In September of 2015, we hopped on a plane and went to the Emerald Isle to visit our family, Fernando and Raissa, in Dublin Ireland. We were there for 10 days, and crammed in a lot of fun, but I would love to go back to see what we were not able to cover. This was my first trip to Europe, and I felt very much at home here.
Here are some highly recommended activities in Ireland from our experience!
There’s no shortage of places to drink in Dublin! Be sure to pop into one of the many pubs that the Emerald Isle has to offer for a pint, visit the Guinness Storehouse, the Jameson Distillery, or the Whiskey Museum for a bit of a history lesson on whiskey with a sampling at the end!
These places are pretty iconic in Dublin, and a must see! Temple Bar is an area filled with pubs, restaurants, shops, and lots of sight-seeing. Grafton Street is filled with plenty of places to go shopping. My favorite was finding street vendors selling silver jewelry.
Mix it up with some Non-Irish Food
One thing I was craving while in Ireland was eating something that WASN’T Irish. Don’t get me wrong, their fish and chips, bangers and mash, beef stews and shepherd’s pie are excellent, but for me I was getting sick of potatoes. We stumbled upon Cafe Istanbul on our bike ride for kebabs. We also had a recommendation from a friend to go to Koh, a really nice Thai restaurant on Jervis Street, which I really loved. If you are a BBQ meat lover, head over to My Meat Wagon in Smithfield Market Square!
Get Your U2 Fix
U2 started their career in Dublin, Ireland, so there is no shortage of fun, touristy U2 activities. The Little Museum of Dublin is a great museum with a guided tour that tells you all about the history of Dublin, but they also have a whole floor dedicated to U2. Claddagh records is a great place to get some traditional Irish music, and it is also where U2 recorded some of their albums! Another place you might want to go is the Clarence Hotel, which is owned by U2!
Rent the Dublin Bikes
A great way to see Dublin is to rent a Dublin Bike and scoot around town. They have stations all over the city, and it is a great way to see a lot without a car and very affordable! Check out #6-8 for places we saw on bike!
Visit St Patrick’s Cathedral
St Patrick’s Cathedral sure is a site to see. This church was built in 1191 and is open to the public. Inside, you can walk around, read about the history of the church, and if you are lucky, catch the choir singing.
This is an absolutely huge park (1752 acres!) that is great for running, walking and biking. There are a lot of great sites there including the Wellington Testimonial, Papal Cross, Magazine Fort, The Phoenix Monument, and wild life! Check out the fallow deer we stumbled upon below!
This is a great museum in Dublin that gives the history of the Vikings, and Medieval Dublin.
Stay in a Bed and Breakfast
We were fortunate enough to stay with my husband’s cousin while in Dublin, but when we ventured off to Bunratty and Doolin, we stayed at a Bed and Breakfast for 40-70 euros/night. When you are travelling, you normally just need a place to hold your belongings and rest your head and eat in the morning. Otherwise you are not spending much time there, so I really recommend getting a cute Bed and Breakfast. We stayed at the Killilagh in Doolin and Bunratty Grove in Bunratty. Make sure you get the full Irish breakfast in the morning, and try the “black pudding.”
Bunratty, Co. Clare
The main attraction here was the Bunratty Castle, where we had a phenomenal medieval dinner one night, with a show. We sat at a long table, ate with our hands and a knife, had endless wine, and met some great people at our end of the table. After our dinner show, we stumbled across the street to Durty Nellys, which is a must see. This is the oldest pub in the Emerald Isle, dating back to 1692! During the day, we visited the Bunratty Folk village which was really cute.
Walking into Bunratty Castle for our Dinner
Doolin, Co. Clare
Doolin is home of the Cliffs of Moher, which is another must see. Our bed and breakfast was walking distance to a few pubs and shops in such a quaint, quiet Irish town. A short drive down the street took us to many shops, Cliffs of Moher, and the boat tours. McDermott pub and McGann’s pub were within walking distance to our place, where we enjoyed fish n chips, beer, and live music. My favorite place was Fitzpatrick Bar, which was a very cozy environment, with excellent live music!
This is an ABSOLUTE MUST SEE! We were lucky enough to see the cliffs from 3 different angles. First, we drove over to Hag’s Head Tower, where you can see the cliffs from up above. Next, we took a boat to the Arann Islands, and on the way back, we stopped to see the cliffs from the water, which was enchanting! Lastly, we went to the Cliffs of Moher visitor center, which has many hiking trails and sites to see the cliffs.
We visited Inis Oirr by boat, which was another great way to see the Cliffs. We got off the boat, had a drink at Tigh Ned, and then boarded a horse drawn carriage ride for about 20 Euros to see the island, including an old stone home, ship wreck, and stone wall filled landscape.
We happened to go here on our one rainy day, which was still very beautiful. We would have hiked more here had it not been raining, but it was really nice seeing the old stone church and cemetery.
Sometimes the best experiences you have are the unplanned ones. While driving from Doolin to Bunratty, we drove past a sign or the Aillwee Cave, and decided to stop. We took a tour of the caves and after visited the cheese shop. Another great memory I will treasure was finding pubs with live, authentic Irish music.