A practically perfect 3 day Dublin itinerary.
"You'll have a new found appreciation for your roots once you visit Ireland."
I was told this by at least 3 people when I shared my plans to visit Ireland.
They where right.
Earlier this year my sister and I embarked on a week long visit to Ireland. To start our roadtrip across the Emerald Isle, we of course hit up the capital city of Dublin for a few days.
3 days in-fact. Pretty quickly the city won both of our hearts and its not to hard to understand why. Even a short stay in Dublin feels like your walking into to pages of the famous James Joyce novel Ulysses, all while being accompanied by music.
A city filled with fun hidden alleyways full of art, music , history, and of course CORRECTLY poured pints of Guinness are to be found at every turn.
I could have easily spent more time here and hope to return to leisurely explore but during our visit we stuck to a well-planned scheduled. We ended up buying the Dublin pass and even though we barely accessed all of its features, what we did use paid for the cards. I’d highly recommend purchasing the pass if you plan to visit more than 3 fee based attractions while in Dublin.
In all transparency you aren’t going to find a Guinness or Jameson tour here. I have nothing but admiration for the cities two famous drinks but we decided we wanted to do other things instead of doing the factory tours. NEXT TIME!
A Place To Lay Your Head
First up we had to make sure we had a central and well appointed hotel. After exploring Expedia via my Chase Sapphire app, I secured our stay at The Alex. There is so much good stuff to say about this hotel and I'll be doing a full review very soon.
Once we got checked into our room we embarked on our first day in Dublin AKA Musical Dublin.
Musical Dublin Day 1
Ireland is the only country in the world that has a musical instrument on one of its’ national flags.
My sister and I come from a musical family and knew we wanted to learn more about the music of Ireland.
First stop was the Waltons New School of Music for a bodhran drum lesson. Thanks to our awesome teacher, we had a blast during our private one hour lesson.
After our lesson it was time for a late lunch and upon the recommendation of a very kind Dubliner, we had our first Irish pub ( in Ireland) meal.
The Bankers Bar is hidden right around the corner from the famous Temple Bar on a beautiful lane named Dame.
Flags fluttered above the cobbled streets of Dame Lane and the red facade of the Bankers Bar welcomed us inside. We sat at the bar and were tended to by a charming singing, yes singing, bartender. I’m not a big bread person, but if you visit here PLEASE make sure you eat some of their soda bread and get one of the housemade soups.
After our late lunch we wanted to familiarize ourselves with the city, how public transit worked, and figure out the lay of the land.
We walked around the central Dublin and yes, the oh so touristy are of Temple Bar (it’s a must), took some pictures with street art, happened upon the Merchants Arch area and had an AMAZING Bubble Waffle. This little hole in the wall shop is a major DO if you like sweets. There was a line outside the door, but the aromas that flowed from the front door let us know it was worth the wait.
Around 8ish it was time to meet our tour guides for the main event of the night The Dublin Musical Pub Crawl. Now I know what you might be thinking “not a fan of pub crawls” and that is the same thing I thought to myself, but this experience was unlike any other.
We met at the famous Oliver St. John Gogartys but didn't stay there long.
The group, perhaps 30 in total, where led across the River Liffey via the famous Ha Penny Bridge to visit a few other pubs.
At each stop, we had a private room where the guides, Stephen and Larry, both who were incredible musicians, played and told us the history behind Irish folk music. At our final stop of the night, an Irish dancer joined us and gave us an example traditional irish dancing (think Lord of The Dance) Throughout the evening the host kept explaining that Irish pub music is a very communal thing and slowly dropped hints that they wanted some of us to join in with the singing.
When they asked if anyone in the group wanted to share a song, my sis and I jumped at the chance. Yeah- on our first night in Dublin we sang in a pub SO FUN!!
Day 1 tally: Lay of the land, private music session on ancient Irish instrument, lunch at Bankers Bar with a singing server, Merchants Arch, Temple Bar, Oliver St Johns, Dublin Musical Pub Crawl, Ha' Penny Bridge, Tamela and Nicole Ponder One Night Only Dublin Concert ;)
We meandered our way back to our hotel (30 minute walk) and after a day full of exploring and a new found appreciation of the "tiddly- dee" music of Dublin, we fell into bed excited for what the next day in Dublin would hold.
Historical Dublin Day 2
I’m a sucker for history and culture. It’s safe to say that Dublin is rich in both. On our second day in Dublin, we focused mainly on visiting historical sites, most of which are on the Southside of Dublin. Before we got the day started we walked 6 minutes from The Alex to get some of the best coffee in Ireland from 3FE.
We grabbed our coffees, a few pastries and walked around the beautiful Georgian neighborhood. Checking out the brightly colored doors, learning more abut Oscar Wilde, and stopping and sitting for a spell in Merrion Square was a perfect way to start our day.
Stop 1- Dublin Castle- We walked around the beautiful courtyard as we waited for our tour to start. The architecture and history of this area is astonishing. Also, Brams Stoker of Dracula fame worked here… and there are loads of viking artifacts around. SUPER COOL.
