I recently took a little weekend break to Dublin with the girls. It was my first weekend trip of the year and my first ever visit to Ireland. To say excitement levels were at a high would be an understatement.
We had a fun-filled two days. Yet I could go back again and find 1763 other things to do. Dublin was filled with breathtaking architecture. Along almost every street you could find traditional red-brick buildings juxtaposed with modern, glass structures. I was in awe as I found myself wandering around looking up as opposed to usually staring awkwardly at my phone.
There may be a lot of corners left to explore in Dublin but I still discovered so many delights in the short but sweet time that I was there…
(p.s. it’s a bit of a lengthy post so bear with me but I hope you find some Irish gems to visit)
Our first day began with a stroll along the river on a mission to find a giant stack of breakfast pancakes. We originally intended on heading to Herbstreet, which sits along the River Liffey. Unfortunately, silly me misread the website. As a result we turned up an hour before opening time so that scuppered our breakfast plans. After a little meander along the river we decided to skip breakfast and just jump in a taxi heading straight to the Guinness Storehouse instead.
If you planning to do a tour of the Guinness Storehouse whilst in Dublin I definitely recommend pre-booking your tickets online. We booked a morning slot which meant not only did we receive a discount on the ticket price but we also got in before the crowds came along. I don’t drink alcohol but thought there was no way I could go to Dublin and not sample a bit of the black stuff!
The Storehouse itself was beautiful. I swear the interior and the architecture would make any blogger squeal with excitement. It was rich with history and being able to explore at our own pace made for a really enjoyable experience. We made our way through the Storehouse learning about everything from the history of Guinness to the brewing process to marketing. Once our brains were overflowing with knowledge of the black stuff we learnt to pull the perfect pint. Content with our pint-pulling skills, we retreated to the Gravity bar. Here, we sat overlooking the breathtaking city of Dublin and sipping our pints.
With all that learning at the Guinness Storehouse, we’d worked up quite an appetite and decided it was time to head out and find that much-wanted brunch. Happily filled with Guinness (well, two sips of Guinness in my case) we set off on a mission for brunch.
As a girl who loves her food, I researched a few eateries before our Dublin trip (psa: if you don’t already do this, I 100% recommend it as it saves you from awkward hangry moments). We all agreed that Queen of Tarts sounded like the perfect place to fill our tummies so we headed in that general direction. As we wandered along the streets on Dublin on our brunch hunt, we stumbled across the old smock mill St Patrick’s Tower, St Audoen’s Church, St Catherine’s Church and the remaining stretch of the old city wall. Dublin is filled with history. Wherever we walked, we were able to spy a few snippets of Dublin’s history.
We arrived at Queen of Tarts to find a queue out the door, no surprise for such a popular haunt that appears on so many Dublin brunch articles! Instead of risking getting hangry, I asked for a local recommendation which led us to a lovely little brunch-spot. Honestly, I’m kind of glad Queen of Tarts was too busy because it meant getting to experience the delightful Bittersweet cafe. It was a small cafe; one that admittedly I’d probably walk by without even so much as a second glance. But oh boy am I glad we were told about this place. The cinnamon french toast was heavenly. I could eat it every day for the rest of my life and be happy.
Whilst enjoying our brunch, we spontaneously booked in at the National Leprechaun Museum for a fun way to pass some extra time. The Leprechaun Museum was something else; a hilarious way to kill some time in the middle of the day. For the small cost of €12, I’d say stick it on your Dublin to-do list if you have a spare 45 minutes. It was a small tour led by an enthusiastic girl telling old Irish tales. As she delved in the history of Irish folklore, it was a truly bizarre yet entertaining experience. It’s probably aimed at a much younger audience but if there’s ever an excuse to act like a big kid it’s at a Leprechaun Museum.
After a day exploring, it was a quick taxi ride back to the hotel to get ready for our night out in Dublin. The pre-night out playlist obviously ranged from the likes of B*Witched and The Corrs to Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys. A few weeks before our trip to Dublin, we decided to have a look at some restaurants and book in somewhere. It saves us the hassle of having to find something on the night whilst we’re there. We booked a table at Koh, an award-winning Thai that definitely didn’t let us down.
Koh was lovely with fast service (always a winning factor with me). I ordered pad thai, which was fresh, cooked to perfection and a huge portion size. Seriously, it ticked all the right boxes.
After Koh we headed to the Church, a beautifully renovated church turned restaurant-bar. I was a little disappointed to find that you couldn’t enjoy cocktails in the Gallery. But my disappointment was short-lived as we headed down to the cellar to enjoy cocktails in a cosy, chilled atmosphere. Our stay in Church was only short as two of us has booked a surprise visit to The Blind Pig, a secret bar, for one of the other girls! How we managed to keep it a secret for over two weeks amazes me.
Wanting to keep the secret bar…secret. I won’t give too much away. All I’ll say is we had arrived at our pre-arranged meeting point, rang the number provided at booking to tell them our secret password and then waited for a stranger to turn up and escort us to the secret bar. It was a cool underground cocktail bar, where strong themes of the Prohibition strongly emanated throughout.
Feeling suitably giddy to continue or night out, we made our way to Temple Bar. We visited a few of the Irish bars that Temple Bar had to offer including The Quays and Trinity Bar. My personal favourite had to be The Auld Dubliner. It was a crowded pub with a friendly atmosphere. Live music was playing in almost every bar. I lost count of the amount of times I heard Wonderwall. Everywhere you went, there was a buzz of energy throughout Temple Bar.
Although I would have loved to visit a few traditional Irish bars outside of Temple Bar, we didn’t manage to make it that far. So those ones will remain on the to-visit list for when I next visit Dublin.
Waking up strangely refreshed after our late Saturday, we were up early, ready to enjoy our last few hours in Dublin! Our last day in Dublin meant that we had to have those pancakes that we had all been craving so much. After a morning of drooling over brunch menus, we settled on Lemon Crepe and Coffee Co. Perfectly located near St Stephen’s Green, I’m so glad we came to this area of the city. This part of Dublin was right up my street (excuse the terrible pun). It was especially filled with charm, character and plenty of independent businesses.
With only a few hours to spare on our last day, we kept it as an exploring day just wandering around. I loved the clash of the down-to-earth St Stephen’s with the affluent Merrion Row as they snugly sat side-by-side. We paid a visit to St Stephen’s Green to see the Oscar Wilde statue and Oscar Wilde’s home. Afterwards we carried on up Merrion Row, admiring the houses and just taking in all the views. We tried to vaguely follow signs to the National History museum but my lack of direction meant we didn’t quite make it there…maybe next time!
Knowing we would shortly be leaving for the airport, we decided to make one last food stop. We picked out Brick Alley Cafe as our next food destination. Although, the reason we chose them wasn’t based on their food menu but rather upon their amazing hot chocolate menu. I mean where else do you know that serves 18 varieties of hot chocolate?! I opted for a hazelnut hot chocolate and honestly, it was so thick and chocolately that I could have cried tears of joy. Foodwise, I ordered a ham and cheese croissant. Sadly it severely lacked in cheese. Yet whilst my food may have been simple and lacklustre, the grand hot chocolate definitely made up for it. It was a stripped back cafe with a chilled ambience, just what we needed after a hectic weekend.
My mini Dublin trip was amazing and it’s 100% on my travel-list for a re-visit to hopefully see what other treasures Dublin has left to offer.