My final week abroad was a week I took on by myself, and it was absolutely wonderful. I stayed in Dublin, Ireland for the entire week, spent some days around the city, and took day trips to some beautiful sights throughout the island. In a week, you can easily see all of Ireland, including Northern Ireland, and enjoy the beauty the Irish have to offer!
My first day in Dublin started off with one of my favorites: a free walking tour with Sandeman’s! This tour took us through the far history and present day facts of Ireland and Dublin as a city itself. If you are unfamiliar with some of the more recent history of Ireland, like in the last 100 years, its something I suggest many people learn about as it is very interesting and current to Ireland’s standing today. Some of the sights we saw on the tour were:
The Dublin Castle and State Apartments:
The Dubh Linn Garden, The Coach House and Chester Beaty Library:
Christ Church Cathedral:
Trinity College(our tour guide was an alum!):
I took some time over my few days to wander through two large parks in Dublin. The first was St. Stephen’s Green, which is at the end of Grafton Street. Grafton Street is a street unlike any other I have ever walked down. Somedays I walked down it just to take in all of the sounds from live street artists and enjoy the music filling the streets. Enjoy a walk down Grafton Street, and when you get to the end you can enjoy St. Stephen’s Green, full of colorful flowers and fountains.
The second park is one of the biggest in Europe, and it is Phoenix Park. Phoenix Park is MASSIVE. You can walk throughout it and enjoy the flowers in bloom, visit the Dublin Zoo inside the park or sit by the Wellington Monument that towers in the park.
And of course, it’s no trip to Dublin without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse! You can spend hours inside of the Storehouse, where you learn about how Guinness is made, the history of the company and brew, how to taste and smell a Guinness correctly, and you even learn how to pour the perfect pint! At the end, you get a complimentary pint in the Gravity Bar, where you can see some “amazing views of Dublin”, but really the views are pretty similar to Cedar Rapids, IA(lol). At least you get a free pint! I would also highly suggest anyone that visits to grab lunch at the restaurant next to the Gravity Bar. The Guinness Cheese Fries are to die for and when they say to pair oysters with Guinness, they are correct. Great lunch with great views!
A huge plus to being in Ireland is that it is a relatively small and easy country to travel through, North to South, East to West or all of it. From Dublin, I did two wonderful day trips to see some of the most well-known sites in the country. The first trip I did was a day trip through the Western parts to the Cliffs of Moher and Galway City. The Cliffs are one of the highly visited places in Ireland, and I was so lucky to have a clear and beautiful day to see all of the Cliffs. I suggest everyone make a trip here someday.
Galway City is a coastal city full of liveliness with the people, colors, shops, live music and more. I was honestly most excited to visit the city after Ed Sheeran’s recent song “Galway Girl” came out so I could tag him in an Instagram post and maybe get him to notice me(my dream was sadly unfulfilled).
The second day trip I did was through Northern Ireland(it may be bad that I’m including these in the same post because they are their own country, but they’re all Irish so oh well!). I absolutely fell in love with Northern Ireland along the coastlines and through the countrysides. We spent a short part of our day in the capital city of Belfast, where you can visit the Titanic Memorial, a gorgeous city hall and even the museum and take off point of the actual Titanic.
After Belfast, we made our way one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites: Giant’s Causeway. This place is absolutely breathtaking, and I was again lucky to have such a nice day. The rock formations here are some of the most unique in the world, due to their creation from an ancient volcanic eruption. You have to visit here!!!
Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge was our next destination, and it is exactly what it sounds like. After a short hike on the cliffs next to water, you get to a rope bridge that you can hike across to the very small island of Carrickarede. The views around here are absolutely unbelievable. From the coastline, you can see Rathlin Island in the distance, a small Irish island, and even Scotland in the distance.
After the big sites, we went throughout numerous towns with beautiful castles, coastlines and more. We even saw a ton of places where Game of Thrones had been filmed!
Dunluce Castle, Bushmills, Northern Ireland:
The Dark Hedges(from Game of Thrones), Ballymoney, Northern Ireland:
Cushendun, Northern Ireland:
Last but never least, Ireland had some amazing food to offer. The Guinness Storehouse had wonderful food, like I mentioned before, but I had some traditional Irish food that was the best ever. O’Neills Pub near Trinity College is one of the most popular places around. I had some unbelievable corned beef with mash and cabbage. Another favorite of mine was seafood chowder, full of the fresh catch each day.
Lastly, I stumbled upon some great bakeries and cafes I’d suggest to anyone. Queen of Tarts is a popular, well-known cafe with amazing cakes and coffees. There may be a wait, but it is totally worth it!(Get the chocolate cake!!) I also found this amazing donut place called The Rolling Donut, and I am not kidding they were some of the best donuts I’ve ever had. Try the Bailey’s Cream, Victorian Raspberry, or the Apple!