36 Hours in Dublin

Sometimes 36 hours is all you've got for a weekend break. Is it difficult? Maybe a little bit. Is it doable? Definitely!

I've always been a big fan of condensed travel-guides- from the "New York Times 36 Hours In..." series to Anthony Bourdain's TV Show "The Layover." Something about the challenge of fitting all of your sightseeing into a short period of time has always been attractive to me.

And maybe that's because weekend trips are really what's most realistic for me. Time-wise, weekends away are best because I don't have to sacrifice any lectures, tutorials, or meetings. And money-wise, taking two days for a trip means you only have to pay for one night in a hotel! I'd say it's a win-win.

Over the summer, Ryanair was having a very premature sale that was meant to celebrate the UK staying in the EU. Of course we all know how that went, but Ben and I were still able to reap the rewards of their sale, picking up some dirt cheap flights to Dublin. Fast forward to October, and we were zooming off to the airport early on a Saturday morning to start our mini-holiday. 

As far as accommodation in Dublin goes, it was not nearly as cheap as we thought it would be. They have a wide range of hostels and hotels available, but if you're used to the hostel prices on continental Europe, then you're in for a rude awakening. A standard hostel in a dorm will probably put you back about 25-30 per night. If you stay on the North side, you might be able to get a better deal (as it's less central to the main sights). 

We stayed at the MEC hostel on the North side of Dublin. Once a large townhouse, the MEC hostel is located on a quaint, residential street that is almost always quiet despite it being around the corner from the main road. Upon arriving in Dublin (we took the airport bus for 10 return), we dumped our bags at the hostel- that is, after I had properly marveled at the beautiful foliage surrounding the nearby buildings #instagramgoals. 

Eager to explore the city, we wandered around the North Side before meeting our guide at the Spire to start on a free walking tour. It's easy to get caught up in the hordes of tour-guides offering tours (usually for money but sometimes free of charge), but do your research beforehand to find one that's right for you. I'm a strong supporter of free walking tours because they're largely tips-based meaning the guides work really hard to give you a good experience. Plus, the guides are usually locals themselves who truly love their city (I did one in Venice as well as Barcelona and have never been disappointed!). 

Our guide, James, was everything you could ever want in a tour guide- witty, friendly, and hugely knowledgeable. While 3 hours might seem like a long time, the tour flies by as James takes you around the sights. From the Trinity College Campus to Dublin Castle to St. Patrick's Cathedral, James kept us engaged and entertained with his many tongue-in-cheek Irish accents. He also provided us with some helpful tips on where to go and where to avoid (long story short: avoid Temple Bar at night- they'll charge you €9 for a pint!) 

After hours on our feet, Ben and I were starving and ready to eat just about anything in sight. On this trip, we weren't too concerned with seeking out "authentic" Irish pubs and restaurants, as the cuisine is quite similar to that in Edinburgh. Instead, we were on the hunt for cheap, student-friendly food. We found just that at Pablo Picante in Temple Bar, which serves up hefty burritos that will fill you up for just €6.50 with a student card. You'll find a smattering of these burrito bars around Dublin, so keep your eyes peeled. Though you won't be able to miss it with signage like this: 

Fueled by the power of Mexican food, we sauntered down the River Liffey (taking a few quick snaps by the iconic ha'Penny bridge) and made our way towards our next stop: the Guinness Factory. We were a bit early for our 5PM time slot, so we found a nearby pub to warm up in, where I immediately experienced the consequences of ordering any drink that isn't Guinness. Pro tip: if it isn't Guinness (or another Irish beer) it's not worth the price tag. This was probably the first time in my life I ever regretted ordering a gin and tonic. 

After our cheeky afternoon drink, we were ready to find out the nitty gritty details of how Ireland's most popular beer is made. We were pleased with our decision to book our tickets in advance online, that way we didn't have to brace ourselves for the long lines to come. 

The first bit of our self-guided tour was a bit of a disappointment- it was crowded, and it felt like we were being shepherded along from floor to floor without having enough time to absorb the information. Luckily, the further we went up, the less crowded it became. The Guinness Storehouse has a lot to offer, using the latest technology to explain how Guinness is made. Even if you aren't a big beer drinker you'll find it hard to resist a pint (or at least a sip in the tasting room). The best part of the tour is arguably the views from the top. But don't expect an unobstructed view- it gets crowded.

Full of booze and in need of some dinner, we set off toward the more student-centric part of Dublin. We had two restaurants in mind down on Camden Street, but unfortunately one was just too busy for us to feasibly eat at before closing. Luckily, we found that Green Nineteen served food late, and we'd have to wait just 45 minutes. A perfect excuse to duck into a nearby bar, grab a pint (cider for me), and listen to some live music with a group of rowdy pub-goers. 

We found that Green Nineteen was exactly what we were looking for that night- a casual atmosphere, local food, and a reasonable price. I was keen to have a burger no matter where we went, and at just €10 I couldn't say no to this organic Irish patty doused in homemade ketchup. Ben ordered the pork belly with savoy cabbage and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit jealous. Since we nixed drinks with dinner (it had been a pretty boozy day) we splurged on dessert instead- a fudgy brownie for me and a zingy lemon tart for Ben. Talk about perfection. 

The next morning we decided to keep things close to home and opted for the €2 breakfast at the hostel. It did the trick, offering up toast, cereal, and juice among other things. We kept our second day relatively chill compared to the first, strolling around St. Stephen's Green before popping into the Dubarry store for some wishful thinking. We even took in some (free!) culture at the National Gallery which, while small, housed some pretty significant works by the likes of Picasso and Monet. 

What had to be the highlight of our stay was seeing my Grandparents whose Dublin trip just happened to overlap with ours! We booked a roast lunch at the Exchequer and all of us were thoroughly impressed by the sheer size of the meal. Tender beef, honeyed carrots, fluffy potatoes, and garlicky stuffing all made for the perfect meal to catch up over before parting ways. 

We still had one more stop to make before heading back to Edinburgh, and that was the Natural History Museum. Another of Dublin's many free museums, the Natural History Museum looked straight out of an old-fashioned storybook with "stuffed" animals every way you look in displays that seemed as though they had not been touched since 1900.

It felt as though we had left as soon as we had arrived, but we had truly packed so much into our mini-stay in Dublin. And with what seemed like a snap of our fingers, our 36 hours in Dublin had ended and it was back to uni we went. 


  1. Man I really want to go to Dublin now :(

    1. It's never too far for a weekend trip ;)

  2. Looks like so much fun! Thanks for sharing!

    Lauren Elizabeth
    Petite in Pearls


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