This day three years ago I was packing my bags for a semester abroad in Dublin, Ireland with no clue what adventures would await me. I have lots of tips and tidbits from my four months in another country. For starters, don't cry for more than twenty minutes after your mom abandons you in a Dublin hotel all by yourself. After that twenty minutes is up, it's time to "put on your big girl panties" and get lost in the city that is soon to be yours. Don't forget to pack flip flops for the hostels, but if you do forget like me, stand on a towel in the shower. Trust me. Do go on organized tours- is there another way to be a tourist? But make sure you also take a step off the beaten path; the authentic local spots you will find are the only places to witness the true Irish culture. This advice is all well and good. It is not, however, the most common advice I give out to people. After spending a chunk of my time in Dublin, I was constantly getting asked by family and friends what places I recommended them visiting whilst abroad. I immediately took on the role of personal tour guide and typed up a list of my favorite spots. This list could never be all inclusive, but if you only have a day or two in Dublin, it is a great start!
- Grafton Street: Whether you like it or not, you will walk down Grafton Street at some point during your stay. This is the main shopping street in Dublin, lined with top end and tourist shops alike. Beginning at the Molly Malone statue (you've heard the song right?) and ending at St. Steven's Green, this stretch is a sure pleaser. Stop into Bewleys for a coffee and scone or some good eats!
- St. Steven's Green: Rain or shine, this park remains beautiful and filled with both locals and tourists. Pack a picnic or take a walk through the grounds to enjoy some quiet in the middle of a bustling city.
- Temple Bar: Temple Bar includes not only THE Temple Bar but also the streets surrounding it. While touristy and overpriced, this is still a must stop on the Dublin list. The cobblestone streets uphold the Irish charm amidst the hustle and bustle which can make it feel like an overcrowded Disney Around the World in Epcot. While I do not recommend eating in Temple Bar unless you are prepared for a long wait with mediocre food, stopping into pubs with live music for a cold Guinness would be highly recommended. If you're in Temple Bar on a Monday, I loved stopping into the Stag's Head for a free comedy show!
- Burdock's: While in Ireland, fish n' chips is a must, and this is the place to fulfil that demand. This little hut lies at the end of Temple Bar and was highly recommended to me by the Irish locals. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but the food will not disappoint. There are benches across the street to eat your meal and people watch!
- Kilmainham Gaol: I cannot recommend this place enough! You'll have to take a bus or taxi out of the city but there is no better way to learn about Ireland's history. It's not too far from the Guinness Factory, so try to pair these two tours next to each other.
- Guinness Factory: I don't have to tell you to add this to your list. I'm positive that Guinness does in fact taste better within the factory walls but maybe that's just me. You'll get an opportunity to drink a Guinness in the Gravity Bar, which has a 360 view of the city. (Look just beyond the end of Phoenix Park to see where I called home whilst in Dublin! Shout out to the Priestley's!) You also get a chance to pour your own Guinness, which is a science on its own!
- Jameson Distillery: If you don't have enough time, I would skip this tour. I did, however, enjoy it more than the Guinness tour. I always thought I was a rum girl, but people can change, right?
- Ha'Penny Bridge: On your way back to the south side after the Distillery, take a walk over the Ha'Penny Bridge, the first pedestrian bridge over the Liffey. Acquiring its name based on the cost to cross the bridge when it first opened years ago, the bridge is now a staple of Dublin tourism.
- Arlington Hotel: Three words: Irish step dancers. No need to make dinner reservations as it is not the best food (a theme in Ireland if you're like my dad) and pretty pricey. A little secret I found was to show up just before the show starts- you can sit at the bar and enjoy a drink with still a good view of the stage! The dancing is phenomenal, so don't miss out on this one. (Word to the wise: go to the hotel on the south side of the river. As a general rule the south side is a lot safer at night.)
- Whelan's: If you love P.S. I Love You, this is a spot you may want to add to your list. You remember the scene where Hillary Swank meets Gerard Butler, right? Whelan's seems to have live music daily followed by a wild club night life if you're into that. Either way they let you take a picture in THE booth Hillary sat in with her friends and hey, you may just meet your Gerard Butler after all!
- Howth: If you find a little extra time on your hands, I love to recommend this little fishing town. A twenty minute bus ride out of the city, Howth houses some of the most spectacular costal views and some pretty excellent sea food. Definitely worth the drive.
And now for a flash back Friday photo dump... Photo quality: mediocre. Memories quality: v. high.
I hope these recommendations help you plan your travels to Dublin. If you have any places I forgot, please let me know- I'm already planning my trip back! And if you have any further travel questions for me, don't hesitate to comment below. I love to act as tour guide!