Monday 9 April 2018


5 Unexpected Highlights From My Dublin City Break

I can't believe it has been a week already since I came back, but I went to Dublin over Easter! It was my first trip to Ireland and I was very excited to explore a to me entirely new place. While we had jam-packed days filled with touristy explorations and shopping (more blogs to follow on everything we did), it wasn't actually the things we looked forward to ahead of the trip we enjoyed the most, instead some of our random discoveries or things we ended up doing on a whim became the highlights of the trip. So here are my favourite unexpected moments from our visit to Dublin!

1. Day Trip to Howth

Now this one was already in my itinerary ahead of the trip, but I didn't think I'd love it quite as much as I did – it was the indisputable highlight of our entire visit. While it's not technically in Dublin, the fishing village of Howth is just a short Dart train journey (or in our case a bus ride, as there were engineering works during our visit) away and it's SO worth the trip out of the city! I've really missed exploring new beautiful landscapes and the stunning Irish coastline, combined with perfect weather and delightful cheery yellow spring flowers, made for a rejuvenating hike. You can do an awesome loop hike from the village and back in about 3 hours but we took the bus to the summit and just walked the coastline down to the village, however we did do a little detour to a lighthouse and stopped tons along the way for photos so it did end up taking us the same amount of time, lol. We also had a delicious fresh seafood lunch in the village at Beshoffs of Howth though most places we tried were full so if you have your eyes on a specific restaurant make sure you book in advance.

2. Dublin Icon Walk

Even though I read tons of blogs and websites on Dublin before my visit and asked friends who had been before for their tips of things to see and do, one thing I did not come across prior to our trip but instead I randomly spotted on a walk through the city is the Dublin Icon Walk. And what an unexpected treat it was. Located in the alleyways of the Temple Bar area, these informative panels and the beautiful art work illustrate iconic characters throughout Irish history. There is a street dedicated to Women Writers, another to Irish Movie Actors and even one to Oddballs, Crackpots and Assorted Geniuses. It's a hugely informative wander through the people in Irish arts and culture that have left a significant impact, and the drawings are really beautiful too. While everyone talks about the bars in Temple Bar as a must when visiting Dublin, if you're in the area and you have only time for one thing, do the Icon Walk instead.

3. The Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

(I did not take a photo of the bus so have a picture of a typical Dublin puc instead)

Living in a city tourists flock to I am very familiar with hop-on hop-off buses. After all, I see them drive by every single day. I always assumed them to be a touristy death trap; stuck on a bus seeing the major sights fly by without the opportunity to actually discover them for yourself and explore the most well known ones and underrated attractions (such as the above Icon Walk) which you can do in your own time when walking instead. However, the weather in Dublin was pretty bad when we visited (spring showers and all that) and we had a bus pass that allowed us unlimited use of not only public transport but the hop-on hop-off bus too, so when I wanted to get into the city one day, rather than walking in the rain for 30 minutes I decided to take the hop-on hop-off bus for a few stops instead. And I loved it. The driver was super informative and did actually touch upon interesting and more obscure facts, and the bus was so frequent (every 15 minutes) that it's very easy to hop off and explore in your own time, only to hop back on when you're done with the area. I've definitely changed my opinion on this tourist staple and will be using it in other cities going forward too!

4. Old Jameson Distillery

I'm not much of a drinker and after doing the disappointing but obligatory-when-in-Dublin Guinness Storehouse visit the day before I didn't have high hopes for this one. However, I ended up absolutely loving our visit to the Old Jameson Distillery ('old' because they no longer make whisky at this site in Dublin but instead they've moved operations down to County Cork) – and I'm not just saying that because I had a delicious drink prior to the tour. The guided tour itself was super interesting, well put together and time flew by. It lasted for about 45 minutes in total, in which you get a real understanding of Jameson's history, the making of whisky and there is even a taste test at the end where you get to sample and compare whiskeys from around the world. If you are doing one very touristy, alcoholic Dublin attraction during your visit, make sure this is it.

5. Chapters Bookstore

(I was too busy buying books to take any photos here, for shame I know)

I had tons of literary stops planned during my visit in Dublin (more on that in a separate blog) but only at the very last minute (the day of) came across Chapters, a bookstore on Parnell Street. I spotted the name on Google Maps when planning my route for the day and it instantly sprung out to me as Chapters Indigo is the largest book chain in Canada. Now, this one isn't actually connected, instead Chapters in Dublin is Ireland's largest independent book store, and what a glorious place it is to be. Set over a massive two floors it's a book lover's heaven. The ground floor has all new releases in floor to ceiling book cases and the second floor has second hand books in great condition. While I already loved the huge selection on offer, I fell in love with this shop the moment I started spotting the absolutely bargainous books on the tables. I picked up a whole bunch of collectible classics that will look gorgeous on my shelves (Barnes & Noble leatherbound editions and other stunning naked hardbacks) all marked down from 25/30+ euros to less than 10 euros each (most around 6 euros). I want to go back immediately 😍

And that's it for my top 5 most unexpected highlights from my visit to Dublin! I have a bunch more posts planned on the city in the coming weeks – from An Instagram Tour of Dublin to A Book Lover's Guide to Literary Dublin – and if there is anything in specific you'd like to read about, let me know in the comments below. 

🎵 Listening to: Eugenius! – Don't Shoot for the Stars
🔹 Mood: Good

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