Day Trips From Dublin

  1. Cliffs of MoherThis is an absolute must-do! Located in County Clare, these stunning cliffs attract millions of visitors from all over the globe and it’s easy to see why. Make sure to check out all three viewing platforms as each of them provides a unique and breathtaking view of the Atlantic. O’Brien’s Tower is the highest viewpoint at 214 meters from sea level. I did a day tour with Extreme Ireland which was excellent. In addition to seeing the cliffs, we stopped in Doolin; a lovely little village popular for its traditional Irish music, Corcomroe Abbey; a 13th Century monastery, Burren National Park & Dunguaire Castle. Doing a tour is a great way to learn about the area and stop at places you may otherwise miss. I will definitely be back this summer when a girlfriend of mine visits from Australia – can’t wait to see it in another season!

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The Burren, County Clare.

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Dunguaire Castle, County Galway.

2. Northern Ireland & Giant’s CausewayI went on another wonderful day trip that included Giant’s Causeway; the only World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland. We began the tour in Belfast where I chose to do the Black Taxi Tour; a political tour of the area which was as fascinating as it was unsettling. I would highly recommend doing this tour if you even have the slightest interest in learning about Northern Ireland’s conflict that took place from 1968 – 1998 known as The Troubles. The tour guides were excellent as they lived through this dark time, providing you with a vivid picture of what life was like during this difficult period.

Giant’s Causeway is a natural rock formation consisting of approximately 40,000 basalt columns. The many legends surrounding its formation make it even more magical – it really is something to see. After you’re finished exploring, make sure to grab a bite at The Nook; a cozy little Gastropub and previous school house.

We also stopped at Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge in County Antrim. Unfortunately the winds were so strong that the bridge was closed for the day but we were still able to take in the breathtaking views of our surroundings. Fans of Games of Thrones will recognize the medieval Dunluce Castle as Castle Greyjoy; we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it at sunset – stunning!

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Sheep Island, County Antrim.

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Dunluce Castle, County Antrim.

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Fish, chips & mushy peas at The Nook – yum!

3. HowthThis bustling fishing village is a fabulous way to spend a day. I did the Howth Head Walk with a girlfriend which was absolutely stunning! Check out the Howth Market, Howth Castle & Grounds or grab at a bite at one of the many great restaurants lining the village. We were there on a Sunday and enjoyed listening to the beautiful trad music playing while we dined. Howth is easily accessible from Dublin, just a quick ride on the light rail (DART) and you’re there and ready to explore.

4. Bray Head Cliff WalkI absolutely love this walk. You can take the DART from Dublin to Bray and walk along the cliff to Greystones. It takes a couple of hours and the views are stunning – it’s a perfect way to spend a day. Once you reach Greystones, you can grab some food & a cheeky pint (or two) before making your way back to Dublin. The DART is available from Greystones or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can make the trek back to where you started in Bray. Nothing beats fresh air and exercise while taking in the beauty that is Ireland.

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Bray Head Cliff Walk, County Wicklow.

5. Killarney National ParkLocated in County Kerry, Killarney National Park is Ireland’s first national park which was donated to the Irish Free State in 1932. It has expanded significantly since and has a diverse range of flora and fauna. It is also home to Ireland’s only herd of red deer, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled! There are several walking options ranging in length and difficulty. Killarney National Park seems to have everything; breathtaking views of mountains and lakes, creeks and even a castle from the 15th Century (Ross Castle). For the nature lovers out there like myself (or someone who just wants to see the beauty that is Ireland) – this is the place for you.

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6. Wicklow Mountains National ParkAnother unbelievably beautiful spot in Ireland. If you happen to visit when the sun is shining (a somewhat rare occurrence here), you will be blown away by your surroundings. There are plenty of activities for all ages and interests. Go hiking, try your luck at catching a fish, sharpen your rock climbing skills or simply take a relaxing stroll out in the wilderness. A visit to County Wicklow is not complete without visiting Glendalough and it’s “Monastic City.” This important site is home to buildings from as early as the 10th Century. County Wicklow is only 80 km from Dublin and is one of the most picturesque spots in Ireland’s Ancient East.

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Wicklow Mountains National Park, County Wicklow.

7. Kildare – A girlfriend of mine from Italy lives here with her husband so I decided to visit her so I could see another part of the country. I may not have otherwise thought to stop here but I’m so glad that I did. We hung out with sheep and had a fantastic lunch at the Green Barn Cafe located within Burtown House & Gardens. The food is phenomenal; it’s incredibly fresh as almost all of their ingredients come from their organic garden on site. I’ve been back since and I would make a special trip to Kildare just to eat at the Green Barn. The Irish National Stud & Gardens is also well worth a visit. You can spend the day with beautiful thoroughbred horses; most are worth more money than you or I will ever see 🙂 Afterwards, stroll over to the Japanese Gardens and get in touch with your inner zen. There is so much to see and do in this country, my bucket list seems to be growing everyday – not that I’m complaining!

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Irish National Stud & Japanese Gardens.

