My sister and I will be in Dublin for about 10 days in mid November to visit her daughter attending UCD, and we'll be depending on public transportation. We know it will likely be cold, damp and dark by late afternoon each day, but would love to explore as much as reasonably possible. It's my sister's first time out of the country, so bad weather or not, we're determined to have a good time. Given the weather and transportation constraints, are there any suggestions for day or weekend trips? Favorite haunts? Must sees? General advice? Thanks so much...
I was just in Dublin on Monday September 1 in the early morning and it was already freezing cold, cloudy and grey, and drizzling. It wasn't dark, but it was cold and damp already.
You probably won't be able to see much at the typical day tours unless you hit a day of sunshine. However, Belfast is an eye-opener and an easy day trip by train.
On the bright side, there are lots of things to see and do in Dublin. I spent many happy hours just pub-hopping in Temple Bar. Lots of live music and friendly people (and they all speak English . . . after a fashion :-). The Archaeology Museum is a wow, the Leprechaun Museum is fun, if a bit corny. The Viking museum - Dublinia - is hands-on and you learn a lot without trying.
I found that a good rain poncho worked best, keeping me and my stuff dry - at least to the knees. When it was dripping wet, I popped into a pub and hung it over a bar chair - dried while I ate lunch. Go into the pubs and explore. They are room after room of "interesting" - don't be shy about talking with the locals. The ones I met all loved to gab - guess they've all kissed the Blarney Stone. You may even be invited to try your hand at darts or billiards. The best lunch is a bowl of thick hot soup with home-made soda bread and butter at any pub. It's around €5 and with a pint, you're set until dinnertime. If you don't care much for beer, then try the cider. Same price, same alcohol content - much better taste. By the way, you are not obligated to buy a drink at every pub. You can just stand around and enjoy the music, chat with the patrons, wander about. If you don't like the music, or the ambiance, then just go along to the next one.
I went to plays at the Abbey and Gate Theatres. Both were excellent, but the seating at the Abbey is better. The quality was as good as London at half the price.
The main post office, just north of the LIffey on O'Connell Street has an interesting, free museum. This post office is open 7 days a week!
The best thing I did was the Literary Dublin Pub Crawl - even in the rain.
One word of advice..........GORTEX!!!!!!!
The Kilmainham Gaol is a must, imo. Also, as Chani says, the Archaeology Museum is incredible, really worth a couple of hours, have a walk in St Stephens Green after, rain or shine! We took a day trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland, and that was eye-opening-catch the train at O'Connell Station, Dublin.
All three of the museums affiliated with the National Museum of Ireland are worthwhile. Check out the bog bodies while visiting and then head over to the crypt under St. Michan's Church. Take public transit out to Howth, walk around the waterfront and have lunch at King Sitric. Belfast or Derry in Northern Ireland are great side trips if you want to get out of Dublin for a day or an overnight. Another option for a weekend trip would be to hop the train to Galway. After exploring Galway for a bit and using it as your base, you can book some tours that will get you over to Cliffs of Moher, or you can book a very short flight to the Aran Islands (don't expect all the usual tourist services to be up and running like they are in season, but you can see some of the major sights on Inis Mor and really get a feel for what life is like on the Island for the locals). If you really are interested in a splurge, you could also consider a weekend stay in a castle hotel, like Ashford Castle, which offers all sorts of activities on their grounds for guests - including falconry lessons and a "hawk walk", kayaking, horseback riding, fishing and archery or clay shooting. Train service is very limited in Ireland, but Bus Eireann will get you just about anywhere from the major cities. You might also consider hiring a driver if you want to see a lot of the countryside, but are hesitant to rent your own car. It's off-season, so you are far more likely to get a good deal.
Was in Ireland and NI mid November last Fall. Few days of rain in the morning. Grey most days but some sunshine as well. Best weather I had was on Dingle Peninsula where it was sunshine and blue skies 3 out of the 4 days. Bliss! Layers with a good raincoat will be the key. Yes to the Museum of Archeology, the Gaol and please add a visit to the Book of Kells at Trinity College. Brilliant suggestion regarding theatre. Most enjoyable. if weather is good visit Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains. I'm certain there are day tours. Personally I'd do an over night in Belfast. Book a Black Cab tour, see the Titanic museum, wander St. George's Market, visit City Hall and above all have a bowl of seafood chowder at Mournes!!! Easy 2 hour bus or train ride and either the Premiere Inn in the City Center or at the Titanic Quarter should provide a good rate. Have a wonderful trip!
I am tentatively planning a trip to Ireland for this Nov as well. I like your great attitude! Seems that there are as lot of indoor activities to do and I don't mind short jaunts out into the rain.
Thank you all so much for your thoughtful, inspiring and very helpful replies. I just stopped by Rick's travel center to pick up one of his Ireland planning maps to help with a much needed crash course in Irish geography, and I'm looking very forward to putting all of this info to good use in a couple of months!
A couple of day trips that would be enjoyable during overcast weather – although I wouldn't do them in the rain or right after a heavy rain – are the Newgrange passage tomb to the north of Dublin and the Glendalough monastic site to the south. You could do them as bus tours or by car. And the trip to Glendalough would take you through some pretty scenery.
If you're interested in Newgrange, Mary Gibbons (suggested in the book) has a nice day tour to that area. She gives a lot of historical information on the bus and provides plenty of time at the site (plus she already as the tour booked so you don't have to wait in line for the Newgrange tour).