Here’s the truth of the matter, of which many of you will no doubt disagree: I don’t love Dublin. There, I said it. I’ve now visited the Irish capital a handful of times, and it just doesn’t jive with me. This trip was no different. From the moment we got to our gate in Edinburgh until the time we left Dublin for Killarney, everything seemed to go wrong. And the frenzy of the downtown area—when walking, when driving, when on the bus—did not help matters. But if you know where to go and what to do in Dublin, it can be bearable.
My recommendation for those planning a trip to Ireland is to fly in and out of Shannon and focus on the impressive west coast instead. However, if you do find yourself in Dublin, I’ll give you the silver linings we found.
1. Guinness Storehouse. Need I say more? I’ve now done this tour twice, and I would do it twice more if given the chance. Who doesn’t want to learn how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness? Though I don’t think subsequent visits will compare to my last: It’s not every day you get to meet a living member of the Guinness legacy!
2. The waterfront. After a highly stressful day, we took a walk along the quay and witnessed the most fantastic sunset. That and Dublin’s gritty beauty at dusk was enough to turn our frowns upside down.
3. National Leprechaun Museum. I didn’t actually get to go to the museum due to a lack of time, but I have no doubt it’s awesome. It’s a highly interactive experience during which you learn much about Irish folklore. I plan to pay a visit there when I’m back that way in May.
4. Porterhouse. Twitter friends sent me here, and I loved the big brewery vibe with a huge selection of local beers and ciders on tap (we tried several). Porterhouse is now a chain, but the Temple Bar location was Dublin’s first pub brewery.
5. The Westbury. This five-star Dublin hotel was so gorgeous and relaxing, it’s hard to believe it was just a stone’s throw from the bustling pedestrian street Grafton. I’m admittedly a bit of a hotel snob, and the Westbury passed my travel litmus test.
6. Arthur’s Day. If you find yourself in Dublin during the biggest party day of the year, I suggest you adopt a “When in Rome…” philosophy … and then try to get as much insider info as you can to see some of the world’s hottest acts. I’m still bummed I missed out on one of my favorites, Mumford & Sons, as they were in Cork, not Dublin, the night we were chasing them around the city (or so we thought).
7. Kilmainham Gaol. While morbid-sounding, this former prison was built in 1796 and is central to Ireland’s political history. Many leaders of Irish rebellions were once housed here; today, it is a museum with a fascinating audio-visual tour.