My favourite Dublin Attractions

I’ve been living here for nearly a month now and I’ve only just scratched the surface of things to see and do in this wonderful city. I will be adding to this list as I go, so stay tuned for more of Dublin’s best attractions. Here are some of my favourite spots so far 🙂

  1. Phoenix Park – This is a wonderful place to escape from the city, take a long walk and see some of the wild deer that roam the park. (Note: It’s important not to touch or feed the deer. They could become aggressive, especially when protecting their young. They could also become quite ill from being fed the wrong kind of food). Currently there are over 400 fallow deer that reside in the park. It is also home to a variety of bird species, bats and many different kinds of flora. Entry is free and there is lots to see and do. Phoenix Park is also home to the Dublin Zoo which is the largest of its kind in Ireland.

2. Dublin Castle – Dublin Castle was erected in the Thirteenth Century and is now a major tourist attraction in Dublin. It’s easy to see why. Not only is it aesthetically stunning, it also contains a beautiful collection of artwork from as early as the Seventeenth Century. A variety of exhibitions and events are held at the castle which are worth keeping an eye out for on their website http://www.dublincastle.ie/exhibitions/. You can do guided or self-guided tours of the castle.

Make sure to check out the Chester Beatty Library while you’re there. It has a rich collection of manuscripts, rare books and other fascinating artefacts from around the world. Lonely Planet has deemed it to be one of the best museums in Europe, it won “Best Museum of the Year” and it’s free of charge – what more can you ask for?

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Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle.

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Chester Beatty Library.

3. St. Patrick’s Cathedral – St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest and tallest cathedral in Ireland; founded in 1191. It is a place of worship for the Church of Ireland. You can enter the church for a small fee and take a tour of the interior of this stunning Gothic style landmark.

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4. St. Stephen’s Green – Great place to escape the busy city and get some fresh air. Here you can spot ducks, swans, herons and other types of bird species. Take a book along with you or bring a picnic and be prepared to spend hours here taking in the scenery.

5. Trinity College – Located amongst the bustling city, Trinity College campus is one of the most beautiful and tranquil I have seen. The famous Book of Kells (the world’s oldest book, completed in the 9th century) is located at the Trinity College Library and attracts visitors from all over the world. The library is also home to many other rare and early volumes and is the largest research library in Ireland.

Additionally, make sure to check out the Science Gallery as it is fascinating and best of all, entry is free of charge. The exhibits are constantly changing and the staff is very knowledgeable and more than willing to answer any questions that you might have.

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Sphere Within Sphere by Arnaldo Pomodoro. Trinity College, Dublin.

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Beautiful Trinity College Campus.

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The Long Room Library.

6. Merrion Square – For a literary lover like myself, this place is magical. Oscar Wilde’s childhood home is located just outside the square and inside, you will see his statue and various quotes written by the Dublin-born poet and writer.

There are several other statues that line the Square, each one unique and worth a look. Don’t forget to check out the colourful Georgian Doors that line the Square. Dating back to the 18th Century, these Georgian homes were built with very strict architectural guidelines. Consequently, many of Dublin’s residents began to add colour and other unique features to their doors in order to differentiate themselves from their neighbours. The result is stunning.

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Oscar Wilde’s childhood home (1855-1878).

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Oscar Wilde statue.

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The Doors of Dublin.

7. National Botanic Gardens – What a peaceful place. I had the most enjoyable day strolling through the various greenhouses, taking in all the beautiful flora on display. Entry into the Gardens is free of charge which is a bonus. In addition, lectures, tours & other events are often held on site. You can take a look at the schedule featured on their website http://www.botanicgardens.ie/news/events.htm for more details. 

If you’re looking for a nice meal or just a sweet treat & a coffee while you’re there, try their restaurant Garden TearoomsI had the cod and chips and it was delicious. This is definitely a place that I would visit time and time again.

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8. IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) – One of my favourite spots to stroll around, especially on a Sunday. The grounds are beautiful and entry into the museum is free (excluding some exhibitions). The Collection Freud Project featuring the works of Lucian Freud is currently running and is well worth checking out.

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9. National Gallery of Ireland – Great place to spend a few hours, especially if the weather isn’t cooperating (it is Ireland after all!) I recently saw the exhibit Beyond Caravaggio and it was phenomenal. If you’re in Dublin, I highly suggest checking it out before it ends on May 14th.

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10. The Little Museum of Dublin – Located on St. Stephen’s Green, The Little Museum of Dublin is a wonderful place to learn about Irish history. Their collection is made up entirely of items donated by Dubliners which allows for a more intimate look into the history of the city. The U2: Made in Dublin exhibit on the second floor is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of Dublin’s most famous band. The exhibit features photography, signed albums, sculptures and other items donated by fans.

11. National Museum of Ireland (Archaeology) – I can’t believe this museum is free! It’s so well laid out and contains many fascinating objects including Viking artifacts, bog bodies and ceramics. It’s a great way to spend a few hours and learn something in the process.

