings. Archeology (which is the building near St Stephen’s Green), Decorative Arts and Military and Country Life (the latter being the only one not in Dublin). The National Museum of Ireland exhibitions are free and probably what I would have chosen to do if we had any more time to kill.
With your final evening in Dublin, you could go back to Temple Bar as there are an unlimited supply of pubs for your drinking pleasure. Or you could check out O’Donaghue’s bar which hosts traditional Irish music 7 nights a week. But, as a film fan, I have to recommend checking out one of the latest releases at the Irish Film Institute. It’s a fantastic building with exposed brickwork and it’s even got an Academy Award on display which was donated.
Whilst we were in Dublin we caught Sing Street (2016) a month before it’s release date in the UK and it’s a fully fledged Irish film so I would definitely argue we were being cultural. There’s also a nice bar in the institute so you could still grab a cheeky pint after the film to mull over the film’s mise-en-scene or underlying sociopolitical themes.
And that’s it! If you have any questions on Dublin, please feel free to hit me up in the comments or send an email. Have you ever been to Dublin? Have I missed any obvious must-sees?