Last March I booked a super last min trip to Dublin for St Patrick’s day. It’s always been a dream of mine to visit the emerald isle and I just couldn’t pass up a under $400 round trip flight! I flew in the Monday before the holiday so I would have time to explore before all the other tourists flooded the city.
Being that it was a holiday week and it was last min posed a big problem when it came to booking accommodations. Thankfully my friend I was meeting with at the end of the week found a great Airbnb ahead of time so I just needed to find something for the days leading up. I was stressed out because everything in my budget was booked and while I’m frugal, I’m not one for backpacker hotels and hostels. It took a ton of digging and website/app surfing but I found a great deal for a little hotel named Staughtons on the green. I lucked out big time, they had a cancellation and This place was a dream! I plan on staying here again next trip. The hotel was easy to find and right next to an adorable park called st Stephens green. I thoroughly enjoyed walking through it each day, there was a fountain and a pond with ducks and some beautiful swans. While it was still pretty chilly out the park always had children playing, students reading and older couples on a stroll.The hotel was really in a perfect location, right off the green train line and next to some great shopping and restaurant options, like I said I will def be staying here again. I booked a queen bed room and it was the cutest room, tiny but being a solo traveler, it was a perfect size. I had a great view of the park and the bed was cozy.
I had landed mid-day on Monday and I normally don’t get affected by jetlag but this flight killed me so I got some tgi Fridays since it was close to the hotel and slept. I highly recommend before any international flight preparing your body for the time difference, I usually start changing up my sleep schedule a few days before. I also book flights for my sleeping hours to help. This will ensure you’re ready to explore and spend as much time out and about as possible!
Tuesday was my first full day in Dublin, I didn’t plan anything major and just let the day happen organically. I explored little alley ways and shops and also stopped in to see an Instagram favorite, The long room at Trinity College. The exhibit features the book of Kells and the old library. For about $12 you can walk through the museum and see the book of kells, which is a 9th century copy of the four gospels beautifully decorated and is considered Irelands greatest cultural treasure and one of the most famous medieval books. Its forbidden to take pictures of the book for preservation reasons kinda like the declaration of independence in DC. However, the end of the tour leads you right into an amazing photo opportunity. The Long Room, I love books and library’s and this is probably the most beautiful library I’ve ever been in! absolutely stunning and a must see when in Dublin. The architecture and smell of all those old books is amazing and I just could stop taking photos, it was beautiful.
One thing I love to do in a new city is the hop on/off busses. They are a great way to get a feel for the city and also easy transpiration from place to place. Dublin’s train system is a tad confusing and doesn’t exactly make since so it was easier for me to go from place to place on the bus, this is usually pretty cheap and I always enjoy the commentary/history lessons from the drivers.
One my second and third days, I did two tours with Paddy wagon tour company. I booked through Viatour.com and got a little bit of a discount. There are all sorts of tours and companies but Paddy wagon had fantastic reviews and I liked their itineraries compared to the others.
I choose the Cliffs of Moher day tour and the Giants causeway tour. Being it my first trip I decided to be a basic tourist and check out the two most iconic Ireland landmarks. They picked us up bright and early down town just a short walk from my hotel at the Molly Malone statue and off we went in a super comfy and warm bus. I really enjoyed both drivers I had and they both did a great job at history lessons, facts and entertainment. My second driver loved to sing and it was awesome plus who doesn’t love a true Irish brogue?!
I have an entire blog dedicated to the cliff of Moher and in the process of writing one for the Causeway, But both spots were breathtaking and a must see. I was there in mid-March which for a southern girl like myself means spring and the start to warmer weather but in Ireland March is still very much winter. I was prepared for wet but not wet and intense winds which unfortunately effected part of my tour to the Giants causeway. Weather can change at the blink of an eye and usually does according to the locals, so just be prepared for weather extremes and grab some wool socks and mittens in town like I did!
Unfortunately the wind caused us not to be able to visit Carrick-a-rede bridge on the second tour ☹️ while The Giants causeway is the main attraction of the second tour I took, I really enjoyed some of the littler quick stops. I’m a huge Game of Thrones Fan and as you may or may not know, most of the show is filmed in Northern Ireland! This tour took us by many filming locations and was so awesome! We stopped at the dark hedges, saw where Renly’s camp was, the inspiration of a few of the castles, where the Iron islands is filmed as well as the main filming location in downtown Belfast. All in All, I really enjoyed my day tours with paddy wagon and highly recommend!
I will say that the tours while amazing will leaving you wanting more and I plan on next trip renting a car and just exploring the country, it’s absolutely stunning.
This brings us to the start of the holiday weekend. This is the part of my trip that was actually my least favorite. You kinda have this grand idea of St Patrick’s day in the land of St Patrick and then reality hits you haha So Dublin its self looks super cool with all the building lit up in green but beyond that its mostly Americans/other Europeans being overly obnoxious. The locals celebrate and there is a parade but other than that it’s a day with family not the huge party that we Americans have turned it into. I was told that the festival in Chicago is actually the biggest in the world with Savannah coming in second. I’m not a party girl at all, I don’t even drink but I was still expecting to be a little more exciting than it was! the parade even though it was snowing and Sir Davos from GOT was there was lackluster. Don’t get me wrong, in the temple bar part of town the party was happening with loads of super drunk college kids but for my friend and I we decided to skip out on that and went shopping for souvenirs and saw a movie. My suggestion is if you really want to celebrate and party for St Patrick’s day staying in the States is going to give you more of an experience!
My friend and I also did the Guinness storehouse tour, neither of us drink but we decided this was a must do while in Dublin. We enjoyed the self-lead tour through the factory and they do a really fantastic job at showing how their iconic drink is made. At the end you have a quick lesson on pouring the perfect pint and then you get to enjoy that pint. I took a sip and honestly, I don’t know how anyone drinks it but it was a fun experience. I highly recommend you book a tour ahead of time or show up early. We were able to skip the enormous line thanks to booking with the hop on/off buss company. Otherwise you will be standing outside in the mile-long lines.
Ireland is known for many famous drinks including whiskey especially Jameson, I was told by many locals and tour operators that those are some of the top attractions within the city and you need to book pretty far in advance for those places.
On my final day I spent hunting down some local markets and little shops. If you have followed me long enough you know I love love love a market! They are the best way to enjoy local life and meet great people. I didn’t find the kind of markets I usually do but I saw some cute shops, cafes and some great photo opportunities. I’m a huge fan of just wandering around with no real plans and seeing where each street leads me. I felt extremely safe in Dublin, never did I feel uncomfortable or scared even late at night. The locals were the most friendly and funniest people I have ever encountered, always willing to talk, give advice and their opinion on things to see or do or just about their country in general.
I really enjoyed my week in Ireland and its one of the few places I was immediately thinking of what I should plan for the next trip! I think this would be a great country for a first-time traveler as there isn’t a Lang barrier unless you’re out in the country and the people are super awesome. I also think that when planning a trip to the emerald isle that time of year should come into play. I was there in march which was still very much winter, it even snowed! I plan on next time going in much warmer weather. Also, when they say it always rains, they aren’t lying it didn’t end up that green because of sunshine lol so plan your outfit’s accordingly! My north face rain jacket was my best friend while there!
Hope you all enjoyed this and happy travels!! I planning a trip back hopefully soon if anyone wants to join!!