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48 hour Itinerary for Ireland: What to See on a Time Crunch

Confession time: I spent an entire year living a £20 round trip flight away from Dublin and didn’t actually make it there until my graduation trip 4 months after I moved back to the states. It’s not that I didn’t want to go—I was actually dying to visit—things just never worked out schedule wise. When I was planning my 10-day trip back to England for my graduation ceremony, I decided it was finally time I made that quick jump over to Ireland! My best friend was travelling with me and because of our work schedules and when graduation was during the week, we could only schedule about 48 hours of time in Ireland so we had to make the absolute most of our time! Our itinerary for Ireland was jam-packed with sites and I hope it can help others visiting Ireland on a time crunch!

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The Overview of Our Itinerary for Ireland

Our basic itinerary for Ireland was flying into Dublin on Thursday evening and back out late Saturday night. When planning, we debated if we should spend the whole 48 hours in Dublin, or spend one of the days trekking across Ireland to the Cliffs of Moher. We decided to risk the chance of bad weather to see the Cliffs in our first day. Our plan was to then get up early Saturday and spend all day wandering Dublin before our flight out. In hindsight, we should have tried to push our return flight othe next morning to give us a little more time in the city, but this worked for the purposes of our trip.

Where We Stayed

After talking with friends who had visited previously, we opted for the Generator Hostel Dublin. A few different friends of mine had stayed there and loved it and all the reviews online seemed good. This was honestly one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in. The rooms were nice and clean, there’s a full-service bar that serves food downstairs, and the staff were friendly and helpful. We got in a bit late on Thursday and we were still able to grab some food from the bar and they helped us book our Cliffs of Moher tour for the next day. I highly recommend booking a room here if you are heading to Dublin.

Day 1: The Cliffs of Moher and the Irish Countryside

We were very lucky to have a clear, beautiful day for this trip, especially since it was December. The sun was out and the sky was a perfect blue. We booked a tour through our amazing hostel and it took us through the Irish countryside and along the Wild Atlantic Way to the Cliffs of Moher. Looking back, I would have booked a tour that included Galway because I heard such amazing things about it. I am glad that our tour afforded us a good amount of time to explore the Cliffs of Moher though!

The Wild Atlantic Way

Prior to reaching the Cliffs, our tour bus took us through the beautiful Irish countryside and the driver gave us a history of Ireland that I really loved. I am a huge nerd and hearing him talk about the potato famine and the ancient druids was fascinating to me. The scenery outside the bus was so beautiful, I couldn’t stop staring out my window. I loved how therolling green hills gave way to the rocky cliffs of the coastline. At one point, we could even see Galway from where we were in the bus! Next time I’m in Ireland, Galway is at the top of my list! We stopped for lunch at an adorable little pub and had some amazing local food. All the seafood was extremely fresh and everything on the menu looked incredible.

The Cliffs of Moher

When I say the Cliffs of Moher will leave you speechless, I mean it. The awestruck feeling of standing on the edge of a precipice is something I find it hard to describe. You are surrounded by the beauty of nature and can look down and see the power nature holds over us. We got VERY lucky with the weather and managed to visit on a beautiful and sunny day. We spent a few hours wandering the cliffs and the small tower atop them and then made our way to the visitor center. I love vistor’s centers because the people there always have the best information. If you have questions, there is no better place than the visitor center to find answers!

The Trek back and Dinner in Dublin

Our journey back was rather long, but passed through some beautiful villages and made a stop right by Bunratty Castle. When we returned, my friend and I went to grab some food because it was dinner time(almost past it actually). We opted to grab some food in the Temple Bar area where there are a ton of great restaurants to eat at. My biggest regret of this trip was not having an extra night in Dublin to enjoy the bar scene because it is such a cool city. The bars are lively and fun and (compared to cities like London) very reasonably priced!

Day 2: The World’s Fastest Tour of Dublin

Our second(and last) day in Dublin was jam-packed with activities. We wanted to pack as much as possible in so we were up bright and early for breakfast at our hostel. Then we were out and about before 9am(pretty early for two twenty-somethings on vacation). Our flight back to London was that night at like 8pm so we needed to be back at our hostel to head to the airport no later than 430pm if we wanted to save money and take public transit(which is super easy in Dublin! With that in mind, we ventured out in the Dublin Streets!

The Guinness Storehouse

We started our day with a 10am tour of the Guinness Storehouse. While some people may find it odd to do a brewery tour first thing in the morning, the tickets are actually cheaper in the mornings, and the storehouse is less crowded. While I generally don’t drink beer at 10am, vacation and saving money made me break my own rules. As a history buff, I loved learning about the history of one of my favorite beers throughout the tour. The cost of the tour was also entirely worth it for the panoramic views of Dublin from the top floor bar. The Guinness Storehouse tour is definitely a must see for your next trip to Dublin!

Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral

The friend I was with on this trip is a huge architecture nerd so our next two stops were Dublin’s famous Cathedrals. I love the beauty of European Cathedrals and these two did not disappoint. I loved the beautiful architecture and stained glass of both cathedrals. The crypts of Christchurch Cathedral were fascinating and the exhibit showcased the really unique history of the cathedral. They are also close to each other so it was easy to get from Christchurch Cathedral to St. Patrick’s.

Trinity College Library and the Book of Kells

I love Libraries. If I could spend my days wandering a library I would be the happiest person alive. It’s only fitting that our last stop of the day was one of the most beautiful libraries I have ever seen. This was the one non-negotiable item in our itinerary for Ireland. I was not leaving without a chance to visit the Trinity College Library and see the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells, a 9th century manuscript depicting the 4 gospels, is awe-inspiring to see in person. The craftsmanship that went into creating it is unlike anything I have seen before. This should really be the first stop on any itinerary for Ireland.

Places We Missed

There were many sites that we just were not able to see on our 48-hour itinerary for Ireland, but that just means we have to go back again! One of the places I was really sad about missing was the Jameson Whiskey Distillery. It was actually closed for renovations when we visited, which ws sad since it was right near our amazing hostel. Some other sites we wish we had seen are:

  • Dublin Castle
  • Galway
  • Blarney Castle
  • National Museum of Ireland
  • Kylemore Abbey
  • Kilkenny Castle

Clearly I have a thing for castles! I am already planning a return adventure to Ireland and hoping to make it back by next summer at the latest.

Tips and Tricks for your Irish Adventure

  • Don’t be afraid to visit in Winter
    • I visited in Mid-December and, while I got very lucky with weather, it is still a beautiful country in the winter! It is also generally cheaper to visit in the winter time so this helps you save money on your travels. Just be sure to pack a good coat and an umbrella in case of rain or snow!
  • Be selective when planning your itinerary.
    • Prioritize the things you really want to see and make sure you get them into your plans. Then, you can always add your “would likes” to the trip. For tips on how to do this effectively, check out how I plan the perfect itinerary and use my methods to create your perfect itinerary for Ireland!
  • Pack for Various Temperatures

All said and done, I really lover how much we packed into our 48-hour itinerary for Ireland, but I wish we had more time. I definitely want to take a longer trip and see more of Ireland in the near future.

As always, from one Misguided Millennial to the world, I hope this helps you plan an amazing trip to Ireland!

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