Operation Boozeless: Week One

So after my sort of distraught post from last week, I thought I would follow up on how my first full week without alcohol went. To be honest, not that much was different – I have in fact gone a full seven days without drinking before so it wasn’t too crazy. But I did notice that my thought process has changed a bit as I prep for a longer stint on the wagon.

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1. Pay more attention. I went out to brunch with a newer friend on Saturday and even though we have a lot in common and I really like her, we’re still getting in the groove of being friends. We’ve also spent most of our time going out together so a lot of our conversations have been wine-fueled. I love a good boozy bonding moment as much as anyone, but I had this moment at sober brunch where I thought “This conversation would be way easier if I had a drink.” What? This is really the state of my social skills? I’m better than that and my friend deserves better than that!

So I perked up, took a breathe, and listened better. And you know what? We ended up having a really good time, talked way after we’d signed the check, and made plans for another weekend. Boom! Definitely realized that I lean on alcohol sometimes because I’m just plain lazyyyyyyyy.

2. Change doesn’t happen all at once. In preparation for my boozeless month I started reading a bunch of articles on the benefits of cutting alcohol. More energy! Clearer skin! Better sleep! The list goes on, so I was psyched to become the pure, zen, Gwyneth Paltrow version of myself. Color me surprised when after 7 days I pretty much feel the same! Because duh, I’m not going to change overnight and no one is going to erect a monument in my honor for not drinking one weekend of the month.

I am still hoping that by the end of the month I feel a difference in my body (because that’s the entire medical reason for this experiment), but I need to have some patience with myself and realize that cutting  wine will not make me a super hero. Although fingers crossed I’ll feel like one by March.

3. I’m not that different after all. So on a typical Friday night when I don’t have any plans I’ll usually crack a bottle of chardonnay and then ultimately end up crying over the Gilmore Girls reboot. I guess I always blamed this on wine, but low and behold I do the same thing completely sober… This is actually sort of a relief – that I am still pretty open to expressing my emotions even if that means weeping over Lauren Graham’s face lifts.

So all in all I would say this has been an enlightening week. It’s funny what happens when you just change your mind set and how taking away a crutch like drinking makes you realize how much you don’t need it.

But this is just the beginning. Stay tuned for week 2.

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My Ultimate Guide to Dublin

Although I’m already back in the US, I wanted to make sure to put together a list of all my favorite spots in Dublin while it’s still fresh. I love giving suggestions when people visit, so I wanted to share the spots that I have loved eating, drinking, dancing, shopping, and touristing over the past year. I put together a budget friendly guide earlier in the year and so many of those places I still love regardless of what I’m spending, but I wanted to share what I consider the best of the best in Dublin, too.

This guide has got a little bit of everything: food, drinks, nightlife, tourist spots, day trips, and even my favorite nail salon. I feel like putting this together was as much for me too because I want to remember all the great places I loved going and where I have some really amazing memories. I want to be able to read this guide in 10 years and revisit all my favorite spots!

Just a note: Since I lived near Trinity, a lot of these places are in the center of the city, which is where I spent the majority of my time. I say this because I know there are a lot of great spots outside the city center, too, I just didn’t frequent them.

Anyway, I hope these suggestions are helpful and if you’re visiting Dublin anytime soon, you have to let me know! There are definitely places that didn’t make it on the list that I might think are perfect for you – so feel free to message me, email me, or comment below!

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Best Hotels

The WestinWestmoreland Street – Located right next to Trinity and across the street from Temple Bar, it is definitely a prime location. Plus, it has the reputation for being one of the nicest places to stay in the city. I’ve had friends stay here and say it was lovely.

The WestburyGrafton Street – Another prime locale, The Westbury is right in the middle of the best shopping and eating in the city. But if you’re not in the mood to venture out, don’t worry, the hotel is known for its fabulous afternoon tea. I haven’t stayed here, but stayed at its sister hotel in London, The Marylebone, and that was probably the best experience I’ve ever had a hotel. I can only imagine the service is just as fantastic.

