four days in ireland: dublin, galway, and cliffs of moher.

For some {naive} reason, Ireland was never on my travel bucket list. It’s not that I didn’t want to go there – I just didn’t feel as drawn to it as I was other locations. In hindsight, I just didn’t really know enough about it.

When I had the opportunity to go for a long weekend over St. Patrick’s Day, I couldn’t pass it up. My little brother was studying abroad in Rome and asked if I’d want to meet him there for a few days. I asked a few friends if they’d like to join and one of my best friends jumped at the opportunity – I’m so glad she did. We went with my parents and had one of the most fun few days of my life.

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High-Level Trip Overview:

  • Dublin: We stayed in Dublin the entire time, but only explored the city for two of the days. We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in the best way possible – in the Temple Bar area and at the Guinness Factory.
  • Bray and Dalkey: We spent a full day riding the train down the coast, getting off to see the small shore towns of Dalkey and Bray. Interesting to say the least…
  • Tour to Cliffs of Moher and Galway: We also spent a full day riding in a tour bus across the entire country to get to the The Cliffs of Moher and city of Galway – we weren’t sure if the long trip would be worth it, but it was.

For more details on each location, keep scrolling!

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We stayed in Dublin at a boutique hotel called The Merrion. It was so beautiful, our room was pretty big (especially by European standards), and it was in a great location. I’ve heard about some other great hotels, and as always – Airbnb is always a good option in Europe.

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First of all, walking around Dublin is fun in itself. You don’t need a guide to the best pubs, shops, etc. – it’s one of those places that’s best to just explore and find yourself luckily lost 🙂 I honestly can’t tell you the names of everywhere we went – and that’s not because I drank too much Guinness – it’s because we walked in and out of so many places. Sometimes we’d just get a beer and oysters (I was so surprised they had good oysters in Dublin), and other times we’d just stop in for a bit to listen to live music.

We had tons of traditional Irish food (which was easy to find in every other storefront), but we also came across two great wine bar / dinner spots that I’d recommend checking out!

  1. The Port House PintxoThe Port House Pintxo: Tapas / Wine bar, which was unexpected – especially in the Temple Bar area of Dublin. We went twice because it was that good.
  2. Ely Wine Bar: Another wine bar – this one a bit fancier. The basement is a wine cellar, a great atmosphere.

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Temple Bar

This was the bar to be at, especially to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It’s right in the center (and named after) the Temple Bar section of Dublin. There are dozens of pubs on this street, all worth wandering into. The reason we loved Temple Bar in particular was because it was big and half inside, half outside. Also, there was really good live music. We went during the day for food and beers and then Meg and I went back later in the week for a night out and had so much fun.

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The Guinness Factory

We took a tour of the entire factory, learning the history of Guinness and how they make it – it was really neat. They had different things to do on each floor, all including places to drink Guinness, of course. I wasn’t a fan before this trip – but this trip made me appreciate the taste (and it’s true that it tastes better in Ireland)!

Also, there’s a really cool bar at the top of the factory with a 360 view of the city. Even if you don’t do the tour of the factory, try to make time to head up there if even just for the views.

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Train Down the Coast: Bray and Dalkey

We thought it would be cool to get out of the city and just do something ‘off the beaten path,’ – usually the days we do things like this turn out to be highlights of the trip, but this was an exception. In hindsight, taking the train to beach towns in colder months isn’t something I’d suggest.

We made the most of it, but both towns were desolate – eerily empty, not much to do. We joked that they both looked like they’d be the scene for a murder horror film – especially Bray because there was a creepy carnival going on that had like, 20 attendees. We were in Dalkey around lunchtime, luckily finding a authentic Irish pub to take shelter from the impending rain. We had some beers, mashed potatoes and french onion soup – comfort food at its finest.

All of the above being said,  both towns had tons of character and it was nice to be among only locals. I’d be so interested to see what they’re like during the summer months. If anyone has been or is planning on being there when it’s warm, let me know!

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Tour Bus Day to the West Coast:

Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, and Galway City

The western coast of Ireland is a must-see. We were staying literally across the country (and only for 4 days), but we made it a point to check this off the bucket list. We took a tour bus from Dublin {via Wild Rover Tours} – We normally steer clear of tours/tour bus situations because you can’t be on your own time and my whole family just hates them – but we made an exception for this trip. Driving back and forth across the country in one day is something we would rather leave up to a tour guide. Plus, the tour took us to 3 destinations: The Cliffs of Moher, The Burren Ocean Walk, and the city of Galway.

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Views from our bus ride across the country

Cliffs of Moher

One of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. Humbling and simply stunning. We got lucky and had a clear day – apparently it’s not uncommon for fog and clouds to completely ruin the view. There’s a reason Meg and I are the only ones in these photos… my parents and brother were a little scared to get close to the edge. Let’s just say if you have even a tinge of a fear of heights inside of you, this will exacerbate it by 100%.

There’s a walking path, but also an opportunity to get closer by climbing over a fence with a restricted area sign on it. Meg and I climbed the fence and the scenes from up-close made my stomach drop, in a good way. I guess I don’t have a fear of heights. Even so, looking at these photos makes me wonder what the hell we were thinking getting so close…

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The Burren

The second stop on the tour was actually really cool and unexpected, since we weren’t exactly sure what we signed up for when the tour said it was stopping at the Burren.

Burren’s are large landscapes formed by limestone and apparently there are only six of them in the world. Ireland has the smallest – also a National Park. I’m not remotely into geology, but it was pretty impressive.

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The Burren
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The Burren


I wish we had more time in Galway, but I’m so glad we went. If I ever go back to Ireland, I’d like to spend a few days there. It was full of so much life and energy and was exactly what I’d pictured when I thought of a “authentic Irish town.” We wandered around for a few hours, in and out of shops and pubs until we had to head back to the tour bus.

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Galway, Ireland

And check out the scenes through the middle of Ireland – this is how I pictured it.

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All in all, I loved every part of this trip even thought I didn’t have the best luck health-wise. I had a terrible sinus infection the whole time, but fought through it because I couldn’t let it ruin my few days. To make matters worse (I guess because I really put my immune system to the test), I caught a 24-hour stomach bug right before my flight home. On the morning of my flight, I woke up feeling absolutely terrible. I made it to the airport (apart from my family, Meg, and Zach who were all going to different destinations) and as soon as we took off, I had to rush to the bathroom.

Let’s just say I wouldn’t wish 7-hours of getting sick on a plane on my worst enemy. I switched to the first-class bathroom (despite the flight attendants disdain)  and locked myself in there for the majority of the time. I think they thought I was hungover, so they didn’t help me much. I got so dehydrated that Kc had to come into the airport when I landed to help me get my bags because I almost fainted walking through the terminal. ANYWAY. Bad end to a good trip. It was one of the worst days of my life, but I wouldn’t trade it for my amazing weekend in Ireland 🙂


If you have any questions or suggestions, please comment below!


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