Whenever I’ve planned weekend city breaks, Dublin has always been on my list of considerations not only because it’s another Celtic city but because it has a reputation that truly precedes it. But somehow, I’ve never made it across that bit of Celtic sea for lots of different reasons – limited budgets, bad British weather, struggling to find the right accommodation, you name it. This summer, that all changed and my brother booked the trip for my birthday (I know I’m very lucky!). With inspiration from movies like PS I Love You and stories from friends, I was very much looking forward to this particular trip and everything Ireland had to offer from its capital. So if you’re looking to plan a trip to the city, here are a few of my recommended stops.
The first thing most of us will think of when we consider Dublin is the cobbled streets and the famous Temple Bar. This well-known district is renowned for its nightlife, with the promise of live music, punters spilling out onto the streets in the Summer months and a good old Guinness or whiskey. Pick your poison and make it quick – the Irish hate time-wasters at the bar. But whether you want to visit ‘the’ Temple Bar which has been on the map since 1840 and promises that the craic is fantastic, or want to stray further afield to other pubs on offer – I’d recommend the Old Storehouse – there is an incredibly lively, welcoming atmosphere in this area.
Before coming to Dublin, I knew nothing of Kilmainham Gaol and if you don’t either, let me explain. This former prison, built in 1796, played an incredible role in the resistance to British rule, hosting prisoners who campaigned for Irish independence such as Joseph Plunkett and the Easter Rising leaders in 1916. Following multiple executions here by the British Army, great escapes and terrifying conditions, the prison was officially closed in 1924 but was reopened for the public in the 1970s by the last prisoner to leave the jail before its closure, Eamonn DeValera, who returned as President of Ireland. If you enjoy history and want to know more about the Irish journey to independence, I highly recommend that you book yourself a place on this tour because tickets sell out fast.
If you want to continue your historical tour of Dublin, make your way to Dublin Castle. It was initially commissioned in 1204 but now the only surviving original piece is the Record Tower – what you see today was built in the 18th century. Although it has had a rich history in the Irish capital over the past several centuries, now it’s used by the Irish government for meetings and functions. You can take a tour of the castle where you can have sight of the staterooms and more, but if you’re on a budget, you can make your way through the grounds and take full advantage of its picturesque exterior, learning a little about its history along the way.
The Jameson Distillery
This would probably not have made my list of places to visit had I not come to Dublin with a whiskey drinker, but I feel as though I would have truly missed out if I hadn’t have stopped here. Although production stopped at this site in 1971, moving to Cork where every bottle of Jameson is produced today, Bow Street has been home to the Jameson Distillery since 1780. John Jameson’s legacy has lasted over two centuries and with its whiskey comes a story of true resilience and community effort. Here, you’ll learn about the history of Jameson whiskey, how it’s made and you’ll have the option to sample the product for yourself, whether you like your whiskey on the rocks or with a mixer. If you’re not a whiskey drinker, I’d highly recommend trying this particular brand with lime and ginger – a combination not to be missed but one that will definitely knock you out after a few rounds.
Probably the most famous bridge in Dublin and one you’ll have most likely ‘liked’ on the ‘Gram, this beautiful bridge was built in 1816 and was the only pedestrian bridge to span the river until the opening of the Millennium Bridge in 1999. On average it’s predicted that 30,000 people cross this bridge every single day, taking in its picturesque arched ribs, with many waiting for the perfect opportunity to get ‘that’ picture. So, if you’re looking for the pretty shot of Dublin or simply want to make your way across to Temple Bar from the other side of the river, this is most certainly a stop for you.
Dublin has a welcoming atmosphere, greeting visitors with the Irish charm, but you’d almost expect nothing less here. As a city, it’s got a lot to offer, from picturesque bridges, cobbled streets with nightlife to envy, a rich but troubling history, and some pretty great alcohol. As city breaks go, this is a damn good one and you’ll find something to do here whether you’re visiting with friends, family, for a couples break or even a little bit of solo travel. But when it comes to the weather here, I hope the luck of the Irish is with you on your stay.