We were only in Ireland for a week, and it stole my heart. The people, the music, the scenery – stunning.
Here’s what I learnt in what could have been my favourite place on the trip:
Where to Stay
When we were in Ireland, my sister was on exchange at University College Dublin, so we were lucky enough to be able to stay with her for most nights. However, we’d booked a Paddywagon tour leaving the morning after we arrived, so we decided to spend our first night in the city, closer to where the bus would depart. We chose Abigail’s Hostel, which was perfect. Located right in the heart of the city, O’Connell Street, Trinity College, and Grafton Street are literally a five minute walk away. Had we not been with my sister for the last nights of our trip, we would’ve been happy to stay at Abigail’s!
From the Airport
When you arrive at the airport (Terminal 1 or Terminal 2) and head outside, you’ll see a number of different options for getting into the city. We chose the Aircoach, as per my sister’s recommendation, and booked our tickets online beforehand. Don’t stress if you don’t manage too! There is a ticket booth outside the terminal where the buses leave.
If you’re staying at Abigail’s, the stop you’re looking for is O’Connell Street. Ask the driver to let you know when you get there! One thing you learn very quickly is that the Irish are incredibly friendly, and happy to help you out 🙂
Around the City
Another thing you’ll learn quickly? Dublin buses are incredibly frustrating, especially if you don’t know how it all works. Not in terms of availability or bus stops, but fares. Basically, you need to have exact change to be able to travel to particular zones. When you get on the bus, tell the bus driver where you’re going, and he’ll let you know how much it will cost you. You don’t really want to be scrabbling around in your wallet during peak hour though, so definitely get the Dublin Bus app. It’s free, provides real-time information on which buses are coming and when, and also has a fare-calculator. This way, you get on the bus with the right amount, pop it in the coin dispenser and tell the bus driver how much you’ve put in. He’ll print you a ticket – hold onto it! You don’t want to be kicked off/ fined by a ticket inspector.
- The Guinness Factory: I discovered in Dublin that I am very-much a Guinness Gal. I do have Irish heritage on both sides of my family so I’m sure that’s a factor. Even if you haven’t tried Guinness before, or aren’t it’s biggest fan, I would still recommend spending an afternoon at the Guinness factory. Not only do you learn a whole heap about the beer-making process (surprisingly fascinating), and get to pour your own pint (I consider myself an expert now, just btw), the view from the Gravity Bar alone is worth it.
- Queen of Tarts: The sweetest tea shop in all of Dublin.
- Southern Ireland: We did a 3 day Tour of Southern Ireland with Paddywagon, and had the best time. Our guide, Nick, was possibly one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, and my friend and I spent most of the tour canning ourselves at his commentary. Southern Ireland is truly beautiful. We got a thrill out of requesting ‘Galway Girl’ from the live musicians in every pub we went to in Galway (and the rest of Ireland tbh, because we’re major nerds). Murphy’s Ice-cream in Kerry is a must-visit shop!
- The Mongolian BBQ: Located in Temple Bar, this place is perfect after a day spent exploring the city. Tip: Go at lunch time – still plenty of food, but prices are cheaper than at dinner!
- Get out of Temple Bar! Yes, it’s fun to spend an evening bar hopping (after a feat at the Mongolian BBQ) in this iconic area, but the real fun starts when head a little outside the tourist zone. Try The Brazen Head, Ireland’s Oldest Pub, for live music and the most delicious Guinness Beef Stew.
And a few more photos:
I just love Ireland. One week was definitely not enough time there. I’ll definitely be back – hopefully next year on exchange!