The MorganTemple Bar – My dad and stepmom stayed here when they visited me over the summer and at first I was worried about them staying in Temple Bar, which is the loud party district. But with a room facing away from Fleet Street and thick curtains, you couldn’t hear a thing! I was really impressed. The location is just as amazing as The Westin, since it’s across the street, but The Morgan is cheaper, if you book ahead. We had the best time people watching, sipping wine, and chatting outside the hotel’s bar – would definitely recommend!

*A note on this: I’ve never actually stayed in a hotel while in Dublin, but these are the places that I’ve heard from friends, relatives, and reviews are the best. I do know they’re all very centrally located and highly rated.

*Another note: Whatever you do, don’t stay in a hotel on Harcourt Street. The hotels are cheaper in that area for a reason: it is the home of the two biggest clubs in Dublin and it will always be loud.  Unless you’re going for a party weekend or a hen party or something, I would avoid!

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Best Cafes for Breakfast & Coffee

Keoghs Cafeoff of Dame St – My favorite spot for an afternoon coffee. My lovely friend, Aoife, showed me this spot and I’ve taken myself back numerous times to read, work, or just sit with a cup of coffee and relax. Get the cappuccino and raspberry scone with cream and jam – the cream is unreal.

LemonDawson St & South William St – The best place for a relaxed breakfast. This was our favorite Saturday morning breakfast spot for it’s outdoor seating, chill atmosphere, and hearty food. Perfect when you want more than a coffee, but don’t want to go all out for brunch. Get the Crispy Complete Crepe or the Strawberry Supreme with nutella.

Bewley’s (if it ever reopens) – Grafton St – Full disclosure, I’ve only been here once like 3 years ago, but it made that much of an impression on me. It’s a Dublin institution, but has been closed for the past couple of years for renovations – it keeps threatening to reopen, but it’s not looking great. If you are in town and it is open, go for the full Irish breakfast, it’s a classic.

*If you want something quick but hearty for breakfast, order an Irish breakfast roll. You can get them in most places that do sandwiches (I like O’Donovan on Pearse Street) and at a lot of rest stops along the highways, if you’re traveling. They’re basically everything in a full Irish breakfast on a small baguette. Be prepared for a food coma, it’s intense.

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Best Brunch 

Brasserie Sixty6George’s Street Upper – My go-to for a nice boozey brunch. Great egg dishes and a hearty Irish breakfast, if that’s what you’re looking for, but with a lovely wine selection and mimosas a plenty. Get the eggs and lobster and a glass of Marble Leaf wine.

Hatch And SonsSt. Stephen’s Green – Love for brunchy comfort food. They’ve got all the breakfast classics served with thick brown bread and the best jam everrrrr. Get the double baked eggs and take home a jar of jam for mom.

*There are definitely other great places around, but, for some reason, I just didn’t really brunch that often while living there. I’ve heard San Lorenzo’s is a great spot, same with The Fumbally, Whitefriar Grill, and The Exchequer‘s champagne brunch.

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Best Lunch

EathosBaggot Street Upper – Hands down my favorite lunch spot in Dublin. It’s a little on the expensive side for lunch so its more of a special occasion spot, but it is seriously the best food and the portions are huge. So it’s like 2 for 1, right? Order the lentils and the chicken thigh or tuna.

KC PeachesNassau St, Pearse St, St. Stephen’s Green, & Dame St – My regular lunch spot while I was in class. Great sandwiches and hot food, but the real MVP is the salad bar where you can stuff a box full of veggies, grains, and chicken salads. Also, they delicious coffee and a huge assortment of pastries. Get the California chicken salad, the steakhouse sandwich, and the cheesecake brownies.

SproutDawson St – The place I go if I’m feeling uber healthy. They specialize in seasonal, local, organic foods and have an assortment of green juices and super healthy desserts, if that’s what you’re into. Get the falafel wrap, the turkey salad, and the supergreen juice (I swear, it’s actually good!).

Mama’s RevengeNassau St – My go-to burrito place. Burrito spots have kind of exploded around Dublin and, to be fair, they’re all pretty good, but I always find myself craving Mama’s Revenge. If you’re coming from the States, you might find it too special, but when you haven’t had proper Mexican food in many months it really hits the spot. Get the chili burrito with veggies.

