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Best of Dublin for First Timers

Best of Dublin for First Timers

My best friend’s twin brother moved to Dublin, Ireland almost two years ago. James played baseball and was an accounting major, so he never had the opportunity to study abroad (us non-athletic, liberal arts types had more flexibility with our class schedules)  As soon as he told me about the opportunity I promised that I’d come visit him.  About a year after James moved, Matt found round trip tickets from LAX to Dublin for $630 and we couldn’t pass up tickets that cheap!

How we got there:

  • British Airways from LAX > Heathrow
    • Mileage: 5440
    • Duration: 10 hours
  • British Airways from Heathrow > Dublin
    • Mileage: 357
    • Duration: 1 hour

We took the aircoach from the Dublin Airport into the city for 6 euros

Where we stayed:

With James! in his awesome apartment near the Grand Canal. 

We spent the last two nights at an Airbnb in a great location near St. James Gate on the west side of the city.

I had never been to Ireland before this trip.  I didn’t know much about the city except it was becoming a hub for American Business, Temple Bar was ‘expensive’, oh and it was the home of Jameson, Guinness, Clovers and pots of gold.  In reality Dublin is a proud city with a dark history, resilient people, neighbors who take care of each other, revered tradition and a glass half full sort of attitude.  

I know not everyone has the privilege of traveling with a local, so here is a list of recommended tours, bars, and restaurants that will show you more of the local scene in Dublin.  Hint: Nothing on this list is in Temple Bar.  


Sandemans Free Walking Tour

We started our trip off like we always do, with a Sandemans New Europe free walking tour.  We always do these in each new city on our first day to get our bearings, know what we’re looking at, and try and find some things that will peak our interest for later.  In this instance, we learned about the seaside town of Howth, and added that to our itinerary for the weekend...but more on Howth later.  

Guinness Storehouse

The home of Guinness.  This self guided tour walks you through the history of Guinness, the brewing process, and my personal favorite, they had an exhibit on the circus animal marketing campaign.  You learn how to pour and serve from a nitro tap, and get to enjoy a pint at the top of their gravity bar, which gives you 360 degree views of the city.  

Jameson Distillery

Visiting the original Jameson Distillery was the highlight of my time in Dublin, and I don’t really care for whiskey.  They just recently remodeled and revamped their tour, and it was great! It’s amazing how a tour in itself can be a work of art.  They walk you through three rooms.  First you learn about this history of the Jameson Family.  Then you learn about the science behind the distillation process.  Finally they take you to do a blind tasting of American, Scottish and Irish Whiskeys, learning the differences between the three.  

When we visited my brother David in Guatemala there was an Irish bar called ‘The Snug’ and they had a picture of a sister Snug in Ireland.  Matt and I set off to find this sister bar and we quickly realized a Snug was just another name for a cozy, locals only pub.  We ended up at a VERY locals only Snug and enjoyed a few pints with the locals.  I would recommend finding a Snug if you’re really looking to experience Irish drinking culture.  Unlike the article suggests, they were very friendly to female drinkers.  

Dingle Whiskey Bar

While this is a Whiskey Bar, their gin and tonics are out of this world.  They are served traditionally, in a goblet style glass to open up the aromas and they’re topped with fresh cut citrus.   

The Brew Dock

Easy place to grab a pint! The interior decor is really cute and different.  Think old creaky furniture with neon signs on the walls.  They have board games and a full food menu to entertain yourself if the weather is bad.  The beer selection will appeal to a wide variety of beer drinkers.


The oldest pub in Dublin, est 1198!  They serve Hophouse Lager, which for those of you that can’t stomach Guinness, is the lager made by Guinness only available in Europe! The Jameson and ginger is also tasty. This place can get a little touristy, but they do have live music every night!


Lolly and Cooks

Lolly and Cooks is a small chain of coffee shops.  We ate breakfast here every morning.  They have a great selections of pastries, sandwiches, and, most notable, sausage meat wrapped in puff pastry.  Note: it verboten to order to go (take away) food and drinks and then eat it on site!



What an amazing meal! This trendy steak house lets you choose between two different cuts, and then you can select sides to share.  They even itemized Matt’s nut allergy on the receipt. Reservations recommended.

O’Neils Pub

O’Neils will serves a traditional irish comfort meal.  They have a carvery where you can select different meats and sides.  Cozy up in a corner with your favorite pint, potatoes, veggies, gravy and corned beef.  

The Oar House

We spent one day in the seaside village of Howth, not far from Dublin.  We ate at The Oar house and it was delish.  The seafood is so fresh, and it’s all cold water fish.  Don’t go to Howth without trying some seafood (or in James’ case, chicken)! Reservations recommended. If you choose to visit Howth, make sure to leave time for the cliff walk to get some great views of the english channel.  


Murphys Ice Cream

The creamiest ice cream you’ll ever taste! Everything is naturally made, they even dry their own sea salt! The gin flavor is a must taste, and actually calmed my stomach after a large meal!

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