AWCA members are an adventurous bunch! Many of us are frequent and enthusiastic travelers, so this series aims to share travel tips each month. Each recommendation below comes from the real-life experiences of people you know and trust. These are their words! Do you have suggestions for our members? Please fill out our short survey.
This month's destination is Dublin!
- My parents stayed at the Portobello BnB a few times, and were quite happy with it.
- Hugo’s Restaurant and Wine Bar
- The Dawson Lounge supposedly the smallest pub in Dublin
- Church Café
- Cornucopia was amazing. We went there our first night in town, and it was so good we ate almost every meal there for the next two days. Casual, delicious, largely plant based, different food choices every time. No reservations, pop in anytime.
- L Mulligans Grocer in Stoneybatter is the best choice, although a bit out of town (but handy if you're coming from Kilmainham Gaol or the National Museum).
- Ely's is a good stop for modern-Irish cuisine at upper-mid-range prices and has a few locations; the one on Ely's Place near St. Stephen's Green is the best, in my opinion. This is also a really good wine bar.
- Also good for modern Irish at this price bracket are Camden Kitchen and
- Vintage Kitchen and
- For breakfasts, Queen of Tarts on Cows Lane and
- Cake Café (off Camden street – you go through the book store to get to it).
- Of course, any pub will serve Irish pub fare.
- For non-Irish, The Unicorn (Italian)
- El Bahia (Moroccan)
- Dunne and Crecenzi (Italian), or
- Red Torch Ginger (Thai) are also good picks.
- The Winding Stair and Fallon and Byrne are generally considered to be the best Irish food restaurants in Dublin. Book in to both of them. The food is excellent in both, but I'll caveat to say that the Winding Stair has a better, more intimate ambiance.
- Fallon and Byrne has some weird acoustics situation, where it can often be hard to hear across the table (although this is less a problem with just two people).
- My favorite in this range is definitely ETTO. Definitely book, as this place is TINY.
- The best value for fancy food is definitely Forest and Marcy!! The chefs tasting menu is usually a modern twist on traditional Irish food and should come out under €50 with wine parings.
- The BEST museum is Kilmainham Gaol. A must for getting a good overview of the modern Irish political context. You can (and should) book your ticket online ahead of time.
- The Guinness Experience is reliably pretty good. Book online to save 10% and to cut the queue when you arrive. I recommend that you use your "free" pint ticket to pour your own pint and then take that pint up to the top-level bar to drink it alongside the view (use the elevator, no poured pints allowed on the stairs/escalator).
- Christ Church is visually stunning, and sometimes has a neat farmers market in the crypt. The crypt also has a famous mummification of a cat chasing a mouse, if you're into that sort of obscura. If you're going to pay in to one cathedral, Christ Church is prettier on the inside than St. Patrick's Cathedral. St. Pats is worth viewing for free on the outside - and that's where St. Patrick's baptismal well is anyway (the main attraction inside the cathedral is the skull and deathmask of Johnathan Swift. Despite Ireland's (well-deserved) reputation of Catholicism, both of those cathedrals are Church of Ireland. There is a Catholic pro-cathedral in Dublin (basically a cathedral-lite) called St. Mary's.
- Howth and Malahide make for an excellent and easily-reachable half day trip. They're both on the north end of the Dart line. In Howth you should do the cliff walk - if you do the full thing allow a few hours and bring your raincoat. In Malahide you should visit the castle and get your souvenir woolen blanket at Avoca.
- The Literary Pub Crawl is quite good. It's run by 2 actors who bring you to pubs where famous Irish authors used to drink or that they wrote about, and then do skits from their works in between pubs. A bit cheesy, but actually pretty good for learning about Irish culture, and the pubs they choose are all pretty good (places I would actually go in real life, so not super touristy). Buy online for a discount or walk in - they meet at 7:15 p.m. upstairs at the Duke.
- There are a couple of options for transport - busses, taxis, bikes and light rail being the main ones.
- Leap Card: A leap card is the smart card used for public transit fare in Dublin (works on busses, Dart and Luas, like an OV Chipkaart). You can buy them at most Spars (like a 7-11) or at the kiosks at train stations (including Dart). You can load them with cash, or opt to get tourist deals (€10 unlimited travel for 24 hours, €20 unlimited for 72 hours, etc); see https://about.leapcard.ie/leap-visitor-card. You don't need a leap card to travel though, you can also just pay cash as you go.
- Busses: Dublin Bus is the most frequently used public transit mode. The drivers are nice, and will announce your stop for you if you say you're a tourist and ask, so don't be afraid to speak up when you board. Busses are cash only, exact change only. You pay the driver when you get on according to distance. Calculate your fare/see fare amounts here (a "stage" is basically a stop); see https://www.dublinbus.ie/Fare-Calculator/. You can either tell the driver where you're going and he'll tell you how much, or you can just drop your €1.95 in the box and say "One Ninety-five please."
- Taxis: Typically about €10 for most city centre locations. Hail off the street, or if you prefer apps, you can use the app called Free Now.
- Bikes: DublinBikes are the bikeshare scheme in the city. You can get a 3 day ticket for €5. All stops are located in city centre (none beyond the urban core), so keep that in mind if you're planning to use DublinBike as your main transit mode. Also, ride on the left! More info here: http://www.dublinbikes.ie/.
- Light Rail: There are 2 forms of light rail (Luas and Dart), mainly used for accessing the suburbs. The Luas red line runs east/west, across the north side of town. The green line runs north/south via city centre. The Dart runs along the coast from Malahide/Howth to Bray. This one is good for day trips.
- From the Airport: There are a few options from airport to city centre. Taxi will cost about €20-30 depending on destination. Follow signs to the taxi queue, journey is about 20-30 minutes. Express bus (747/757/Airlink or AirCoach) cost €6/7 one way or €10/12 round trip (accepts Leap Card). Follow signs to 747/757, Airlink or Aircoach, journey is about 30-40 minutes. (Aircoach is fancier, and goes to posher suburbs, thus the extra euro. Both go to city centre in same amount of time). Finally, local Dublin Bus, the #16, will cost €3.30. Exact change required if you purchase on board, or buy your ticket from the Spar in the airport (a Spar is like a 7/11). Follow signs to Local Busses and take #16 (not the other one). Journey is about 45-60 minutes, depending on traffic and your stop. There is no train from Dublin Airport to the city!
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Next month we'll be sharing tips for Zwolle! Please help fellow AWCAers by sharing your experiences in our our very short survey.