Wander or Bust is an Elite Daily travel series that follows young women all over the globe to record their journeys as they experience the thrill of the far-flung and unknown.
They'll track their budgets, where they stay, where they eat and drink, and where they took that amazing Instagram that got them ~maximum exposure.~ The internet is full of travel advice, but none from women just like you. Read on for the tips no one else gives you, and when in doubt, get on the plane.
Here's Kaitlyn Cawley's Wander Or Bust guide to Dublin, Ireland.
My Name: Kaitlyn Cawley
What I Do: Editor-at-Large, BDG Media
Where I Live: New York City, USA
Where I Went: Dublin, Ireland
How Long I Stayed: 5 days, 4 nights
My Spending Style: Occasionally indulgent. I don't throw money around, but I will definitely splurge on more than a few expensive things on a vacation.
Where I Got My Recommendations: I have a good working knowledge of Dublin myself at this point; I did my master's there and have been in a 5-year, on-and-off long distance relationship with a boy who lives there, but there are a few surefire sites that I like to peruse before arriving to see if anything has changed since my last visit: LovinDublin is always a good resource, as well as VisitDublin and, of course, TripAdvisor. Sometimes I search through the coolest manors/houses/apartments I can find on AirBnB to determine my other-city excursions. Ireland has over 30,000 castles for a very tiny country and, a lot of the times, you can stay in them for pretty cheap (of course, you'll be in the sticks, but it's a castle, c'mon).
Exchange Rate At Time Of Travel: $1 USD = €.86 EURO
What That Looks Like IRL: $50 USD = €43 EURO
Preferred Payment Method: Debit card
Phone Bill: $45 (normal) + $13 (international)
And, of course, my cat Paul was ever so helpful in the packing process:
Mode of Transport: Airplane
Before buying any flights, I always check the prices through my regular browser and through an incognito window. Travel companies tend to cache your searches and predict the prices they believe you can afford. You and your friend can book a flight the same day at the same time and have it be a different price by hundreds of dollars.
Extra Costs: With four total trips to and from airports, I averaged around $40/trip, which means I spent an additional $160.
Transport Total: $815
Location: Dublin, city centre
Extra Costs: None
Would I Recommend It To Someone Else: The AirBnB we chose was cozy and close to everything, so I would definitely recommend. I generally pick an AirBnB over hotels, as they tend to be cheaper and better located. (And how often are you really in your room anyway?)
The majority of the action in Dublin happens south of the Liffey river. City centre stretches farther south than it does in most places. Don't rule out Rathmines or Ranelagh, it's only a 20-minute walk into town and a 10-minute walk to the pubs you actually want to frequent.
Accommodation Total: $380
Breakfast-Lunch Cost: $35-$40/day
Dinner Cost: $30-40/day
Average Total Cost: $75/day
Tip Situation: Most service jobs in Ireland are set up without a tipping structure. It's not unheard of to leave 10 percent for a good meal, but it's not expected either.
Food Situation: I didn't eat out for every meal, and sometimes we grabbed lunch on the go. While vacationing, I tend to go to slightly more expensive restaurants. Dinner ran me about $30-$40 a day. Lunch and breakfast fluctuated, but cost about $35-$40 together. I spent about $75/day on food — but I was eating well!
Favorite Restaurant: Pickle
Location: 43 Camden Street, Dublin 2
There's no shortage of pub food or wonderful Irish roasts in Dublin; you can find a tasty restaurant nearly anywhere. What you may not know is how fantastic the Indian food is. Pickle is a flavor explosion. Relax with a delicious cocktail as course after course of bright, colorful, and mouth-watering food hits your table.
Food Total: $375
Nightlife Situation: Dublin doesn't really do clubs, so to speak. Well, at least not the way they do in New York. There are a few "VIP"/exclusive spots, but the general culture is built around the pub. Pubs open early and close early, but a few late-night spots stick out: There are Coppers, P.Macs, The Bernard Shaw, Blackbird, The Workman's Club, The Liquor Rooms, Rí Rá/The Globe, Pygmalion, The Black Door, Howl at the Moon, or The Bar With No Name. For LGBTQ-friendly spots: The George is a classic and Mother is divine.
What People Wear Out: Irish women have no regard for their physical wellbeing when it comes to dressing up. They often wear sky-high heels, short dresses, and no coats in the winter — but pubs don't normally enforce strict dress codes, and you can definitely get away (and look normal in) a lot less. You can wear boots (I used to go out in my wellies), jeans, sneakers, leggings, etc. There are a number of upscale places with stricter rules, sure, and it's always easier to get in somewhere late-night with nicer clothes, but this is supposed to be fun, so don't get too caught up in what you look like.
