Dublin has long been a place on my list that I wanted to visit.
So, it was pretty convenient that, as I was searching for somewhere to visit over my birthday, flights to Dublin were coming in as the cheapest (this is typically how I choose my next destination!). It didn’t take long before the flights and accommodation were booked and I was eagerly anticipating my next journey.
Choosing travel over a hangover, we headed to Dublin bright and early on the 1st January 2020.
I think sitting in an airport, waiting for a flight, cider in hand has to be one of the best ways I have ever spent New Year’s Day. The flight from Bristol took less than an hour – so it was also one of the easiest journeys I have ever made!
We spent 3 days in Dublin, with the third day (and the 3rd of January) being my 28th birthday – so, as is customary, I got to kindly choose a lot of the activities we did!
The trip consisted of a lot of independent coffee shops, cool bars, great food and exploring Irish history and literature. So, I thought I would share some of the stand-out places that we visited and some recommendations for where to go if you’re planning your own trip to Dublin this year.
One of the oldest surviving independent bookshops in Dublin, The Winding Stair is a cosy, peaceful store in the busy centre of Dublin. You could easily spend hours here, browsing the incredible range of authors and books on display.
I spent a good chunk of my birthday morning wandering around the shop, exploring a wide range of different books before deciding on two (although I could have easily picked up twenty).
I chose Notes to Self by Emilie Pine and Reading Room, selected by Ian Sansom. It was such a dreamy way to spend the morning, with the warm sunny glow beaming through the window. I highly recommend paying a visit and picking up a book or two if you’re in town.
My family loves to visit bars with arcade machines so Token was a no-brainer for us. This restaurant / bar / retro arcade is a great place to spend a few hours with friends – and I highly recommend getting some food. The vegan Big Macs were so good we even went back for more another day. The sweet potato fries are also some of the best I’ve ever tried.
My childhood spent not sleeping at sleepovers and instead playing on the dance mats means that I’m still a pretty mean opponent on the dance machines!
Opened in 1991, the Dublin Writers Museum is situated in an 18th century mansion and celebrates the rich literary heritage of Ireland.
The audio-guided tour explores a wide range of writers – and I certainly learned a lot about some of the most famed authors that I (sadly) had no idea were Irish.
Don’t be put off by the first two rooms which, although filled with great information, are a bit lacking in design.
As you head up the grand staircase, you’ll find yourself in a stunning room with incredible architecture and art across the walls and ceiling. You can easily spend half of your time wandering around in awe of the room itself (or at least I did!).
Vintage Clothes Shopping
For a vintage clothes lover like me, Dublin was amazing for second-hand options!
There’s a great cluster of vintage shops around Temple Bar including Nine Crows Vintage, Lucy’s Lounge and Dublin Vintage Shop.
Fill up on coffee and snake your way through the streets trying to find a pre-loved gem!
This dark and atmospheric pub was a staple during our trip as we returned a couple of times for the great beer, friendly staff and cool decor.
P. Mac’s has a real vampy vibe to it with red and black decor punctuated by dripping red candles glowing everywhere.
It’s a great place to stop for a pint during the day, or to spend a few hours at the end of the night.
Masa wasn’t originally on our list but something about it caught our eye from over the road in P. Mac’s and we decided to give it a go.
It’s a simple but delicious fresh taco restaurant and turned out to be a perfect pit-stop during the day.
We went for the tortilla chips with salsa, Mexican bravas, mushroom tacos and black bean quesadillas. The mushroom tacos were a perfect mix of sweet, spicy and creamy but the stand out dish was the tortilla chips with an incredible peanut butter salsa. It sounds strange but it’s one of the best things I have ever tasted – make sure to try it if you head to Masa!
Rather aptly described as a ‘dead zoo’ online, the NHM is a great exhibition of zoological collections featuring stuffed animals and skeletons. There’s a wide range of animals, big and small, to see and it’s a really interesting way to spend an hour or so.
We were just expecting this to be a fun wander about and a way to get out of the cold for a bit – but it ended up being one of the most enjoyable things we did during the trip! I was also amazed to see that this huge exhibition was also free (donations optional).
I was really interested to learn more about Irish culture whilst in Dublin so we decided to spend a few hours at EPIC. The Irish Emigration Museum won Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction of 2019 – and you can definitely see why.
The whole experience is a highly visual and interactive walk through Irish history, culture and the impact of Irish people across the world. From work and sport, to music and historical inventions and discoveries, the museum is a really comprehensive exploration of the lives of Irish people and their worldwide influence.
I was initially drawn in by the creative use of light, design and imagery, but left with a much greater knowledge and appreciation of Irish culture throughout the world.
It was great to see a country really celebrate the role of its people in this way – something I’d love to see Wales do too.
I hope this blog gives you a good taster of things you can do with just a few days spent in Dublin. Have you ever been or are you planning to go? Let me know in the comments!