For years I had been dreaming of going to Ireland and then the opportunity presented itself to go .. and to go alone. That sounds scary, and 10 years ago I would have said no. Having traveled so much now, I jumped at the chance. This was my opportunity to see a place that had been gracing my bucket list for many years.
Preparing for Solo Travel
Going to a new country alone can be scary. Do the research before you head out and pick a country that is rated high for safety and solo travelers, especially women. I read several articles and blogs of women and men who went to Ireland solo and recommended it. Everyone has a different experience that is unique to them.
I had an amazing time and discovered how independent I really am. I had to rely on myself alone to survive in a foreign city. I enjoyed every second of the adventure and I am already planning to return.
Deciding Where to Stay
This was actually the easiest part of my trip. I knew I wanted to go on a budget but I also wanted to be able to mingle with other travelers without seeming intrusive. So I booked a 4 night stay in a Hostel that had glowing reviews. I stayed at the Sky Backpackers Hostel in Dublin in a 4 person room. I must say, this place is clean as a whistle, the beds are comfortable, they have nightly happenings, free tours, a kitchen to use, laundry facility, and amazing staff. I really felt safe and at home here. The decor was very artistic and I liked the vibes.
From my hostel, I was one block from O’Connell Street and walk-able distance throughout the city. I spent a lot of time just walking around and exploring the city. From early mornings to late nights.
If you prefer something more private you can always book a private room in a hostel, stay at a hotel, or even try an Airbnb. There are options for just about every budget in Dublin, so don’t worry, you will find something.
Tours and Activites
Ireland has so much to offer. But I already knew my top items that I wanted to do while visiting. If you are unsure, you can always do some research online and look at the most popular tours and activities or try off the beaten path stuff.
I knew that I could not go to Ireland and NOT see The Cliffs of Moher. That was the very top of my list and I am so glad I got to see them. Some of the people I met said when they went the same week it was too cloudy or foggy. It was a dreary day when I went but it waited to rain until I had finished my tour – and it was worth every step to see them.
Read More: Touring Ireland by Rail
My other three must do items were to tour the Old Jameson Distillery, The Guinness Storehouse and visit the Book of Kells. Having my two favorite drinks in one city, It was like winning the lottery on life.
Old Jameson Distillery
I took this tour in the morning around 11am. I am 100% on board with doing a whiskey tasting in the morning. I’m Irish, so it’s ok. 🙂 I took a tour with a guide as he explained how the whiskey was distilled there and he went through the process. At the end you do a tasting of 3 whiskeys and then they give you a free drink. There’s plenty of time to mingle and ask questions, and even a great gift shop.
They have this neat open bar when you walk in that you can order drinks from before or after your tour. I stayed after and got a hot drink. A Jameson hot whiskey to be exact. I wanted to try something new and I loved it. So if you stop in, make sure and try it. It doesn’t disappoint.
Overall the tour lasted about 45 minutes and I would highly recommend it. You don’t have to be a connoisseur of whiskey to enjoy this visit. After all, you do a whiskey tasting at the end. You can decide then after doing a proper tasting if you like it or not. Either way, you will still learn about this notable Irish whiskey that was made from a Scottish man.
The Guinness Storehouse
7 stories of glory. That is what they should rename the Storehouse to. There are 7 magnificent levels on this tour that explain the history and making of Guinness, a food court, marketing, a tasting room, a place to learn to pour the perfect pint, a Gravity bar on the top floor with widespread views of Dublin, and an awesome time!
I took a private tour with a lovely woman while I was visiting. She was such a breath of fresh air to be around and extremely knowledgeable about all things Guinness. It’s nice when you meet someone who is passionate about their job and you can see their enthusiasm in sharing it with you.
The tasting room was a surprise. You walk down this dark looking hallway and I said to my guide “I feel like I am about to open the doors to heaven.” Sure enough, I opened those doors and the room was bright white! You go through 4 stations that you smell the different scents of Guinness to open your senses before the tasting. They even teach you how to properly do a tasting. I do believe it tasted different to me that time.
I was taught how to pour the perfect pint – but first I had to mess one up because I got confused. I even have a certificate to prove that I can do it. You can too if you visit.
I enjoyed learned about their marketing over the years and how they reached out to people through ads. There are stories behind each one, but my favorite was the ostrich with the pint glass stuck in his neck right side up. Apparently people were frustrated with it and kept writing in to get it fixed. It is silly looking.
The end of the tour will reward you with sweeping views of the city on the 7th floor Gravity Bar. Take a seat, walk around – grab a pint or two. The view is amazing from the top.
This tour lasted a bit longer because I had more one on one time with my guide and I spent some more time drinking. Don’t feel rushed or you won’t enjoy yourself. Stay as long as you like, even when your tour is over you can roam around yourself. There’s a lot to see.
The Book of Kells
I could not leave Dublin without going to the Long Library at Trinity College in Dublin. The Book of Kells was not on display while I was visiting, they had a facsimile copy. I was however able to enjoy the library. The smell of old books is just brilliant. I could stay there for hours and do nothing. It’s really beautiful in there.
*Tip: No flash photography is allowed.
Where to Eat:
Good news, you won’t starve in Ireland. They make a lot of hearty foods and love bacon. I could smell bacon everywhere in the city and that was good for me because I have a love affair with all things Bacon!!
My two favorite places in Dublin were Sweet Republic and Arlington Hotel.
I ate at both places twice! I loved the Arlington Hotel because it was sit down and had daily specials. I stopped in on the first night and they had a fantastic special of pork with veggies, mashers, and a glass of processco. It was a steal and a fantastic dinner.
Sweet Republic is good for anyone who loves sweets. You will laugh that I came here twice but I honestly could not resist. This place should be on the top of everyone’s bucket list! Just look at these desserts!
Read More: Food in Dublin
I can assure you that any trip to Dublin is going to produce fond memories no matter what you choose to do. I had the best time meeting new people, doing new things, and experiencing life as a solo female traveler. Don’t be afraid to go. Doing this solo trip has shown me my potential and what I am capable of. ❤