Super Miss SueDrury St – Best fish and chips in Dublin. I don’t care what anyone else says, this place is bomb and the best place for your fish fry fix. You can do takeout, delivery via deliveroo, or sit on the long bench outside with a glass of wine. Get the student deal, if you can.

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Best Casual Dinner

Fade Street Social – Fade St – My favorite place to take family and friends for casual, but amazing food. Their dishes are rich and unique and I have always had a great experience there. Full disclosure though, I think they were hit with some sort of health code violation recently, so I would check it out beforehand. If you do go, get the truffle hen egg foam, the soft shell crab, and the mini lobster hotdog.

The ShakespeareParnell St – Best hidden gem of Dublin; I always take my friends here when they visit. I know you probably don’t think of Korean food when you think of Ireland, but this place is truly awesome. Sort of hole in the wall, but delicious food, cheap pints, and relaxed atmosphere. If you’re lucky, there’s a guy who makes hotteok in the back sometimes, a sort of Korean pancake topped with nutella or tomato sauce and cheese. Get the bulgogi bibambap and the kimchi pancakes.

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Best Fancy Drinks

The Rooftop at The MarkerGrand Canal Square – Hands down the most beautiful spot for rooftop drinks in the city. Amazing cocktails and if you go at the right time you can watch the sun set and the entire bay begin to light up. It’s gorgeous. Book ahead if you’re a big group or show up early if its just two because they’ll sometimes make you wait around for no reason. And look nice, that always helps. Get the Marker Dream and the Classic Champagne Cocktail.

Sophie’s at The DeanHarcourt Street – Another beautiful pre-dinner drinks location. With views of the Wicklow Mountains, an airy interior, and another fabulous cocktail menu, it’s the perfect option for drinks during bad weather (which, let’s be honest, is most of the time). Get the 6:30 Wake Up Call.

Vintage Cocktail ClubTemple Bar – The best speakeasy in town. Tucked away down a dark street in Temple Bar, you’d never even know it was there, except for a door with stickers that read “VCC”. Ring the doorbell or wait for someone to come out and you’ll suddenly be in a prohibition era luxe bar and restaurant. Head to the smoking area on the top floor to grab a seat (if you can) or just stand around sipping the craziest cocktails in town. Skip the food (you’re not missing much), and get the Apothecary’s Delight or the Rosy & Jim.

Best Fancy Restaurants 

The Winding StairLower Ormond Quay – This may be my favorite restaurant on the entire planet. It’s just exactly everything I love: amazing, decadent food, awesome service, gorgeous views overlooking the river, but without the pretension of a “fancy” restaurant. It’s a particularly wonderful date spot, so if you’re in town with someone special I would highly recommend it. And try to sit near the book cases – we found an old Irish book from the 1920s there once with rugby game scores and journal entries jotted into it, so cool. Their specials are always unreal (if they have beef cheek, get it!), but I also love the steak or the clams with the bread and butter pudding for dessert.

Hugo’sMerrion Row – A great spot to take your parents. A little bright and fun restaurant with great food and wine and really lovely service. Let’s just say I took an especially picky family member here once and even they liked it, so it’s definitely worth putting on the list. Get the lamb or the chicken.

Best Dessert

Murphy’s Ice CreamWicklow St – My favorite place for a rich, creamy splurge. This place is soooo good. They have crazy flavors like lavender, brown bread, and gin (made with real Dingle gin!) and some of your standards like caramel and cookie, so there’s something for everyone. My fave combo is the sea salt and the caramel honeycomb – delicious!

YogismGeorge’s Street Arcade – For a little guilt-free pick me up. I may have gone to Yogism a few too many times while writing my dissertation, but it makes the perfect little treat after a long day. It’s your pretty standard froyo situation with classic tart yogurt and toppings a plenty, plus if you guess the weight of your cup at the end you get it for free! I love the classic flavor with strawberries and kinder bar.

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Best Pubs

Since this is Dublin, it shouldn’t be surprising that Best Pubs is the lengthiest section of this guide. The rumors are true, there are so many good places in Dublin that it’s really hard to go wrong, but these were the ones that I frequented, would go out of my way for, or generally think are notable.

