Following our adventures in Denmark, my mom and I flew to Dublin. It’s been a bucket list destination for both of us, so we decided to tack it on to our trip.
We were only there for four days and I wish we had more time. Even though Ireland is only about the size of Indiana, I strongly encourage taking your time to see this lush and beautiful country.
Leading off: When leaving Denmark, we flew Ryanair. I am sure this is no secret, but Ryanair is our first go to when traveling within Europe. They are known for their inexpensive international flights.
To be honest, my mom and I both can’t remember going through customs and border control in Dublin…so, it must not have been that bad.
There are shuttle buses that run regularly into town. They sell tickets outside the airport, and were very helpful to tell us where exactly our stop was.
Touching down: Our Ireland trip started in Dublin and we ventured west to Galway and Shannon. Each location gave us a unique look at Ireland’s charm.
Pro: Very close to Dublin’s city center, and just a quick walk to Temple Bar. Staff was very helpful and friendly.
Con: No elevator/lift
Pro: Modern hotel with a delightful breakfast
Con: Further away from city center. We had to take a taxi into town.
Pro: Near the airport, lovely owners, free breakfast and parking.
Con: Secluded in a neighborhood. A car is needed to get around.
Day 1: My mom and I got in around 4:30pm, so we had a few hours of daylight to kill before grabbing dinner. As noted above, the Dublin hotel, was only a few blocks from The Spire and Henry Street. This well-known street, which is a cross street to O’Connell, is populated with clothing stores and tourist shops. We took a bit of time wandering down the street to get a better idea of what was where. However, we were unpleasantly surprised to find that some of the shops were closed or closing around 7pm.
Luckily, on the walk to Henry street, we saw a pub with twinkly lights strung up and down the building that looked like it could be lively. We got to Murray’s around 6:30 and were asked if we’d like to stay for the show. We agreed, and without a complaint were sat front row and center for their nightly music and dancing. The show didn’t start until 9pm, so we had time to enjoy our dinner, dessert and drinks. Had we gotten there much later, we would have been nestled up near the bar like the rest of the folks who strolled in late. My mom and I both really enjoyed our meals and the show. If you’re hoping to come for dinner, plan ahead!
Day 2: Early the next morning we grabbed a donut at the many donut shops (Wow! How did I not realize that Dublin loves their donuts?) and walked to Trinity College. Since we didn’t really have plans for Dublin, we took a historical walking tour and learned so much about the city. If you have a free morning, I would recommend this hour tour because it helped us gain our bearings and appreciate the old-timey buildings that might have gotten overlooked otherwise.
After the tour, we spent more time exploring…and shopping! Since learning what a claddagh ring stood for many years ago, I told myself that I only wanted to get one when I visited Ireland. So, a stop at Claddagh Jewelry was a must.
Our next stop was at a place that you may have seen on Instagram. The array of colorful umbrellas are easily recognizable and are sure to add a bit of brightness to gray Irish days.
Zozimus is located just off Grafton Street, which is another very well-known street for shopping. You can imagine my mom and my interest when we came across a small store called Dunnes. (Side Note: The Dunns in our family are originally from what is now known as Northern Ireland.)
The first Dunne’s we stopped in was smaller and felt like a boutique. We later learned that this particular store was the designer store for the larger department store on Henry Street. So, of course we went back to Henry street and found this Nordstrom-sized store. Let’s just say Dunne’s got a lot of this Dunn’s money that day.
Now, our next stop shouldn’t shock anyone who knows me. I found this lovely dessert shop, located on the River Liffey, called The Sweetest Thing. The candy company Cadbury is very popular in Ireland and the UK and this dessert shop offered a variety of delicious Cadbury ice cream and candy toppings. This is just one of their many sweet things.
The night ended with a Musical Pub Crawl, which was recommended by Rick Steves. This is an educational walking tour that stops at three different pubs. Two local musicians teach you about Irish instruments, songs and enjoy a beer with you along the way. The drinks are not included, but the intimate show and humor are sure to make you feel like you had a true Irish experience.
Day 3: In the morning, we made our way to pick up our car rental. This was the first time my mom and I would drive on the other side of the road and on the other side of the car. So, we were very nervous…especially after hearing horror stories of how tight the roads were. However, I was surprised to find how easy driving on the opposite side came to me. There were tight squeezes, but nothing that I hadn’t experienced in Seattle.
Tip: Schedule in advance to secure the best car! When we booked our car, it was a manual…and had no GPS. I was sweating bullets! But by the grace of God, an automatic with a built in GPS was being returned when we were checking in.
Even though we had a GPS, it tooks us a bit longer to find and get to our first destination– Ashford Castle in County Mayo for afternoon tea. Although we were a bit late, the folks at Ashford Castle were so unbelievably accommodating. They sat us right away! To boot, they modified the pre-set menu for my mom, who isn’t much of a tea drinker. The food, tea, and experience were exceptional.
Following the tea, we made our way to Galway for the night. Like Dublin, a lot of shops seemed to have closed early. But, the restaurants and a few tourist shops were open late. Although we had been on the search for an authentic Irish meal, we ended up at Fat Freddy’s, an Italian restaurant. It was quirky, fun, and the food was actually pretty dang good!
Day 4: On our last day full day in Ireland, we made our way down the North Atlantic Coast. We were heading toward Shannon, with a stop at the Cliffs of Moher. The drive from Galway to the cliffs was beautiful. We even made a spontaneous stop at Dunguaire Castle, which was on the route.
This was the only day that it rained while we were in Ireland. Luckily, the rain somehow held off for the approximate 1.5 hours that we spent at the cliffs. However, rain or no rain the grounds were MU-DDY. We were so glad we wore rain boots.
Finally, our adventure was coming to a close, so we made our way to the adorable B&B mentioned above. There isn’t much of anything to do in Shannon, so we ate dinner at a local pub and called it a night.
I will say that if you plan on traveling throughout Ireland, I would highly recommend looking into flying in and out of Shannon on Norwegian. It was such a breeze!
As mentioned before, there is so much we didn’t have the opportunity to do or see, so I can’t wait to go back.
Did I forget something? Or, do you have an recommendation for visiting Ireland? Let me know!
Bonus: Here is a short video of our time there!