Dublin is somewhere that I have been wanting to go for a long time, in a straight line it is only 130 miles from where I live in the Lake District. After talking to a few of the guys I work with who later asked me if I wanted to go to with them to watch Ireland play USA in the Rugby Union, I immediately hopped on Skyscanner and got an £18 return flight from Manchester!
Having booked my flights, picked up some (very overpriced) train tickets and reserved 2 nights in a hostel for a place to get my head down. The only thing I had left to do was pack! RyanAir who I got my bargain flights with have always been known for a their extreme baggage policy and recently they have started to strictly enforce it! So to avoid getting lumped with a £50 baggage surcharge at the gate I had to do some very strategic packing! I was able to cram all my clothes for the weekend into my small daypack, the bag I usually take as hand luggage on long haul trips. Amazingly I was able to cram, 2 shirts, 2 T-shirt’s, a pair of jeans, a pair of going out shoes, all my toiletries as well as a couple of other bits into this tiny bag!
Friday came about and before you knew we were making our way down to the airport, on the train it takes about 2 and a bit hours and at least 1 train change to get from Barrow (my hometown) to Manchester airport. So we were absolutely blessed that neither train we had to get was delayed (which they very often are! Cheers Northern Rail!) otherwise we could very well have missed our flight!
Having arrived at the airport station we pegged it across the skybridge, straight to Terminal 3 and through security, luckily flying hand luggage only and having our boarding passes on our phones it made the whole airport procedure a little bit smoother. We even had enough time to squeeze a cold one in at the departure lounge!
The flight from Manchester to Dublin takes realistically 40 minutes, although RyanAir claim it takes an hour and then when it does land earlier than what is on your boarding card, they can boast how their flights are always on time! Even with a flight of that time being good old RyanAir their is always enough time to get the drink trolley down the cabin!
As we landed into Dublin Airport to save time getting into the Center (as it was already 9pm) we got a taxi, which are plentiful and typically cost about €20-30 from the airport to the city Center which is about 30-40 minutes away depending on traffic.
For the rest of the night our plan was to explore Dublin’s nightlife, but after getting some dinner! We had pre booked a table at Ryan’s of Parkgate Street. Which is owned by a family butchers and offers some superb steaks of all kinds, one nice touch is that a waiter will explain each cut before you order so you know exactly what you are getting! More info on Ryan’s (AKA FXB) click here
After getting serious meat sweats, it was time to head into town, our first place with Temple Bar. It’s very touristy and expensive but we are tourists after all! Although The Temple Bar is the name of the pub on the corner that most people who have been to Dublin will recognise, Temple Bar actually refers to the surrounding street as well! The atmosphere is bouncing with people flooding the streets! There are live bands playing every night too!
Saturday came around and with a massive hangover from a mix of Guinness and Sambucas I strolled down the street one of the local greasy spoons and got an Irish Breakfast and a Coffee! The full works; sausage, bacon, hash browns, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, black and white pudding and enough toast to feed an army, all for €10!
The Rugby wasn’t kicking off until 18:30 so we had plenty of time to see some of the sites of Dublin, one big one for me was The Guinness Factory and to do some whiskey tasting, we managed to do both of these, paying the Teeling distillery up on Newmarket a visit first – it had a really good free self guided tour (with the option to do some paid whiskey tasting at the distillery) and a bar on the 2nd floor. If you are not into whiskey straight then go for a cocktail, I can recommend ‘Apple of my Eye’ which is a sweeter cocktail with the burn of the whiskey
We then made our way over to Guinness Factory, to visit the factory on a self guided tour costs €25, which we paid for on arrival and didn’t book a ticket in advance. This admission also includes a ‘free’ pint – I take the term ‘free’ with good humour because paying the ridiculous fee to get in wasn’t enough! The tour itself is very detailed and is quite spread out inside, it is also a must to do in Dublin. It was very busy when we went which was kind of to be expected as it was a Saturday afternoon! Which made the visit to the sky bar which is highest public point on the tour a bit of cramped one.
