The Best of Dublin (Part 2): Tips for Visiting Guinness, Jameson, Trinity College & More

An aerial view of Dublin from the Guinness gravity bar.

After having recovered from our time in Liverpool and our mellow first day in Dublin enjoying our sweet hotel room, it was time to actually get out and explore the city.

The Long Hall in the Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland.

The Long Hall in the Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland.

We kicked off Day Two with a stop by Trinity College, where we visited the Book of Kells exhibit (cool, if brief…you only get to see six pages of the book itself, under glass) and the oh-so-instagrammable Long Room in the Trinity Library. Busts of famous Irish authors guarded the shelves, and it made you just want to curl up with a book for the rest of the day.

One tip: you’ll want to buy your entrance to the exhibit in advance, online, and make sure to print out your tickets. Doing this saved us from having to wait in a 30-minute long line to gain admittance to the Library, meaning we were in and out all before 10am. I’d also advise going early, as the line had nearly doubled by the time we’d left, and we spied several large tour groups being herded towards the exhibit as well.

The buxom Molly Malone status and her baskets of oysters in Dublin, Ireland.

Me and Molly Malone, just chillin’. I can see why the boys liked Molly’s oysters.

Nearby, we stopped by the famous Molly Malone statue for a couple photos with the particularly buxom landmark. The statue is based on a famous Irish folk-song, in which Ms. Malone sells oysters by day, and another type of…seafood (ahem)…by night.

The old chapel of the Dublin Castle.

The old chapel of the Dublin Castle.

 

Close to the lovely Molly, we got to explore a piece of Dublin’s medieval history. The Dublin Castle is located right in the middle of the City Centre, and while the Castle itself is nice, the gardens are even more lovely.

Peonies at the Dublin Castle Gardens.

Peonies at the Dublin Castle Gardens.

While there, we also took a gander through the Chester Beatty Library, an excellent little museum with several exhibits on the history of the written word. Best of all, entrance to the museum is free.

Having hit the “big” tourist hot-spots in the morning, we felt we’d earned ourselves a nice refreshing beer. So we headed to the Guinness Storehouse for a bit of refreshment. In fact, we’d actually booked two spots in the “Guinness Connoisseur Experience“, which included the self-guided tour of the facility, a guided tasting of different Guinness varieties capped at 16-individuals, and instruction in how to pour the “perfect” Guinness.

Overall, we thought the experience was a bit of a dud, and certainly not worth the โ‚ฌ48.00 a piece we paid for it. Despite claiming it was for “connoisseurs”, we found the whole thing very basic, and if you’ve ever done another brewery tour or beer tasting, it’s likely you would too.

But the biggest disappointment was that instead of getting to taste any of Guinness’s craft varietals, we were served simply a regular Guinness, a Guinness on C02 instead of Nitrogen, the African version of Guinness, the Guinness Dublin Porter, and then another regular Guinness to finish. If you wanted to get your hands on any of their craft versions, like the Hophouse 13 Lager or the Guinness Irish Wheat, you actually needed to go to the public “Arthur’s Bar” on the 5th floor, where you can just pay to order whatever you like. (And the bartenders there are happy to tell you the history of each beer as well, rendering the Connoisseur Experience even more useless.)

But, hey, live and learn.

After Guinness, we’d worked up quite an appetite, so we headed over to one of Dublin’s Michelin-Star winning restaurants, The Pig’s Ear, for a delightful dinner of reimagined Irish classics.

Dinner at the Pig's Ear, Dublin. Clockwise from left, shepherd's pie, beef tartare, lamb and onions, and tomato with ricotta.

Dinner at the Pig’s Ear, Dublin. Clockwise from left, shepherd’s pie, beef tartare, lamb and onions, and tomato with ricotta.

It was a fantastic way to end the day. I’ll say this: the Irish may not have a reputation for great food, but they certainly should, because almost everything we ate this whole trip was fantastic.

The next day, we decided to spend the morning exploring the natural side of Dublin and headed to a couple of the city’s famous gardens, both the St. Stephen’s Green and the Iveagh Gardens. They were both gorgeous!

A flowered stroll at St. Stephen's Green in Dublin, Ireland.

A flowered stroll at St. Stephen’s Green.

A sundial and labyrinth at the Iveagh Gardens

A sundial and labyrinth at the Iveagh Gardens

The hubby doing his best statue imitation at the Iveagh Gardens.

The hubby doing his best statue imitation at the Iveagh Gardens.

After taking in the natural beauty, we ventured across the River Liffey to explore the Northside of the city. Here, we stumbled into the excellent Smithfield area, where we decided to have lunch at Thundercut Alley, a delightfully bizarre restaurant/bar decorated with everything from 80s video game vixens, to Victorian paintings, to an army of rubber ducks. (Really…they’re in the women’s restroom!)

