Just an hour’s flight from mainland Britain, Ireland’s vibrant capital is a great place to visit for a few days. With all the museums, restaurants and music you need, along with a large dose of the famed Irish hospitality, it’s the perfect place to spend a weekend.
I joined Matt from Travel With A Mate for a visit to the city during the annual Open House Dublin festival to see how much we could see and do in our 48 hour stay – here are some of the highlights.
The Morgan Hotel
Our home for our break was the Morgan Hotel – this boutique hotel strikes a great balance of sumptuous and quirky decor and is perfectly placed right in the centre of Temple Bar. Being right in the centre of the action means there is some noise carried through from the street, but all you need to do is pop in the complimentary earplugs and you’ll be asleep in the comfortable bed in no time.
Exploring in the city centre
Dublin’s compact city centre is perfect for exploring on foot – although the public transport is excellent and easy to navigate. And, as you can see from the photos, the forecasts for persistent rain turned out to be unfounded and we managed to explore in bright autumn sunshine!
Our visit coincided with Open House Dublin – organised by the Irish Architecture Foundation, this annual festival sees buildings all over the city open their doors to the public. Our free tour of the Mansion House ave us the rare opportunity to explore this amazing building, which has been home to the Lord Mayor of Dublin since 1715.
One of the highlights, and biggest suprises, was our trip to Na Fianna GAA Club for a morning of exploring some traditional Gaelic Games. Experience Gaelic Games is Dublin’s number one rated activity on TripAdvisor and it’s easy to see why.
Not only do you get to try your hand at hurling, handball and gaelic football – and although I was terrible at all of them, I did particularly enjoy the hurling – but you get a real insight into the role that the games play in Irish culture.
The games are a truly fundamental part of Ireland’s culture and are hugely popular – audiences for the finals dwarf those of other sports, including for the women’s championships. But despite their popularity, there’s no massive business built up around them as there is in other sports such as football. Everyone plays for the town they grew up in, so there’s no player transfer market. And even the most successful players contribute back to their local club by coaching or mentoring – people gave up their time to teach them so they are expected to do the same.
Perhaps the most famous of Dublin’s attractions, the Guinness Storehouse tells the story of Ireland’s most famous export. Across seven floors of the famous St James’ Gate brewery you find out all there is to know about the famous drink – from its history and the brewing process to the famous advertising campaigns. And, of course, you can stop off in the gift shop afterwards stock up on Guinness gifts and memorabilia.
And that wasn’t all we managed to do – we also found out about Ireland’s past at the National Museum of Ireland, viewed some of the 2 million scientific specimens on display at the Natural History Museum and took a walk around the grounds of Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university and home of the Book of Kells.
But despite all that, we barely even scratched the surface of what Dublin has to offer and there’s plenty of things on my to do list for next time I visit this great city!
My trip to Dublin was organised by Tourism Ireland as part of their #LoveDublin campaign. You can find more ways to spend 48 hours in Dublin, along with information about the rest of Ireland on their website or find them on Twitter @GoToIrelandGB.