After filling up on both whiskey and Guinness we went back to the accommodation and crashed out for a bit but by doing so we left getting a taxi to the Aviva stadium where the game was a bit late and started struggling to get a taxi for 5 people! With luck we got to the stadium in the end (with a kilometre jog on top of the taxi ride)
After the game we made it back into the city Center for one last night in the Irish Capital on the beers.
Sunday’s here and it’s time to head home I stopped at Ivys up on Dawson Street for one last Irish Breakfast and a big pot of coffee to drag me through the day and then caught the airport express bus to the terminal, as I sit in the airport bar writing this post with one last Guinness in my hand before flying back to Manchester I can say Dublin has really surpassed my expectations and I wish that I’d had visited earlier than now. The place has such a good nightlife, the Irish have got a good sense of humour and Guinness is absolutely awesome!
So what if you want to come to Dublin? Here’s my advice…
How to get here:
RyanAir (to name one of a few) operate flights several times daily from Manchester to Dublin and return, it’s typically take 40 minutes of flight to get from A to B. If you book a month or 2 before flying you can expect to get flights for as cheap as £20 return! However be careful with the add ons as they can make that cheap flight you’ve bagged not so cheap! One of the main charges to catch people out lately with baggage charges so look at the airline policy before going to the airport
Where to stay:
I stayed in Barnacles Hostel which on the Temple Bar street, about 20 meters up from the main Temple Bar corner. I booked this through Hostel World for around _ a night. I didn’t spend a great amount of time in the hostel itself, only using it as a place to change, shower and sleep but the rooms and common areas were clean and there was a great vibe in the place.
I stayed in a 8 bed mixed dorm which came with its own bathroom, the hostel did offer a free breakfast between 07:00 and 09:30 however I don’t know what it consisted off as I eat out every morning!
For location, cleanliness and price I would 100% recommend this place, even as a group of people! You can read more about the hostel and book it here
How to get from the airport to city Center:
Dublin airport doesn’t have a direct rail link to the city Center so you have to go in some kind of vehicle to get to and from the city center. A taxi from the airport to the city Center will cost between €20-30, which if there is a few of you then it may be worth while doing. Alternatively the rather appropriately named no. 747 bus is an express bus that goes from the airport to the city Center and visa versus for €12 return or €7 one way. We used both methods on our trip, a taxi on Friday and the 747 bus on Sunday. The taxi took around 40 minutes to the door of where we were staying and the bus which I jumped on a couple of streets away took just short of an hour.
Things you absolutely must do:
In my opinion, on a short trip the main things I recommend doing have to be going to watch a Rugby game, especially seeing Ireland’s national team if the dates align with your plans, absolutely go to the main tourist spots like the Guinness Factory and the Temple Bar area but don’t be afraid to venture away from the tourist drag and try some of the quieter bars, as we found the locals are quite keen on having a craic with you and pass on some local recommendations of where to go to! Walking along the river is also quite a nice thing to do day or night! One local bar I can recommend is The Long Hall a local Irish bar that is about as Irish as you can get inside. They sell a superb pint of Guinness and there is a whiskey for every day of the year behind the bar!
I can recommend the 2 places we visited for food; Ivy’s for breakfast/lunch and for evening dinner I can recommend FXB’s. Both meals from the 2 places were excellent quality, generous portions and decently priced
Dublin is on the whole an expensive city to visit, it’s noticeable from the bars to even the Tesco’s, comparing the prices of food and drink to that of London. In some places like the main tourist areas they can be ridiculously priced and can even go up by the hour! If you go off Temple Bar area, even by just a street or two, you can find a lot cheaper bars where all the locals actually go
Other essential information:
Ireland is part of the EU however isn’t part of the Schengen zone and as such you require your passport or national ID card to enter the country. If you travel onto the UK however you will find that you don’t need to show your passport at border control, you just simply proceed to the baggage reclaim and then out of the terminal building and on your way.
They use the Euro, use the 3 flat pin plugs like the UK do and also drive on the left like the UK does also but unlike the UK the speed limits are in KM/H not MPH!