12. Natural History Museum (AKA “Dead Zoo”) – This museum is quite unusual as it’s nickname suggests. Learn about animals in all different shapes and sizes from Ireland and beyond through taxidermy, geological samples and activity areas. I have an affinity for both taxidermy and animals, making this museum one of my favourites.

There are so many incredible places to see in Ireland. Here are some great day trips from Dublin.

First impressions of Dublin

Hope everyone is well 🙂 I haven’t been posting much over the past couple of weeks as I’ve been busy finding a flat, moving in and getting settled. However, I have been writing down my thoughts and feelings about my new surroundings and I finally have time to share them.

Firstly, Dublin is a beautiful city. The architecture is stunning; cathedrals, Victorian pubs and incredible public works of art such as monuments and statues line the city. There is so much to see and do and a lot of it is free of charge. The nightlife is, of course, second to none here. Even if you’re not a big drinker, you can appreciate the live traditional music (“trad music” as it’s called here) that can be heard throughout the bustling city. Head out for a bit of “craic” as they say for fun and you will end up meeting people from all over the world. In my first 48 hours in the city, I met an American, two Germans and someone from Spain. There are many people from all over the globe here for work or on holiday and everyone is incredibly friendly.

That leads into my second point. The Irish are some of the kindest people that I’ve ever met. There were a few instances that I made sure to take note of, as they made me smile.

  1. I had stopped at a bench for a brief moment and while I was there, noticed a little girl (around 5) drop some chocolate that she had been eating on the ground. Of course, she started to cry because at her age, this would have been a devastating ordeal (can’t really blame her if I’m honest, I’d be crushed at my age). Anyhow, a woman who had seen this happen, ran over immediately and gave the girl a donut from the box she had just purchased. It was a small gesture but it made the girl’s day and it brought a smile to my face. Nowadays, we’re too busy to notice much of what’s going on around us, so it was pretty refreshing to see this act of kindness.
  2. I was taking the bus into the city and had my headphones on listening to music on my iPod. I saw a man waving his hands at me and when I looked up, the elderly man smiled at me and asked if I was listening to anything good. I told him it’s a band called Joseph from the States. He asked if he could listen too and we shared my headphones for the rest of the ride. He loved their music and told me that hearing it had made his day. It made mine too.
  3. Everyone here sings. I don’t just mean at a karaoke bar or at the club. I was in a pizza shop late one afternoon and a group of friends came in and while they were in line, a popular song from the 80’s came on (I’ve completely forgotten what it was) and they all started singing along. Another day, I was at a pub waiting to hear an Irish band play and American Pie came on and the whole bar started singing – it was amazing. People from all over the world with different backgrounds, speaking different languages, connected by music. What a beautiful thing.
  4. I went for a long walk at Phoenix Park one day and ended up getting turned around at the end of my 4 hour stroll. I saw a couple Park Rangers nearby and I guess I looked a little lost so they asked if I needed any help. They ended up driving me all the way to the other end of the park to my bus stop. On the way, we chatted about the park and they gave me a bit of a history lesson on the area. Even though it only took a few minutes, it meant a lot as I was cold and tired from all the walking.
  5. I was taking the bus to the National Botanic Gardens one day and wasn’t sure if I was boarding the right bus. The driver told me that indeed I was and that he would flash the lights and call out at my stop. He ended up being my driver on the way back as well and asked how the day was and was very kind. Again, a small favour can mean a lot.
  6. While I was having lunch at the Botanic Gardens, a pair of sisters sat down at my table as it was very busy. They were apologetic and told me that they didn’t want to disturb me. When I told them it was no bother, they heard my accent and were really excited to hear that I was from Canada. We ended up chatting for over an hour. They told me stories of their childhood, growing up without cars, how dating was back then and many other interesting facts about life in Ireland. I could have sat there for hours listening to their insights on the world. They told me that our meeting was meant to be and they hoped I would enjoy my stay in Ireland. One of them was pretty cheeky – she said I should stay single until I find a nice Irish man with a farm. I may just take her advice 😉 One of my favourite things about travel is meeting people from all ages, backgrounds and walks of life. It’s amazing what you can learn.

“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.”-Anthony Bourdain

I’ve gotten pretty familiar with the city and how to get around by walking and taking public transportation when need be. Many people complain about the public transportation here but so far, I haven’t had any real issues. In addition to exploring Dublin, I took a day trip to see the Cliffs of Moher and a friend took me out to the beautiful fishing village of Howth. Everything is very accessible here – there’s a bus that takes you to various locations outside of Dublin. I plan to take a few other day trips in the near future and continue to explore this wonderful city. I am also planning on visiting many other European countries while I’m here and have plans for England, Scotland & Wales in the next few months.

All in all, I am very happy that I decided to move to the beautiful country of Ireland. Adjusting to the weather has been a bit of a challenge but it’s something I think I will get used to. I just have to make sure to exercise regularly and take my vitamins 🙂 I’m looking forward to meeting many new people, having adventures and sharing my stories along the way.

Cheers!

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Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare. Ireland.

You can check out some of my favourite Dublin attractions (so far) here.