When should I visit Dublin? I had no idea when and I didn’t even know much about St. Patrick’s Day. I think it was destiny: I booked my flight exactly on the weekend when Dublin dresses up in green. The city is bursting of tourists, all excited to take part in this wonderful celebration and embrace the Irish spirit. And the Irish are definitely a bunch of lively, fun, friendly people!
The city itself is doesn’t necessarily stand out, but there is a certain vibe to it: old libraries, rare books, Guinness and live music. Definitely a place for bohemian souls, I would say. Maybe that’s why I feel this city is very homey.
It is quite possible to see all the important landmarks in Dublin in a weekend according to your interests. We chose to try the local cuisine and indulge in the historical details. We definitely missed some important sightseeings as the whiskey distillery and the Guinness factory, but I’ll keep them in store for next time!
Airport to the city centre
The Dublin airport is quite close to the city. You’ll have 2 options:
- Take the air coach. You can check the times or book in advance here. Buying a ticket in the coach is possible too.
- Taxi ride. All taxis are metered, even the Uber ones. A trip to the city centre is around €20-25.
What to eat?
1. Guinness and the stews!
When in Dublin, eating a traditional Irish beef stew is definitely a must! There are lots of places in the Temple Bar quarter and we were quite hungry after the long flight, so we stopped at the Old Mill Restaurant. Although it was a long wait for a table in the evening, it was definitely worth it! We had braised beef and Guinness stew and Cottage Pie (creamy mashed potatoes with minced beef). Delicious!
2. Brunch at the BakeHouse
Breakfast to keep us full while exploring the city… hm, where should we go?
The Bakehouse is a small brunch place near the river Liffey. It is colourful and always busy. The tables clear fast, so if you’re unlucky to find this place packed, you have a chance to grab a table in about 10-15 minutes.
What’s on the menu? Sausage sandwiches, mushroom sandwiches, potato pots with eggs and ham, omelettes and for dessert tasty buttermilk pancakes. The pancakes are moist, fluffy and flavoursome even without any maple syrup or blueberry jamp. They are served all day, they say!
What to do?
1. Stephen’s Green and the Easter Rising
Stephen’s Green is more than just a public park, it was one of the grounds of battle in the Easter Rising in 1916. Although the land of the green space existed since the 17th century, it was not until 1877, when it was transformed and took approximately its current form. Although the weather didn’t help that much and it was quite cold and windy, the park is definitely pretty and worth seeing!
One funny fact: during the Rising, the fire was halted for a short time so that the ducks in the park could be fed.
2. St. Patrick’s Cathedral
This is one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever seen and the pictures definitely don’t do it justice (more or less because of my underperforming camera). The building is pretty big so it took us about 40 minutes to see everything. I’ll have to admit we were in a pretty big rush to check out as much as possible in our short stay in the city.
The church was built in its current form during 1220-1259, on the site of an ancient well, which was supposedly used by Saint Patrick. Truth or rumours? Who knows? One thing is for sure: once inside you won’t be able to take your eyes off the stained glass windows. The windows have had an educational purpose: there was a time when people didn’t know how to read or write, so the images illustrated the stories in the bible. To follow the story of a stained-glass window, you read from bottom to top. The story always begins with the image in the bottom of the left-hand window pane, then moves to the right and the centre panel is read last.
Opening hours: 9.30 – 17.00
Admission ticket: €8
3. Marsh Library
Marsh Library is right next to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral so it’s really hard to miss it. Since we went on the celebrations weekend, the entrance to this library was free. The Library was founded in the 18th century by Archbishop Narcissus Marsh and many of the collections are still in their original place, allocated by the Archbishop.
The interior was impressive: beautiful dark oak bookcases, which according to the guide, have remained largely unchanged since it was built three hundred years ago. It contains about 25,000 rare and fascinating books. In addition, it is home to 80 books dated before 1501.
Taking pictures inside was prohibited because the camera might affect the preservation of the books. So we all obeyed for the greater good!
Opening hours: 9.30 am – 5 pm (except Tuesdays and Sundays)
Admission ticket: €5
4. Old Trinity Library
The Trinity Library is part of the Trinity College which was founded in the 16th century by Queen Elizabeth and was modelled after the prestigious universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
The cobblestone, the large statues, the grandiose buildings contribute to the solemn appearance of the campus. You could see students in black robes walking slowly on the alleys and reciting from Byron or Voltaire. Among the famous alumni are Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and the scientist and mathematician William Rowan Hamilton.
Somewhere in this large patio is the library. The Old Trinity Library is home to rare manuscripts, among them being the famous Book of Kells, a copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic and the Brian Boru harp, the national symbol of Ireland. The harp can be found on the Presidential Seal and on many official documents, on passports and on Irish euro coins. The instrument has a history of more than 1000 years, Brian Boru, the last High King of Ireland, is said to have been an accomplished player. Playing the harp or having a harper was a sign of royalty.
Interesting fact: the library is entitled to receive a copy of all works published in the Republic of Ireland and in the United Kingdom.
The most attractive part of the library is, of course, the Long Room, which owns 200 000 of Library’s oldest books and is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. The arched dark ceiling, the smell of old books; you are allowed to walk and marvel and inhale small pieces of history, but unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to climb the high shelves or touch any of the books. They are guarded by small statues of philosophers and writers. The staircases propped on the walls just makes you think, you are in a place where time hasn’t passed at all. So dream on! 🙂
Opening hours: 08:30 – 17:00
Admission ticket: €12
5. St. Patrick’s Parade
St. Patrick’s Day is every year on the 17th of March. During this time all the Irish dress up in green, at least that is how the legend goes. So let’s wear cheesy green clothes, stick plastic shamrocks on our cheeks, and drink beer and be all cheery and happy to mingle with the locals! Cheers, and lift up your Guinness pint! Now you’re ready for the PARADE!
Souvenir shops get crowded and everyone is trying to get the best makeup and the best outfit for this parade. The theme of this year was storytelling, so giant symbols and characters marched on Dublin’s principal streets. It was pretty crowded and very difficult to take good shots unless you queued up for the best spot with hours ahead. Which we didn’t 🙂 so we had to make way through the crowds to see the polar bear and the harp.
1. Korean style karaoke
Every time I visit a new city, I have to do something a bit cuckoo.
What’s this? Is it a Korean BBQ? Is it a Karaoke pub? It’s a Korean BBQ with a basement that makes Korean mob films a joke. Watch out for your kidneys in this place!
Han Yang restaurant was where our Airbnb hosts took us for a night out with their friends. There’s no “stage karaoke” they said, so we were willing to give this a try. I have to admit that I have never been to a more sketchy place in my life! Dark, narrow hallways and a bunch of non-English speaking Koreans, who were angrily moving around. The room was weird and cold but we had a bunch of beers to keep us warm and two microphones!
2. Live music
Since karaoke wasn’t enough, we decided to walk around Temple Bar in search of live music. There were queues everywhere, people really wanting to hear and see some traditional Irish music, hum some guitar tunes.
Finally, we found a place with no queue and awesome live music: Whiskey in the jar and all the other sappy songs, we like to listen to over a pint of Guinness. We went to the The Ha’penny Bridge Inn, full of (surprisingly) Irish people dancing on tables on folk music and lively singing along. So we joined them and we had a memorable night!
Goodbye, Dublin! It was fun!