Aspiring solo travelers often ask me where their first solo trip should be. Having traveled through a lot of Europe, my suggestion is always the same; I suggest Ireland! A weekend in Ireland is a perfect destination for your first solo trip for many reasons.
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Why A Weekend In Ireland?
My first reason for choosing Ireland for a weekend trip is the city sizes are small. Getting around by foot to all the major attractions is do-able. I recently spent a four-night getaway in Dublin and took notes of every possible reason why you should go.
Reason number two to chose Ireland is friendly people. Sure, in any city, you may come across some rude and unhappy soul, but in general, people are friendly. And ladies, if you fancy the men, that accent is sexy ; )
Another reason I recommend Ireland for a weekend trip is the country is safe. Again, in any city, there could be some bad areas, but I always felt safe solo traveling in Ireland.
A Weekend Itinerary for Dublin
Arriving From Dublin Airport
If you are coming to Dublin by plane, some buses and taxis will take you to the city center. The traffic will determine the cost, but in general, a taxi will cost between 30 – 40 euros. The bus is a more cost-effective option, but depending on the time of day can take a while.
You can spend 7 euros from the airport to the city center of Dublin, by pre-booking your ticket with The Airlink Express. A fantastic option if you want to take the bus.
A smart way to start your weekend trip is by getting the 3 Day City Pass. With this pass, you will have access to the Dublin Hop-on Hop-off City Tour buses and of the Dublin Bus public service buses, Airlink Express.
In Dublin, you want to download the App Free Now. Free Now is the taxi app used in Dublin, and it’s good to have it all set up before you land. The schedule for the buses into Dublin is located here.
Where to Stay in Dublin?
There are so many neighborhoods in Dublin that are all suitable for a weekend in Ireland. You will want to research ahead and be aware that accommodations in Dublin can be costly. For this reason, I do recommend using Airbnb. If you have not used Airbnb, here is a coupon for $38 off your stay.
The Best Neighborhoods of Dublin
Temple Bar Neighborhood
Temple Bar is your bang on, party all night into the morning and into the next week, neighborhood. You can find all iconic Irish Bars with Irish music, Irish food, and Irish spirit here. Just consider how lite of a sleeper you are if staying in this neighborhood. The good times could be heard from the streets and into your hotel room…
A recommended choice would be Temple Bar Hotel.
St. Stephen’s Green
The neighborhood of St. Stephen’s Green is very central within a close distance to Temple Bar. The streets are lined with beautiful townhomes of the Georgian style architecture. Whatever you do, don’t stay on Harcourt street. That is the famous street where all the night clubs are located, and it’s loud AF.
Best Recommended Dublin Hotels
Christchurch neighborhood is the area where you might have guessed it, Christchurch Cathedral is located. This is an excellent choice in the neighborhood if you can find a reasonably priced hotel. Since it is so central and less noisy, the desirability drives up the room cost.
I stayed right on the edge of this neighborhood before the canal just across from the Rathmines neighborhood. So I can recommend staying here and walking into the city center.
Wear your most comfortable shoes in Dublin. Transit by bus is available, but my guess is you will find yourself walking from one end of the city to the other. I would say I averaged 25,000 or more steps a day if that gives you an idea.
Ranelagh, Rathmines, Ballsbridge and Donnybrook Neighborhoods
If you are ok with taking a very short bus ride to the city center, the neighborhoods mentioned above are great places to stay. You can find terrific restaurants and shops located in these neighborhoods.
Staying in any of these neighborhoods will give you the experience of really living in Dublin. I like to feel like I am part of the culture, rather than a tourist.
Great hotel choices here are:
What To Do On A Weekend In Dublin, Ireland
If you are spending a short time in Dublin, do your research on what not to miss! Here is a shortlist of the must do’s listed out by the day.
(Disclaimer: Some links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning if you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you and you may even receive a small discount. See disclosure for more information.)
Weekend in Ireland | Day 1 Dublin Itinerary
Guinness Factory, Christ Church Cathedral & St. Patricks Cathedral
Start your morning visiting Dublin’s most incredible cathedrals! Christchurch and St. Stephen’s Cathedral are of a short distance between each other, and if the weather is decent, you can walk.
After you have had your fill of marveling at these magnificent structures, it’s time to move on to the Guinness Factory!
The factory’s location is within the current neighborhood you are exploring, so walking there could be an option. Once you arrive, you will pay an entrance fee of 18.50 euros. This fee will gain you access to the factory storeroom, self-guided tour of the brewery, and will get you 1 pint of Guinness in the sky bar.
