I may have to go as far as to say that Ireland is… underrated. This trip changed my whole outlook on the country and you’ll hear me gushing about this country for years to come.
I had been to Dublin before for a few quick days - mostly to see Beyoncé back on the Mrs Carter World Tour - and so when my mom suggested that we spend Christmas there, I can’t say I was super duper stoked since I wanted to try somewhere new. But after hearing about and researching the greatness that is the rest of Ireland, it got me excited - Ireland had a lot more to offer than the city of Dublin and we were all determined to see it.
We spent nine days (way longer than my usual trips!) exploring the country. We alternated between days exploring Dublin and its endless restaurants, bars, churches, shops, etc, and the rest of Ireland. We ended up exploring almost the entire country, taking day tours up into Norther Ireland, out west, and everywhere in between. We did a tour with Paddy Wagon Tours, but we ended up enjoying Wild Rover Tours much more and did the rest with them - the tour guides were knowledgable and the days weren’t too rushed.
Realistically I could write a book on everything we did (this was more of your “adventurous” trips as opposed to relaxing, for sure), but to spare you time it’d take to read, lemme break down the things I’d definitely do again -
The Cliffs of Moher - The most original response? Not at all. But it’s a “must see” in Ireland for a reason. The cliffs themselves are stunning and the trail wrapping on top of them offers amazing views no matter where you are. Pictures don’t do them justice.
Howth - This super cute harbor town is a short train ride outside of Dublin, with trains coming every 20 minutes, and it offers a quaintness and laid back vibe that you can’t really get in Dublin. Check out the Howth Cliff Walk for some beautiful scenery and The Abbey Tavern for a bite (the fish and chips there were my favorite in Ireland, even better than the famed Leo Burdock).
Belfast - I wish we had a bit more time here! I think Northern Ireland (which is technically part of the UK) has a lot to offer and being the capital, Belfast is where the action is. Be sure to visit the older side and learn about their religious history as well as the trendy, more modern side.
Kilkenny - This town was just so charming it was insane. I’m not even sure how else to describe it. The narrow streets, little shops, and beautiful churches just won me over. It’s another town I’d love to spend more time in.
Fade Street Social - We ate in the Gastro Bar and holy crap were these some amazing tapas. They’re more Asian inspired than Spanish, but I’m still dreaming about the pork belly.
Slattery Bar - My sister and I actually just stumbled upon this place when we were looking for dinner and it ended up being my favorite traditional Irish dish of the trip - the bangers and mash were bangin’. Irish food is obviously easy to come by, but this meal was particularly tasty, plus they had live music.
Taste at Rustic - The best meal we had in Dublin (all of my family members actually agreed on this one). On the third floor of the Rustic restaurant, it’s a Japanese/Spanish fuckin’ trip. Everything was amazing, from sheer taste to the presentation. Do yourself a favor and try the Bunbuku drink, which comes in a teapot that you pour into small glasses and then die of too much deliciousness.
Guinness - I know, I know. Just do it. Even if you don’t like it elsewhere, the way it’s poured here is just different. It’s creamier and smoother and available literally everywhere. Even the some of the bars inside the Guinness Storehouse are fun if you’re there anyways!
Vintage Cocktail Club - A speakeasy that’s on a fairly busy street but has no markings other than a small “VCC” on an otherwise inconspicuous black building. You need to ring the door bell, wait a few minutes, and a hostess will come down to let you in. The cocktail book is enormous and while they’re not the cheapest around, they were unique and tasty.
The George - A gay bar with cheap drinks and drag bingo on Sundays - issa party.
Literally any pub. They all have something different to offer and every single one we went to was fun in its own way. The Hairy Lemon was my mom’s favorite.
Dublin is an upcoming tech city with an endless assortment of things to see and do, but be sure to get out and the rest of what Ireland has to offer as well. Everywhere we went, we encountered some of the nicest damn people I’ve ever met. The taxi drivers alone weren’t just friendly and told you not just what you wanted to hear as a tourist - they’d start telling you stories about the local pub they go with their sons every week to watch the football match, or which restaurants their sister considers to be “lovely.” Despite the rainy weather, it really is one the happiest places I’ve ever been to.
Headed to Ireland? Have a question? Wanna share your favorite Irish folklore? Drop a comment!