It took me four visits to Ireland before I managed it to see more than the capital city of Dublin. I fell in love with this city during my first visit, and I have come back for at least a short visit every year. But I have acquired a new taste for traveling in the last few years, so recently decided to rent a car in Dublin and to see more of this beautiful country. Ireland is amazing, and exploring outside of Dublin made me want to see even more in the future! Here are my suggestions for how to spend 72 hours in Ireland.
Arriving In Dublin
I flew from Berlin to Dublin with Ryanair ad. You can get awesome flight deals with Ryanair if you book at the right time. I paid 80 Euros for a round-trip. After the 2 hours and 20 minutes flight, I arrived in Dublin around noon on a Thursday. I took the airport shuttle to the car rental station, where I had reserved a car for the trip from Hertz. I was a bit nervous before the drive, because this would be my first time driving on the right-hand-side!
First Stop: Galway
I drove from Dublin to Galway in approximately two and a half hours and arrived around 5pm. Luckily the drive turned out to be very easy. Galway is on the opposite side of the country from Dublin on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. The city has less than 100,000 citizens and is the capital of County Galway. This city has some beautiful sights like the Claddagh, Galway Cathedral, the Salmon Weir Bridge and some cute, old pubs. I spent the night at Adare’s Guesthouse, which is a very cute hotel with nice, clean rooms and an awesome breakfast freshly cooked by the hotel manager.
Second Stop: Dunguaire Castle
There are a lot of sightseeing places near Galway, but on Friday afternoon I decided to go to Dunguaire Castle because it is on the way to the Cliffs of Moher. The drive through the countryside of Ireland was nice. The streets are small, with a lot of stone walls and green is definitely the color of Ireland.
The historic castle, built in 1520, appeared before me right after I saw a parking sign. It is a calm place and I was captivated by the views. Visitors are not able to go in the castle, but you can walk around it. It was nice, a real piece of history, but I was done after 40 minutes.
Third Stop: Cliffs Of Moher
The cliffs were the highlight of my trip. The photos I had seen on the internet were amazing, so I couldn’t wait to take some with my own camera. You can walk along the cliffs, but when the official path ends, they point out that you go further at your own risk. I went ahead, but it had rained days before and was very windy, so after a few hundred meters, I had to go back. Maybe, I am a scaredy-cat, but I was too afraid. The Cliffs of Moher are over 700 feet tall at their highest point, and the shale and sandstone cliffs drop almost vertically to the Atlantic ocean far below. I couldn’t even bare to watch some boys that were standing at the edge of the abyss.
Apart from that, my visit was great. I was lucky, the rain had just stopped. I had gorgeous views of the cliffs, and also of the Aran Islands. The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center offers shops, restaurants, information material, and a parking space for 6 Euros. And they also have a small cinema where they show a 3D animated film about the nature and wildlife of the cliffs. I spent basically the whole afternoon ( 2 or 3 hours), at the cliffs, and then started the car back to Dublin with the sunset behind me.
Fourth Stop: Dublin
I arrived in Dublin in the early evening on Friday, and returned the car to the airport rental station. I took the airport shuttle to my hotel in Temple Bar. The quarter on the south side of the Liffey River is the vibrating heart and cultural center of Dublin. Get ready for a Friday night pub crawl in Dublin, because Temple Bar is the very best place to party! My favorite is The Temple Bar Pub. I enjoyed great nights there with very talented musicians on stage such as Clare Peelo, Dave Browne, Dave Houston and The Hooligan Elephant.
On Saturday it was time for shopping and sightseeing. There are two main shopping centers in Dublin. Grafton Street is just around the corner from Trinity College and reaches St. Stephens Green at the end, the biggest park of the city. Another good shopping area is on the other side of the Liffey. Take Ha’Pennys Bridge to get to Henry Street. Around Henry Street and O’Connell Street are all well-known brands, and also small vintage and music shops where I bought some band t-shirts.
If you have any more time, I definitely recommend a tour of the Guinness Storehouse and a guided tour of St. Jameson Whiskey Distillery. It was my fifth time in Dublin and every year I stay at a different hotel. I first stayed at The Harding Hotel in 2010 and returned this time. I like the big rooms and bathrooms, it is classic, clean and the staff are helpful and friendly. After a Full Irish Breakfast on Sunday morning, I was ready to say goodbye. I took the Airlink 747 – this airport shuttle connects Temple Bar with Dublin Airport, and is the easiest and fastest way to catch your flight. Bye bye Ireland, or in Irish, ‘slán agat’!