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So, You Wanna Go to Dublin?

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I know I sure do. And I’m headed back to the Emerald Isle in 10 days. On the 15th, I fly from Columbus to Chicago, and then Chicago to Dublin. All on the amazing Aer Lingus airline, which has the best-priced flights to Ireland from my experience. I’m so excited to be back in my favorite city. Unlike my past time in Dublin, this time I’ll mostly be in the company of a lad from Dublin that I’m in a long-distance thing with who I’ll just call D for his privacy. And then my best mate Christina will be flying over from London where she’s attending graduate school for the weekend for a girls’ party weekend. The ‘craic’, as the Irish say, will be legendary.

In honor of my upcoming trip, I’m going to share some of my top recommendations for lodging, eating, sightseeting/culture, and drinking (obviously) in Ireland’s capital city for those who aspire to keep it on a budget. For those of you who like to party, this city is an absolute must. It also has a lot of fascinating history. Whatever your interest, you’re bound to find activities that suit your interests.

For lodging, you’re gonna want to stay somewhere close to the city centre since it’s a whole lot easier getting around that way. One of our faves is Jacob’s Inn. Just a five minute walk from the city center, this affordable hostel offers free WiFi, free linens/bedding, luggage storage, and personal lockers. Jacobs also offers a free light breakfast, free daily walking tours of Dublin, free movie night, and free city maps as well as advice on all things Dublin. Another good one is Barnacles. The most centrally located hostel in Dublin, it is less than a block away from the famed Temple Bar area. Barnacles offers free WiFi, free city maps, free walking tours of Dublin, a hostel pub crawl and free pub crawl map, free breakfast, luggage storage, and free linens/bedding. Barnacles also has a Galway location for those who are headed that way. Isaac’s is also good; it is right nearby the Central Bus Station (Busaras), Connolly train station, and the Luas tram system that can take you all over the city. Isaac’s offers free light breakfast, free Wifi, a free sauna, free linens/bedding, luggage lockers and safes for your valuables. Fun fact: I am staying at Isaac’s during my upcoming trip.

The Samuel Beckett Bridge and Dublin Convention Centre at dusk
The Samuel Beckett Bridge and Dublin Convention Centre at dusk

Like any other major European city, Dublin has a ton of good places to grab food. In my personal opinion, the Port House is second to none. The Port House is a delicious and extremely popular restaurant serving up Spanish-style tapas. Everything I’ve had there has been amazing. Plus their sangria is to die for. If you’re looking for pub fare, try the Hairy Lemon. The Hairy Lemon is perfect for an authentic hearty Irish meal. Their Guinness Stew is absolutely on point. Plus, they have the best brown bread in the city. If you want to try fish ‘n’ chips in Dublin, hit up Leo Burdock’s. Located across from ChristChurch Cathedral, this little spot is a traditional fish ’n’ chips spot that’s been around for over a century; they have and away the best fish ’n’ chips in Dublin, especially when doused in salt and vinegar (the only real way to eat it).

Another favorite, although off the beaten path, is Noshington Cafe. It’s a little outside the city center, but it’s so worth the trek. When I spent the summer here, I ate here all the time because everything was so fresh and delicious. It’s pretty cheap, too. I loved their brown bread and Thai Chicken Salad (to die for!), and their homemade Oreos are out of this world. If you want to try an Irish Breakfast, go to Murray’s on O’Connell Street. This is a great place to try an Irish breakfast. Their breakfast is pretty good. Their eggs, brown bread, sausage, and bacon are delicious. It’s reasonably priced, and adjacent to a bar called the Living Room that is great for watching sporting events. For something on the lighter side, KC Peaches is a chain with locations all over the city center. Here, you can build your own salads and sandwiches, or choose from an array of hot foods to build the meal you want. Affordable and perfect for lunch. Bunsen is awesome for burgers and fries, American style. If you have a craving for a good burger, hit up this popular spot.

An Irish brekky at Murray's
An Irish brekky at Murray’s

Dublin is full of cool things to see and do. Obviously, Dublin is best known as the home of the Guinness Brewery & Storehouse. The renowned brewery offers self-guided tours, and with admission you get a free pint that you can either pour yourself at the Guinness Academy or receive at the 360-degree Gravity Bar on the top floor that overlooks all of Dublin City. Admission is €16 for college students with a student ID and €18 for adults. Not the cheapest attraction, but it’s a must when in Dublin and it is completely worth it! Keeping up with the alcohol theme, another fun point of interest is the Old Jameson Distillery. Jameson offers detailed guided tours at the location in the Smithfield neighborhood where John Jameson set up shop in 1780. All tour participants 18+ receive a free drink, either Jameson neat or a Jameson and Ginger cocktail. Admission is €15 for adults, but €13.50 for adults who buy online and €12 for students over 18 with a college ID.

