Last summer one of my hardcore travel buddies posted on Facebook that she booked a flight deal to Dublin, Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day and I thought immediately “that sounds lit.” I’ve never really been too interested in or excited about Europe but St. Patrick’s Day sounds like a celebration worth experiencing in Dublin. So I hit her up about it but of course, I missed the deal. Fortunately for me, the deal came back around and I snagged it for March 15-19. Flight booked about 9 months in advance! I had no idea there were about 20-30 other people (all but 5 I’d never met before) who all booked to be there during the same time. Can you say lit?!
Fast forward to March and departure day was way too eventful for my liking but I’ll save that dramatic story for another day. We left from Dulles on an overnight flight with a short layover in Amsterdam with KLM. We arrived in Dublin around 10:30 AM Thursday morning and considering St. Patrick’s Day was the next day the airport was rather festive. There were balloons all over and a children’s choir singing–it was quite the welcome.
Once we left the airport we decided to catch the bus outside on one-way fare that was about 6 Euros and dropped us off just a couple blocks away from our hotel.
There’s so much to do and see in Dublin, especially if you drink!
The day we arrived we did a walking tour in Dublin that was free. Per usual, it was overcast, lightly misting, and chilly, so the tour wasn’t really fun. But we decided to stick with it. Our tour guide was super knowledgeable about the history of Ireland and literally recapped about a thousand years worth of their history to present day Ireland. It was much more interesting than I expected and helped put everything, including their culture and disposition, into perspective. We walked throughout the city for a couple hours and were able to see some pretty interesting buildings and sites along the way.
St. Patrick’s Day
On St. Paddy’s Day our plans were to drink, tour the Guinness Factory, drink, see the parade, drink, hit the St. Paddy’s Day Pub Crawl, oh and drink. In that order. We decided to hit the Guinness Factory first to avoid the crowd as much as possible so we went first thing in the morning. No matter when you choose to go I think it’s always busy so it’s worth it to get the ticket that allows you to skip the line. We purchased ours in the middle (Temple Bar area) of our walking tour for 20 Euros. I’m not a big beer drinker and had never had Guinness prior to going to Dublin but I definitely appreciated being able to learn about the history of Guinness and seeing how it’s made.
Aside from the history of the beer itself and the process, the factory has a little cafe, lots of areas where you can purchase Guinness infused food (and beer pairings), a gift shop, an area to learn how to drink Guinness properly (free tasting), and a lot of vintage Guinness artwork and memorabilia.
After exploring the Guinness Factory we left to catch the St. Paddy’s Day parade and meet up with some friends. We arrived too late for a good “spot” to see the Parade, but luckily one member of our group was staying on the second floor at a hotel along the parade route. So we all packed into his room and watched the Parade from his window–best seats in the house! Oh, I didn’t mention that it was also cold and rainy that day in Dublin, so in the hotel, we were warm, dry, and elevated. The parade is a lot like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC with the bands, music, and ornate floats. I was shocked to see how many bands there that had come from the United States to participate. There was even a band from the Bahamas! Caribbean represent!
Later that night all of us went on the St. Paddy’s Day Pub Crawl. We purchased tickets online before heading to Ireland and the tickets were 15 Euros. The bar crawl was a ton of fun and I definitely lost count of the number of places we went to. As you can probably imagine, everyone is in a pretty good mood and people had been drinking all day so let’s just say there was a lot of shenanigans to witness!
Two things I didn’t know before this trip was that Ireland is an island and that it’s technically two countries. You read that right. It being an island is worth mentioning because I think it speaks to some of the amazing views I wasn’t prepared to see. As far as it being two countries, since I’m writing this post hella late I don’t remember the history behind this enough to repeat it. But the short story is Ireland has a pretty dynamic history. One which basically sums up to being conquered and invaded over and over again. So present day Ireland is split into Ireland and Northern Ireland. One belongs to the European Union and uses the Euro and the other belongs to the United Kingdom and uses the Pound.
Getting back to the story, about 6 of us rented a car and made the drive up to Northern Ireland which was a couple hours one way. A few of us were Game of Thrones fans and we had plans to see some of the GOT sites there. In case you didn’t know, roughly 75% of GOT is shot at various locations in Northern Ireland.
We made a stop at Dunluce Castle, which is a now ruined medieval castle, and otherwise known as House Greyjoy in Game of Thrones. It’s positioned right along the coastline which makes for some pretty amazing views. Again, it was overcast and rainy when we went so it wasn’t nearly as pretty as when the sun is out.
Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Northern Ireland that is made of over 40,000 basalt column formations formed by volcanic activity. It costs 10.50 Euro per adult to enter the Causeway and you can do a self-guided tour with an audio guide. Visitors are able to walk along the coast and on the stones for epic pictures or just to take in the views. As I mentioned, the day we visited it was overcast and rainy all day so it didn’t make for the most pleasant experience (or photos) but we went anyway!
If you plan to visit the Causeway I definitely recommend packing a poncho/raincoat/umbrella and sneakers or hiking shoes. Don’t be like me. I had regular riding boots on and they provided nothing as far as traction goes. There’s a shuttle that runs back and forth from the visitor center to the Causeway area if you prefer not to do the 15-minute walk.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
The famous Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is in Ballintoy. There’s about a 15-20 minute walk to the actual rope bridge from the parking lot that involves several hills and sets of steps. This is another location with amazing view, probably the best in my opinion of those I listed. It costs 7 pounds (per adult) to actually walk across the bridge. The rope bridge is a literal bridge made out of rope suspended 100 feet above sea level between two cliffs to Carrick-a-Rede Island by fishermen in the 1700s. Apparently, the island was the best spot for salmon fishing.
I had no intention of crossing this swaying rope bridge suspended between two giant rocks over the Atlantic Ocean, especially since I can’t swim, but I was peer pressured! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I was reevaluating every inch of my life the whole way over the bridge! What sucks about crossing it (if you’re scared) is you have to cross it twice–once over and the second time coming back.
Don’t be fooled by this picture. Somehow it came out decent but the weather was trash and we were soaking wet. The things you do for an epic experience and a good photo!
That’s about it! We managed to pack a ton of activity into a fairly short trip (Thursday – Saturday excluding travel time) to Dublin. While it was never on my radar of destinations I must visit, I was pleasantly surprised at how fun it was. And no, I don’t think it was only fun because it was St. Paddy’s Day. The people to be a lot of fun, very hospitable, welcoming, and let’s not forget on St. Paddy’s Day everyone is Irish!
You know how people say everyone should go to Las Vegas at least once? I say everyone should experience St. Paddy’s Day in Dublin at least once. You won’t regret it!
Have you ever been to Dublin or explored other parts of Ireland? What was your favorite part?
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