15 January 2013

Dublin in a Weekend

My husband and I spent the past weekend in Dublin to celebrate my 30th birthday. I asked a Dublin-based colleague for some ideas, and these were her suggestions:
  1. Guinness Storehouse
  2. Trinity College--Book of Kells
  3. Christ Church Cathedral
  4. Dublin Castle
She also recommended buying a ticket for the Hop On-Hop Off Bus Tour.  It turns out that there are two different companies offering these tours, but they seem to take very similar (if not, the same) route, and cost the same amount of money (€18). We took the City Sightseeing Dublin tour, which turned out to be quite good in the end. Check the website--they seem to offer discounts occasionally if you book online. They also offer discounts at many of the tourist sights when you show your ticket, but it may be worth checking to see if booking those online is more cost-effective too.

First on our tour of Dublin was the Hop On-Hop Off bus tour. We caught the bus outside St. Patrick's Cathedral, and did almost an entire circuit, only getting off the bus once it arrived at Christ Church Cathedral. It was a good way to get a lay of the land, and take in some basic history of the city. Christ Church Cathedral was excellent, mostly because we splurged an extra €4 per person (it was my birthday, after all!) to take a guided tour of the bell tower where we got to ring the bells.

Christchurch Cathedral
After the cathedral, we headed back to the Temple Bar area to find lunch. Dublin is a fun city to wander through, and we stumbled upon several shops that specialized in the sale of American candy (not too surprising considering the number of American accents overheard during our visit). While we stopped to have a browse, I showed great restraint and did not purchase anything.

We eventually made it to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. I had a difficult time getting excited about this one, but loved the Long Room in the library. What's most disappointing about the Book of Kells exhibit is that it's €9 per person for a self-guided tour that will take you less than an hour. I've done better tours including audio guides here in the UK for £8. If you're visiting in peak tourist season, forget it--I'm sure it's an absolute nightmare. Walk around Trinity's campus instead.

Sunday was dedicated to touring the Guinness Storehouse. Price of admission was €15.50 per person with the Hop On-Hop Off bus ticket (though would be even cheaper if booked online), and included a pint of Guinness in the Gravity Bar at the end of the tour. This was probably the highlight of the trip; I cannot resist a decent beer, and I love a good brewery tour, and considering this was self-guided, it was really well put together. It was also the first time I ever tried Guinness, and to my surprise, I found it quite lovely.

Part of the exhibit explaining the role of Coopers

Finally, as our tour of the Guinness Storehouse took only a few hours, we poked around the shopping district a bit more, and visited a yarn shop called This is Knit so I could pick up some yarn or a project as a souvenir. I couldn't find any patterns in the shop for the Irish yarns on offer, so instead opted for a shawl kit they were selling which contained a ball of yarn, the pattern and a crochet hook packed in a cute little burlap bag for €18.95. Perhaps a bit pricey, but it should keep me entertained in the next few weeks.

Dublin is a great mini-break destination. Below is a map to help you get a lay of the land, and a better idea where the sights are located. Take a look at my Dublin Yelp list for reviews of all the sights and more!

View Dublin in a Weekend in a larger map

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