BEFORE YOU GO
- Book a rental car a few weeks in advance to get the best prices. We used Europcar and we were very pleased with the service! They even upgraded our car for free!
- Pick up and drop off at the airport- it will save you hundreds of dollars!
- If you can drive a stick shift then definitely rent a manual because automatics are way more expensive in Ireland.
- Do you have a travel rewards credit card? Check to see if they cover rental car insurance so you don’t buy a more expensive insurance with the rental car company.
- Make sure when you’re booking accommodations that the hotel or Airbnb has free parking.
- Know that driving on the opposite side of the road will take a little while to get used to, but you will eventually get the hang of it- just keep telling yourself “left side of the road”
- Pack an umbrella, a raincoat, and clothing that you can layer. Irealnd weather can be unpredictable so it’s best to be prepared.
1. Explore Trinity College and the famous Trinity College Library
The famous Trinity library houses over 200,000 thousand books including the Book of Kells and the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. It’s one of the most stunning libraries in the world. Naturally, it’s become one of most popular attractions in Dublin so I HIGHLY recommend going early to avoid the crowds and the long lines to get in.
Insider tip: If you get the Dublin Pass, this is one of the attractions that’s included. If you’re planning on doing a lot of sight seeing in Dublin, the Dublin Pass will definitely save you some money!
2. Tour the Guinness Storehouse
If you are a Guinness lover, this one is a no brainer. The Guinness Storehouse was a great way to dive into the heart of Irish culture. The Storehouse is a completely immersive experience letting visitors take part in activities such as pouring your own perfect pint or being taught how to properly drink a Guinness from one of their tasting experts. For a little bit extra, you can even get your photo printed on your own pint of Guinness. You will also learn the rich history behind the Guinness brand on a self guided tour. One of the most interesting facts I learned is that in 1792, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on the property for only 45 IR (Irish Pounds) a year!
Don’t forget to head up to the Storehouse’s Gravity Bar which has 360 views of the Dublin!
The Guinness Storehouse is also included in the Dublin Pass– and tickets include admission plus one pint of Guinness.
3. Listen to local Dublin Musicians play music while kayaking on the river with City Kayaking.
Kayaking down the River Liffey while talented local musicians serenade you under Dublins famous bridges- one word- MAGICAL. The acoustics were seriously mind blowing! We did this the very first night in Dublin and it was probably one of my absolute favorite things we did on the whole trip. What made it even more exciting was when crowds of people gathered around the waterfront just to listen to the musicians play their Irish folk songs. It truly made me feel like you were part of something special. It gave me chills.
The owners of City Kayaking, Micheal Byrne and Jonathan O’Brien, are true local Dubliners. They grew up around River Liffey so at a young age they developed a passion for water activities. Fast forward to today- Michael and Jonathan have turned their passion into a business that truly lets visitors (and locals) experience Dublin in the most unique ways.
The General Manager, Darinka Montico (who also joined us on our kayaking adventure) is from Italy where she’s a best selling travel author. She loves traveling and a true nomad, but her expertise in social media, photography, and event planning make her the perfect addition to the City Kayaking team. She was fantastic to work with!
City Kayaking also offers a unique sailing experience called Dublin Under Sail where you can set sail across River Liffey on their traditional sailing vessel! You can actually be part of a real sailing crew- how cool is that? I know next time I’m in Dublin, I’m definitely doing this.
Below is a video that I captured from our Music Under the Bridges experience. If you want to book YOUR kayaking or sailing experience (which I highly recommend)- CLICK HERE
If you enjoy doing something completely unique when exploring new cities- you should book this silver ring forging class. It was such a gratifying experience to be able to walk away with a beautiful ring that I handmade myself. I was so proud of how my ring turned out and it definitely was the best souvenir of the whole trip.
What surprised me the most about this experience was that it wasn’t just tourists taking the class. There were also Dublin locals joining in as well. It’s a great activity for all ages, families, couples, singles and friends.
The hosts of this experience were also extremely fun, patient, helpful and knowledgeable about the ring forging process. They made it super easy for ring making novices like myself.
If you want to book this one-of-a-kind experience- CLICK HERE.
5. Go out for live music and pints in the Temple Bar area- guaranteed a good time!
WHERE TO STAY:
Luxury Option: The Merrion Hotel Dublin
Budget Option: Check out this Airbnb – we stayed here and it was an excellent location. It was very clean and very comfortable
1. Stop by the Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey- 2 hour drive from Dublin (on the way to Cork)
You will need 2-3 hours to explore both of these beautiful ruins. The Rock of Cashel does have an admissions fee (it comes with a guided group tour) but Hore Abbey is free! Surprisingly, there was also almost no one at Hore Abbey which made it much easier to take photographs. I suggest doing both Hore Abby and Rock of Cashel because they’re just a short 5 min walk from each other! We were even lucky enough to see a gorgeous rainbow appear right over the Rock of Cashel while at Hore Abby- SO MAGICAL. Below are some of my favorite photos from Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey.
2. Grab some food or gifts at the English Market
3. Visit the Cork City Gaol
4. Spend half a day in Cobh, Ireland
Cobh is a beautiful seaside town that’s only a 30 min drive from Cork. It has not one, but two claims to fame- the row of colorful houses called The Deck of Cards (pictured below) and it was the last port the Titanic stopped at before sinking into the Atlantic. It’s probably one of the most charming cities in all of Ireland.
At the center of Cobh is the gothic style cathedral that was modeled after Notre Dome that’s free and open to visitors. Trust me- Cobh is must see on your Ireland bucket list!
WHERE TO STAY:
Luxury Option: Hayfield Manor Hotel Cork
Budget Option: Garnish House Guesthouse
1. Tour the Blarney Castle & kiss the Blarney Stone- 17 min drive from Cork (on the way to Dingle)
2. Make a pit stop to take a horse carriage ride through Killarney National Park
3. Take a drive along Slea Head Drive
Make sure to stop to see the historic Beehive Huts, some gorgeous cliffs, beautiful beaches, and pet some adorable sheep along this scenic route
4. Take a boat tour to see the famous wild Dolphin named Fungi.
Fungi has been in the Dingle harbor for over 37 years. He greets every boat that comes into the harbor. They believe he was orphaned as a young baby and since he has no predators in the harbor- he’s made it his home. Fungi is also one of the biggest tourist attractions in Dingle. He was adorable to watch as he followed our boat around the whole time. If you want to book your Fungi boat tour and learn more about this incredible dolphin- CLICK HERE.
5. Walk around and shop at the local boutiques in the city center of Dingle
6. Falconry Experience– Get up close and personal with some beautiful birds such as a golden eagle, a falcon and owls.
WHERE TO STAY
Luxury Option: The Dingle Skellig Hotel
Budget Option: Dingle Harbour Lodge
1. Visit the Milk Market for some great fresh produce and local irish goodies
2. Tour King John’s Castle
3. Take a half day trip to Galway
4. Take another half day trip to the famous Cliffs of Moher
WHERE TO STAY
Luxury option: Adare Manor
Budget option: Airbnb Apartment– we stayed here and it was AMAZING. Super charming, modern and super clean. Only a 20 min drive into the city center of Limerick.
I hope this has inspired you to visit one of the most gorgeous countries in the world! It was a trip of a lifetime and I was blown away by its beauty. If you have any questions about this guide or if you want more information for your upcoming getaway to Ireland- email me!
You can also get more information about Ireland and extra tips when touring the Emerald Isle by visiting https://www.tourismireland.com/