12th Stop in Ireland: Dublin
Updated: Oct 18, 2019
I love Dublin. I feel comfortable in Dublin. I think after being here four different times, I finally... kind of... have the layout of this area. But like any large city, there are still hidden gems that pop up each time one visits.
Ash and I did as much as we could in the 1.5 days we were here. Because we had a full day of driving from Portrush, to Belfast, to Newgrange, and then on top of that taking the time to return the rental car, we didn't get to Dublin until evening. This gave us enough time to find our AirBnb, eat dinner, and grab ice cream before calling it a night.
Our AirBnb was in a prime location. If you are able, I recommend renting a spot near St. Stephen's Green. Not only is it walking distance to a lot of great must-see locations (Temple Bar District, Trinity College, and more), but the park itself is fantastic to walk through.
Being that it was Ash's first time here, we packed in as much as we could. The one thing we did not do this trip, but I highly recommend if it is your first time here, is the Hop-on Hop-off bus tour. You can purchase tickets for this tour online, or you can get them at any tourism shop you see within the city. The tickets are inexpensive and the tour is very helpful when trying to navigate Dublin for the first time.
In an effort to make this blog post an easy read, I feel it is best to clearly lay out all of the things we did during this trip to Dublin:
Doheny & Nesbitt: Our first night in Dublin, we weren't sure where we wanted to eat so we asked someone working at a nearby hotel for a recommendation. They sent us here, and it was perfect. It seemed like the meet-up spot for locals; people in work attire hanging out at the bar, drinking and chatting with one another. We were seated at a small pub table near the bar. The interior was filled with dark wood, unique wall hangings, and old charm. We drank our Guinness' and ate our food before snapping this photo of the exterior (left).
Grafton Street: After our dinner at Doheny & Nesbitt, we took a walk down Grafton Street. The street was starting to quiet down by the time we walked down it, but we could imagine the hustle and bustle that usually happens down here during the day. We grabbed some ice cream and walked up and down the street, examining the different shops that lined the road.
Guinness Storehouse: The first time I visited this place I took advice from someone who told me to skip the tour portion and go right to the top of the building to drink beer and look out of the 360 degree glass viewing tower. I did this and it was fun. But since then, I have visited Guinness Storehouse two more times, and I've done the actual brewery tour. My recommendation: if you are going to pay the large amount of money to get into this place, do the tour. It is actually pretty cool. You go through multiple levels learning about the beer-making process from start to finish. It includes a lot of interactive learning experiences and unique historical information. I mean, I've done it twice and would probably do it again, so that has to tell you something. Once the tour is complete you can go to the Gravity Bar for your "free" pint (though I am sure your entrance fee covers this) and look out across the entire city- I love this part. You don't realize how large Dublin is until you are looking out at miles and miles of buildings. The Storehouse has a pretty neat (HUGE) shop too- I know, I know, a tourist trap. But we loved it and ended up buying a couple of things before leaving.
Jameson Distillery: Now, since we had done Bushmills earlier on in our trip, and had just finished completing a brewery tour, we decided to opt out of the Jameson whiskey tour, but we did visit the distillery at Bow Street to have a few cocktails at their bar. The drinks were fabulous, and the bar was beautiful. We had a great time watching the bar tenders mix our selections while we relaxed. I think if we were to visit here again, we would try the tour, or one of the other fun interactive options they had like learning to make your own mixed drink.
Trinity College: The Trinity college campus is located near St. Stephen's Green. I love walking the grounds of this college because it gives me a sense of peace. The intricate architecture of the buildings and the inviting green space within the campus walls are beautiful. Although we didn't go into the Trinity Library this trip, I highly recommend it. If you are a Potter Fan, many scenes of Harry Potter were filmed in here which is pretty cool. The famous Book of Kells is also located in the Library, and you can walk through a small exhibition dedicated to it.
Christ Church Cathedral: We may not be religious, but a beautiful building is a beautiful building. We didn't go inside of this Cathedral, but took as many photos as we could of the outside.
The River Liffey: This river runs right through Dublin, and at some point you will need to cross over it to see the many attractions the city has to offer. Pro-tip: stop on one of the bridges that crosses the river at sunset for a great photo opportunity!
Brazen Head: If you are in Dublin it is almost necessary to visit Ireland's oldest pub- dating all the way back to 1198. We were required to walk through a little courtyard/beer garden before entering the pub. Once inside we had the opportunity to choose which room we sat in- from what I remember there was a library room, a main bar, a smaller bar, a back room, and probably more that were hidden within the pub's walls. The walls and ceilings are filled with trinkets, including currency from all around the world. It really is a cozy place to grab a pint and a bite to eat!
Temple Bar District: If you are looking to party in Dublin, this is the area to do it. Temple Bar is filled with all the best pubs, shops, and entertainment in the city. Ash and I didn't hit any of the queer-centered bars, but we did stop in two pubs worth mentioning:
The Temple Bar: Like Brazen Head, this pub had a handful of rooms to choose from, so after buying our pint we walked around taking everything in before settling on a little window spot that looked out onto one of the busy streets. As live music played, we struck up a conversation with a nice Canadian couple whose cruise boat was docked for the day. It was fun to hear about their adventures- they had been traveling for years- and in return we told them about ours. After a good chat, and some great beer, we made our way to the next pub.
The Palace Bar: One of the best things about bars in Ireland is the interaction you are able to have with people from all parts of the world. Ash and I happened to find The Palace Bar randomly. It looked awesome from the outside, so we decided to go in. The pub was fairly empty and we took a seat at the bar and ordered a drink. We struck up conversation with a young bar tender. As we chatted with him, a lady came strolling in and stood by us while ordering her drink. We opened the conversation to her and she ended up sitting with us at the bar, which in hindsight was the best move we could have made. We quickly... quickly learned her life story; why she had traveled from Australia to Ireland; how her past husband had made all his millions; who she was supposed to be seeing in Dublin; the stories continued and we were her captivated audience. She was a riot. Within five minutes she asked the bar tender to take down his most expensive whiskey so she could by us a drink. We objected, but she insisted, so we all shared a very expensive sipping shot... the best whiskey we will ever have. We recommend visiting Palace Bar for its atmosphere. With friendly bar tenders, good conversations, and excellent drinks, you can't go wrong here.
As a same-sex couple, Ash and I felt comfortable in Dublin. Showing public affection was not something we worried about in this city. I wish we would have had more time to visit some of the queer-centered spaces, but hitting up some of Dublin's iconic spots took most of our day. We hope to go back again soon and would welcome any advice on places to visit, so please drop us a message and let us know about the areas you have experienced. We would love to hear from you!
I do ask that this stays a positive and safe space for readers, so please, no hurtful language or remarks about other's experiences. Thank you.