I have 5 nights in Dublin in June. This seems like a lot. Wondering what else I can see. I will be traveling alone and using public transportation. Open to any and all suggestions on things to do and eat.
Take a day bus tour to Glendalough.
Dublinia is a hands-on museum about the history of the Vikings in Ireland, fun for adults as well as kids. Then take the overhead walkway to Christchurch Cathedral (there's a combined ticket.) The National Archaeology Museum is a wow and free. The main post office on O'Connell Street has an interesting (and free) museum. Kilmainham Gaol is well worth it - buy your ticket in advance - they sell out. Spend an afternoon pub-crawling in Temple Bar. Check out each pub and decide if you want to stay before ordering a drink. most have live music during the day, all do in the evenings. The best lunch is in a pub, a bowl of thick vegetable soup with Irish brown soda bread and butter. Add a pint and you're set till dinnertime. Many pubs also serve dinners, usually upstairs in a separate area, or you can get light food in the main pub rooms. Don't hesitate to engage others in conversation. Both locals and tourists are very chatty everywhere, but especially in pubs. I enjoyed the Leprechaun Museum. It's a little kitschy but the guide was excellent with an Irish sense of humor and I learned a lot about Irish traditions and folklore. Collins Barracks is a One of the best things I did was the Literary Pub Crawl. Again, you need to book in advance, they sell out. There are two theatres where you can see London-quality plays at half the price.
The only thing I regret doing is an overpriced "Irish Folklore & Storytelling Dinner" at the Brazenhead Pub. The storyteller was boring (the Leprechaun Museum tour guide was much more interesting and had a lot more stories) and the food was less than mediocre. As I walked out through the pub downstairs, I regretted not spending the evening there instead - good music, good atmosphere and undoubtedly would have been better food. Do take the time to explore the pubs. Each is a warren of rooms with different decor.
A day tour to Newgrange would also be a great use of one day. You could also get on the train to Belfast and spend a day there.
Two years ago I stayed in Dublin solo for six days and most of those days I took bus tours to the Cliffs of Moher, Belfast and Giants Causeway, Newgrange, Howth, Cork and a few other stops on the various tours. It was nice to be with a group and have everything taken care of. In Dublin, I really enjoyed the Natural History Museum and the castle. I did a hop on hop off bus tour just to get an overall view of the city sights, but I found a full day and a couple of evenings more than enough and enjoyed more the things I saw outside of Dublin. You could check out Paddywagon tours for some great day trip ideas.
Do you want to spend your days in Dublin or take tours out of Dublin? There are many interesting places to visit in Dublin and also nearby. I stayed in Dublin for a week after a tour and the time flew.
One day I went to Glendalough and Powerscourt which was a great trip. A tour to Newgrange would also be excellent. The other days I used Rick Steves Guide Book which lists the top places to visit and dine in Dublin. I found his recommendations accurate. Loved visiting the museums and cathedrals. I really enjoyed the Chester Beatty Library close to the Dublin Castle. Kilmainham Goal is another site definitely worth visiting. Just make sure you get your ticket ahead of time. If you like performances you might check what is playing when you are in Dublin. (Abbey Theatre and Gaitey) I also enjoyed the Musical Pub Crawl one evening.
So I decided to spend 2 full days in Dublin. Then I'm going to rent a car ($50 savings picking it up at the airport) and drive to Kylemore Abbey stay the night in Galway. Then the next day see the Burren, Cliffs of Moher, sleep in Galway again. Then head to the airport the next day.
If there is a better plan. I am completely open to it. I will be traveling solo.
Brave girl to drive on the left!
Do not underestimate driving times. If you aren't on the motorway (aka freeway in CA), driving can be unbelievably slow.
Stick to the main roads to cover distances. The rural roads will be slow going, only use those for the last part of the drive (even if your GPS says they're about the same). I paid an extra 30 euro to pick up at the airport, after visiting Dublin, but figured it was better than driving through Dublin.
I was happy with a Bus Eireann trip to Bru na Boinne (Newgrange, Hill of Tara, Trim Castle and Battle of the Boyne). I thought it was well paced and a good value. I went from the main bus station downtown. I plan to take it again in May since it's my girlfriend's first time to Ireland. I'm considering a similar day trip to Glendalough (and Wicklow) since I haven't been there.
My personal view is Temple Bar is to be avoided. It's an area with big noisy bars you could find in any city (and some nicer places tucked away in basements). For the most part better pubs can be had elsewhere in the city.
Make sure your cab driver takes you to the car rental location near the airport and not the terminal itself. We made that mistake and had to take a shuttle from terminal to car rental location which added time. The car rental location is very busy, it took almost an hour to pick up our car.
What time of day did you try to rent the car? I'm wondering if earlier is better.