News editor Grace Duncan reports from St. Ives and suggests visiting for a relaxing seaside break.Written by Grace Duncan on 21st March 2018
Travel Diary | Dublin
Travel writer Ella Jane writes about her time spent in Dublin and gives her top tips on what to do, where to eat and places to avoid
Known for its charisma, cobblestone streets and of course, its alcohol, Dublin is a charming city steeped in history with plenty on offer to see and do and just a stone’s throw away from London. This writer escaped for a winter weekend getaway earlier this year, and despite having limited time to explore, I managed to cram as much of Dublin – and it’s many, many pubs – into the three days as possible.
When I visit somewhere for the first time, I like to do and see everything. In order to do so, we committed to the pre-sunrise flight, which was surprisingly easy with the promise of a cold Guinness on the other side. Most people may be worried about arriving before your hotel check-in time; however, there is no need to stress as you can start exploring immediately! Of course, if you have mounds of luggage this may be a problem, although most hotels will hold your bags prior to your room being ready.
Our first agenda was to source the city’s best brunch spot. We roamed the streets around our hotel and lucky for us we stumbled across Brother Hubbard - passing the Leprechaun Museum on the way. Located on Chapel Street, just one block back from the River Liffey, it soon became apparent that this was the place to eat brunch in Dublin. Everything here is homemade, from breakfast to the baked goods and it was outrageously delicious, so much so that we returned later to test out their drinks menu. Warning – when you order a hot cocoa in Brother Hubbard it will be the richest, most moreish pot of molten chocolate that comes with a side of warm frothy milk. It will make every future hot chocolate taste like a disappointment!
Once happily fed, we headed off to our first attraction of the holiday: Dublin Castle (I like touristy stuff, sue me). I highly recommend getting a guided tour for £8, which takes approximately 70 minutes and provides access to State Apartments, the Viking Excavation and the Chapel Royal. On this tour you learn about Dublin’s founding, its ancestry and how the city got its name – from the Gaelic ‘dubh linn’ which means ‘black pool’, and refers to the deep body of water where the Poddle stream used to meet the River Liffey at Dublin Castle. After the tour, the area offers great surrounds for wandering and you may discover the eternally impressive Christ Church Cathedral and St Patricks Cathedral, both of which are spectacles worth seeing, whether you pay to go inside or not.
That evening came to an end with dinner at a local bistro, any of which offered a true locals touch as well as incredible food – so I urge you to close your eyes and point to find a great dinner spot. This was followed by drinks at the not-so-secret ‘Secret Bar’, a spot not to be forgotten.
Having found the Viking excavation at Dublin Castle so fascinating – and as a way to escape the wintery weather, our first stop on Day 2 was Dublinia: a museum offering a unique Viking and Medieval experience, also highly recommended on TripAdvisor. If you like longboats, trying on excessively heavy chainmail armour and have always wondered how Viking poetry sounds, then this attraction is for you. You will experience Dublin through the Viking and Medieval ages and if you have the energy by the end, there is the opportunity to climb the 96 steps to St Michaels Tower. From here you can admire stunning, panoramic views of the city.
So impressed by the Dublin brunch scene, we sniffed out another highly recommended establishment, Wuff. Wuff’s food was just as delicious as at Brother Hubbard, but with an entirely different style and vibe. Hidden away in an unsuspecting corner of the city, it has an intimate and quirky interior. It’s the sort of place where you will probably endure a long line of people outside, however, once you are in, you will understand why the wait was worth it! Here I enjoyed a full stack of pancakes (which I highly recommend) and a cup of tea.
Next step, Dublin’s greatest tourist attraction: the Guinness factory. Book online to avoid lines and get there early so you do not miss your tour time. If you are like me and do not enjoy Guinness, or any beer for that matter, the tour is still one hundred percent worth it. There are four floors offering different information on the ingredients of Guinness, the brewing process, transportation of the barrels and advertisement of the product. They teach you how to pull a ‘perfect’ pint and then how to taste it. The tour culminates at the Sky Bar where you can enjoy a complimentary pint of Guinness (or soft drink) whilst overlooking the city.
Merry on Guinness and soft drinks, that night we headed out to the pubs. One thing is for sure, the Irish know how to drink. There are plenty – and I truly mean plenty – of old-fashioned pubs to try out, most of which also have live music. However beware of the Temple Bar area, as it is quite the tourist trap and will not provide the local feel that we oh so desire while travelling.
Satisfied with the attractions we had ticked off on Day 1 and 2, we had a relaxing final day in Ireland. The sun was shining and so we decided to do an open top bus tour. There’s a 2-hour route or a slightly shorter option, I recommend the longer of the two as it ensures you do not miss out on any of this great city. You will get to see the outskirts of Dublin and all it has to offer including Dublin’s famous Kilmainham Gaol, the colossus Aviva stadium, and the city’s largest graveyard – which with 1.5 million interments, is more populated than the city itself… Finishing the tour in the heart of the city, where you can find the main shopping area, the first purpose-built Parliament building in the world and, thanks to Ireland’s incredibly low corporation tax, the international Head Quarters of Google, Twitter and Facebook. Also situated in the centre is Trinity College Dublin, ranked the best university in the country, and has a campus that is open to the public which is awe-inspiringly beautiful. Perfectly manicured lawns lay affront grand white stone buildings in a square courtyard with an impressive bell tower at its centre.
With our time in Dublin drawing to a close, we made one last food stop at Offbeat Donut Co. where the variety of doughnuts is so vast I do not recommend entry to this shop if you are the slightest bit indecisive. The perfect end to the trip and wonderfully timed to board the plane home with a belly full of joy.
I will most definitely be returning to this city, and with return flights from the UK at just £20, you should check it out too.