48 HOURS IN DUBLIN | OUR BEST EXPERIENCES
If you're into cozy pubs, comfort food, and an overall jovial culture, then Dublin is the place for you! I was excited to experience Ireland because I'm part Irish; but we also came prepared to experience some of the Dublin-specific specialties.
The old city center of Dublin is one of the coolest I've seen. The cobblestone pathways are lined with eclectic pubs, restaurants, and quirky shops. Perhaps Dublin's most iconic pub is the Temple Bar, seen above. It is ridiculously crowded, but rightly so. For some, admiring the unmistakable exterior is enough, but if you venture inside, you'll be met with live Irish folk music and major old-school pub vibes that will set the tone for a great night out.
We next intentionally chose a longer and more scenic route to stroll along on our way to the Guinness Storehouse. This picture below is why I love Dublin - the city spirit, the lively colors.
I would highly recommend booking a tour into the Guinness Storehouse ahead of time. You'll have a specific time slot and know exactly when you need to show up. Otherwise, I'm not sure how long of a line it would be without reservations, or if you'd be able to get in at all!
The tour is informative and overall excellent. You get to see the process of how the signature beer is made, along with some history. They finally bring you into a room to waft and sip, waft and sip, and sip, and sip. The samples are quite plentiful.
At this point, I'm pretty buzzed. But hey, there's a roof top bar serving more beer. Of course, let's do it. The atmosphere is cool. The architecture is impressive as you sit atop a glass silo type of structure. Be sure to check out the gift shop too. They've actually got some really cool items. We brought back a pair of signature Guinness drinking glasses custom engraved with our names on them - a pretty unique souvenir!
In Ireland, you're bound to have a rainy day here and there, even when visiting in the summer. But we have the rain to thank for Ireland's green and luscious landscapes! The next morning, we woke to gray and drizzling skies, so what's a perfect rainy day activity? Visit an Irish gaol!
A gaol is another name for a prison, and the Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin is one of the most well-known. We showed up late morning without any pre-booked tickets and were able to join a guided tour without issue.
The Kilmainham Gaol was opened in 1796, and with most other gaols at the time, it was disorderly, crowded, and with poor health conditions. Usually, candles were the only form of light and "heat" in these dank prisons, and they weren't often handed out anyway. A prison reform movement soon after would change these conditions, allowing for single cells and medical services, but prison life here was still below standard. You can still see the gallows where hangings and other executions took place.
In the 1850s, a new wing was constructed, which is the current oval design seen above. This allowed a viewer from a central point to be able to see and monitor all 96 cells. The massive skylight at the top also provided an efficient way to light the prison. Out of reach, barred windows were also constructed in these new cells to encourage prisoners to "turn heavenward." The use of light was deliberate and philosophical.
The oldest part of the gaol still remains today, and after walking the dark and claustrophobic hallways to get to this part of the building, it is definitely not a place you would want to be.
I think my favorite experience in Dublin was visiting the Jameson Whiskey Distillery.
The Irish are crazy about their whiskey, so you know this was going to be a good time.
And we didn't just visit it to sample some world-class Irish whiskey, we booked a whiskey cocktail making class. This was definitely a highlight of the trip, and we would highly recommend it! Book in advance for this one, though, as the classes are small and fill up quickly.
We donned some classic green, craftsman-made aprons with rustic leather straps and entered the whiskey concoction room. We were presented with a recipe book (that we got to keep!) and conjured up probably a half a dozen different drinks, learning the proper techniques and tricks of the trade. I could barely keep up with finishing my current drink before moving on to create the next one!
This is 100% a MUST DO if you visit Dublin. Book your class here.
To end our last evening here in Dublin, we found a cozy restaurant to fill up on some classic Irish stew and corned beef. Drool.
Have some more time in the city? Take a stroll through Trinity College or visit the Leprechaun museum and Dublin Castle.