Take a trip to one of the dreamiest countries in the world: Ireland! Having a strong Irish heritage, I’ve always loved visiting the country and learning more about the vast history, culture, and latest brews (mostly the brews, if we’re bein’ real). Since the island is on the smaller side, it’s very easy to get a glimpse of the whole thing by car or bus – and well worth it! Take a look at my guide to a (Dublin-based) Ireland trip!
What to Wear in Ireland
If you’re lucky, you’ll get a few days of clear skies, sunshine, and a light breeze. The weather changes frequently though so you should plan for drizzling rain, cloudy skies, and anything from a breeze to a stiff wind. It gets chilly in the evenings, even in summer (down to the 40’s) and the days can be cold as well if the wind is blowing.
Like most of Europe, it’s key to pack layers so you can adjust as the weather does. Light jackets and windbreakers are a good idea. I would also highly encourage comfortable footwear. Dublin City has many cobblestoned areas which can be rough on the feet. I typically bring light sneakers or keds, and boots.
Ladies, don’t get too attached to your hairstyles. Between the wind and rain, hair will often fall flat, get a bit frizzy, and lose any heated treatment. I aim to keep my hair out of my eyes (sucks to hike on a cliffside when you can’t see where you’re walking, trust me) and relatively decent for photos, so a half up-half down or braided look is usually what I end up with.
Surprisingly, Dublin attractions are kind of slim pickings. There are several free museums, touristy exhibits, Trinity College, and of course the Guinness Factory, but my favorite pastime is wandering the streets and people watching! However, most of the best places to visit are outside of Dublin City! Most of these locations can be made into a day trip, but I would suggest renting a car and taking several days to explore. Here are a few of my favorites:
- The Cliffs of Moher: Located in County Clare, it’s a bit of a drive to get to the Cliffs from Dublin (about 3.5 hours by car), but is by far one of the best places to go in Ireland. I promise they’re just as beautiful as everyone says they are. The site’s museum also has an interesting exhibit providing more information on the history and ancient legends associated with the Cliffs of Moher.
- The Giant’s Causeway: Legends say that the Giant’s Causeway was created and subsequently destroyed by an Irish and Scottish giant in the midst of a fight. The Scottish giant was scared away by a clever trick by the Irish giant, convincing him that the Irish had the biggest giants in the world. The Causeway (or bridge) was said to be destroyed so that the Irish wouldn’t defeat the Scottish across the way! Whether you believe the tale, or prefer a scientific explanation, this location is a fun visit in Northern Ireland!
- Carrick Rope Bridge: Not too far away from the Giant’s Causeway is the Carrick Rope Bridge. This area was used for filming several segments of HBO’s Game of Thrones and is gorgeous! This rope bridge was originally used by fishermen to access areas with a wealth of salmon. However the fishermen were too good at their job and the area has since been depleted. Cross the bridge for a bit of fun and a hike if you aren’t afraid of heights!
- The City of Howth: Slightly north of Dublin, Howth is a quaint town perfect for hiking or riding a bike along the shore. It’s just a quick (and cheap) train ride away. There are several quality spots for fish and chips, and a beach for those wanting to take a dip! This is a great trip to get a more authentic taste of how the Irish live.
Eat and Drink
Due to it being an island, fruits and veggies aren’t incredibly plentiful (or cheap) in Ireland, but you most certainly will never go hungry! The cuisine is fairly comparable to England and Scotland, but expect a heavy increase in potato-oriented dishes.
- Soda bread: This tasty bread is an Irish classic, and paired with good butter can be a meal all in itself because you won’t be able to stop eating it. Most pubs and restaurant all across the island will have it!
- Comfort Food: From lamb stew, seafood stews, boxty (potato pancakes), to shepherd’s pie and corned beef and cabbage, Ireland is overflowing with hearty comfort food. Dive into the traditional Irish flavors, but do your body a favor and try to keep fresh foods in rotation to keep your energy up.
- Pubs for days: Everyone and their mother hears about Temple Bar and the surrounding area when they go for a trip to Dublin. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun time, great people watching and the most likely you’ll be to join in on some dancing if that’s what you’re looking for. However it’s incredibly overpriced (and some pubs increase pubs as the night goes on and customers become more intoxicated). My suggestion? Start a bit farther out at O’Connell street pubs such as Madigan’s or Murray’s and head to Temple Bar once you’ve already had a few to get the experience without spending the cash.
Where to Stay in Dublin
Sky Backpackers: Dublin is definitely not known for its hostels. Of all the cities in Europe Dublin is the least “with it” in this category. Hostels are typically underwhelming and more expensive than other comparable cities. This hostel is newer to the city, however, and was an excellent experience! My sisters and I stayed at Sky for two nights over the weekend and it was hands down the best hostel experience I’ve ever had. Friendly staff, a positive social environment with other travelers and very clean facilities made for a wonderful stay. Only cons were that it was very loud in the area (the hostel is above and surrounded by several pubs/restaurants with loud music late into the night).
Ireland is a prime destination for those who are just beginning their international travel experiences- especially for those ready for a party! You’ll almost certainly return home with a good story or two.
Been to Ireland and had some good craic? Give me a laugh, share your wildest story with me!