Doyle’sCollege St – My most suggested pub in Dublin and an all around great place to grab a pint. I can’t quite put my finger on what makes Doyle’s so special, but I pretty much always made a point to bring people here if they’re from out of town. Just a great spot to have a beer and a chat.

The Ginger ManFenian St – Another favorite, especially if I’m looking to sit outside and have a chat with whoever happens to be sitting nearby. A more social pub than Doyle’s, in my opinion, and there’s just a great energy about being there.

The ShakespeareParnell St – Best dinner and a drink. I’ve mentioned this place in my budget friendly guide and in my favorite restaurants and now in my favorite pubs. This place is just my favorite, y’all.

Grogan’sSouth William Street – Fun fact: the first time I came here was for a job interview cause that’s just how they roll in Dublin. This place is a total old school, old man pub where you can get arguably one of the best pints of Guinness in town along with homemade cheese toasties they keep in a mini-fridge on the counter. Not pretentious in any way, just awesome.

The Brazen HeadLower Bridge St – The oldest pub in Ireland! I usually bring people here after a trip to the Guinness factory cause it’s only a few blocks away. It’s another spot with great atmosphere and their traditional Irish food is super hearty and delicious. They also do traditional storytelling nights here (although I’ve never been) that sound pretty excellent.

The BargeCharlemont St – Best pub on a sunny day (pictured above). The Barge really comes alive in the summer on those rare beautiful days. I used to walk past it every day after work and definitely stopped more than once to sip a cold pint along the canal.

The LombardLombard St – Our local pub. I couldn’t have this list without mentioning the Lombard since it served us so well all year. Just a block away from our apartment, it was always so nice to get a pint here after a long day or order a plate of chicken wings if we weren’t feeling like cooking dinner. Really nice people and never too crowded or loud.

GravediggersGlasnevin – Definitely stop by here if you’re up at the Glasnevin cemetery and the botanic gardens. The story is that the gravediggers would stop by here for a pint before they started their shift, sometimes leaving the casket they were about to bury on the table in the pub! But if you ask they bartender, he’ll say it’s just a story… with a wink.

The PavTrinity College – The true Trinity experience, especially when the weather is nice (pictured below). Grab a 4 pack of cans and sit out on the grass with half the student body for an afternoon of sunbathing and total relaxation. This basically got me through my dissertation tbh.

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Best Whiskey Bar

Dingle Whiskey BarNassau St – My go to when I’m feeling something a little stronger. Dingle has a great selection of single pot Irish whiskey and their bartenders will always point you in the right direction if you’re not sure what you want. My favorites are Writer’s Tears, Redbreast 12, and Green Spot.

Best Nightlife

Dicey’sHarcourt St – A Dublin institution. Located right next to Copper’s, the other big club in Dublin, Dicey’s will be crazy every night and is perfect spot to go out and dance all night. They play pretty good tunes and have 2 euro pints on certain nights. I’ve ended up here more times that I would like to admit…

XicoLower Baggot St – Best place to start the week off right. Xico has become infamous for its half price Mondays so think 2 euro shots of Tequila and a wild crowd, plus they play some of my favorite music in the city. They might give you a little trouble getting in, but stick it out, they never really turn people away.

The Czech InnTemple Bar – For when you just don’t care. I love this place because they truly do not care about being cool. They serve up some strong long island iced tea and I’ve known them to play the Taylor Swift 1989 album in its entirety on the dance floor. Great spot for when you can’t be bothered with the fuss of properly going out.

Workman’sWellington Quay – A popular spot amongst friends. The music is a little trancier than I like, but they have an enormous outdoor smoking area that is great for having a pint and a chat if you’re not in the dancing mood. I love this place because it feels like you’re at a giant house party.

Best Late Night Food

ZaytoonCamden St & Temple Bar – Hands down the best drunk food ever. EVER. Conveniently located at the drunk hotspots, right by Coppers & Diceys and in Temple Bar, they serve up enormous, delicious kabobs with all the toppings. I really can’t describe how satisfying it is to eat this after a night out. Plus, it makes unreal hangover food so its the gift that keeps on giving. Get the chicken doner meal with garlic cheese chips.

