Tranquil Travel: Your Guide to Dublin, Ireland

For the most part, vacations are wonderful. You get to take a break from work, be carefree for a little while, relax, and ideally have fun. Unfortunately, vacations aren’t always so picture perfect. Whether you are worried about your kids causing a scene or gaining 10 pounds after a week of eating delicious food and not exercising, vacations are often not as peaceful as they should be. If you want to combine the best of both worlds and relax while still staying healthy and fit, there are plenty of vacation destinations all over the world that should satisfy all of your vacation needs.

 If this week’s (or month’s) Saint Patrick’s day festivities have given you a bad case of the Irish fever, I can assure you that you aren’t alone.  Maybe you had so much fun wearing green and drinking Guinness that now you are just dying to go to Ireland.  Or maybe you’ve been to the Emerald Isle before and March leaves you aching to go back.  Most of our St. Paddy’s day traditions here in the states are pretty American, but you get to experience a whole new level of debauchery if you actually make it to Ireland.  Sure, the Irish are notorious for their drinking capabilities, but they are also some of the friendliest people out there.  For the most part, if you go to Dublin, or anywhere else in the country, you will probably feel right at home.

If you do get a chance to take a trip to Ireland, you will most likely be spending at least a few days in Dublin.  If drinking is your mode of relaxation, you probably don’t need my suggestions. However, if you want to get a richer experience out of that green and rainy little island, read on:

Where to Stay: 

The Westin Dublin 

The Westin Dublin

The Westin is located right in the center of Dublin, so you will be pretty close to all of the action.  The hotel also offers a lot of wellness-related features and amenities.  They offer in-room spa treatments and a gym open 24 hours. They even have an athletic clothes lending service for 5 Euros, so you don’t have to take up space in your luggage with workout clothes. The hotel’s dining options – including a restaurant situated in an airy and relaxing atruim – offer healthy menu choices as well, even in the breakfast included with your room.

What to Do:

Wicklow National Park

Wicklow Upper Lake

Dublin is a lot of fun, but it is a city, so you don’t really get to enjoy the luscious green Ireland you probably hear so much about.  A lot of people like to visit the Cliffs of Moher, but if your trip is only a few days long, you probably don’t want to waste 6 hours of a day travelling.  For some beautiful nature closer to Dublin, check out Wicklow.  It has lakes, mountains, bogs, waterfalls, and plenty of marked walking trails that let you explore – no matter what your level of hiking expertise is.

Take a Storehouse/Distillery Tour

Jameson Cocktails
My friend and I opted for cocktails at the Jameson Distillery… we didn’t quite make it on either of the tours..

You can’t go to Dublin without having a pint of Guinness and some Jameson Irish Whiskey.  Both companies offer a tour of their facilities, and both of the tours are fun, informative, and more importantly : involve alcohol.  However, it is a little redundant to do both, especially since they both cost around 20 Euro (don’t quote me on that).  Unless your heart is set on both tours, I would suggest choosing one, and then just stopping by the other for a drink or to poke around the gift shop.

St. Stephen’s Green

Me at St. Stephen's green
This is me pretending to be artsy in the park.

Anytime you are touring around a big city, it is natural that you start to feel burnt out and just need to sit and relax for a while.  St. Stephen’s Green is a really lovely park right in the middle of Dublin that is the perfect place to find a nice bench to enjoy the scenery and the people watching.

Hop on Hop Off Bus

Dublin sight seeing map

I can’t believe I’m suggesting such a blatantly tourist-y activity, but I found that buying a 2-day pass to this service in Dublin was helpful.  Being able to get on to a bus that knew where it was going and stops at every major site in the city saves you a lot of trouble when it comes to navigating.  You just get off when a stop tickles your fancy, and then hop back on the next bus when you are ready to move on.  Just keep an eye on when the last buses of the day leave. You don’t want to get stranded somewhere that is out of the way from the main city area. (They have these buses all over the world, so I’m guessing their usefulness extends beyond Dublin).

Have you ever been to Ireland?

Need more travel ideas? Find a full collection of Tranquil Travel posts here.