Stop 2- Though we didn’t do the full tour, stopping by Christ Church Cathedral and walking around the building was very near. This area allegedly has some of the oldest portions of Dublin. Buildings dating back t o the 1100s. Did i mention Vikings, yeah VIKINGS!!! If you can’t tell I’m a fan.
Unofficial stops- Right between Christ Church and St Patricks Cathedral there is a small cafe called Bite of Life. If you visit, try the quiche. Once we had lunch and visted stop three, we walked around the Portebella part of Dublin. As it is a young artsy part of Dublin, it should have been of no surprise that we happened on another hidden alleyway that left an impression. This alley was covered with colorful eye popping street art. I HAD to stop and take some photos before we popped into a a thrift store.
Stop 3- St Patricks Cathedral- My sister and I were very excited about visiting this cathedral. The story of St. Patrick is one that we both are enthralled with. If your only knowledge of him has anything to do with St. Patricks Day, please visit HERE and read about the long lasting mark he made for Jesus in Ireland. Our visit to St Patricks fell on the Saturday before Easter and it was awe inspiring to see the church getting shined up and “Sunday best” for the Easter Sunday service.
Stop 4- Rooftop happy hour at Sophie's. Anytime I am in a new city, I always look for rooftop spots. It's kinda my thing. This one did not disappoint.
Stop 5- St. Stephens Green. Before we headed back for the evening, we strolled through this iconic park. The sun was out, the flowers in full bloom, and the Dubliners out in full force.
Night on The Town
Saturday night and I wanna dance with somebody!! Ok, I’ll spare the song lyrics.
After our long day of Historical Dublin we wanted to have an evening on the town. I’ll spare all the details by only listing a few places.
However, I do have to say, the bartenders and hospitality workers of Dublin are top notch!!!
The evening ended with a leisurely walk near St. Stephens Green with two locals and some great conversation.
Places we found the craic on Saturday night
(Craic-Galiec for fun, entertainment etc)
The Ginger Man ( right by The Alex so basically our ‘local while in Dublin. We ate or stopped by here nearly every day)
The Stags Head (one of the oldest pubs in Dublin)
No Name Bar
The Bernard Shaw
Peruke & Periwig
Day 2 tally: Georgian Dublin, 3FE Coffee, Oscar Wilde historical home, Merrion Sq, Dublin Castle and State rooms, Christ Church grounds, St. Patricks Cathedral, Portabello neighborhood, more street art, St. Stephens Green, rooftop happy hour, Ginger Man dinner, old pubs, new pubs, and an evening stroll with 2 Dubliners.
Last Dublin Day 3
Our last day in Dublin was Easter Sunday, and even though there were still lots of things we wanted to do, we dedicated our morning to the most important thing.
Celebrating the Resurrection.
That morning, I checked the best Uber route before we headed out.
As our driver began to go in a different direction I was at first startled and then annoyed.
He was going to make us late to church! The car was headed in the direction of Central Dublin, where I knew their would be traffic. At this point I wasn't thinking a single Christian thought about this driver.
Suddenly, as we came down the hill approaching the magnificent Christ Church, the bells began to toll.
This moment will forever be ingrained in my memory. As we rounded the corner the bells kept ringing out proclaiming the risen Lord. We continued the next two 2 blocks towards
St. Patricks as her bells began to ring out too. As if the two churches where competing against each other for whose bells could be the loudest on Easter Sunday.
It was as if time was standing still and God gave us a gift, just for us. And in a way that is exactly what Easter is about, right.. I once read a beautiful route from author Brian Zahnd
"In a poetic sense the sound of Islam is the adhan. The sound of Hinduism is the om. The sound of Buddhism is the dungchen. The sound of Judaism is the shofar. The sound of Christianity is the church bell." In much of American culture, we have lost the sound of church bells and with that there is a sadness.
As tears filled my eyes, I rolled down my window and enjoyed the song of the bells as they tolled and we passed by.
Even when I'm old and gray and my memories seem distant, I know I'll remember this moment anytime I hear a church bell ring.
Our visit also coincided with the anniversary of the Easter Uprising (read about the history here) so we made sure to visit a few of the sites that represent the beginning of the Irish people gaining their independence.
The Old Post Office
The Garden of Remembrance
Before we headed back to the hotel to rest up for the evening, we made one more stunning stop.
We visited the Book of Kells and experienced the jaw dropping Long Room library.
It was a true sight to behold.
Fun fact: The Hogwarts library was modeled after the Long Room at Trinity College.
We ended our day at O'Donoghue's. We had been told by 4 different people that we had to go visit this pub, which sits near St. Stephens Green, for their entertaining Sunday night local music jam. We took two stools at the bar and tucked into our dinner, before we ended up spending nearly four hours at O'Danaghues. The best bartenders we’ve ever encountered, as well as local musicians serenaded us into the evening.
Day 3 tally: Easter Sunday bells, The Old Post Office, The Spire, The Garden of Remembrance, Trinity College, O'Donoghue's
So... there ya go. That's my three days in ol' Dublin town. I could have, without a doubt, spent much more time in the city and I can't wait to visit again. This was only the begging of our Ireland journey. I can't wait to share more.
If you visit, I hope your time is as special as ours. If you've already been- what was your favorite part?