Are you considering a trip to Ireland? If so, I am so happy for you! My husband and I spent several days in Ireland as part of a two week trip to Ireland and England, and I absolutely fell in love with it. It was everything I dreamed of- and more!
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If you are planning to visit Ireland, you are probably planning on spending some time in Dublin. We personally wanted to spend as much time in the countryside as possible (specifically Killarney), but we did visit Dublin for a couple days near the end of our trip before taking the Stena Line back to England (where we finished our trip with one last day in London).
Although we were in Dublin for parts of 3 days, we spent a solid 36 hours truly exploring. I’m excited to share how we decided to spend those exciting hours! If you’re interested in reading our full itinerary of our trip to Ireland, check out this post: 4 Perfect Days in Ireland.
36 Hours in Dublin
Getting There (from Killarney to Dublin) & our Airbnb
We caught a 7:36am train from Killarney to Dublin. The trip took about 3 hours with stops (we arrived at 10:45am). There were several political events taking place in Dublin that day (it was a Saturday), so the city was particularly busy. After arriving, we had to take a bus to the nearest DART station, where we waited for about 25 minutes (we were expecting the DART system to be more like the Underground in London, but the trains are not as frequent).
We rented an Airbnb in Killiney, a nearby suburb. It was just 10 miles from the city, but it took much longer to get there than we had imagined. Our Airbnb hosts were lovely and picked us up from the Glenageary DART station, which was a few minutes from their house. Our flat was wonderful! It was a one bedroom apartment, attached to a main house. It had a comfortable bedroom, a full kitchen (with a washer/dryer), a bathroom, and a nice living area.
In total, it took us 3 hours to get from the train station to our flat, and by that time we were pretty exhausted from our late night/early morning/half day of travel. Dublin itself was packed and public transportation was slow with all the events of the day, so we made the decision to explore the suburb of Killiney instead. This was not in our initial plans, but it was a decision that were both content with.
Killiney Hill Park & Killiney Hill
We set out on foot and enjoyed lunch at the Killiney Shopping Centre. We took our time with food and drinks and stopped by the market for some groceries so that we could cook later on. It was sprinkling, but we didn’t mind!
We walked to Killiney Hill Park, which turned out to be beautiful! We really had no idea how much Killiney had to offer, and we were glad we decided to explore it. Then we climbed Killiney Hill, which is one of two hills that form a boundary of Dublin Bay. The view from the top of the hill is amazing! We had a great view of Dublin (to the northeast), and on a clear day, you can see the Irish Sea and Wales to the southeast. It was cold and rainy so we didn’t get to see Wales, but we loved every minute. We took our time, explored, and enjoyed the view well into the evening.
We woke up the next morning early, ready for a full day in Dublin. We decided to go to Kilmainham Gaol first, because it was at the top of both of our must-see lists. Kilmainham Gaol was a jail, now run by the Office of Public Works. It was used for many years by the British to jail Irish revolutionaries throughout history.
If you love history, then this is a MUST SEE! We were there for several hours, so it was a big time commitment, but it was the highlight of our time in Dublin. My husband and I both loved every minute of it. You have to take a guided tour if you want to really see it, and it did not disappoint. We learned a lot about Irish history and explored jail cells and common areas. It really was fascinating!
Then we headed to Dublin Castle! We decided to walk so that we could see more of the city. We still laugh about this, because we totally got lost. We were expecting the castle to be a bit more obvious- like the palaces in London. We literally walked right by the castle’s courtyard wall and didn’t realize it!
When we finally realized that were right next to it, we went in and enjoyed its beauty! The inside was beautiful, but it was really the courtyard that we loved the most.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
We decided to attend a “Choir of Angels” service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and it was beautiful! (Tip: You can avoid Cathedral/Abbey entry fees by attending services, rather than open admission hours; we always give a donation, but we feel like we get to truly experience these places without paying for standard admission.)
The Cathedral and its ground were stunning. Keep in mind that you often cannot take photos inside churches, particularly during service times.
Temple Bar Square
By this time, it was evening, so we headed to Temple Bar Square for dinner. We were hoping to make it to their book market (open on Sundays until 6pm), but we just missed it. We still enjoyed exploring the area. We had decided to skip the Guinness Storehouse earlier that day, so my husband enjoyed a Guinness at a local bar. We did some souvenir shopping and took our time enjoying the culture.
We also witnessed a bar fight! One man broke a bottle over another man’s head in front of a bar. It was quite the sight and an exciting end to our time in the square! Thankfully, everyone seemed to be ok, and it ended with the first man being arrested and the second getting checked out by (what appeared to be) paramedics.
We absolutely loved our short time in Dublin. There is so much to do and see there, and we tried to squeeze in what we could. We left early the next morning to catch the Stena Line back to England, where we enjoyed one last day in London before heading back to the US.
We hope to return to Dublin one day and hit the sights that we didn’t have time for the first time around. Have you been to Dublin already or is it still on your bucket list? I would love to hear about your favorite Dublin destinations or what you’re looking forward to the most.
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