In a short period of time, less than a week, it’s a little rushed to cover two cities and a gorgeous island. Still, I felt that I explored those places piece by piece, letting place for getting connected with nature, eating in interesting restaurants, meeting wonderful people and getting tipsy in Irish style. That being said, my advice would be: pack and go! In as short as 5 days time, you’ll get to discover a lot more than you would expect.
Start in Dublin
Landing at 10 pm on a Saturday evening in Dublin doesn’t leave you many options, so yes, it’s a good idea to spend the night in the capital. Dublin is a rather small city and as I noticed immediately, it’s very compact in the centre. That means that most probably any of the hostels you choose to stay at it’s very likely to be surrounded by at least a couple of bars. That can be pretty annoying if you had a long day and are looking to get some rest in a calm ambiance. Forget about it, it’s not going to happen, unless you are willing to pay much more than just 15 euros/night somewhere else.
I think you got the point: Dublin has great nightlife, vibrant, noisy, full of life city centre, packed with tipsy, but friendly Irish and dozens of tourists from all around the world.
The next morning though it’s exactly the opposite. Sunday morning around 9ish you can barely see some early birds wandering around. On the other hand, unfortunately you can see a lot of waste on the streets, such as empty beer cans, bottles and basically all you could imagine that a few hours before served for making someone’s party mood.
That shortly will be cleaned away ( already should have been though) and you get to discover a pretty city in a rather grumpy day.
Weather is just a detail however, which changes quickly in Ireland, luckily this time to better. During a day you might experience various seasons, switching just in a minute from rain to sun and so on. For a short time while the sun is up Dublin becomes bright and refreshed.
The Dublin Castle, right in the city centre is beautiful and hard to miss while walking along the river.
Temple Bar area is cute and diverse, plenty of bar, pubs, boutiques and options for eating and also accomodation. I especially liked the fact that in particular this area is full of flowers. The facades of several buildings are nicely decorated with colorful flowers, giving a special charm to the narrow streets and a romantic touch to the whole district.
Allocate for all above aprox 3 hours, that’s the average time you need for a relaxed discovery of downtown, attractions visit excluded.
From the very beginning I thought about visiting the charming city of Galway, which is just a 2 h bus ride from Dublin. July is a great time of the year, lots of events going on during the festival of arts. Galway is small, but hosts plenty of cultural events and I personally think that on it’s main street are busking the most talented amateur artists I’ve heard performing in Ireland and not only.
During the summer there is a small market, where I found my speciality for the day: crepe filled with strawberries, maple syrup and whipped cream and a mix of white and dark Belgian chocolate. Absolutely, dangerously delicious!
In two steps you get away from the main street and you have the option of following the river for a stroll or just walk along the coast. I did both, aprox 2-3, short stops included. Along the way you meet people who cycle, walk the dog, jog or just wander around.
Galway is as much vibrant at night as Dublin, many pubs have live music on a daily basis and the atmosphere in such places is incomparable. Irish hospitality is definitely present, it’s not unusual at all that people come over to you in the bar to cheer and ask you what brings you to their country. The funny view is when you spot the ginger Irish dude’s face turning into lobster color after a few pints of Guiness. The atmosphere is fantastic, beer is good, prices are acceptable – I don’t even wonder why pubs are full every night.
The following day is looking to be exciting since I booked a scenic flight, which means I fly in a tiny plane just above Aran Islands and Cliff of Moher. The excitement fades when I receive the call in the morning, announcing that it’s cancelled due to low visibility, but instead I can still take the regular flight to the island, spend a few hours there and after fly back to Connemara. A bit dissapointed, but I’ve chosen to go and it turned out to be a great day. I hopped on right next to the pilot in the mini plane and in less than 10 minutes we were landing on Inis Mor, the largest of Aran Islands.
I took a bus tour together with some fellow travelers I met just in the bus stop. Our guide introduced us to the rich Irish culture, which is so alive on the island and took us to the most picturesque sights. Inis Mor is mesmerizing, even the sun came out to greet us.
There are several bed and breakfasts, hostels and one single hotel and one supermarket on the island. On the question : ” is there any hospital on the island?” our funny guide’s proud answer was : ” no,we are healthy: we eat fish and drink Guiness”. Locals live their simple lives, keeping traditions and the language alive, having a few cows and going fishing. It’s admirable how happy and satisfied they are, away from the agitation of the mainland, having the ability of finding the fulfillment in the beauty of the nature that surrounds them.
End in Dublin
Since Dublin has an international airport, most likely the majority ends the holiday there. If time allows you I would include also Howth. It’s a short, 30 min train ride from the centre and it’s a real treasure if you are a seafood fan.
Otherwise, The Bank on College Green, right in the heart of Dublin, is the best choice. A former bank transformed into a high class restaurant nowadays, serves a variety of delicious meals and a selection of Irish beer and whiskey in an elite ambiance. Finishing your Irish adventure must include a bar hopping and you have where to choose from for sure. If you :checked out some pubs, had a few more beers, listened to the typical music and ended up strolling around the city at 1 am with your Australian mate trying to find the right way – you did well in Ireland!