Ahh, Ireland. I miss you already.
I went on a four-day solo trip to Dublin this month after booking a ticket mid-December. As an over-planner, the relatively spontaneous nature of the trip triggered a few bouts of anxiety before the time came to hop on the plane. I decided it would be a good opportunity to learn to relinquish control and let the details take care of themselves. It turns out that a little spontaneity is exactly what I needed.
This was my second solo trip, but it felt different from the first. Jet-setting to Dublin was purely for a (much-needed) breath of fresh air, and an intentional step forward in the direction of growth and self-discovery. Some people seemed surprised to know I would be going on my own – “but why?” – before realizing that really, it’s not such a big deal. One thing I can say is that I am so glad I did it – and I can’t wait to do it again.
Different modes of travel each have advantages and disadvantages. One of the highlights of traveling on your own is being able to introvert as much as you want (especially if you’re big on solo time like I am), and seeing the sights you want to see when you want to see them. You also learn to rely on yourself, while also placing just a little more trust in the goodness of other people. Here are a few of the highlights of my trip to Dublin this February, from history to food to architecture.
Trinity College is so majestic that it’s hard to believe some people actually go here to study and work on a daily basis. It’s one of the most touristy spots in Dublin for its beautiful architecture, housing the Book of Kells, and its famous Long Room Library. I couldn’t help but snap a few too many pictures while taking it all in.
Apologies for the spoiler, but the Long Room really is pretty long, and it’s stacked with thousands of books. 200,000 to be exact. Not pictured: The heavenly smell only other bookworms would appreciate.
February is low season in Dublin, partly because most people dream of tropical getaways in the middle of winter. It was so rainy and cold on the weekend I was there that I couldn’t move my fingers for much of the trip. The good news is, there are so many cute cafes around Dublin to help you warm up.
I fell in love with Butlers Chocolate Cafe – they have the best flavor selections, and you get a little chocolate of your choice with every order. (If you’re stumped, I’d recommend the caramel crunch.) I also stumbled upon the dream come true that is the Hansel and Gretel Bakery & Patisserie, (pictured above) which is just too cute for words.
Ireland has an incredibly rich history, and I did my best to immerse myself in it by checking out every museum I could. Kilmainham Gaol is the one spot everyone says not to miss when visiting Dublin – and I have to say, I agree. A former prison that once held both ordinary prisoners, including young children, and the leaders of the 1916 rebellion, Kilmainham Gaol is one of the most important historical sites in Ireland.
Easter Rising 1916 is something that, of course, came up time and time again on the various tours I went on. It was pretty surreal to see where the political prisoners were kept and eventually executed. Part of the tour was outside, late on a windy, rainy afternoon, which added some serious dramatic effect.
I’m not a beer (or alcohol) kind of girl, but I couldn’t go to Dublin without trying a Guinness. This pub is where I had – wait for it – three quarters of a glass of Guinness. I have to say, I now know what tipsy feels like.
There are so many other places I loved seeing, like
- EPIC Ireland, an incredible museum dedicated to telling the story of Irish emigration throughout history (so worth seeing!)
- The National Library of Ireland, with its free Yeats and World War Ireland exhibitions
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a wonderful place to visit if you are religious, love history, or just have a thing for stained glass
- The Little Museum of Dublin, which has the absolute funnest guided tours (and a free walking tour of St. Stephen’s Green on Saturdays)
- Cornucopia, a fully vegetarian restaurant with the best comfort food
- The National Gallery of Ireland and its Beyond Caravaggio exhibition (till May 14)
- Queen of Tarts, which serves the best apple and blueberry crumble I’ve ever had
And you can’t write a blog post about Dublin without talking about the people. Everyone’s been asking me about whether Dubliners really are as nice as people say. All I have to say is: yes, they are.
I saw so many things and took so many pictures, but it’s nearly impossible to express how it felt to get to explore this city for a few days. I feel like this blog post didn’t quite do it justice, but I did my best! haha. Next time, I’ll have to fit in a trip to the countryside.
Have you ever been to Dublin? And what do you think of solo travel? I’d love to know!