This past Christmas, I traveled back across the pond for a trip to the Emerald Isle. This time, I was there to meet my partner’s friends and family. They live in a village called Mount Temple, which is about an hour-ish outside of Dublin. We had a few days of fun to ourselves before we headed into the countryside so we chose to explore Dublin, where my partner grew up.
The first time I arrived in Dublin, back in 2017, I went with EF Ultimate Break. This time, my partner was determined to show me the city like a local, staying away from over-hyped tourist spots, and making sure to always have a good time.
We arrived a day or two after Christmas, which was perfect because while we missed out on the holiday markets, the beautiful lights were still in good form. Most of this list is year-round, but some of these activities might be focused on things you can only do around this time of year.
Where to Stay
My wonderful, loving partner really wanted this trip to be beyond memorable for me. When we pulled up to the Shelbourne Dublin Hotel, I thought there was no way we could be staying here. Months prior, my partner Eóin had told me that we would be staying about 20 minutes outside of the city center. Lo and behold, he turned to me and said, “Happy Christmas love, this is a stay at your first 5 ☆ hotel!”
I was floored and immediately started crying in happiness and excitement. I know that not everyone reading this will be able to stay at a hotel like The Shelbourne so I also included a few other options for a variety of budgets.
The best part about having a local show me around is that he took me to all the spots he loved. We tried a little bit of everything on this trip but there are still places on my list for the next visit. I guess I’ll just have to make another trip out there haha ;)
Favorite Eats –
Avoca (my #1 breakfast choice)
Nestled above a tiny shop, this place had the absolute BEST French toast I have ever had!
Yes it was our hotel but their buffet breakfast was amazing and had so many options
They also have an awesome (albeit expensive) high-tea option
Queen of Tarts
Shanahan’s On The Green
Expensive but this was our anniversary/holiday dinner ‘treat’
The Port House
Delicious tapas and great wine selection
What to Do
The best part about a city like Dublin, is that there is a little something for everyone. Whether you’re intellectually stimulated or just want to drink the day away, you’ll find a spot to fit in here.
Head to the Library –
I have dreamt about Trinity College Library for most of my life. If you’ve tracked this blog or follow me on social media then you know that books are my life. Make sure you buy tickets in advance to the famous Book of Kells exhibit. After you finish there, head to the Old Library, also known as “The Long Room” and walk through the beautiful stacks, framed by busts of world renown authors.
Find A Pub
If you love beer or whiskey, you won’t find a corner in Dublin where you can’t live your best life. Sure, you can head to Temple Bar, where you’ll find all the tourists but live bands and a ton of pubs. I personally prefer the quieter parts of town, less traffic and organic company. If you pop into any pub you’re likely to stumble across a few young travelers, some rowdy locals, and maybe even a few a 90-year-olds who’ve been coming there for most of their lives.
Pub culture in Dublin is amazing! If you play your cards right you could be singing along with a group of strangers before the night’s end.
Some Great Pub Options:
Kehoe’s (pictured above)
The Brazen Head
Claims to be the oldest pub in Dublin
The Long Hall
After-work drink crowd, great craic when the sun’s out
Admire a Cathedral
Religion aside, the history and beauty I find in classic cathedrals is unmatched. While there are a ton to choose from, the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in the center of Dublin is a good place to start. It does cost to tour but it’s self-guided and completely worth it. Be sure to get your tickets in advance.
Tour a Distillery
I did the Jameson Distillery tour the first time I went to Dublin. I loved it so much that I had to go back for more! It is a must-do for anyone heading to the city. Even my partner, who was born and lived in Dublin for years, loved this tour! If you’re not a whiskey fan, this is still wonderfully educational. I also recommend looking into the Guinness Storehouse Tour.
Take A Walk
Depending on the time of year, walk through the bustling streets of the city and take it all in. Even though we arrived the day after Christmas, the holiday lights were still up. It was cold, but the lights made every night in the city feel like magic! If the holidays are a long way off, find a gorgeous park like St Stephen’s Green for a great stroll.
If you decided to rent a car, or if you’re with a tour group, then feel free to explore! There are some amazing parts of Ireland, outside Dublin. Having been twice I have a few personal favorites, but I also had my partner toss in a couple of his own.