But despite the eccentric decor, this place was AWESOME. After a couple fantastic cocktails to start, I went to town on one of their open-faced sandwiches, accompanied by a Watercress blue cheese soup that was phenomenal. As unique as this place was, I’m calling this the best meal of our whole trip.

The cocktails, at โ‚ฌ10 a piece, weren't cheap but were very tasty.

The cocktails, at โ‚ฌ10 a piece, weren’t cheap but were very tasty.

Pork flatbread, soup, and side dish from Thundercut Alley in Dublin, Ireland.

The pork flatbread, watercress blue cheese soup, and some sort of nacho accompaniment thing. It was SO good, and a lot of food too…we easily could have split just one order instead of ordering separates.

And, luckily, the excellent lunch put us in a great position for our next activity, the Jameson Distillery tour, also located in Smithfield. The Jameson tour was surprisingly a lot smaller than the Guinness operation across town (and welcomed no tour groups), but in our opinion, was actually done a lot better.

The copper still outside the original Jameson location, on Bow Street.

The copper still outside the original Jameson location, on Bow Street.

Here, too, we’d upgraded from the standard tour to one of the premium experiences, and settled in for the “Whiskey Makers” Experience. (Hey Guinness, take note: this is how a premium tasting experience should be done.)

Our guide during the Whiskey Makers Experience. You can see all our blending "gear" including beakers and flasks, below as well.

Our guide during the Whiskey Makers Experience. You can see all our blending “gear” including beakers and flasks, below as well.

This class was a fantastic deep-dive into the different elements and varietals of Jameson whiskey, culminating in the chance to blend and bottle your own Irish Whiskey, and enjoy a sample directly from a cask of aging Jameson. The instructor was friendly and knowledgeable, and we loved every minute of it. Plus, we had a nice little buzz going by the end of the experience: bonus.

After Jameson, we retreated back to the City Centre and the Temple Bar neighborhood in search of some dinner. Along the way, we got caught in a typical Irish rain storm. Pro-tip: if you’re headed to Dublin, a good rain jacket is a must.

Raindrops near the Ha'Penny Bridge in Dublin

Raindrops near the Ha’Penny Bridge in Dublin

Luckily, we were able to escape the storm by nabbing a couple of seats at the tiny hole in the wall, Klaw, which specializes in freshly-caught Irish seafood.ย Here, we tried a sampling of fresh oysters, and loved every brine-y second of it.

The menu board at Klaw in Dublin, Ireland...we tried the "One of Each" oyster sampler.

The menu board at Klaw…we tried the “One of Each” oyster sampler.

The raw oyster varietals at Klaw, which tasted brinier than U.S. Gulf oysters.

The raw oyster varietals at Klaw, which tasted brinier than U.S. Gulf oysters.

Afterwards, we explored the Temple Bar area, but finding it a bit too touristy for our liking, headed over to the Dingle Whiskey Bar just off Grafton Street instead. Here we tried yet another flight of Irish whiskeys, and had the benefit of the incredibly friendly and knowledgeable bartender to guide us through them.

A whiskey flight at the Dingle Whiskey Bar.

A whiskey flight at the Dingle Whiskey Bar.

The hubby was definitely a fan of the dark, low-ceilinged haunt; he said it was how he pictured “real” Irish pubs to feel. (I don’t know what he thought we’d been drinking in up until this point, but alas…)

The hubby enjoying his whiskey.

The hubby enjoying his whiskey.

The following day, we actually ventured outside of the city proper, which I’ll talk about in a future post. Which meant, after four whirlwhind days so far, we only had half a day more to explore this great city.

We started our final day in Dublin the proper way, with a full Irish breakfast at Taste Food Company.

Sausage, mushroom, black pudding, bacon, egg, beans, chips, and toast: a "proper" Irish breakfast.

Sausage, mushroom, black pudding, bacon, egg, beans, chips, and toast: a “proper” Irish breakfast.

After such a huge breakfast, it would have been natural to go back to sleep, but instead we persevered and headed off to Dublinia, a museum honoring Dublin’s viking heritage. The museum was cute, if a bit childish. Still, the hubby enjoyed seeing his “kin-folk”.

The hubby with a viking at the Dublinia museum.

The hubby with a viking at the Dublinia museum.

However, included with our ticket to Dublinia was the really beautiful Christ Church Cathedral, a fantastic example of early Gothic architecture.

The Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin

The Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin

One of the sculptures on display in the crypt of the Christchurch Cathedral.

One of the sculptures on display in the crypt of the Christ Church Cathedral.

A stained glass window at the Christchurch Cathedral

A stained glass window at the Christ Church Cathedral

Having hit almost all the big tourist attractions in just 3.5 days time, there was only one thing for us to do before bidding Dublin adieu: grab a pint. So we headed to the The Long Hall, near Dublin Castle, one of the oldest pubs in the city dating back to 1766.

Just think about that for a second. They have bars older than our entire country.

