[dropcap size=small]I[/dropcap]f you think St. Patrick’s Day when you hear “Ireland,” you’re probably not the only one… but you’ve also probably never been to Ireland. After spending a weekend in Dublin, Ireland became more than just St. Patrick’s Day. I now remember it as filled with hearty food, kind people, rich history, pints, pubs and more.
Dublin is centered on the River Liffey that flows through the middle of town and into the nearby Irish Sea. Both sides of the river are studded with restaurants, pubs and shops intermingled with historical landmarks. Choose any hotel or Irish bed and breakfast within city limits for easy walking access to all of Dublin’s main attractions.
10:00 a.m. – Welcome to Dublin! Ireland is known for its filling Irish Breakfast, which typically includes sausages, fried eggs, black pudding, toast and fried tomatoes. Though not for everyone and certainly not for every breakfast, the Irish Breakfast at O’Neill’s Bar in central Dublin will launch you right into Irish culture. Pair your mighty meal with a mug of Irish tea or coffee to really get in the spirit and start your weekend off right.
11:30 a.m. – It’s a short walk from O’Neill’s to Trinity College Dublin, a beautiful college campus with green lawns and historic buildings. The grounds are enough to draw a crowd, but the real treat on campus is Trinity College Library. More than 500 years old, the library houses more than 200,000 books in one antiquated room alone. Tour the space for €12 per person, and come close to marble busts of Aristotle, Homer, Socrates, Shakespeare and more, not to mention millions of pages of famous texts, including the Book of Kells.
1:00 p.m. – Next up is the Guinness Storehouse for a whole different type of cultural experience. If, perchance, you did not partake in the Irish Breakfast and are in the mood for some lunch right about now, there are many restaurants along the way, as well as three restaurants within the Storehouse. The tour is very interactive, making the brewing process and the history of Guinness fun to experience. Dubliners take their Guinness very seriously, which certainly comes through in this tour, especially with the lesson on how to properly drink the beer. Tickets are €14.50 for access to the whole experience, including a complimentary pint of the black stuff in the Gravity Bar, where visitors can enjoy their brew with panoramic views of the entire city. I recommend buying tickets online ahead of time to skip the line.
4:00 p.m. – Explore the architecture of Christ Church Cathedral on your way back to your lodgings before a night on the town. The gorgeous building, somewhat reminiscent of Hogwarts, is worth a visit, even if you’re only interested in getting a peek of the outside. There is, however, a medieval crypt beneath the cathedral…
7:00 p.m. – No country does pub food quite like Ireland. One great place to experience the classic fish and chips, brown bread, mash and more is The Old Storehouse near Temple Bar. The restaurant has both bar and dinner seating in a cozy, traditional Irish pub atmosphere, which often includes live music.
9:00 p.m. – Stay in the same building to pop into O’Flaherty’s for an after-dinner drink, or head over to Temple Bar, one of the most popular tourist areas in the city. Here you can enjoy drinks, live music, and an eclectic mix of pubs and shops. Though a definite must-see while in Dublin, know that this part of town is very tourist heavy and has a lively night scene.
10:00 a.m. – Not every morning starts with a massive Irish Breakfast in Dublin. The city is also well known for its toast or roll with jam and porridge served along side coffee or tea. Enjoy these other Irish staples at any café or bistro around the city.
11:00 a.m. – Odds are you will have stumbled upon Dublin Castle at some point in your exploring already, but make sure to tour the grounds. Because the castle is intermixed with more modern buildings, it seems to pop up out of nowhere once you come upon it. The back lawn is an especially beautiful place to explore.
1:00 p.m. – Next stop is the beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a massive landmark of the city named, of course, after Saint Patrick (yes, like the holiday). Though there is a small entrance fee, the incredibly ornate floors, stained glass windows, altars and marble sculptures are worth every penny. This is especially true if you are lucky enough to hear the daily sung service during your visit – it is a truly memorable experience.
2:30 p.m. – Just a hop and a skip from the cathedral is St. Stephen’s Green and its shopping center, which is also a great place to stop for lunch. Wander through the Green for a relaxing change of pace and an escape from the city noise. Afterward, head down Grafton Street for some window shopping (or actual shopping – your choice!).
4:30 p.m. – If whiskey is your drink and you’re feeling up for a bit of a walk, The Old Jameson Distillery is right over the river. Students can take the tour (with ID) for €12, but beware, the last tour begins at 5:15 p.m. and the building closes at 6 p.m. The tour is about an hour in length and includes a Jameson tasting and a complimentary drink. Moreover, at the conclusion of the tour you are awarded an honorary Whiskey Taster Certificate, a definite résumé booster.
7:30 p.m. – Looking for a more upscale, though definitely not pretentious, restaurant? Try The Exchange, a brasserie near Trinity College. Work your way around the fixed price menu and share plates for a delicious, locally sourced dinner that won’t break the bank. A more casual option would be Trinity Bar in the same part of town, where visitors can find classic Irish staples like Shepherd’s Pie, Guinness Stew, brown bread, and fish and chips.
9:30 p.m. – End your stay in Dublin with a visit to Ireland’s oldest pub, The Brazen Head. The pub is packed with history in a “if these walls could talk” kind of way. This is a truly Irish experience and a fantastic way to round off your time in Dublin. As the Irish say, there’s always good craic to be had in Dublin!