I went a little crazy recently and decided it would be fun to go to Ireland. For three days. While some friends and co-workers thought I was nuts, I’m sure it says something that my family encouraged me. So I went. And you know what? Three days in Ireland was totally worth it.
Sites in Walking-distance in Dublin city centre
Flying into Dublin there are many options to get you into the city centre (including the comfortable, reasonably priced and WiFi-equipped Aircoach), and once there, it’s easy to get around!
Eager to explore, I made my way toward the iconic Ha-penny Bridge (one of many that crosses the River Liffey; officially the Liffey Bridge but commonly called by its nickname because when it was first constructed there was a ha’penny toll to cross), before visiting Dublin Castle. A lovely spot to wander, you can get into the grounds free, however if you’d like to access other parts of the castle or join a guided tour there’s a small fee. It’s well worth it for the stories and history, and it will only take up about an hour of your day.
Temple Bar on the south side of the river beckoned. If you want to feel like you’ve been dropped into Ireland, this is the place to go. It has cobbled streets and all kinds of merchants and pubs. The notes of traditional Irish music that make their way to the street will have you smiling for sure. If you’re looking for food, you’ll have plenty of choice here. (I recommend the traditional Cornish pasty from Hanley’s.) Temple Bar is full of culture, particularly at night when many of the pubs offer live music.
Also within walking distance is Trinity College. With its beautiful, historic buildings, this is another great place to wander around, or simply sit and people watch. You can purchase entrance to The Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript of the gospels of the Bible written in Latin. It’s a fascinating sight unlike almost any other, but be warned that there’s usually a long line to get in and you will have to wander by to view the couple of pages open for display with other visitors.
My final on-foot destination was Grafton Street, the main shopping street in Dublin with trendy boutiques and high-end stores. I rounded the corner and it was as if I had been transported back 20 years to my first trip to Dublin. As if time stood still, the street was still packed full of people shopping, bustling by and being entertained by the many buskers. It’s a high-energy place and even if you’re not big on shopping (which I’m not) it’s worth walking through.
And let’s not forget those colourful Irish doors. They’re everywhere as you walk around and it was hard for me not to take a picture of them all.
Hop on, hop off Dublin bus tour
While I’m not normally a fan of city bus tours, I decided try out the Red Bus one afternoon and I’m so glad I did. The stories about the city and the jokes by the very Irish tour guide (who reminded me a lot of my dad) were worth the price alone, but this is a great way to see areas of the city that are slightly farther away, like the Guinness Storehouse or The Old Jameson Distillery.
This particular tour pass is valid for two days and you can get off and on as much as you like. It also offers discounts and deals for other attractions and airport transfers. And kids go free!
Day trip to The Burren and the Cliffs of Moher
I couldn’t spend 3 days in Ireland without seeing a bit of the Irish countryside and the Cliffs of Moher, which was one of my absolute favourites on my last visit. With one day and a lot to cover, the easiest way to see it all is to book day trip with a Dublin tour company. You could certainly rent a car and drive yourself, (which, with the need to drive on the left side of the road, would add a bit of excitement) a good guided bus tour offers interesting history and context, and allows you to take pictures, drink in the sights at will.
With many options for day trips, I chose the Dublin Tour Company’s one-day Cliffs of Moher tour (and wasn’t disappointed). This trip leaves Dublin at 7 a.m. but includes so much it’s worth the early start. The trip across the country includes a tour of The Burren, a limestone-covered area covering 250 square kilometres in County Clare, as well as stops in lovely Irish villages like Doolin and historical sights like Dunguaire Castle (a defensive castle from the 1500s) and Corcomroe Abbey (a Catholic monastery built in the 1200s).
We got to visit the Ballyalban fairy fort, a circular earthen structure early Celts used for shelter and protection, even going to far as to bring their animals into the structure at night. (Some believe that the forts had Druid magic and that the faeries wouldn’t touch them, hence the name.) Tell me that’s not just completely enchanting?!
Cliffs of Moher
Our main stop, and the place I’d been dying to see, was the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs, which run for eight kilometers and hit over 700 feet at their highest point, are a stunning spectacle on the Atlantic coast of Ireland.
You can get a good view of the cliffs from the main path, but if you want to walk up higher on either side you have to tackle some lengthy stairs. Well worth it for the incredible views! It was overcast the day I was there but the visibility was still incredible and nowhere else have I ever seen something quite as beautiful.
Making my way to the airport after three jam-packed days in Ireland, I momentarily wondered if I wasn’t crazy after all. But crazy or not, I would definitely do it again.