Our final pints in Dublin, at the Long Hall.

Our final pints in Dublin, at the Long Hall.

So, with our thirst quenched, we headed back to the ferry port to catch our ship back to Manchester, for a few more days before we headed home. Stay tuned for the next leg of our adventure, or even better, subscribe to make sure you don’t miss a single post!

Whitney

  • Jennifer Riley

    48 Eur for beer is way too expensive for what they gave you! Thanks for the head’s up to others who might be considering this. I could get behind the whiskey tasting though. If there was someway to combine that with an epic library visit, it would be perfect!:)

    • Agreed. I think the regular public tour would have been fine for that one. But, live and learn! We had a great time regardless ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Bianca Danise ๐ŸŒธ

    That whiskey and Guinness experience though. hahah. My partner would love that part of the tour and me, I’m good with the food and trinity college. haha

    • Agreed, that was mainly for my hubby. When I asked him what he wanted to do in Dublin, he replied “drink ALL the beers!” Haha!

  • Suzanna Pittman

    The whiskey wasn’t hard to just drink straight? So disappointing about the Guinness tour, but dang, that whiskey experience looks awesome.

  • Jhilmil Bhansali

    It seems to be a perfect destination.. so full of flowers..Loved the Dublin castle & shepherdโ€™s pie seemed yumm!

    • It was! We really loved it, just wished we would have had a few more days. One thing we didn’t get to see was Phoneix Park, the largest public park in all of Europe!

  • Your trip looks amazing!!! Trinity College is beautiful!! I have always wanted to go to Dublin so your photos were so inspiring! I will have to revisit this blog post when I plan a trip there. Thanks for sharing!

    ~Crissy

  • Aareeba Mohammed

    Wow never knew that Dublin is so beautiful . Your pictures are really amazing and I totally loved the Castle <3

  • Sonja Thomson

    Those cocktails and the oysters looks delicious! I’m going to Dublin later in the year so recommendations of places to try are so helpful. Last time I only went to the Guinness Factory but I think I’ll have to check out Jamison too!

    • We really enjoyed Jameson. If you don’t want to pay for the premium experience, another option is to ask the bartender at one of the two lobby bars for a tasting – we saw someone doing that, and it seemed like a great (and cheaper) option that still gets you a lot of the history and guided tasting elements of a more formal class.

  • Rachelle Gordon

    What a beautiful library! I can totally see why it would be the perfect place for those “Instagram” shots. I remember when I was in Krakow and got caught in the rain…I ducked into a nearby pub too and had some of the best food!

  • What an awesome trip. It looks like you had so much fun and love all the pictures you took. The food look so good and the sights were so cool. Glad you enjoyed and thanks for sharing.

  • Deepa Malhotra Gandhi

    Wow..looks like you had a great time. Lovely pics and great description. Thanks for the virtual trip.

  • Amazing Pictures, Whitney! Trinity Hall Library is magnificent. Looks like you have a wonderful time in Dublin, Thank you for sharing.

  • I really like that you have included in your tour a lot of foodie (and drink) experiences. I wouldn’t have thought of going to The Pig’s Ear but reading your story, I would love to go. Shame the Guinness experiences wasn’t up to your expectations. It does sound expensive as well for what you get. I think that because it is so commercial, the standards have gone lower.

    • I was so surprised at how great the food was too! I’m calling it now: Ireland is going to be a big conversation in the foodie world in the next few years. Definitely visit if you can!

  • Lovely photos! The library is so incredible, I’d love to visit one day. And it looks like you had some great food there too – I really really thought of Ireland as a ‘foodie’ destination but I’d love to be proved wrong!

    • Absolutely – the food and drinks we encountered along the way were all fantastic! Especially when we avoided the “tourist” type places and went to local favorites instead…isn’t that always the case though?!

  • Kristine AARSHEIM

    Mmm your cocktails and food look amazing! Looks like you had a lovely time in Dublin. I didn’t get the opportunity to go on a Guinness tour while I was there. Really regret that. Trinity College is incredible. So is the Dublin Castle! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I was so impressed with the food and drinks, honestly! Why don’t more people talk about how great Irish cuisine is? They totally should!

  • ลฝivilฤ— Dap

    Lovely photos, and a great travel guide! I cannot wait one day to visit that Library!

    Jill

    http://www.jilldap.com

  • Adrienne Jensen

    This looks awesome! I’m hoping to take a trip sometime this year to Ireland, definitely will have to check our your part 1 ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I think your Dublin trip was also a food trip.I was getting hungrier by the minute seeing it all .I would love to visit he Gardens most

    • All my trips are also food trips, lol. I love to plan the restaurants as much as I do the activities! How about you?

  • I would have been a bit turned off from that Guinness tour myself. Glad you still enjoyed your time!

    • Absolutely – travel is all about discovery. Sometimes what you discover isn’t the best, but that’s still something you didn’t know before!