As you may already know, I love a good long weekend exploring another city. Short weekend breaks, for usually just the two nights, are perfect for me; they can be really cheap and I can squeeze everything in that I want to see and do, without having to take time off work. And Dublin was the same.
We managed to fit in so much into the three days we were there, leaving Stansted around 8am on the Friday, and not landing back until about 9pm on the Sunday night. So, for anyone who’s ever been tempted by visiting Dublin (wrap up warm if you’re going in January like I did, its BLOODY freezing!), or anyone that’s already booked to go soon, I thought I’d share what I did, what I saw, and exactly how we managed to fit it all in.
From the airport to the city centre was easy. We asked an airport employee which local bus would take us into the centre and jumped on. Local transport is so much cheaper than getting taxis, or pre-booking transfers, so take advantage of this!
As soon as we got into the centre of Dublin, we knew how we were going to get around for the rest of the ‘weekend’. Bright red buses, commonly seen in London (as well as plenty of other big cities i’m sure), with ‘CITY SIGHTSEEING‘ sprawled across the side. We worked out we could pay just under €40 each for a ticket, which would last us 48 hours (and we managed to use it for a little longer than that!) and would include our entry into The Guinness Storehouse. From the map, we could see that the City Sightseeing bus went to all of the main touristy destinations and attractions, so it seemed like a no-brainer.
The Guinness Storehouse
After arriving, getting into the city centre and jumping on the sightseeing bus, we decided to have lunch and then that our first stop would be The Guinness Storehouse. Good decision, as it took a lot longer to get around that we initially thought it would – with seven floors that cover everything from the man himself, Mr Arthur Guinness, how Guinness is brewed and advertisements created over the past 250 years as well as a floor for learning to pour a pint and a 360 degree view bar at the very top, you can see why it’s best to go early in the day. Especially to see the view of Dublin in the daylight.
Use your ticket to gain your free pint on the floor in which you can pour your own pint. Get yourself really involved. And then take this up a floor the bar, to enjoy it. Rather than just having a pint on the top floor, which is poured for you.
As much as I wanted to enjoy the view, whilst also enjoying a pint, it just didn’t happen. I hate to admit it, but it just tasted horrible to me. (Sorry!) With lunch beforehand, and squeezing in dinner afterwards, this was all we could fit in in one day. We took a little tour on the bus ride back from The Guinness Storehouse, seeing a little more of Dublin before heading back to the hotel for bed.
Kilmainham Gaol and The National Leprechaun Museum
After an early morning run along the river Liffey, I felt wide awake, (and pretty proud of myself for keeping to some kind of fitness routine whilst away – although I underestimated how much walking we would do!) and ready to squeeze loads more into the day once again. We walked into the centre – we were staying a little way out of the centre – to jump on the bus at the nearest stop. We knew we wanted to visit Kilmainham Gaol on our second day, and after talking to a few people around Dublin, we were advised to get there as early as we could. And as soon as we arrived (about half 11), we found out why. The prison allowed visitors, in groups of 35, into the main building of cells, once every 15 minutes. And they were all fully booked up until 1pm.
You have to buy your ticket on the day you want to visit, however if you book for a time later in the day, you can leave and come back to the prison at that time – you don’t need to queue up and wait.
We got ourselves onto the 1pm tour and wandered off until then. (You can see why only doing a few things a day, can take up loads of your time). Just before 1pm, we wandered around the prison’s museum which was fascinating. It was full of artifacts that had been found at the prison, as well as hundreds of items that had been donated from members of the public, such as love letters from inmates to their partners in the days leading up to their execution. Kilmainham Gaol was freezing, Yes I was in Dublin in January, but with open windows and concrete floors, there was a constant draft throughout the building. (In rags for clothing and bare feet, I have no idea how prisoners could have survived in there – I was freezing in four layers!).
Before we headed to our second stop, we jumped back on the bus and decided to take the blue route, that we hadn’t done, to see a little further out of the city. Although we didn’t get off the bus, the tour took us out to Glasnevin cemetery and Croke Park.
When we had arrived back into the centre, our second stop of the day was The National Leprechaun Museum. A mini museum in which a storyteller entertains you with stories, riddles, folklore and tales and takes you on a ‘journey’ through different rooms; including a room with very large furniture to make you feel like a Leprechaun yourself and an enchanted forest with a magical wishing well. Although I’m in my 20’s, and this type of thing is probably more suited to those with small children, I still found this fun, and so did my family.
Dinner at a lovely little restaurant, and another long walk around the city and back to the hotel brought our second day to an end.
St Patrick’s Cathedral and Dublina
We didn’t have as long on our third and final day as we had to be heading back to the airport by 3pm. But we had a couple of places we still wanted to see. The first of these places being St Patrick’s Cathedral.
Don’t plan to visit the cathedral on a Sunday morning. On Sunday mornings, St. Patrick’s along with most other churches and cathedrals, are closed for services. Chances are you won’t actually get to go inside.
However, we did still get to wander around the grounds. With a couple of hours left before we had to head to the airport, we decided to fit one more bus tour on the ‘red’ route, going out towards Dublin Zoo and then back along the river, before squeezing in one more ‘fun’ museum before we left. Dublina, which is next door to Christchurch Cathedral (again closed for viewings on Sundays), is a Viking museum, which showed the history of Dublin through that time period.
Great fun once again, and very interactive!
Its safe to say I had a lovely time exploring Dublin and that three days was plenty of time to see everything that we wanted to.