Eats, Drinks & Travels: 4 Days in Dublin
New library's Chief Editor, Nick West, spent 4 days in Dublin. Fancy yourself a quick trip to the emerald aisle? Feel free to steal from this itinerary, because that's the easy thing to do, and it's totally worth it.
Dublin can be the getaway you want it to be, because its locals let it be that way. There's an implied heir of festivity in Ireland, because, well... it's Ireland. The Irish are cordial, helpful and generally happy to share their city (at least that's how it feels from the outside) with tourists - volunteering directions and restaurants alike.
From my travel perspective, you can tell a lot about a city by it's service people. In New York for example, there's a general straight-faced efficiency in any transactional relationship. You'll get the help and service you need, but don't ask for smiles. In Dublin, you'll get both with a healthy side of conversation. And that's a breath of fresh, Irish oxygen coming from the loneliest big city in the world.
With a strong local public transportation system allowing for easily planned day trips and a vibrant, young downtown, Dublin is the perfect 4-day getaway for an east coaster (and really, any coaster -- it just happens to be a fairly painless 7 hour plane ride for us people on the right). Great food, the great outdoors, and yes, great beer are just a few of the constants you can count on in a city of sports fanatics, alcohol empires, creatives, intellectuals, and every sort in between.
So, here is everything we ate, drank, and experienced in 96 hours on the emerald aisle.
For NYC folk, United Airlines runs direct flights out of Newark Airport. This is the option we took, although Aer Lingus, American and most other carriers have options in the New York area and out of most major airports in the US. On the way back, the Dublin Airport runs a pre-clearance operation, where you'll go through the passport check/immigration rigamarole in that airport, with no hurdles to jump once you've arrived in the US. Make sure to arrive early for that return flight.
The Dublin Airport is only 20-25 minutes from downtown Dublin. Always nice when you don't have an extra hour plus once you've already arrived. Not all cabs, in fact, the majority, do not have credit card readers. To reduce wait time, we found that the My Taxi App was even more popular than Uber, so we highly recommend downloading that before arrive. Download here.
As of this writing, the Euro carries a slight edge with 1 EURO = $1.18. For current rates, click here.
We stayed in the no-frills, O'Callaghan Davenport Hotel given its prime location. From what I've read, most hotels are fairly expensive, and in most hotels, you'll be sleeping on a twin bed, unless you upgrade to premium/luxury digs. Dublin, however, is not the kind of city where you'll be doing anything but sleeping in your hotel of choice. There's too much to do, too much to see, and too much to drink.
Howth Day Trip
Hop on the Dart train 30 minutes east, straight to the Howth Peninsula where this little fishing village is home to fresh-off-the-boat seafood, gorgeous views of the Irish Sea, and one of the region's oldest castles, Howth Castle. The public transportation system in Dublin is extremely reliable and easy to navigate. Even if you're just looking for some great seafood, the train ride is easy enough for a quick travel in, a meal, and back to the city.
Dublin Mountain Hike
In substituting a full day-long trip across Ireland to see some of the most popular sites on the west side of the island, like the Cliffs of Moher, we opted for a local hike in the Dublin Mountains, specifically on the Ticknock Trail. About 30 minutes to an hour up to the top, depending on the route you take, the hike affords you amazing views overlooking the city and the sea. Perfect for a half-day excursion. Picknicking a must. To get there, take the green line to Dundrum and the 44b bus to Ballinteer; however, it's highly recommended to take a car as you can park on Ticknock Rd.
We took a cab from Dundrum as the bus doesn't operate on the weekends, and lucky for us, couldn't get one back. Fortunately, two hikers who had seen us on the trailer offered us a ride back. It was as close as you could get to hitchhiking these days, and while we wouldn't recommend, it was worth the story.
The Book of Kells
Housed in Trinity College's Library, the Book of Kells is a masterwork in wildly ornate calligraphy. Created sometime around 800AD, the Book is an illuminated manuscript of the Four Gospels and the New Testament. The drawings are as detailed as they come, rich in creative history. If you're looking for a touristy history lesson, you've come to the right place. Hot Tip: Buy your ticket in advance to avoid waiting in lines.
Bars, Restaurants & Shopping
Weirdly, the only true Irish food we ate while in Dublin, was the fresh seafood in Howth. Otherwise, our goal was to experience the local chef's take on international food. They did not disappoint.
Cirillo's - This local, elevated pizza joint served pies that very well pleased even our snobby New York Pizza tongues. Highly recommend their bruschetta, and the Quadrifoglio Pie (add the Parma Ham).
Neon (Asian Street Food) - Order at the front, sit at communal tables, and eat out of take-out boxes PLUS they give you cones for you to help yourselves to soft-serve ice cream. Great vibes, and a great menu with a lot of variety. Try the crispy honey beef. Yum.
The Bar with No Name - Reminiscent of 18th Street Lounge in Washington DC, this multi-vibed bar (indoor, outdoor, loud, quiet) greeted us with some LCD Soundsystem tunes, great cocktails, and a diverse crowd of happy locals and tourists alike. We drank at a lot of pubs while we were in town, but this bar stood out among the rest.
La Cucina - In the basement of the ultra-hip bar, Farrier & Draper, this Italian restaurant was proof positive that the local chef's can flex their lower Europe muscles. With a gnocchi dish like no other, great wine, and dark, but lively atmosphere, La Cucina is the best way to drink red wine and eat pasta in the city of Guiness and fish and chips.
Crabby Jo's - Along the waterfront in Howth, there's a long row of seafood restaurants. With no prior research, simply looking for a restaurant without a wait, we stumbled upon this fresh seafood gem. With the charm of a seaside tourist restaurant, Crabby Jo's serves up non-gourmet, fresh seafood. Try the crabcakes and the lobster.
The Village of Howth
Trinity Old Library (Book of Kells)
Dublin Mountains - Ticknock Trail
Very amateur photographer + writer, Nick West is also the Chief Editor/Founder of new library.