I’m not the biggest beer fan, so when my friends announced I was going to Dublin for the weekend with them, I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I thought of Dublin, I thought of dreary rain, drunk bachelor parties and, of course, the legendary Guinness Storehouse. Not exactly the best place if you’re a non-beer drinker.
However, I was pleasantly surprised. Dublin is beautiful, charming and full of history. It’s much cheaper than its English and European neighbours and has plenty of alcohol-free things to do.
First up, we were out to get some real, authentic pub grub. Luckily, there’s no shortage of pubs – they’re literally on every corner and crossroad - but the problem is choosing a ‘good’ one. Temple Bar – as I soon found out – is the name of both an area (very touristy) and an actual bar (even more touristy).
The area is right in the centre of the city and is a cobble stoned area where you’ll find the majority of pubs. Temple Bar, the actual bar, is mythic but it’s probably best to stop by for a drink (I’d recommend the Orchard Thieves cider if you don’t feel like a beer). For food, we crossed the River Liffey, via the Ha’penny Bridge, to Murray’s Bar where I finally got my Irish stew fix.
All the pubs are beautifully decorated with colourful blooms cascading from every corner. The smell of fresh flowers is everywhere in Dublin.
That night, we went out to a less touristy area, north of Temple Bar and around Fade Street. It’s a lot more hipster here, with barber shops, vinyl record stores and the Victorian-style indoor market Georges St Arcade. A friend who lives in Dublin took us to a locals-only haunt, The Bar With No Name, which is exactly what it sounds like – an unmarked door that leads to a private bar designed to look like a someone’s home, complete with a bar in the living room and VIP booths in the bedrooms.
Dublin is very small, so you can walk everywhere, provided you have an umbrella on hand. We spent the day touring the iconic Christ Church Cathedral, St Patrick’s Cathedral, St Stephen’s Green and Grafton Street - Dublin’s main shopping area.
We were blessed with sunshine when we went to St Stephen’s Green, which really made the park come to life. Make sure you visit the lovely garden that has been designed especially for the blind – all the placards are written in Braille and the flowers have been chosen specifically for their strong scents. There’s also a large lake complete with ducks and a little waterfall, as well as an ornamental gazebo and bandstand.
Dinner was at a luxurious bar called The Bank, an ornate restaurant housed in an old banking hall. We finished off the night with some live music and pints around the busy Temple Bar area. When in Dublin, right?
For our last day, we had a classic Irish breakfast in a hole-in-the-wall café near our apartment. Lovinspoon serves up a hearty full breakfast with bacon, sausages, baked beans, eggs, mushroom, tomatoes, toast, and black and white pudding. And the best part? It’s only €8, Irish tea included!
Only in Dublin do you have this picturesque view of a little groundskeeper’s cottage from your apartment window.
The renowned Trinity College was high on my list of things to see in Dublin and it didn’t disappoint. Much like Oxford and Cambridge, you can walk through the sprawling grounds and faculties. However, it was the Old Library that I was particularly interested in. Reminiscent of something from Harry Potter, it’s a legal deposit library which means it’s legally entitled to a copy of every single book published in Great Britain and Ireland. It’s also home to the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript with four Gospels from the New Testament. There’s often a long queue, so it’s best to book your tickets online. Then you can skip past everyone else waiting in the rain.
Kimberlee Oo is a freelance writer and French-English translator who moved to Paris in pursuit of the perfect croissant.
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The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.