Solo Traveler’s Guide to Dublin

Ireland was the first country I ever visited outside of the States. From Ireland, I moved to the continent and traveled elsewhere, but Ireland was still the first, and I think it was the best country I could have started my travels in.

It’s English speaking, the people are friendly, the crime is low, and the scenery is breathtaking. It’s rainy, a bit cold, and expensive; but the green, winding hills, and the moments that the sun does shine make up for all of that.

Side note: If anyone talks about some “good crack,” don’t be alarmed. It’s actually “craic” and it really just means a good time. Also, if someone asks if you want to go for a scoop, they do not mean ice cream. It means go out for a drink, apparently. My mind automatically went to ice cream when I was asked, and I was sadly disappointed.

I went to Ireland for about two weeks; in the first few days, I stayed with some extended family in Dun Laoghaire, right outside of the Dublin city center. I went to the James Joyce museum, drank some coffee, and ate a lot before I went to the center of Dublin.

Dublin

City & Culture

Obviously, one thing you definitely need to do is go to Guinness! And I am here to tell you that it DOES taste different than it does in the States. I had my first Guinness right before I left… and I did not like it. When I tried it at the Guinness Storehouse, though, it was creamier, smoother, and a lot tastier. The Guinness Storehouse is huge. Each level offers something different, from the production, commercials, to learning how to pour, and I’m pretty sure there was a restaurant before you reach the top floor that provides a panoramic view of the city (go there!).

You can walk around Trinity College and see the Book of Kells, if you want. Either way, the Trinity College campus is seriously gorgeous; I love the way it’s right in the middle of the city and that you can just kind of walk through it at your leisure. It reminds me of Hogwarts.

Walking around Temple Bar is pretty much ideal. Lots of ‘Irish’ stuff going on, and you can take a picture with the famous Temple Bar itself. It gets loud at night, but there are loads of bars to go to. Bad Bobs was a fun place, but generally, if you want a non-touristic experience, I wouldn’t recommend the most touristic part of Dublin. I had a good time at The Workman’s Club, probably too good of a time, but it was different and funky.

If you have some time and see a Queen of Tarts, go try a tart! Anything! There are a bunch of different locations. They have a great menu and delicious pastries. Seriously. Look at this meringue. They knew I needed that much, I guess. Cue the beginning of my weight gain.

If you want to see some Irish Step Dancing, check out this website: https://celticnights.com/

It basically gives you the low-down on everywhere that offers Irish dancing around Dublin! I ended up going to the Grand Central Café Bar, and because it was in May, the sun was still up (it doesn’t set til past 10pm!) but it was still an awesome show and it was completely free. I had some drinks and appetizers, of course.

Museums

I went to the National Gallery of Ireland and the National History Museum of Ireland; both offered something different. I liked the National Gallery of Ireland because at the time I was there, they had an area where you could draw with crayons downstairs. Technically it’s for kids, but no one was really keeping track. If I can be honest, art and museums are really not my thing. I don’t have the attention span for it, but I try my best to experience things like that in certain cities. I barely have enough attention for a walking tour, most days. But I think it’s important to remember that you don’t have to live or travel any particular way. Do what you want!

If you want to venture outside of the city center of Dublin, head over to Killiney Hill Park / Killiney Hill for some gorgeous views. It’s a bit of a walk, but if you go on a nice day, you get some seriously beautiful viewpoints from the top of the hill!

Hostel Accommodation

Ok, I might be the first to tell you… the hostel accommodation in Ireland is not the best. That’s pretty standard for all over the country. You’re paying 25 euro for the absolute basics; however, the breakfast is at least usually included (toast and cereal).

It’s going to be your cheapest option. From what I remember, even AirBnb prices were super high because the rent in Ireland is super high. Whatever floats your boat.

I stayed at 2 different hostels in the city center: Barnacles Temple Bar and Abbey Court Hostel. Abbey Court Hostel definitely won, if there was a competition; they both were not great, though.

Barnacles was overall not impressive; there was not really any sort of social experience. I’m lucky to have met some girls in Cork that I planned to meet up with in Dublin, and I spent most of my time with them. The street was pretty loud, the bathroom had a strange smell, the shower sprayed everywhere, and the breakfast depleted rather quickly because there was only one staff member trying to do everything.

Abbey Court Hostel was pretty different. It’s huge and they accommodate for the number of people. During breakfast, there are plenty of staff members and they even take care of your dishes because it’s probably easier than trusting a full hostel to do their own. The location was good and pretty close to everything you needed (and a donut shop next door). It had a little bit more of a social environment, but it still wasn’t anything remarkable. The locker for my bunk was broken, but it didn’t seem to be much of an issue for my stay.

Thankfully, hostels are not the make or break it of a country! It’s important to remember that there’s more to a city than where you’re staying; venture out, see things on your own, and make friends that way. In tourist cities, it’s easy to make friends.

Pricing & Budgeting

Ireland is going to be one of your pricer countries in Europe, especially if you drink. Hostel accommodation is between $25-$30USD. A pint of Guinness will cost you about $6-$7USD. Coffee is about $3. Food really varies and it depends on what you’re trying to eat, but I’d say you can get a decent meal for $10, but I’d say the average is closer to $15 in restaurants.

Ireland has so much to offer. What’s your favorite thing to do in Dublin? What did I miss (besides Jameson)?

I’ll make another blog post with a more intensive guide to the country based off of where I went: Dublin, Cork, Kinsale, Killarney, and Dingle.

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