How to spend a long weekend in Dublin.
Dublin, the town of Irish leprechauns, guinness and drunken hen/stag parties...right? WRONG.
Dublin is a diverse city full of exciting history, incredible examples of georgian architecture and seriously good food and cocktails.
If you ask me, many people plan a long weekend the wrong way round and take the friday off of work. General moral in the workplace and your bosses mood should be generally more upbeat on a friday and some nice companies even let you start your weekend early. So why waste a slightly more bearable day at work as holiday when you can take off one of those awful mondays?
Saturday AM: Arrive in Dublin and check into your hotel - if you haven't already secured transfers, I'd recommend booking an aircoach. They pick you up straight outside the airport terminal and run lots of routes that stop outside popular hotels and locations. It's also much cheaper than taking a taxi.
Budget hotel recommendation: Clayton Hotel Leopardstown
This 4* hotel is more upmarket than a premier inn, but covers all the basic needs of a hotel in a clean and stylish way. The rooms are large and comfy, the breakfast is fresh, varied and healthy (don't miss out on the warm scones!) and it's all for a budget price. The location isn't much to shout about, but it is a safe business area and right next to a tram station on the green line which gets you into the centre of Dublin in less than half an hour.
Luxury hotel recommendation: The Merrion Hotel
A dreamy hotel featuring the interiors of my Georgian dreams! The Merrion is in the heart of Dublin just a walk away from basically everything. It's ultimate opulence features a 2 star Michelin Restaurant, a gorgeous courtyard garden to enjoy breakfast in, marble bathrooms, a private collection of 19th/20th century art and bicycles to hire, complete with stylish helmets, rain macs and a picnic.
2. After checking in, showering, unpacking, exploring, in room dining and possibly napping (if you're lazy like me). You're bound to feel a little thirsty - you are in Ireland after all. On your first night - at least - try to avoid Temple Bar, especially on a Saturday night. For a little aperitif (pre-dinner cocktail) head to Fleet Street where there's a nice concentration of bars/pubs less likely to host drunken stag/hen nights and hold a more intimate vibe.
Recommendation: The Palace Bar @ 21 Fleet St - As authentic as it would of been 180+ years ago, this pub - the oldest in Dublin - has Victorian charm and has always held a place in the heart of the county's famous literary legends. Enjoy an Irish craft beer here or even their own label whisky.
3. Dinner - To me food is super important on any trip I go on, I'm a huge food fan - with an expanding waist to show for it. I almost wish I could say I was pregnant and not at war with Gym and Netflix. Seriously, how hard is it to show up to a spinning class when all 6 series of Gossip Girl is on Netflix.
On your first night I'd recommend a quick cheap eat, especially as it's a Saturday and it seems the whole of Dublin are in that restaurant you wanted to go to...seriously. We tried over 5 restaurants for a table, and failed. If you did want to go somewhere a little fancier make sure you book!
Recommendation 1: Bunsen - With a few locations, one the heart of Temple Bar, you shouldn't have to walk far to indulge in a very good burger. They don't take bookings for under 8 people, so possibly be prepared for a little wait in a queue - it's worth it. You can have a beefburger and that's it... you can add cheese and salad and 3 different choices of fries, but you won't get anymore then a beefburger - a bloody good one though.
Recommendation 2: Pablo Picante - A seriously good burrito bar! If the queue in Bunsen is spilling out the door, head a few more doors down the road and you'll run into Pablo. We went on the Saturday and managed to get a table in the quirky, Mexican wrestling themed street food joint. A tip - go spicy - they offer you a scale of spiciness out of 5, so we thought we'd brave it and choose a 4. I'm not sure if they didn't trust my love for spice and put a milder one in anyway, or the Irish really can't take a bit of heat. Either way it was less then the Nandos medium hotness and slightly disappointing.
4. Cocktails - If you were smart (not lazy) like me you would of had a nap at the hotel, allowing you a boost of life to enjoy a Saturday night in Dublin. Like previously mentioned you should avoid the typical Temple Bar pubs for now and head to a slightly more classy establishment.
I'm not going to give you options, I'm TELLING and YELLING at you to go to this bar.
