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Top 5 Things to do in Dublin

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

Our first, middle, and almost last impression of Dublin was 'there is nothing to do here...'. Sure we saw temple bar and took a picture, stopped through a couple Irish pubs and had some potatoes and whiskey, saw the pretty buildings, but nothing to really write home about. We spent about a week in Dublin and really didn't see anything that really wowed us... until the last day or two. We finally had dug in deep enough and talked to enough people that we were hot on the trail of something worth talking about!

Entrance to the Jameson Distillery on Bow St Dublin Ireland
Jameson Distillery

1. Jameson Distillery -

At the top of our list and the most obvious was the Jameson distillery tour. From the perspective of two bartenders, the tour was full of really great information about the history of the distilling process not just for Jameson but alcohol and whiskey in general. The tour was very fun and engaging. After a couple presentations on the history, the tour ended with a guided tasting, gift shop, and cocktail in the bar. Absolutely fantastic, worth every penny and the single most important thing you have to do while in Dublin. This tour was a gift from some people who were acquaintances at the time.


2 . Vintage Cocktail Club - Those of you reading this that know me personally know that I have in fact ran a real life speakeasy. That being said, this feels wrong talking about because it was the single most unique, exclusive, speakeasy experience I have ever had to date. This is what every United States craft cocktail bar wishes they were. You will have a hard time finding it unless you know exactly what you are looking for and that is, three very unassuming small letters on a beat up rusty metal door. VCC.

VCC Vintage cocktail club rusty metal door

The door is locked and will be opened only for those with a reservation for that seating period. Before you are allowed in your reservation will be verified and then you are escorted up a stairwell to your private table in a dark but beautifully appointed vintage candlelit room. The table is solely yours for a strict two hours (trust me, I tried to stay longer and book a second reservation and that is not allowed). You are given an incredibly detailed and extravagant menu that reads much more like a book than it does a cocktail menu as it includes the history behind every category of drink and all of their exotic ingredients. One of the things that we really appreciated about this bar was that unlike the majority of cocktail spots elsewhere in Dublin that poured 35ml (1 oz) cocktails this bar made things with reasonable and normal proportions. Depending on where you are at in the United States normal cocktails can be upwards of three plus ounces but generally average around two. All in all, this is a can't miss experience.


3. Henry St. Shopping - Located on the north side of Dublin, this shopping promenade will fulfill all of your shopping desires. Grab a coffee and a chocolate truffle from Butler's, and set out on your shopping adventure. All of the favorites are here, like Zara, Lush, Nike, Pull&Bear, Penneys, and plenty of other super trendy brands. You could easily spend your entire shopping budget here (like I did, ha ha).


4. The Blind Pig - This was a recommendation that was given to us by the bartender at Vintage Cocktail Club. After having his fantastic drinks and being told that this town was home to more than one speakeasy we were quickly on our way to check this next spot out and it did not disappoint! This felt more like a Southern California style speakeasy, but, still cute and fun. Down the stairs inside a normal restaurant there is a blind pig statue on the wall next to a book case, you press on the pig and the book case splits in two revealing an amazing bustling basement bar. We were able to get seats at the bar and enjoyed appetizers and cocktails.


The reason that I say this is more Southern California feeling is because the splitting bookcase with the button on the wall and a bar top with three hundred different vials of bitters feels a little bit trite. None of this to detract, there was live music and the overall experience was good and fun!

Southern French fries and fried foods at Krewe in Dublin Ireland

5. Krewe - Krewe was a nice taste of home while abroad. This was a cool European idolized take on American cajun food and craft cocktails. The restaurant was very busy even in the middle of the afternoon, and the inside was dark and comfortable. They had done a great job with the artwork and decor making it feel like you had been transported straight to a swanky New Orleans jazz club. The food and cocktails were so good that we actually came here twice during our stay. Very well balanced cocktails and large tasty portions of food, perfect for splitting different items with a couple people.

 

Honorable Mentions

While these are our top things to do in Dublin, lists like this end up feeling so limited because... well they are, so here are all of our honorable mentions. These are things good enough to do again, but not totally worthy of 'must see' status or their own whole paragraph of writing. Throughout Dublin we loved all of the shawarma spots especially 'The Shawarma Co' on Dame St. The Old Storehouse was a good spot for local Irish pub style food with the accompanying live music and ambiance. We enjoyed a late night out at Fitzsimons for live music and the Irish pub ambiance and it didn't seem as packed in as The Temple Bar. We also enjoyed the bottle shop micro bar next to The Temple Bar which was awesome because we got to try many different kinds of whiskey with a very hands on bartender because there are only a few seats. Ryleighs Rooftop was great for lunch. It has very cool art deco style and is a rooftop restaurant bordering the river so their views are some of the best in the city. We also enjoyed Thai healing massage, note they only take cash, but it's about a dollar a minute. They were very friendly and it was a comfortable and relaxing experience. We did a couples massage in the same room. Walking around Guinness and St Stephens Green were both fun and entertaining as well. We ended up deciding not to do the Guinness tour because neither of us really care for beer to begin with and the tour was fifty euro per person minimum. St Patricks Cathedral was also cool to walk through. The International Whiskey Museum was a very theatrical kind of whiskey tour and therefore entertaining, but the tasting at the end was disappointing enough that neither of us finished any of the four spirits. Biggest suggestion for this tour, order a cocktail at their bar ahead of time and they will let you walk through the tour with it. Avoca was a cool multi level store and cafe that we had breakfast at and bought a couple different things from. It is kind of like a big European World Market with a cafe. The cafe aspect made some of the best coffee drinks we had in all of Europe. We liked their porridge but the hash was a miss.

 
All is Fair in Love and the Internet

Lastly, here are a couple places we would not necessarily recommend. First on this list is La Caverna, this place comes up on a lot of travel guides and is one of those tourist trap spots. The ambiance is cool and looks even cooler in pictures. They do a good job of making it seem like it will be hard to get a table until you get there and you are one of only a couple tables sitting in a dark basement... The food was not terrible, but it also was not good and the glasses of wine that we ordered had to have come from a bottle that had been open for a good couple weeks and long since spoiled. Workmans, we accidentally stumbled in here on our first night and it was like walking into a house party full of eighteen year olds that were pretending to be of drinking age. It smelled, the floor was sticky, it looked like you are actually in a dirty frat house. A couple days later we heard from a local that we were exactly right, this is a dingy local club for those questionably aged and we had actually missed the whole section where there was actual carpet... in the bar... Gin Palace, Occasionally there are certain businesses that feel like The Twilight Zone. From the moment you walk in everything feels off, no-one greeting you or is helpful and it's not necessarily that anyone is rude but more just that you simply don't exist. This was one of those places, didn't really care to talk to us or be helpful and after having a gin and tonic we were quickly on our way.


 

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