If you ask any study abroad student in Europe what they’re most excited to do while on exchange, most people will say it’s travel. You can get pretty lucky and find a cheap bus, train, or plane ticket to some of the most popular cities in Europe. Taking your first trip during your exchange is almost a right of passage, and in mid-February I packed my bright purple Jansport and took off on my first out-of-England trip to Dublin, Ireland with my flat mate (and fellow Canadian) Karen.
When planning for my exchange I had come up with a list of cities I wanted to visit, but Dublin had never crossed my mind until Karen showed me the $20 round trip airline tickets. Ryanair is truly a blessing.
Our 3-day trip was a whirlwind but we were able to make the most of the time we had. So whether you’re getting ready for your own trip to Ireland or just curious about what it’s like, this post is for you!
Day 1 – A Glimpse at Dublin Nightlife
Technically, Day 1 started at around 9pm after we got in from our flight and checked into our hostel. Karen and I decided to use the few hours we had to explore the city’s famous nightlife. Our hostel was in the heart of Temple Bar, a busy area that is very popular with tourists. The atmosphere in Dublin is incredible: there are bright lights everywhere, live music on almost every street, and everyone we saw looked like they were having a great night. The only word I’ve been able to use so far to describe the atmosphere is happy. The vibe of the city is infectious, and it’s impossible not to be swept away by all the excitement.
Day 2 – A Trip to Howth
From the moment we booked our plane tickets, Karen had been excited to visit Howth, an old fishing village about 25 minutes away from Dublin by public transit. We were able to find a day tour that let us explore the Howth Cliffs. It was a nice, relaxing change compared to the hectic night we had just a few hours before.
With our tour group we followed the walking path up to the top of the cliffs, and it was definitely a work out. At every turn you were surrounded by a breathtaking view of water and wildlife, which definitely made the hike worthwhile.
After reaching the top of the cliffs and grabbing a bite to eat, Karen and I decided to stay back a little longer so we could explore the city. We were able to walk through the weekend market, grab a fresh juice, and walk along the docks. The weather was absolutely perfect, a stark contrast to the traditional gloomy Ireland weather.
Day 3 – The Ultimate Tourists’ Day
Karen and I woke up bright and early to make the most of our final day in Dublin. We spent the morning taking part in the free Sandeman‘s walking tour. I was pretty surprised when I learned that Dublin doesn’t have many tourist attractions. Despite this, our tour guide Conor was able to take us to some of the popular areas, like Dublin Castle, Trinity College, and the Spire of Dublin (aka the Monument of Light). But the best part of the tour has to have been when we learned that there is a Tim Horton’s located in Dublin. Our search for timbits did not end successfully, but at least we now know to look more carefully for the store next time!
After spending a few hours walking around, drinking Irish coffee, and writing post cards to family and friends, we headed to The Stags Head to check out a free comedy show. While we had to leave halfway through the show so we could catch our flight home, the comedians we were able to catch were hilarious, and we didn’t mind some of the jokes made about us studying in Leeds.
All in all, our trip to Dublin was an incredible few days. Last minute adventures like this are a nice change from my usual strictly scheduled trips, and it really allowed me to enjoy the experience. Dublin has quickly become one of my favourite cities so far, and I’m already hoping for another visit!
Next stop: Amsterdam!