Alright now a lot of people go to Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day. And why not! If you’re fortunate enough to be able to afford it, you should definitely pencil it into your bucket list. The city is beautiful, and because its nice and compact you don’t need too many days to experience it fully, which leaves you time to travel around to some of the smaller towns in Ireland – also an experience I recommend. But you want to make sure you use your time well, so here are some my tips, based on my weekend there, to help you hit the ground running. I’m going to stay away from generic advice like “book a place early” and stick to stuff that’s gonna help once you actually get into the city.
Some Quick Tips
- Get A Map: When you land in Dublin Airport go to the Tourist Office, right next to the front exit, and get yourself a map. Their maps are really helpful – with all of the main areas and sights marked out clearly. Having it on me made getting around a breeze!
- Get Your Green On: Buy yourself a souvenir hat or badge or beard. Get into the spirit of the festival and get some green on you. And don’t worry about feeling a fool because, trust me, everyone joins in on the fun : )
- Enjoy The Live Music: A lot of the bars in the Temple Bar area do live music. Go check it out. They feature local talent doing covers, traditional Irish music, as well as original stuff. It will really complete the experience.
- Don’t Bother With Taxis: Unless you didn’t manage to get a place to stay within the city, you don’t really need a taxi. Everything is pretty much walking distance and the walking also helps burn off some of the calories that comes with enjoying Bulmers or Guinness. Plus the extra Euros means some extra pints : D
- Forget The Clubs: Some people might want to check out the clubbing nightlife. Well most of the clubs seem to be located near the Grand Canal, South of City Center. In my personal opinion though, it’s not worth it. They all pretty much play the standard chart hits and have long lines outside – why wait in the cold like idiots when you can be warm with a pint inside you at a pub with everyone?
- Talk To The Locals: Sometimes one is wary of trying to befriend locals while on vacation. Don’t worry about that. The people in Dublin are so friendly. And who knows, they may even let you in some local hot-spots or secrets in exchange for some camaraderie and friendly conversation. Plus, how awesome are their accents!
- Try The Local Fare: There’s no point in going all the way to Ireland and not trying the local food and drink. Try some local whiskey, Paddy’s for example – which is rarely sold outside of Ireland (the only place that I know of personally is Milroy’s in Soho) or the Dublin Coddle – which is an amazing stew dish with onions, ham, sausages, carrots and potatoes.
- Be Safe: Last but not least, while everyone is there to have a good time, just remember that not everyone can hold their liquor and people tend to try to take advantage of tourists. If someone comes up to you and acts friendly on the street, don’t be rude, but at the same time, watch your wallet. Also, I saw so many hapless tourists, at the end of what was obviously a long bender, out on the cold street – don’t be stupid, enjoy your pint responsibly and stick with your buddies. Nothing ruins a great weekend like getting into a fight or losing your phone or wallet.
What To See
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral: If you travel to Dublin for St. Paddy’s you should definitely drop by this beautiful Cathedral. Now I’ll admit, being slightly pre-occupied with getting some Bulmers, I didn’t actually go in. But the grounds themselves were worth the walk over. Beautiful green lawns, a swing set (let your inner child flourish) and majestic view of the Cathedral itself in the backdrop.
- St. Stephen’s Green: This lovely park near Trinity College seems quite massive compared to the small scale of the city itself. Once inside there are many little sections and nooks where you can sit and enjoy the weather (should you be lucky enough to get sunny skies and a warm day like I was) – multiple Gazebos, a stone area (I think it was an Open Air Theatre), a jungle gym for the kiddies and plenty of benches to pop a squat.
- Trinity College: Right in the center of Dublin, the massive compound is full of wonderful examples of old architecture and it’s absolutely free to roam around and have a look. Come back in the evening for a cool lighting display that uses the front facade as a backdrop
- Temple Bar (The Area): This is the area that is full of pubs and bars. Its full of people in the evening so if you want to stake out a place in one articular pub come early. Worth visiting both during the day and night.
- Temple Bar (The Bar): This is one of the most massive pubs/bars that I have ever been to. It was supremely packed on Friday, even though we entered at like 10. Saturday it was impossible to get in as early as 9. But if you can manage, it’s definitely worth it. There was live music and it was so full of lively people having a real blast.
- Grafton Street: Though the stores themselves are no treat, this street is full of buskers, providing lots of entertainment – from sand sculptors to live bands and even a booth where you can take a picture of yourself as a Leprechaun. There are also plenty of booths to buy knickknacks, souvenirs and flowers.
- The Guinness Storehouse: One of the staple attractions of the city. Again I didn’t visit myself, but that’s because I don’t like Guinness, but based on the number of people I saw with souvenir bags, you should probably drop in.
- The Jameson’s Brewery: If its anything like their other brewery in Cork, which I visited in 2011, you should definitely drop in. They have a special Distillery Reserve that is only sold in Dublin and Cork. You can even have your name printed into the label of the bottle. I still have mine, even though the whiskey was finished off long ago ; p
- The Hairy Lemon: Located on Stephen Street Lower, I found this bar/restaurant to quite cosy and the people working there friendly and humorous. It’s a nice little place to get some authentic Irish food. They have more staple fare as well if you’re not gastronomically adventurous.
There are of course so many more places to see. I recommend that you look around for yourself and explore as much as possible. Its easy and doesn’t take that long. And its cheap because you can walk pretty much everywhere.