The ultimate guide to a Dublin city break
Hello again Dublin, boy am I happy to see you.
This week I got the opportunity to dive straight into the Irish capital and see what a weekend in Dublin city centre has to offer….from cycling through the Wicklow mountains to exploring the famous Temple Bar, it exceeded every single expectation. I was blown away when I got to witness how much Ireland has expanded over the last number of decades.
Working alongside Stena Line, I was excited to find out that it is only a 3-hour ferry from Holyhead to Dublin. The perfect chance to road trip through the Emerald Eye and get a real feel for Irish culture.
A guide to a city break in Dublin…
For such a small city and the capital of Ireland, Dublin has produced some of the most iconic artists, historians and has even created two of its own national sports. Fuelled with its Viking past, medieval history and endless folk stories, it can be described as a living museum.
Along with its rich history, we all know the Irish love a beer or two and with over 1,000 pubs scattered across the city, you will not be left short meeting a few locals and experiencing what it’s like to live like the Irish. My favourite was Kehoe’s, a little authentic pub full of Irish charm located beside Grafton Street.
Even though it’s a small capital, it does carry a mighty reputation and along with the undeniable Irish charm, it will leave you wanting more.
Getting to Dublin…
Stena Line is the Irish Sea’s leading ferry company with an unrivalled choice of routes and sailings to Ireland. It takes only 3 hours to reach Dublin from Holyhead in the UK.
Dublin’s main airport is Dublin airport which is accessible from London and plenty of other major cities. There are over 42 direct flights daily from London with take 1.5 hours. Check flights on SkyScanner here.
If you’re looking to travel from within Ireland, or explore outside Dublin once you’ve arrived, then the main city train station is Heuston Station.
Getting from the airport into the city centre…
The city is located 45 minutes and from the airport you have a few options:
- Airlink Express: This service will bring you directly to the city, Heuston station and Connolly station. €7 single ticket and €12 return. Book online for discounts!
- Aircoach: Offers bus services to Dublin city centre and south Dublin on a 24- hour basis.
- Taxi: Just like Uber, download the app “MyTaxi” and book a taxi directly from the airport to your accommodation. You also have the option of finding a taxi from the taxi ranks located outside Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. (Uber does exist in Dublin, but it usually the most expensive taxi option!).
- Rent a car
Budgeting for Dublin…
Like most capital cities in the world, Dublin of course can be expensive, but if you’re used to living it up in a big city like London then consider it a breeze on your wallet. Before you plan your trip, do a little bit of research to find the best package deals for tours and restaurants in and around the city.
It’s always a good idea to have some kind of spending budget in your head before you go, because once you get there you’re easily swept into the pricey tourist traps… especially in Temple Bar! Been there, done that… waking up the next morning checking my bank balance was not the most pleasant experience.
For example, for a pint of Heineken in Temple bar located beside the River Liffey, expect to pay up to €7.50 (ouch). But, walk 15-20 minutes outside of Temple Bar and watch the prices drop to €5-6.
Expect to spend:
- €100 (average price) Return ferry including car & driver with Stena Line
- €12: City-Airport bus return (open date)
- €100: Flights from the UK to Ireland average
- €150 a night in the Marlin Hotel, including breakfast (but you can get cheaper accommodation).
- €30-40 a day for drinks, lunch and dinner (inc. alcohol and ice creams!)
Accommodation in Dublin…
During my Dublin city break we stayed at the Marlin Hotel. It opened in August 2019 and with its trendy interior, work space and one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had, it really does tick all the boxes for a stay in the city. Did I also mention it sits right beside St. Stephen’s Green? Just perfect.
Check out hotel and hostel deals on booking.com.
Or if you’re looking for something a little different and want to try avoid the hefty hotel prices then check AirBnB.
Getting around Dublin…
There are quite a few options for getting around Dublin, but remember Dublin is pretty small and you can reach the majority of the city on foot. It also gives you the chance to find those little hidden gems scattered throughout the city.
- You must buy your tickets at the ticket machine before walking through the barriers.
- Dublin Bus goes not give change so have the right amount ready!
Food & drink in Dublin…
Places to eat:
The food scene in Dublin is continuously growing and thriving like any other major city around the world, but it prides itself on keeping the Irish tradition alive. Here are some of my favourite spots and some I’d heard about but didn’t get the chance to experience.
- Ely bar and Grill: Situated in the heart of Dublin’s docklands, this gem is constantly evolving with new twists on traditional Irish food. It’s one of Ireland’s oldest wine venues and a perfect spot for brunch.
- Póg: This epic little spot thrives off providing people with healthy delicious vegan options. Check out their instagram (@pog_dublin) for all the pancake glory. You definitely do not want to miss this one!
- The Pepperpot: a charming and quirky little cafe located in Powerscourt town centre. It opened in 2008 and tells the story of two young women that worked hard to create a wholesome and good quality cafe in the centre of Dublin.
- The Hairy Lemon: This place has one of the best menus I’ve seen around Dublin and they aim to source fresh and local produce. They also have daily traditional Irish music sessions!
- The Loose Canon Cheese and Wine: This biodynamic wine and cheese bar uses the idea of “slow food” and creates their wine naturally with seasonal produce and grapes. Their name is inspired from the French phrase boire un canon, meaning “grab a drink”.
Places to drink:
- Dicey’s: Located in the lively nightlife area of Harcourt Street, Dicey’s is one of the best places to end your night out in Dublin. They have great midweek drink deals too!
- Sam’s Bar: Known for its elegance and sophiscation, Sam’s Bar is a great spot to meet for some nibbles and cocktails.