My mate Christina and I learned to pour Guinness at the Guinness Academy at the Guinness Storehouse & Brewery in St. James’ Gate (first row, 2nd and 3rd from left)

If you like sports, there’s a lot to do in that area. Croke Park Stadium is one of the largest stadiums in Europe, and they offer stadium tours as well as their Etihad Skyline tours, where you can get a guided tour around the walkways that make up the perimeter of the top of the stadium, giving you amazing views of Dublin. Tickets for the stadium tour are €13 for adults and €10 for students with valid ID, and tickets for the Etihad Skyline Tour are €20 for adults and €18 for students with valid ID. Also be sure to check out the GAA museum after your tour, where you can get an in-depth look at the history of the Gaelic games, hurling and Gaelic football, as well as the women’s sport camogie. Also, if you get the chance, attend a GAA football or hurling match at Croke Park and cheer on the Boys in Blue (Co. Dublin’s colors are light blue and dark blue). Tickets, depending on the kind of match you want to go to, are reasonably priced and the matches are a lot of fun. I met a lot of people at and after the matches I went to who were really awesome.

On a literary note, Dublin is famous for the writers it has bred, including Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and Jonathan Swift. You can learn a lot about them and a load of other Irish writers at the Dublin Writers Museum. Admission is €8 for adults. Another museum that’s pretty inexpensive is the Little Museum of Dublin. It literally is little and its museum dedicated to history of Dublin is only comprised of several small rooms. However, you can learn a LOT about Dublin’s history, so you really get a lot out of it. Bonus: for all the U2 fans out there, there is a small room on the third floor that is completely dedicated to U2’s roots and career. Being a fan of U2, I really enjoyed it. Admission for adults is €8 (€7 if you buy online) and admission for students is €6 (€5 if you buy online). Trinity College & the Book of Kells is a must for those of you who love history and literature. Trinity is Ireland’s oldest and most prestigious university, and it offers guided tours of its beautiful campus. The highlight of Trinity, however, is the Book of Kells, a 680-page and incredibly gorgeous illuminated manuscript written by monks back in the 800s. A tour ticket including the Book of Kells is €13.00 for adults and €12.00 for students with valid ID on the Trinity website.

U2 Exhibit in the Little Museum of Dublin
U2 Exhibit in the Little Museum of Dublin

Other museums I like are the free National Museums, particularly the National Gallery and National Museum of Archaeology & Natural History, the latter of which has ‘bog bodies’ on display (bodies that died in the Irish countryside’s bogs). To get a better in-depth look at Ireland’s fight for independence from the UK, be sure to check out Dublin Castle and Kilmainham Gaol. Dublin Castle symbolized British power over Ireland for 700 years. Parts of it date back to 1207, but it was largely rebuilt in the 18th century. Tours of the State Apartments (€4.50) reveal much about the history of the castle and the political troubles befalling Ireland in the 20th century. Kilmainham Gaol is a cool spot to visit to learn about the city’s troubled political past and fight for independence from the United Kingdom.  Highlights include a film and big exhibit about the history of the jail, as well as stepping into the courtyard where many Irish rebellion leaders that had been held captive were executed. Tickets are €4 for adults and €2 for students with a valid ID.

The great thing about Dublin is that there are pubs on basically every block. Our favorite place for pubbing is Camden Street Lower. Here, you’ll find some great pubs where you’ll meet locals and avoid tourists. We like Ryan’s, Flannery’s,and the Bleeding Horse. Another good area to check out is Dame Lane, an adorable cobblestone street right in the center of the city lined with all kinds of pubs and bars. Dame Tavern, Sweeney’s, and Stags Head are our favorites here. We also really enjoy ‘old man’ pubs, truly authentic places around the city where you’ll find the tastiest pints of Guinness and the best conversations. Check out Grogan’s, Kehoe’s, Peter’s Pub and Sheehan’s. For live music, which Ireland is well-known for, visit the Cobblestone. The Cobblestone is ideal for those of you who want to listen in on an Irish trad music (traditional music) session while enjoying a relaxed pint. It’s really fun and always busy when there’s a session, because sessions are really cool to watch. Tip: a pint usually costs anywhere between 4-6 Euro. The more touristy the bar, the more expensive it’s gonna be.

My mate Emily and I drinking pints at the Dame Tavern
My mate Emily and I drinking pints at the Dame Tavern

Something to remember is that most bars and pubs close by 1 AM. However, there are a few good late night spots. Capitol is our fave late night spot, and it stays open until around 3-3:30 AM. When I was there last, they had 2 Euro drinks on Tuesday. Dublin’s most infamous late-night club, Copper Faced Jack’s (known by locals as Coppers) is definitely not to be missed, preferably when you’re already drunk. Located on Harcourt Street below the Jackson Court Hotel, many drunk Dubliners and tourists alike end their nights here with for more booze and possibly to find someone to hook up with. A lot of drunken debauchery goes down here. Other late-night spots on Harcourt Street include Dicey’s Garden, D2, Krystle and Everleigh Gardens. Dicey’s particularly has good deals going on during the week!

That about covers Dublin (on a budget)! It is a magical city to me, and it is full of awesome things to do and delicious beer to be consumed. I know that beyond my upcoming trip, I’ll be back many more times.



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