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Best Events

Longitude FestivalMarlay Park – The Lalapalooza of Dublin. If you’re around in July and are looking for something a little out of the ordinary, I would definitely recommend Longitude. It’s a much smaller festival, if you’re used to the ones in the states, which is actually so nice and it features a great mix of local artists and big names. We had a blast seeing Kendrick Lamar here last summer.

Gaelic Football or Hurling Matches – Croke Park – For sports fans and skeptics alike. I am not the biggest sports person in the world, but it was so fun going to a GAA game this summer. Both Gaelic Football and Hurling are traditional Irish sports and people get so into them, it’s fun even if you don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know exactly when the seasons are, but check the GAA tickets page and stop by Croke Park for an afternoon. It’s definitely an experience.

Music at Whelan’sCamden St – For great live music. Between their awesome lineup of musicians and their intimate venue, a concert at Whelan’s is pretty special. My dad dragged me to a random blues concert when he was in town and it ended up being my favorite thing that we did. Plus, if you’re lucky you can see amazing musicians (Hozier, Glen Hansard, James Blake) up close and personal for pretty cheap.

Best Nail Salon

Tropical PopicalSouth William St – For some quirky pampering. I know this is a random thing to include on this guide, but Tropical Popical truly is in a class of its own. A favorite of Saoirse Ronan, this little nail salon is filled to the brim with personality: cheetah print uniforms, flamingo decorations, Lilt soda served up in a coconut glass, plus some very talented nail artists. I like to get the file and polish because you get the whole experience, a manicure that lasts a week, and it’s only 10 euro.

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Best Shopping

Brown ThomasGrafton Street – The ultimate upscale experience. To be honest, I have done very little actual shopping here and a lot more wandering around looking longingly at everything. Ireland’s top department, it has all the great designers, a sprawling makeup floor, and an entire room devoted to Louboutin shoes. 😍 Their sister store, BT2, is across the street and is more my speed with younger designs and (somewhat) cheaper prices. If I was ever looking for something special or any kind of investment piece, this is where I would go.

Harlequin VintageDrury Street – My favorite vintage store. I pop by here every few weeks to see what’s new and I always head upstairs to their sale section. I’ve gotten some really fun pieces here: mom jeans, a crazy 90s romper, a beautiful navy trench, and a vintage Escada sweater for 10 euro. Be in the mood to dig around a little bit and you’ll certainly find some treasures.

Om DivaDrury Street – For a little bit of everything. It’s a little shop, but it certainly packs a punch: they have fun modern brands when you walk in, beautifully curated vintage in the basement, and a top floor filled with Irish designers. I love supporting local artists when I can and their stock is all around beautiful and quirky. One of my favorite going out tops is from here (made by a local designer) and I got the most beautifully fitting vintage dress here too. Definitely worth a stop in.

Bow and PearlRanelagh – For knits, jeans, and ladylike dresses. So I know I’m a little biased because I used to work here, but I had to include it because there are legitimately things I loved about the shop. Firstly, the Janet Byrne Knitwear: if you’re looking for a beautiful handmade Irish knit, but don’t want the same fisherman sweater that everyone else has, look no further. They’re definitely a splurge, but they are seriously gorgeous, so soft, and come in a million colors. Also, if you’re looking for unique formalwear, they always have a great selection of fun, ultra-feminine dresses and skirts. Plus, the staff is seriously the best, if I do say so myself 🙂

Kilkenny ShopNassau St – My go to shop for gifts. I made a huge dent here before Christmas and again before I came home because they have the largest selection of Irish made goods in one place. I like to pick up extra boxes of chocolates (with whiskey or Bailey’s in them, of course), locally sourced soaps and candles, and scarves and pashminas made from super soft Donegal wool for family and friends. I’ve always admired the kitchen wares there, too, but never found a good way to get them home. A great one stop shop for nice and not kitschy souvenirs.

Ulysses Rare BooksDuke St – For the English nerd. For anyone who loves books, especially Irish literature, Ulysses is a must see. They carry first edition Joyce, signed copies of Samuel Beckett, and beautiful antique children’s books, maps, and illustrations. If you’re looking for a gift for a bibliophile then you’ve hit the jackpot – it may be pricey, but you’ll find some really special here, I’m sure of it.