Average Cost Of A Pint: $5.50 (places you want to go); $6.50 (Templebar)
Extra Cost To Know About: Some late-night venues have entry fees around $12.
Last Call: 1 a.m. (pubs), 3 a.m. (late-night)
Average Total Cost Of A Night Out: $75 (Remember, I go HAM)
Cheapest Bar I'd Actually Go Back To: Dicey's
This bar/club(ish) on Harcourt street offers drink specials for different days of the week. You can end up with €2 pint and a bustling crowd (sometimes a line wrapped around the block).
The space has a great indoor dance floor along with a huge heated garden out back equipped with a DJ and two adjoining clubs Krystle (for the VIP crowd) and Bond (for the over 30 crowd). The music is solid, it's always packed, and people are usually dancing... albeit awkwardly (it is Ireland after all). So grab your pint and bust a move.
Going Out Total: $300
What I Spent A Lot On That Was Totally Worth It: Ireland is infinitely traversable — you can fit the whole country twice in New York state alone. Nowhere in the whole of Ireland is more than a 4-hour drive from Dublin, and the relatively inexpensive bus services allow for simple shuttling between cities. Go to the Cliffs of Moher. They're out of this world to look at, and they're not even that expensive to get to.
What I Spent A Lot of On That Was Totally Not Worth It: I will say this once, twice, thrice (however many times I need to): TEMPLE BAR. Sure, everyone visiting Dublin should go see this historic cluster of pubs, enjoy some trad music, and have a pint of Guinness. But that's about it. It's like the Times Square of Dublin. Food and drink prices are significantly more expensive in this little area, and you won't catch very many Dubliners rolling the streets unless it's for the "craic" (which refers to something being "fun," not a drug).
What I Spent Little Or No Money On That Was Awesome:
I may be a little biased, but my alma mater Trinity College Dublin (founded in 1592) is one of the most stunning campuses in the world. It houses the Book of Kells, a jaw-dropping library, and far more important alumni names than mine (Bram Stoker, Samuel Beckett, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, etc.).
Grab a drink at the on-campus bar "The Pav" overlooking some sporting pitches (a can of cider falls under the €4 mark) and drink in the history as well as a spirited game of cricket or rugby.
Favorite Thing I Did, Regardless Of Cost: To anyone Irish, or at least from Dublin, this will be a controversial one. My answer is Copper Face Jacks. Billed as a very-drunk-last-resort-please-don't-make-them-go-again for Dubliners and a haven for "culchies" (the Irish who spill into Dublin from the countryside), Coppers is a multi-story night "club" that will blast your favorite iPod mini playlist from the '00s.
It's the kind of place you love to hate, but secretly adore — like a guilty pleasure brought to life. There's a perpetually unending line, it's €10 to get in, and the crowd is a sweaty mess of limbs inside, but if there's any shot of still partying past the hour of 2 a.m. in Dublin, this is probably where you want to be.
Hidden Gem I Found: Dublin is full of little side passages and back-alley pubs where the real drinking culture goes on. One hidden-away gem is a speakeasy by the name of Peruke & Periwig on Dawson street.
You can grab food or a wildly delicious drink — most of which are unique to the pub and several of which require fire and marshmallows to complete. And, if you like being in-the-know, ducking into the side passage and through the inconspicuously marked door will make you feel like a real local.
The Photo I Took That Got The Most Attention:
Taking nearly any photo of the lush green grass of Ireland is sure to make a splash on your IG. For me, Malin Head: the most Northerly point of Ireland in Donegal, raked in the most Instagram likes. If you're looking for something solid in Dublin city centre though, Trinity College or the Ha'penny Bridge are beautiful shots.
Excursions/Extras Total: $200
General Shopping: $145
I always bring back Connemara wool and thick socks — the sheep game in Ireland is tremendous. This time around, I also brought back a knit "paddy" cap for my nephew. (He didn't like it.)
Souvenirs/Shopping Total: $200
Best Dublin Hack: If you're out anywhere and you hear too many non-Irish accents, leave. The Irish have no qualms with being tourist-y if it means good drink and good craic, so if they're avoiding someplace, that means it's lacking in both.
Advice For Anyone Traveling Alone: If you're traveling alone and still want to party, head to Georges street next to (but out of the muck of) Templebar. You'll find droves of pubs and people willing to take you under their wing for a night out — or at least a cheeky pint. The drinking culture in Ireland is all about making new friends, so it isn't weird to approach a group of friends and ask what they're doing. (Of course, as always, be mindful of stranger danger!)
Total Trip Cost: $2,160
Worth It? Absolutely.