- Drop Dead Twice: Did someone say bottomless brunch? They also give you the option of having your own “BYO Cocktail Bar”
- For traditional Irish music, try Kehoe’s, The Celt, Grogan’s or Hogans.
- If you want to become the ultimate tourist then try the famous Temple Bar pub.
- The Long Hall, 57 The Deadline, Bow Lane and Palace Bar are all great, classic pubs.
- For cocktails, try Vintage Cocktail Club, Peruke & Periwig, The Bar With No Name, The Lucky Duck or 9 Below!
Sightseeing & things to do in Dublin…
1. Enjoy wonderful food and a cultural experience on a walking food tour.
Explore Dublin while embarking on an award-winning Irish walking food tour with Fab Food Trails. Check out Dublin’s hidden food gems while being introduced to the producers, markets and all its artisan food. Be prepared to taste real Irish whiskey in one of the oldest Victorian bars still standing and learn all about the dairy industry and how it has shaped the Irish food culture to date.
If you’re a massive foodie then put this on the top of the list and your taste buds will thank you! The tour lasts 2.5 hours and is vegetarian friendly!
Dublin tasting trail tickets start at €60. For more info, click here.
2. Have a pint of Guinness in Kehoe’s old Irish traditional pub.
One of my favourite things to do on a cold evening is settle into a good conversation with some locals in some of my favourite pubs around Dublin. Snuggle into a corner beside the fire and have a pint in one of Dublin’s oldest traditional pubs, Kehoe’s. It is known for its charming cozy Irish atmosphere.
3. Trace your family tree and check out your Irish heritage at the EPIC museum.
Go beyond the stereotypes at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum and fall in love with the history of Ireland. This museum commemorates the journey that Irish emigrants have been through. At the end of your tour sit with the genealogist and trace your family history tree to see if you have any long lost Irish connections.
The museum is open 7 days a week, 10.00-18.45. Tickets to EPIC are €16.50 and a combo ticket for EPIC & The Irish Family Centre is €28. For more info, click here.
4. Visit the Wicklow mountains by electric bike.
If you want to escape the liveliness of Dublin then jump on the DART and head towards the coast of Dublin and visit Bray. You can either climb to the top of Bray head or visit Fat Bike Adventures and take the scenic route by experiencing their electric bike tour.
Half day tours start at €65 and full day tours start at €110. For more info, click here.
4. Take a cookery class at Ballyknocken Cookery School.
Fall in love with traditional Irish cuisine and take a cooking class in Ballyknocken farmhouse cookery school located on the east side of the Wicklow mountains. Work together to create a delicious three course meal including Baileys torte, locally produced Irish beef stew and yummy homemade Irish soda bread. Before you enjoy your meal, stroll through their herb garden, experience “sheep herding” and sip on some local wine. An evening of pure bliss.
Cookery classes start at €140. For more info, click here.
5. Stroll through Powerscourt Gardens.
Powerscourt Gardens are known to be the most beautiful gardens in all of Ireland. They were recently voted as No.3 in the world’s top 10 gardens and they stretch over 37 acres. The gardens offer a sublime blend of formal gardens, Japenese Gardens, rambling walks, and the Pepperpot Tower. At the end of your stroll enjoy a warm cup of tea and the views of Powerscourt’s famous waterfall.
Open from March – October, tickets €10.50. For more info, check out the website here.
7. Enjoy a whiskey tasting at an Irish Distillery.
At one point Ireland was the global producer of whiskey, but poor fortune and civil war contributed to the decline of whiskey production. Fast forward a few decades and new distilleries are popping up all over Dublin due to the quality of Irish water and passion. They have perfected the art of using local water, barley and old traditional techniques with new modern twists to produce great whiskey tastings and tours.
There’s also an Irish Whiskey Museum! For more info, click here.
8. Watch the Riverdance in the Gaiety Theatre.
For over 20 years, the Riverdance has been a worldwide phenomenon and I’m still blown away everytime I get to see it. Nearly 25 million people have got to witness this spectacular performance and you need to be one of them.
9. Learn about the Irish Civil war with a free walking tour of Dublin
Every corner of Dublin has a story to tell. Walkthrough Dublin on a free walking tour and uncover Ireland’s strong historic past. Some of the most famous features you will get to see include; The GPO, Trinity College, Grafton Street and get up close and personal with the famous murals left behind from the 1916 Easter Rising.
10. Walk over & get a great photo with Ha’penny Bridge.
11. Go back in time at Dublin Castle.
With 800 years of history spanning over 11 acres, you can choose from a guided tour or a self-guided tour.
Tickets start at €8. For more info, click here.
12. Enjoy some of Dublin’s green spaces.
You could take a picnic to Phoenix Park, 1,700 acres of beautiful green space just outside the city centre! Or you could stroll through the Botanical Gardens, or relax on St Stephen’s Green.
14. Read a book in Trinity College Library, Ireland’s biggest library!
Only the old library is open to visitors, but it’s still epic!
15. Pick up souvenirs at the Dublin Flea Market.
Said to be even better at Christmas, this epic flea market happens on the last Sunday of the month. For more info, click here.
16. Visit the Little Museum of Dublin.
Each artifact was donated by a local and has a unique story behind it. Admission from €8. For more info, click here.
17. Experience true Gaelic Culture at the Gaelic Games!
Get active and historical at the same time over a game of traditional Gaelic football, or another 3,000 year old game! Tickets from €28. For more info, click here.
18. Take a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher.
Have you been to Dublin?
Where were your favourite spots? I’d love to know!
Love as always + happy adventuring,
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