I’ve been home for about two weeks now and while I am so happy to be surrounded by my friends and family (and back in 70 degree weather), I sure do miss Dublin! For those of you studying abroad in Dublin, or planning on visiting the country, I thought I would share my ultimate Ireland bucket list!
- First things first—get a heritage card! If you are in Ireland for an entire semester, this is a no brainer. If you are only visiting for the weekend, the card pays for itself by only visiting two sights! If you have a student ID, the heritage card only costs 10 euro and gets you into over 70 historical sights all over Ireland.
Things To Do in Dublin
- Croke Park- If you are a sports fan, or just interested in a learning about one of the biggest parts of Irish culture, make sure to take a guided tour of Croke Park, home to Dublin’s GAA team! You will learn about hurling and Gaelic football, tour the field and locker rooms, and learn so much more! This was definitely one of my favorite things I did.
- Dublin Castle- Dublin Castle is still used today for important worldly meetings and gatherings. You can tour unrestored ruins of the original castle as well as the modern rooms repurposed for current use!
- Phoenix Park- Phoenix park is HUGE and absolutely beautiful! I recommend renting bikes and cruising around. If you are lucky, you might spot a herd of Irish Reindeer!
- Leprechaun Museum- If you are interested in Irish folklore and storytelling, you have to come here! Enthusiastic storytellers take you through themed rooms and tell you real Irish stories that have been passed down for generations.
- Killmainham Gaol- Learn the history of the Irish War of Independence and the civil war that ensued afterwards, all while touring the inside a real jail.
- Guinness Storehouse- Of course! You can spend a good portion of your day here learning all about the history of the Guinness family and brand.
- River Liffey- The River Liffey is so quintessentially Dublin that you have to take some time to walk the river and see all of the unique bridges!
- The Fumbally- Wow is this place GOOD. I had been meaning to go all semester, but I didn’t get around to going until my second to last day in Dublin. I really wish I had gone earlier because it was probably my favorite restaurant in all of Dublin!
- The Brazenhead- This is the oldest pub in Dublin. The vibe is cozy and the food is great! You cannot visit Dublin without eating some traditional Irish food for dinner at the Brazenhead.
- The Beanhive- This has got to be my favorite café! It is a great place to stop for lunch. While their sandwiches are to die for, the coffee drinks are even better! I could not walk by without stopping in for a chocolate chai latte. And the best part? Their drinks are decorated with the most adorable chocolate art!
Places to Visit Outside of Dublin
- Belfast, Northern Ireland- Only a two hour and twenty euro bus ride away, Belfast is a must visit in December! Since Dublin is lacking in the Christmas Market area, a trip to Belfast will satisfy all your Christmas Market needs! Other must-dos include the botanical gardens at Queens University and the Belfast Titanic Museum. If you stay longer than a day, make sure to travel outside the city to visit the Giant's Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede bridge. Bonus if it is snowing while you visit!
- Blarney Castle, Cork- Just a short bus ride away from Cork, Blarney Castle is a must visit when in Ireland. The castle itself feels very authentic and is fun to explore on your own, and at the top you can kiss the Blarney Stone and receive the gift of the gab! I recommend using a tour company to visit the city of Cork (make sure to stop by the English Market!) and Blarney Castle.
- Killarney- Everywhere in Killarney is breathtakingly beautiful! The city is small and adorable, and traveling a short distance outside of it will get you to amazing sights to see. From here you can travel through the entire Ring of Kerry, or make a few select stops. Definitely visit the Gap of Dunloe and Muckross Abbey. Torc Waterfall, while small, is also a pretty sight!
- Cliffs of Moher- You cannot spend time in Ireland without seeing the Cliffs of Moher! They are stunning and the essence of Ireland! Take a day tour form Dublin to see the Cliffs as well as visit the city of Galway.
As you can see, while Ireland is a very small country, there is SO much to do! If you do plan on visiting Ireland for a weekend, I would recommend staying in Dublin and spending most of your time there, but you will have time for one day trip out of the city to another place of your choice! Honestly, you cannot go wrong with whatever you choose. There are a variety of tour companies that leave from Dublin that will take care of your tickets and itinerary if you want an easy and hassle free experience. If you are more independent in your travel planning, the train station is very easy to get to and very cheap! There are trains going to every major city in Ireland almost every hour of the day. I used both methods for getting around Ireland and had great experiences!
Whether you study abroad in Ireland or just visit for the weekend, I hope you enjoy your time and make some memories to last lifetime—I know I did! In fact, you can even check out my one second per day video I made to see all the fun I had while abroad!