The factory has several on-site restaurants, all ranging in price and dining style. I enjoyed a wonderful lunch here on my day trip to the factory.
For an enchanting evening of Irish folklore of storytelling and music while enjoying a traditional Irish candlelight dinner in Dublin’s oldest pub, the Brazen Head, check out Irish Folk Tours.
Weekend in Ireland | Day 2 Dublin Itinerary
In the morning, head over to Trinity College and view the 8th-century books of Kells. It is best to book tickets in advance online to avoid long lines. After a visit to Trinity College head on to Dublin Castle for picture taking and sightseeing.
A must-try place for lunch is Fish Shop on Benburb Street. This restaurant on Benburb Street is more casual and is open for lunch. I highly recommend the fish and chips!
No trip to Dublin would be complete without a night in the Temple Bar! For a traditional Irish food experience, head on over to The Stags Head. This place gets very, very busy so… I would go earlier than later.
After dinner, you can just walk down the streets in Temple Bar, popping into any pub that has room to get through the door! Enjoy a night of singing, swaying, and drinking down that delicious Guinness! ** If you want to do a musical pub crawl tour, here is a great one.
Weekend in Ireland| Day 3 Dublin Itinerary
Hopefully, you aren’t feeling too wobbly from your night out in Temple bar and are ready for a bike tour! See Dublin by bike is a great tour company.
If it has to be your last night, and you want to have a nice dinner, check out Etto or Uno Mas. These restaurants have the same ownership and were the best meals I had in Dublin. I highly recommend getting reservations at least a few weeks in advance. Otherwise, you may miss out!
Best Dublin Bars and Restaurants
I travel to eat, it’s that simple. When I find an outstanding place, I want to share it with the world. Below is a list of places that do it better than the rest! For an excellent dining and drinking experience, be sure to check out these places!
- Circa– Higher-end dining without the suit and tie. This place is a must-try!
- Bread 41 – Bread, lots, and lots of fantastic bread!
- Fumbally – Delicious cafe with lots of fresh food options
- VCC- Bar– Vintage Cocktail Club, need I say more…
- Peruke & Periwig – For a unique, one of a kind dining experience, check this place out.
- The Long Hall – Traditional Irish Bar, come thirsty!
Bonus: Day 4 Dublin Itinerary
If you have more time on your weekend in Ireland and are looking for a day trip from Dublin, I suggest Howth! You can travel to Howth from Dublin in approx 45 mins. There is transportation by bus or by train. I took the bus, and it was effortless and fast.
Howth is a port town on the coast of Ireland and offers spectacular views and a great coastal vibe. I spent around 2 hours walking around and taking pictures. This is the pleasant day trip for all you photographers, and the photo opportunities are endless.
I had lunch at Mamó Restaurant and was very impressed! This place is classy and small, so book ahead. They serve a seasonal food menu with excellent wine pairings. The staff was very knowledgeable and friendly.
A Weekend in Ireland Day Trip Ideas
Ireland is well connected by train, allowing for many options in alternate destinations. There are a few cities I would recommend checking out if you have the time.
Belfast: Belfast is located approx 2 hours 40 mins by train and depending on traffic, 2 hours by car or bus. If you are traveling to Belfast, you will be entering into the UK, where you need a change of currency to the pound. I have written a detailed post all about visiting How to See Belfast Solo, with many recommendations. Here is a GREAT day tour from Dublin to Belfast & Giant’s Causeway.
Kilkenny: Kilkenny is located approx 1 hour 45 mins from Dublin by train, and similar times by car/bus. I was impressed with the historic old town of Kilkenny and would suggest visiting. The medieval castle in the center of the city is impressive.
Wicklow: Wicklow is the closest to visit from Dublin at about an hour away by train/bus/car. This coastal town is a picturesque spot with a charming city center. Spend the day exploring this little village and checking out the local pubs and shops.
Galway: A top choice in alternative places to visit in Ireland is always Galway! Galway is located on the west coast of Ireland, not too far from the Cliffs of Moher. The first time I visited Ireland, I also went to Galway.
A Weekend in Ireland Safety Tips
I have been to Ireland five times now. Each time I always felt welcomed and safe in my surroundings. Every city has it’s areas you should be wary of, and even in good neighborhoods, you want to be vigilant.
Remember not to go overboard at the bars. This can be easy to do in Dublin, as the good times are infectious. Trouble seems to follow the loud and obnoxious, so don’t be that tourist. Keep yourself sober enough to remember your evening, and you will be fine.
I don’t travel with fancy and expensive items, so I recommend you leave the designer labels at home. It is one less thing to worry about in general.
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