My Ireland Travel Guide // Part 2 of 4: Dublin (Wicklow) & Cork (Kinsale & Midleton)
Okay, Ireland’s two largest cities in one post. I’ll do my best to be clear and concise. Wish me luck.
And if you missed Part 1 of my series featuring Dingle, Killarney, and Galway you can read that post here.
Home of Ireland’s largest airport, meaning a large majority of American tourists enter Ireland via Dublin. So, I find Dublin makes a great start or conclusion to all Irish adventures. Dublin being Ireland’s capital is packed with history, shopping, museums, pubs and fun.
In September 2017 I vlogged my day in Dublin, sharing all my go-to spots (Guinness Storehouse, Grafton Street, St. Stephen's Green, Temple Bar and more). I still love everything I highlighted in my video, but here are some additional options!
A fun trendy spot in Temple Bar neighborhood. A great restaurant to set the mood for a night out!
An affordable food hall with a great ambiance, serving pizza by the slice, pastas, and sandwiches fast.
You’ve got options here. The main floor is a grocery store and deli. Head upstairs for a fancier atmosphere and fine dining. Then the basement is a wine bar and restaurant. All great options!
The food here is amazing. From the food options to the presentation everything is very well thought out. Pig’s Ear has a sister restaurant, Mr. Fox, that many bloggers, including Goop, list as a great restaurant option in Dublin. And while I haven’t been to Mr. Fox if it’s anything like Pig’s Ear it’s worth the hype. One note about Pig's Ear, I’ve been twice, and the design of the restaurant makes the space quiet. So unlike Roberta’s trendy vibe Pig’s Ear’s vibe is a dining experience, think multiple courses and time in between them.
You know when you want a healthy and fast breakfast to start your day? This is the place, chia seed pudding with fruit and an americano for under €7. They serve lunch too.
Yes, this activity is designed for tourists but this is my type of tourist experience. Over the course of 2-hours you crawl to three pubs with two Irish musicians. At each pub they’ll play traditional Irish music and share fun stories about music in Ireland. Plus, you get a seat at each pub, not something that’s guaranteed everywhere, ha! I’ve been on this pub crawl three times and have enjoyed myself each time!
Affordable City Center Hotels
This is the cheapest hotel I’ve found in Dublin city center. The rooms have been ‘loved’ but they’re clean. Plus the pub on the first floor, Darkey Kelly's is not your trypical hotel bar. It is really fun with great live music.
Appropriately named, as it is steps from Grafton Street shopping. Similar to the Harding.
Our Dublin marathon headquarters, very comfortable in this hotel. At my last stay in October 2017 they were starting bathroom remodels!
Easy Day Trip from Dublin
Wicklow National Park
The perfect day trip from Dublin. Just about 1 hour by car each way. There are also many tour bus options to this destination. The park is extensive, but my two favorite spots to hike or pull over for pictures are Lough Tay and Glendalough.
I have to mention the backdrop to our anniversary/Ireland-you’re-gorgeous-and-we-want-professional-photos-to-capture-your-beauty photoshoot. The images are stunning, obviously, and we are so happy to have these images for a lifetime! Note, we shot these images in July around 8am to avoid tourists!
This location is the perfect detour when en route from Wexford to Dublin. Meaning we've taken many of our visitors here. Here are some images from those trips.
Bonus, having fun with my parents...pretty close, right?!
// Lough Tay photoshoot by Niamh Smith //
Read my in depth Glendalough blog post here.
And once you’re finished hiking or just driving through the park head over to Avoca in Kilmacanogue for lunch or just coffee. Avoca is one of my favorite fast-casual Irish restaurants. There are 12 locations through out Ireland, I've been to 5 and this is my favorite location, so far.
The above header might be misleading, I don't plan to chat about Cork too much. And here's why, controversial comment: it's just another big city.
And while Cork is a lovely city, Ireland's second largest, it's another big city at the end of the day. And since you most likely will be spending time in Dublin, I’d pick Dublin over Cork every day. I’d pick Belfast over Cork. And since no trip to Ireland needs to include all 3 cities I’d skip Cork. For clarity, I’d skip Cork City not County Cork.
County Cork offers many villages and towns full of character and charm! My two favorites are Kinsale and Midleton, plus the honorable mention of the Blarney Stone.
Note, if staying in Cork City is what makes most sense for your travel arrangements, by all means you’ll enjoy your time. I’m simply attempting to break down the 3 major cities and share my order of preference. More on Belfast in my next post.
Easy Day Trips from Cork
A charming fishing and seaside town. I’ve only traveled to Kinsale once, and unfortunately the photos that I took were somewhat underwhelming. But my memories of Kinsale make it worth including!
I was there in August so the weather allowed us to sit outside by the harbor and enjoy a pint. We had two lovely dinners in Kinsale, one at Fishy Fishy (make a reservation) and one at Finns’ Table. Both really nice, but if you ask my husband Finns’ Table was too nice and he wishes we would have just eaten at Fishy Fishy twice, ha. After dinner, head to one of the many pubs playing live music.
Cobh, another County Cork seaside town. Cobh is the last port the Titanic ever saw and the port many Irish emigrants used to sail to America. It has a stunning church and plus more great restaurants and pubs. But between Kinsale and Cobh I choose Kinsale.
Is it touristy? YES. How touristy? Like the only Irish people there are the employees. Is it gorgeous? Absolutely, do you see the beautiful castle pictured above? To kiss the stone, and be blessed with the gift of gab, you tour the entire castle, making your way to the roof for the kiss. You're on your back and your heads upside down, it's quite the thrill. Not to mention the castle grounds, filled with nature trails and rather large manors, pictured above.
I find Blarney to be a nice stop when heading west to stretch your legs and to have some fun!
And there you have it, Dublin and Cork plus enjoyable day excursions from both. Happy planning and traveling. See you soon as we head north to Northern Ireland! (Edit, my post about Northern Ireland is now live, you can click here to read it)