My boyfriend and I are going to Stockholm, Sweden at the end of next month, but I wanted to go away for my birthday (20th January) as well. I didn't want to go somewhere further than Stockholm because I didn't want it overshadowing my first 'proper' holiday, but I still wanted to go away, so when we found affordable flights to Dublin, we decided to book a long weekend away.
I found £47 returns and booked them directly through Ryan Air. I could've got them cheaper, but much preferred the times of the ones I'd chosen.
After looking at a fair few hotels, I decided on the Holiday Inn Express on O'Connell Street, which is one of the main streets in the city's centre. I booked through Expedia, and it averaged out as around £100 a night/£50 per person. I would definitely recommend this hotel. The decor was modern and not drab in any way, they were able to supply us with any toiletries we needed free of charge, and the free breakfast was absolutely delicious. Full English, croissants, muffins, cereal, fruit, yoghurt, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, apple/orange juice; they had more than enough to choose from. I also liked that you were able to take food/drinks on the go, so we didn't start our days off with freezing hands. Also, a section of the mirror in the bathroom stayed clear when you showered, instead of steaming up. Great idea.
On our first full day in Ireland (my birthday), we decided to do the Collins Day Tour of the Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough, and Kilkenny, which you can find and read the reviews on Trip Advisor here. We got on a coach with 15-20 other people around 8:30 in the morning, and headed out of Dublin towards Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains. Our tour guide was very informative and funny, and I would recommend this tour if you're ever in Dublin. We then headed towards the town of Kilkenny, which was about two hours away. We spent a few hours there, before heading back towards Dublin, arriving around 6pm. You could decide to meet up with the tour guide during the time in Kilkenny and have a mini tour of the town, but we decided to do our own thing. We couldn't decide on where to eat, so we settled on Willoughby's cafe, where I had the most delicious white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake. The huge slice was definitely worth the €3.95 paid.
On our second, and last, full day, we did the Guinness tour in the morning, then wondered around the city and shopped a bit for the rest of the day. I bought the tickets through Tripadvisor here, which meant we could arrive any time we wanted and skip the lines. We decided to go as it was opening, so it was quiet. I'm not particularly a fan of Guinness, but I still found the self guided tour interesting, and learnt my fair share of facts. Our leisurely stroll and drink at the top, looking out at the city views from the glass room, took us close to two hours.
For lunch, we went to Bunsen, a burger place which is HIGHLY rated. We tried to get in the evening before, but had no such luck because it was so busy, but we were seated straight away this time, which still surprised me because it was a Saturday. The menu is the tiniest, simplest one I've come across, consisting of two types of burger and a few options of fries. What I liked is that they ask you how well done you would like your burger. I don't know if I preferred it over Five Guys, but it was still up there.
After hours of walking, we went to Smokin Bones for tea; a place we'd randomly walked past earlier in the day. It's a cool American BBQ joint, but didn't look to be too touristy. I had the BBQ pulled pork sandwich, a (free) side of mac n cheese, and a soda, and this came to around €11.
Another place I'd recommend to eat is Murray's Bar and Grill, which is just next to the hotel. Quite traditional in its decor, with a casual, cosy feel. I ordered the lasagne, while Sam ordered the ribs, and I was expecting them to look a lot less put together than they were. I was pleasantly surprised, and they were reasonably priced.
Dublin is such a big city that I'd like to go back for another few days and explore some more. I'd like to see the Cliffs of Moher, and visit Phoenix park. I didn't think I'd feel very comfortable walking around and dining in such a large city with so many people, but I quickly adapted and would definitely like to go back.