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Best Tourist Attractions

Guinness StorehouseSt. James’s Gate – You gotta say you went. Although a little pricey (around 17 euro) The Guinness experience does a good job: it brings you through the history of the famed Irish beer, how its made and distributed, their advertising campaigns, and you can enjoy a fresh pint up at the Gravity bar which boasts a 360 degree view of Dublin. Guinness is also filled with great restaurants, so I always like to get lunch there as well. Definitely great for any beer buff.

The Long LibraryTrinity College – Also very touristy but this is actually one of my favorite spots in Dublin. It’s in the same building as the Book of Kells at Trinity, which is also cool, but the real masterpiece is up the stairs past the book and into the Library. It often gets compared to the Great Hall at Hogwarts and holds hundreds of old volumes kept by the college, plus its famous rows of marble busts. It’s seriously breathtaking and a pretty quick trip, so I highly recommend it.

Glasnevin Cemetery and Botanic GardensGlasnevin – A little off the beaten path. If you want to get out of the city center, I would recommend heading up North to the Glasnevin Cemetery, which is attached to the Botanic Gardens. The cemetery is the final home to many important Irish figures, including Michael Collins and Éamon de Valera, and is a quiet, contemplative refuge from the rest of the city. Walking tours are available, but I’ve always preferred to wander around.

The Botanic Gardens, next door, are my favorite place in Dublin. With several enormous public green houses you can spend hours wandering through rooms of lush flowers, fun cacti, and tropical trees. It is especially reinvigorating in the midst of a dreary Irish winter and feels like a tiny afternoon’s vacation. Plus both the gardens and cemetery are completely free to visit, so there’s really no excuse not to visit!

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Best Day Trips

If in you’re in Dublin for longer than a weekend and want to see more of Ireland while you’re around there are definitely a few easy day trips that will get you out of the city. There are many tour companies, such as PaddyWagon Tours and Dublin Tour Company, that have bus tours available, but it’s also possible to strike out on your own if that’s not your thing.

Howth – For a taste of the sea just down the street. This is definitely the easiest day trip to take from Dublin. You just hop on the DART train to Howth from Pearse or Connolly station and within in an hour you’ve replaced city streets with boats and lighthouses. Check out the Howth Pier and St. Mary’s Abbey and definitely grab some local seafood – it’s the best! I did a post about Howth a few months ago, if you’re interested.

Galway – For a cultural capital on the West coast. Full disclosure, I haven’t spent a lot of time in Galway, but I’ve passed through on several occasions and it’s a really lovely spot. Known for their festivals and emphasis on the arts, it’s definitely worth an afternoon wandering around the downtown and checking out what’s on. Plus, it’s home of the claddagh ring if you’re looking for a gift for someone special. You can read about my stops in Galway here and here.

The Cliffs of Moher – For some epic views. I would actually recommend a bus tour for this trip or, if you’re doing a road trip around the country, to stay close to the cliffs and get there early. There’s just no good way to get here without a car and it gets so busy during tourist season, but it’s seriously so beautiful that you don’t mind the crowds. I’m so glad I crossed this one off my list – it’s stunning. I recently put up a post about the Cliffs, if you’re interested.

Belfast – For a taste of Northern Ireland. Belfast is a little much to do in a day so I would actually recommend staying overnight to see everything. The main attraction in town is the Titanic Museum, which explains how the Titanic was built (in Belfast), the history of the shipbuilding industry, and tells stories of the those who were onboard. I also hear the City Hall and St. George’s Street market are great to check out also. I visited last fall and this past summer and have always wanted to spend more time in Belfast!

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So there you go! All my favorites in Dublin and beyond! This has seriously been so fun to put together and I hope it can be a helpful to anyone planning a trip out there anytime soon (which if you’re not, you should be!). Living in Dublin has honestly been the best thing I’ve ever done and to be able to share this experience with so many people, both online and in person, has been really special. I feel nostalgic for Dublin all the time and I can’t wait to get back there as soon as I can!

Let me know if you have any specific questions about anything and if you have favorites too, leave them in the comments! I would love this to be a sort of running document of the best places to go. Thanks a mill and I hope you love Dublin as much as I do! 💕