Having just returned from a trip to Germany, Czech Republic, and Austria, I’m thinking about past travels. One very fun place I’ve visited is Dublin.
There are basically two options for getting to Dublin from the UK: the ferry or flying. Aer Lingus offers amazingly cheap flights (from £5 one way!) from London. RyanAir has flights from £.99 one way between London and Dublin; they fly out of a number of other UK cities as well. To take the ferry, you’ll have to get yourself to Holyhead, Liverpool, or Douglas. On the Stena Line, the fair is from £14. When I went to Dublin back in 2000, we took the ferry from Holyhead. This was before all these cheap flights became so readily available. Plus riding the train to Holyhead gave us a great opportunity to see Wales and experience the BritRail system. I’d take one of this discount flights now to save time, especially since I’ve already had the train experience.
Where to Stay
When I went with a couple of my college classmates, we stayed at a hostel. It was a bit odd to have a bunk in a room with about 10 other people, but boy was it cheap! GoIreland seems like a good place to begin looking for accommodations. I think I’d stay in Dublin City Centre to be close to the nightlife, but Dublin is so small that anywhere in the city will likely be satisfactory.
What to See and Do
Dublin Castle: This “castle” (it looks more like a really fancy government building to me!) is right in the middle of historic Dublin. It was completed by 1230, but has had a fair amount of reconstruction done. It was the center for the English colonial administration during colonial rule and managed to survive both the War of Independence and the Civil War. It’s a great spot to get some exposure to Ireland’s history.
Trinity College: Everyone should visit Trinity College – mainly to see the Book of Kells at the library. The Book is an illuminated manuscript written around 800 AD. It contains the four gospels with beautiful artwork. It has its own interesting history. Another of my favorite items at the library is the harp, dating from the 15th century. When I visited, the harp was on the country’s currency (they’ve now adopted the Euro). Star Wars fans will enjoy seeing the long room as well – the Jedi Archives shown in Episode II is very obviously a replica of the library. I’d rate the library as THE top place to go in Dublin.
Kilmainham Gaol: Although bleak and depressing, this site is unbelievably popular – with good reason. The Gaol was first built in 1796 and operated as a jail until 1924. The most interesting part to me was learning about the 1916 Easter Rising. In my opinion, this is another must-see when visiting Dublin.
Guiness Storehouse: This brewery claims to be Ireland’s No. 1 international visitor attraction. I’d believe that! I had a great time visiting there, learning about the brewing process and the history of Guiness, even though I didn’t care for beer at the time.
For kids: Dublinia & the Medieval Viking World or the Viking Adventure. I think we went to the latter when I was there, but it seems like they ought to be somewhat similar. It was VERY corny, but a fun way to learn about Viking history.
Nightlife: One of my fondest memories of Dublin is spending the evening at a pub in Temple Bar. There was live music, and we were surrounded by locals and a few tourists. Everyone was friendly and having a great time. When I think of Ireland, I always think of friendly, jovial people.
“When I’m lonely or feeling dejected I play this and it never fails/I pretend like I’m in Ireland with Enya and the whales.” -”Ireland” (Legally Blonde the Musical) I hope you get to go to Dublin – and I hope I get to return someday too.