When Andy and I got married a couple years ago, we knew we wanted to honeymoon in Europe but couldn’t agree on whether to go to Italy, where I wanted to go (Andy had been before), or to Ireland, where Andy wanted to go (I had been before). We ultimately picked Italy, so this year it was Andy’s turn to go to Ireland. Plus he just really loves Guinness, so we started our European vacation in Dublin!
I had been to Ireland twice before but never to Dublin, so this was a first for both of us. We loved it. It’s so cute and friendly and easy to get around. It’s a small city so we were able to walk everywhere we went from our centrally located hotel. We stayed at The Morgan and were so happy with it. I always pick hotels based on what is the cheapest one I can find that has good design. I can’t help it, I just love well-designed hotels! The Morgan was oh so pretty and perfectly quirky (our elevator door was painted with a mooning Mona Lisa!), and the location was perfect, super close to everything in Temple Bar but just separate enough to not be totally crazy.
Here’s a map we made of some of our favorite spots in Dublin, so feel free to save it for your own trip!
Our first stop in Dublin, after dropping our bags at the hotel, was the Guinness Storehouse. Um, obviously. At this point we’d been awake for over 24 hours since we had an overnight flight, but Guinness was the whole reason Andy wanted to go to Dublin! It’s his favorite drink, but I have to admit, I don’t really like beer and only managed to take one sip of the Guinness. Ugh, I’m pathetic! But it was still really fun to take the tour and learn about the history and how it’s made. Andy even got to take a class in how to pour a perfect pint of Guinness, which was pretty awesome. Now he has a diploma from the Guinness Academy that’s definitely getting framed.
For dinner we went to O’Neill’s where we both ordered the fish and chips, and it was so good. It’s a funny place, very much like what you think of when you think of a traditional Irish pub. You order your food at a counter like a cafeteria, but believe me, it’s not like cafeteria food at all. It’s delicious traditional food and a really fun atmosphere.
After sleeping for over 13 hours(!) that first night, we started our second day at Trinity College, where we saw the Book of Kells and the Old Library. This is something I was really excited about ahead of time and Andy kept saying “I can’t believe you want to go to Dublin to see some old book.” Afterwards he completely changed his mind. We both really enjoyed it.
Then we made the very long (5 km) walk to Kilmainham Gaol on the other side of town. It’s the old prison where many famous members of the 1916 uprising were imprisoned and hanged as well as thousands of poor and starving during the potato famine, so its history is depressing but very interesting. Tickets are timed, so it would be a good idea to order ahead online to make sure you can get in when you want. We were lucky to get a timeslot about 1-1/2 hours after we got there, so we went across the street to the Irish Museum of Modern Art and had a nice lunch in their cafe while we waited. The Kilmainham Gaol tour was totally fascinating and well worth the long walk (but I’d recommend taking a bus or getting a cab if you don’t want to walk six miles round trip like we did!).
That night we went to Skinflint for dinner. Weird name, right? But totally delicious pizza. You sit at communal tables, which can be especially fun in a foreign city, and the best part of all is the chili-infused honey that you drizzle over your pizza. A-maz-ing. Seriously, every pizza from now on should have honey on it. We split the Valerie — grapes, rosemary, evoo, goat cheese. Mmm. I could really go for one right now!!
For dessert we walked over to Murphy’s Ice Cream which was delicious. Of course I couldn’t resist a scoop of “Kerry Dairy Vanilla!”
On our third day, we took a Wicklow Mountains bus tour, which we highly recommend. It worked out perfectly for us to spend two days in the city and one day going out into the country. Our tour made several stops along the way where we could get out, stretch and take pictures. We also stopped for lunch in a small village pub where Andy had traditional beef Guinness stew that he said was his favorite meal of the whole Dublin trip (my favorite Dublin meal was Skinflint).
I couldn’t stop taking pictures of all the sheep lounging in the heather!
The last stop on the tour was St. Kevin’s Monastery at Glendalough (pronounced like glen-da-lock), where we were given a tour of the 6th century monastic ruins.
Then we hiked about 20 minutes to the breathtaking Upper Lake.
We loved this tour. Our tour guide/bus driver was hilarious, super friendly and talkative (sometimes to a fault because our 8-hour tour was more than 9 because he stopped to talk so much), and the scenery was just amazing. We’ll never forget how beautiful it was.
After we returned to town, we went to Gallagher’s Boxty House for dinner on the recommendation of a friend, and we were so glad we did. It was delicious! A boxty is like an Irish potato pancake. Andy had a chicken boxty and I had mushrooms with boxty dumplings (like gnocchi) in a blue cheese sauce that was fabulous. We both loved our meals.
We finished out the night by heading over to Porterhouse Brewing Co. where we had a couple of pints (I had cider!) and watched some live music. It was a great way to end our trip to Dublin!
Dublin was great. We lucked out with perfect weather and we just really enjoyed the friendly city. I’m glad that we spent a couple of days in the city and one day in the country. Three days was the perfect amount of time for us. If we’d had more time, we would have wanted to spend it visiting smaller villages, where you can get a more unique experience than in a city. We are definitely looking forward to going back to Ireland someday.
Next stop: Paris!