CONTRIBUTED BY MICHELLE KING
The first leg of our block leave trip was in Ireland. We flew into Dublin and stayed there for 3 nights. Once we landed in Dublin it was pretty easy to get to the city. We had already looked up bus schedules and were in contact with the couple we were staying with, who told us what bus number to take. It cost 6 euro per person for a bus ticket and you can buy them at the machine right at the bus stop outside of the departure area. We stayed at an apartment through Airbnb.com and the couple we stayed with happened to work in a tourist office so they had some great information about the city for us. They suggested the free walking tour (with encouraged tipping at the end) around the city which was actually very nice. The guide was very informative and could answer any questions we had about Dublin. It was a lot of walking and took about 3 hours to complete the tour.
The downtown area of Dublin is very picturesque “Ireland.” There are tons and tons of pubs and restaurants all over the city. The famous area, Temple Bar, is the touristy area but looks so cool. This is a place you wouldn’t want to miss. The atmosphere is awesome and it’s a great place to get a beer and enjoy the live music. While in the city we also did the Guinness Brewery which was a waste of time. It’s basically a museum of how they make beer but you don’t actually get to see where they make Guinness. It was 36 euros for the two of us which included a beer per person. You can pre-book your tickets online and get a discounted rate. I personally would not recommend going. It was expensive, very crowded and I didn’t learn anything. We looked into going to the Jameson Distillery but after our experience at Guinness we decided not to. We also knew Scotland was out next stop and they are known for whiskey, Ireland is not.
The next 2 full days in Ireland were spent outside the city. We rented a car and took day trips to different areas. In Ireland we rented a car through Europcar, they had the best price when I was looking. If you have USAA you can rent cars trough the USAA website from Avis, Budget, Enterprise, and Hertz which will give you a discount. Even with those discounts Europcar was still the cheapest for us. We arrived at Europcar, got a GPS and we were on our way. They were very nice and explained everything we needed to know. I would definitely recommend renting through them if you want to drive in Ireland.
Once we picked up the car our first stop was the Cliffs of Moher! I had seen pictures of this place but seeing it in person was just amazing. The drive there from Dublin took us about 4 hours. It really should take about 3 but we got stuck behind a bike race on a two lane road and they happened to be going uphill so it really slowed things down. About half of the way there, you’ll be on the Autobahn. The second half is all two lane roads that are very tiny! Luckily we’ve been on plenty of sketchy/small roads in Germany and Croatia that this wasn’t too bad. My husband drove the entire time and he did just fine. Obviously it was a little weird being on the left side at first but he got used to it pretty quick. Just remember to keep an eye on your gas. Gas stations are limited on those tiny roads as are restaurants so you may want to bring some snacks. If you want to make a quick stop along the way there is a castle, Dunguaire Castle, and you can’t miss it. It’s right on the main road to the cliffs. We decided to stop on the way back to Dublin from the cliffs but by the time we got there it was closed so we couldn’t go inside.
Finding the cliffs isn’t hard. Just follow the mass amounts of tour busses and rental cars. There are also plenty of signs telling you where to go. When you get there, there is only one place to park and of course you have to pay. I believe it was 8 euro per person, so essentially you’re not paying to park; you’re paying an entrance fee. Just follow all the people across the street and enjoy the beautiful views! If you want to walk the whole thing it will take a while. I’d say we were there for about 3 hours just wondering around enjoying the sights. It’s not all stroller friendly and not even kid friendly. Keep a close eye on your kids because not all of it has a barrier. There is a section that has a sign saying “walk at your own risk”. This is where the barrier ends and you can climb over and continue walking but there is nothing stopping you from falling off the cliff. If we had children that would be as far as I’d go but of course since it’s just the two of us we continued. Yes, people have died from falling off the cliffs here and if you go you’ll see why. People are not smart. They want that daring picture of them standing on the edge but what they don’t think about is that it may not be them falling, it would be the rock under them collapsing. This is nature and there is erosion happening every day so be careful. Enjoy the sights but don’t be stupid. I think the cliffs were my favorite part of our entire 9 day trip! It was beautiful!
After visiting the cliffs we drove back to Dublin to enjoy dinner in the city. We had another full day of exploring Northern Ireland the next day!
Note: Michelle originally posted this article on her site, but has graciously shared it with us here as well.