At the end of August, our family had the chance to visit Dublin, Ireland. Our boys played their season opener football game at Aviva Stadium in Dublin versus Navy. It was an absolute dream of a weekend. If you can believe it, there were 32,000 Notre Dame fans in attendance. We even went to a mass at Dublin Castle. It was incredible! And while our time in this warm and inviting city was short and football-focused, I did want to share some of the fun things we did on the chance you ever have the opportunity to visit.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Fleet Hotel in the Temple Bar neighborhood and LOVED it. It was central to all of the fun and walking distance to everywhere. For a European hotel, our room was very spacious and had the most lovely bathroom. We also had a Nespresso machine in our room and they left little snacks when they serviced our room–this hotel gets a 10/10 for me!
The Fleet Hotel is a bit like a maze inside because it has been added on to and expanded over the years, but I think that has just increased its charm. Right off of their lobby is a great Irish pub that was hopping the whole time we were there. This made the whole hotel super festive.
And, we were able to walk wherever we needed to go within Dublin. The only time we took a cab was to and from the airport. I can’t recommend The Fleet Hotel enough.
What We Did
Our daughter Grace has turned us on to taking walking tours of wherever we visit and this is just what we did our first day in Dublin. We booked the Original Dublin Walking Tour: Highlights and Hidden Gems and it was fantastic. The absolute best! This tour group was started by a crew of actors and musicians who are natural performers and incredible storytellers. Our guide Ian gave us broad strokes of Irish history, but enough for me to better understand the tension with England. Our two hours went so fast…I would have happily walked two more.
Right in the heart of Dublin is historic Trinity College. You know how you hear about some places all of your life and then finally have the chance to visit–that’s what it felt like to be on Trinity’s campus. Class was in session and the campus was bustling. I got to see my first rugby match and that was pretty cool (even though American football is so much better!). Definitely worth a stroll though if you have the time.
If you would like to see this legendary book and the library at Trinity College where it’s housed, you must buy your tickets ahead of time. We didn’t, but this gives us another reason for a return trip. Our friends who were able to get a peek said it was worth the visit. Here’s a link to make your reservations.
Visiting the flagship Kilkenny Design store was one of my top highlights of visiting in Dublin. The store just celebrated its 60th anniversary of bringing Irish artists and makers to the forefront. When I travel, I love to find things that are unique to the area to bring home and Kilkenny is filled with such items. Everything from knits that have been custom made for Kilkenny, to jewelry, crystal, artwork, skincare–you name it and Kilkenny has it in store. I was lucky enough to meet the founder of Nunaia, a natural beauty brand, while I was visiting. Kilkenny Design regularly has their artists and makers in house for this very reason–to make connections with their customers. It’s a very special place and should be on your must-visit list.
Where We Ate
This was a very casual trip, meaning we didn’t make many (or any, really) reservations for meals before we arrived. We had been told that you can pretty much wander into any pub and get a good Irish meal and that was definitely our experience. Here are the places where we ate.
Bewley’s: We had two mornings we could have breakfast in Dublin and we went to Bewley’s both days. The coffee and food were so delicious and the service was the very best. We had a time crunch on our first day, maybe only 30 minutes before we had to meet our tour group, and it was absolutely no trouble for them at all. We had a warm breakfast and were out with minutes to spare to meet our group.
Darkey Kelley’s Bar & Restaurant: We stopped in here our first night and it hit the spot! I had fish and chips and my first Guinness 0.0 alcohol-free draft beer and it was delicious! Good pub food and great service!
This homemade ice cream can’t be missed. Don’t worry if the line is long. The sales people will offer you samples until it’s your turn. Delish!
I so wish we had more time in Dublin. I was completely charmed by all of it and want to visit again in the worst way. My parents were there a few days longer than we were and spent some time in the countryside. They said we would have loved it even more than Dublin. I have to get back there soon!
If you’ve been to Dublin, please let me know where I have to go on my next visit!