What does it mean when you no longer need to do your online shop in the dead of night just to snap up a delivery slot that's not a week out? You can go to an actual pub for a quiz night rather than having to make do with a zoom version, and the sight of a plane streaking across the sky is a regular occurrence again?
It means that the world is opening up again! After two years of hunkering down, we can finally start planning again. A romantic getaway, that weekend trip you've been promising yourself or a spur of the moment break; they are all back on the books again. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to get away and visit the Irish capital.
Dublin has been on my trip checklist for a long time, and now that it's within reach, I can give you the benefit of my lockdown planning. When it comes to crafting a trip somewhere, I plan in terms of the three B's; Budget, best, and brilliant.
Budget: Can be done on a shoestring
Best: The goldilocks experience. Not too splurgy, but not too stark either.
Brilliant: I've just won the lottery (or have been seriously saving); let's go to town!
So let's get down to the ultimate Trifecta of a weekend away: Eat, drink and do.
Disclaimer: If you are planning on taking your own trip using any of my suggestions, be sure to check local restrictions, opening hours etc. etc. etc. first.
What to do
Budget: Street art tour
Get to know the different Dublin neighbourhoods by following these maps that show where the latest and greatest street art can be found. It changes regularly, and what's there one day may not be the next. Not only will you explore the city in a whole new way, but you might also just stumble across the next Banksy in the making on this modern art spectacular.
Best: The National Leprechaun Museum
Yes, you read that right! Are you looking for something a little bit different? Then take a trip to this little museum tucked away in the city centre. You will be led through a wonderful world of folklore and its place in Ireland's history. If you are travelling with the family, the daytime tour is suitable for 7-year-olds and up, but they also have a nighttime tour that is strictly 18+.
Brilliant: The Book of Kells
Over a million people a year visit the book of Kells in Dublin's Trinity College Library. Book an early access tour if you want to see this marvellous 9th-century marvel without the hordes peering over your shoulder. Not only will you be able to enjoy the experience of seeing the book in peace and quiet, but you will also get a tour of Dublin Castle, which is ideal for the history lover.
Where to Drink
Budget: Dublin has no shortage of beautiful places to enjoy a stroll, have a nice sit-down or take in magnificent views. You can easily buy cans or bottles of your preferred tipple from supermarkets, and off-licences between 10:30 am-10 pm (from 12:30 pm on Sundays).
Legally you are not allowed to drink in a public place in Dublin City, and any suggestion that I am advocating this as a budget option is complete conjecture…
Best: No trip to Dublin is completed without visiting the Temple Bar district. Tucked in beside the River Liffey, these cobblestone streets are packed full of bars, clubs and quirky shops (and quite possibly a broken stiletto or two). Guinness may be the classic drink of choice for anyone visiting Ireland but don't miss the delectable cocktails on offer here. With so many to choose from and some of the best people-watching in the world, you may find yourself staying all day.
Brilliant: The Guinness Connoisseur Experience
If your reason for visiting is a deep love of 'the 'black stuff', you will not miss a trip to the Guinness Storehouse. While you can easily take a self-guided tour of the building, take things to the next level with this tour that gives you the benefit of a Guinness genius to talk you through a tasting or 4 of what they make here. After some samples, you will be taught how to pour a proper pint; if that's not the ideal souvenir, I don't know what is.
Where to Eat
Budget: Dublin is known for being on the pricey end of things when it comes to wining and dining, and while you could bring a weekend's worth of sandwiches with you, where would the fun be in that? I stumbled across this great article about inexpensive places to eat in the city last year. Full disclosure, it was written in 2017, but most of the places seem to still be in business.
Best: Try locally sourced and fresh as can be Irish produce for less by scouting out the farmer's markets scattered around the city. People's Park Market takes place every Sunday and is packed with all sorts of tasty treats. Its location in the Victorian era, People's Park, means it has built-in picking spots, not to mention being a stone's throw away from the sea too, perfect for a spot of paddling.
Brilliant: Ireland may be famous for Irish stew and soda bread, but there is much more to modern Irish cuisine. Dublin boasts two restaurants with two Michelin stars and three with one star. If you are looking for a truly spectacular experience, book the chef's table at Chapter One and make all your foodie friends jealous.
Are you already packing your bags and booking flights and a hotel? Me too! I can't wait to get exploring. Whatever your budget, there is so much to see and do in Dublin, not to mention all the goodies to eat and drink that you are sure to have the perfect getaway or day trip.