Vintage Cocktail Club - I know the name suggests it's one of those typical speakeasy's you find all over London with the authenticity of a Donald Trump speech. I'm not going to lie, it does have stereotypical elements like the waiters wear braces and you enter through a hidden door with a not so inconspicuous doorman standing outside. BUT, just trust me, the atmosphere will speak for itself.
That inconspicuous door at 15 Crown Alley - Photo by myself.
1. To make up for being a little lazy with the sightseeing yesterday, today is your day!
As it's a Sunday, the city centre is generally a little quieter and you'll find its a bit easier to get around. Have breakfast at the hotel and head straight to number one on your itinerary.
Being realistic you're likely to only do around 3 or 4 of the list below, so choose according to your interests. All of the below are open on a Sunday but it is worth checking out the opening times prior to arrival.
- Trinity College - There is so much to do here including see the infamous Book of Kells and Long Room (Old Library) , a Science Gallery, Zoological Musuem
- Museum of Ireland - Great for interests in Archeology
- Dublin Castle - Here I'd really recommend a guided tour, it isn't expensive and you get to see the incredible state rooms and the chapel. The guide will also give you a little bit of background on Ireland's History - Beware Brits, we are the villains in this story.
- Shop @ Grafton St & O'Connell Street
- Stroll through St Stephens Green
- Admire Georgian Interiors at Number 29 a Georgian House Museum.
- Chester Beatty Library - Free admission to an incredible collection of ancient manuscripts, papyrus and rare books.
2. After one or two of these sightseeing stops you'll most probably feel a little peckish, surprising after the amount you stocked up on at the hotel buffet breakfast.
You can trust a lot of people when it comes to my lunch recommendation as Beanhive is ranked #2 out of 2004 restaurants in Dublin. This tiny little coffee shop (it is TINY) can provide fuel in the form of great yummy sandwiches, paninis, wraps etc. I'd recommend a Hot Chocolate - if you're lucky enough to have an outstanding face, you may even get your portrait drawn on the Hot Chocolate. Unfortunately when you're gifted with an average face a teddy bear is drawn on the beverage instead - still pretty cool.
3. So you've had lunch and then gone on another tour, or maybe you're just desperate for a drink. After learning all about Ireland's history and getting used to the culture, you may even be up for a true Irish singsong. It's finally time to head to Temple Bar.
The Temple Bar
You can't really go to Temple Bar without a visit. This is actually the establishment where I tried my first sip of Guinness - a half pint of course, because I'm a lady. If you like to avoid the pints, this place houses over 450 varieties of whisky. Expect jolly crowds and fine Irish music.
Porterhouse, now a worldwide name, have a Soho style copper aesthetic and an in-house brewery. Don't expect to buy a Guinness, only their own stouts are served here, but they are just as tasty.
4. Time to sample the fine dining Dublin has to offer. I don't have to say much, just expect wonderful things such as succulent lumps of Irish beef and Carlingford Oysters. PS. Make sure you book and make sure the restaurant is open on Sundays - we found quite a few closed.
Fallon & Byrne
With a original and luxurious food hall below you know this restaurant cooks with quality ingredients. I highly recommend the Carlingford Oysters, Irish Hake (the cauliflower gratin is everything) and try your hardest to squeeze in the infamous Nutella beignets - holy shit they are 'grand'. The 'Pre-Theatre' menu is served all night Sun to Tues and 5:30-7pm Wednesday to Saturday. 3 wonderful courses are only €29.95.
Unfortunately we were too late to book this one, so you should book very much in advance. Considering its #1 restaurant in Dublin on TripAdvisor its not surprising. They have plenty of menus to offer sorting most peoples wallets - if you are really splashing the cash, book a spot on The Chef's Table.
5. Either have an early night or check out more bar recommendations below.
1. Wake early and enjoy a quick hotel breakfast before heading to either The Guinness Storehouse or Jameson Distillery Bow St. Depending on what you drink (or don't drink) I'd choose only one. I chose Guinness as Whisky makes me sicky. Book your tickets online for great discounts.
Be aware these tours can take a few hours if you'd like to see/taste everything. Make sure you leave enough time to get back to your hotel and to the airport in time for that dreaded flight home.