When you see a flight for £10, you buy it. This is my new life motto. Living in the UK has significantly changed the way I look at traveling. New adventures and places to explore are literally less than two Starbuck’s lattes away and we have been making the most of it. Classes for first semester ended mid-December and since heading back stateside was a bit more expensive than I could justify, the month-long break provided the perfect opportunity to travel!
For £10, a friend and I booked EasyJet flights from Newcastle to Dublin. We decided to spend a few days in Dublin, then take the train up to Northern Ireland to check out Belfast before heading back to home sweet Newcastle for Christmas. It was an incredible trip, here are some of the highlights of Dublin!
This seems obvious. Ireland = Alcohol. Home of Guinness, Jameson, Bushmills; essentially all things barley and hops. I wouldn’t put myself in the category of a big drinker, but when in Ireland, do as the Irish do #amIright?
Guinness Storehouse is a must-do. The whole experience is fascinating, from the history of Arthur Guinness, through the process of creating the iconic Irish spirit. Your ticket includes the chance to pull your own perfect glass of Guinness whic you can then enjoy in the Sky bar that has an incredible view overlooking Dublin. They even teach you how to properly sip to best enjoy your pint! As a former Guinness hater, I am now reformed and thoroughly enjoyed the dark beer. Even if you aren’t a beer drinker I would recommend this experience!
Jameson Distillery Tour was also a great experience. However, if you aren’t a whiskey fan, you could potentially pass this up and not feel you missed out. This is not an actual working distillery anymore, which is an important point if that’s what you are going for. However, the tour was really informative and walks you through the steps of creating the perfect glass of whiskey. The tour ends with a whiskey tasting and a glass of Jameson. Although I hate whiskey (and unlike with Guinness, this experience did not convert me), the tasting was interesting because I actually understood the differences in the various distilling methods.
2) Pubs (see #1).
So after spending all that time learning about alcohol, we also took some time to enjoy it in the wild as well. I read a statistic that said there is one pub in Ireland for every 600 people. I don’t know how accurate that is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true! This city is littered with pubs, so you have lots of options for a place to grab a seat and enjoy a pint or two. We stayed in a hostel in the historic Temple Bar neighborhood. If you don’t mind boisterous crowds, music, and laughter late into the night, this is an option for you. If you’re looking for quiet, I’d take your business elsewhere. For our purposes this area was perfect! We got out and enjoyed a bit of the infamous Dublin nightlife without having to travel far to get home at the end of the night.
3. Trinity College, Library & The Book of Kells
The Trinity College campus is gorgeous. Definitely take a stroll through this area if you can. For a couple of book lovers, going to see the Book of Kells and the Trinity Library was amazing. It was a bit pricey for what the exhibit is, but I found it informative and fascinating, and I would seize any chance to gawk at thousands of books on shelves…weird, but true.
Bonus Stop: The Cliffs of Moher!
This is technically not Dublin. The Cliffs of Moher are on the western side of Ireland’s amazing coast. There are countless companies that provide day trips from Dublin out to the Cliffs and I would strongly encourage you take the chance to visit. The coastline is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It takes your breath away (literally…because wind), but also because of how gorgeous it is. Luckily we got to the Cliffs before it started raining, but about halfway through our visit it started to pour. Best advice: pack a solid rain jacket and wellies, you will not regret that. Ireland is gorgeous, but wet.
All in all, Dublin was incredible. I cannot wait to go back. I’d love to rent a car and visit some of the villages and quaint fishing towns we passed. Everyone we met in Ireland was incredibly kind and went out of their way to welcome us to their country. I’m counting down the days until I can return to this place. It was magical.