If you’re ever looking for things to do in Dublin, you’re not alone – it can be tough to figure out what to do in a city that’s your own, because you never really look at it like a city to explore!
A weekend away in a European city usually takes a whole lot of research and planning, and you map out an itinerary of things you want to see, food you want to eat, your top hotels… but when it comes to things to do in Dublin, I’m the first to admit that I get a bit lazy, and tend to do the same things (while ignoring a lot of the cultural highlights that I really should know more about).
With that in mind, a few weeks ago, Stephen and I headed off for a little city staycation in Dublin city – to explore all that our capital has to offer from a tourist’s point of view. I vlogged the whole thing – check it out above – but in case you’re looking for more detail, here’s a little lowdown!
We stayed in the Conrad Hotel just off St Stephen’s Green. I’d been there before – first, when I worked in the Department of Justice (yes, really), at a party to celebrate the end of the Irish presidency of the EU, and again when I was invited for a blogger’s weekend. Since those two instances, the Conrad has had a bit of a makeover and is now super fresh and New York-y (not an adjective, I know) – and the restaurant, where we ate dinner on the first night, is top-notch.
On our first day, after hitting the breakfast buffet (a must), we headed to the Little Museum of Dublin. Neither of us had been before, but Stephen was determined to check it out, having read some great things about it. For whatever reason, I didn’t have high hopes – but I loved it! It was so interesting, loads of things to read about and I found it all fascinating. There were a lot of little aspects of Irish history that you won’t have read about in books, and tonnes of beautiful artefacts.
Next up: coffee! (Always!) One of my favourite little cafés, Tang by Yogism, where we had a delicious friand and some hot java before hopping on the Dublin City Sightseeing Tour. It was a freezing cold day, but really bright and beautiful, so we sat upstairs and soaked up the sights, before hopping off at Kilmainham Gaol, where we’d booked to take a tour (booking is advised; on the weekend we went, we booked a few days before and there were very few time slots left). We grabbed another coffee before our tour, in the Lime Tree Cafe opposite the Gaol.
This was another super-interesting aspect of our weekend – I was hopelessly ignorant about Kilmainham Gaol’s history (check out my mega dumb moment at 4:40 if you’re in any doubt) and the whole tour was fascinating, and really creepy. (Wrap up well, if you go, because it’s very chilly in there.)
After our tour, we headed for dinner in Fade St Social, one of our Dublin favourites, and essentially ordered everything: Parmesan fries, leeks with Parmesan, venison, steak, soft shell crab, squid… We were total pigs. Then we ordered donuts for dessert (I don’t believe in doing things by halves), before heading for an apperitif in Drury Buildings, followed by another apperitif in the hotel bar. Ahem.
Sunday was kind of a half-day of tourism, as we had to get home to our house and our dog (and the washing!) – so we started off with Sunday brunch in Fallon & Byrne, where I had the pulled pork mac ‘n’ cheese and Stephen had the steak sandwich. Then it was time to check out the Science Gallery, another one of Stephen’s picks of things to do in Dublin, where we checked out the Violence exhibition (which is still on).
It was another really interesting exhibition, about violence in its many forms, with art works that essentially highlighted violence and weaponry in really arresting ways. It was kind of creepy, we decided, and disturbing – but well worth a look.
And that’s it! We had such a nice weekend playing at being tourists – and staying in a gorgeous hotel helped – and I’d highly recommend taking the odd weekend out to explore your country and your home town. It’s something we will most definitely be doing more of in the New Year, too!