If you are on a vacation in the UK anyway, you might want to consider taking a side trip to Dublin. You won’t find iconic settings like Trafalgar Square or Buckingham Palace, but you will encounter good food, good cheer and warm, welcoming people. Getting to Dublin is probably most easily achieved by grabbing one of several discount airlines operating from, not only London, but most regional cities—Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Cardiff for as ridiculously low as $50 Cdn. The further you book in advance, the cheaper the flight. The flight itself is only about an hour, so even though the planes tend to be jam packed, it is tolerable for that short period. Ryanair, which had gained a terrible reputation for crowding and general passenger experience have turned over a new leaf in customer service, and actually provided a quiet and relatively comfortable 50 minute trip from Bristol to Dublin.
If you take a taxi from Dublin’s ultra-modern airport you might be lucky enough to get a driver like we did, who pretty much covers the history of Ireland by the time you reach the city. If night life is on the agenda the best place to stay is in or near the pub district known as the Temple Bar—a half mile-long pedestrianized cobblestoned street with literally dozens of pubs, restaurants and hotels. The place comes alive at sundown with a largely youngish crowd filling the street. It is reminiscent of New Orleans with live music coming out of every door. Double decker bus tours are available and are probably the safest way from a traffic standpoint to get oriented. It is an interesting experience not so much for any spectacular architecture or monuments—Dublin has experienced a lot of poverty over the decades, after all—but it is enjoyable for the witty narration by the tour guides.
Indeed one of the biggest attractions of Dublin is the people one meets in restaurants, hotels and while shopping. Tourism is big business in Dublin and the people who work in the industry are up to the job. They are welcoming, funny—and then of course there is that wonderful accent. From Dublin short side trips are available to picturesque seaside towns like Malahide, home of the castle of the same name. It is a short 15 km trip by commuter rail. If you have a spare day, there are day bus tours to the West Coast of Ireland where the cliffs of Moher are a major attraction.