Today, we’re talking restaurants, cities, pubs, and music. Major shout out to my foodies reading this blog! Before Gus and I go anywhere, we always research the best local spots to grab dinner and drinks. A lot of times we pick cities and locations based on the food scene. Continuing with Part II of our Ireland road trip, this post will give you a list of the cities, bars, and restaurants we went to throughout our trip!
City list & Bars/Restaurants
- Lahinch Village
- This stop is a great midway point between Shannon and the Cliffs of Moher. Remember those two Irish men that helped us with our car locking situation? They had just finished a walk along the coast and were heading home before their band played at a local pub that night! They recommended we eat lunch at Kenny’s bar. Grab an Irish Coffee to cure the jet lag, and your first (of many) fish and chips meal before continuing on your way.
- Doolin Village
- This tiny, coastal village is close to the Cliffs and such a treat! It is known for playing traditional Irish music. Doolin is completely walkable, so you do not need a car to get from bar to bar (bonus for you Guinness drinkers!). Doolin ranks near the top of our list for places we visited because of the people, the music, and scenery.
- Irish Breakfast: The airbnb we stayed at served up the best Irish breakfast we had the entire trip! While I’m not partial to black pudding, turns out I’m not a of fan sausage with pork blood, everything else about it was hearty and delicious. I do love my bacon, however, and it was AH-MAZING.
- McGanns Pub: This was one of our favorite Irish pubs throughout our entire trip. We had hilarious conversations with the bartender and a few shots of vodka with the village regular. We went to a few other pubs in Doolin, but ended our night here with traditional Irish music. The bartender picked us out of the crowded pub that evening to say hello and check in on how we were. That, friends, is a pub you want to go back to time and again. They also claim to have the best fish and chips so naturally we had to try them!
- Walk to the edge of town and catch the sunset over the water. Be sure to grab a drink at Gus O’Connors pub and sit outside to enjoy the views as you make your way back into town.
- Adare Village
- I found Adare Village through a number of Pinterest pins—go figure! It is often referred to as Ireland’s prettiest village. With thatched roof cottages dating back to the 19th century, it was a picturesque village to explore. Sadly, this is not a hidden gem so prepare yourself for tourists. We really enjoyed walking in and out of the historic thatched roof cottages that now serve as restaurants and shops.
- 1826 Adare: If you’re around this area for dinner, grab reservations at this restaurant. We weren’t able to, but it was at the top of my list.
- Wild Geese Restaurant: We had lunch at this main street spot. The restaurant is in one of the renovated cottages. We took a much needed break from pub food and had some lighter fare. I’d recommend the smoked Irish salmon or Castletownbere Crabmeat sandwiches.
- Adare’s Old Creamery Co: If you don’t know us already, you should know that we both have a serious sweet tooth. We couldn’t go by “world famous” ice cream and not try it. Grab your cone and walk through the village and parks throughout the main street.
- We had planned a whole day to explore (aka get lost) in the Wicklow Mountains so we had booked an airbnb in Kildare, a couple hours outside of Dublin. Kildare doesn’t have any “tourist attractions” so we stuck out like a sore thumb as we explored the city’s market square.
- Hartes of Kildare: Being a Kansas girl, I like my steak. But I’ve never had my steak on a “hot stone.” The way it works is your steak is lightly seared on either side, and then placed on a hot stone and served to you. You then cook your steak to the desired temperature. It was a fun experience, but I ended up over-cooking my steak–reasons why my husband does the cooking!
- Silken Thomas: This establishment has basically everything there is to offer in restaurant and entertainment. Contemporary lounges, sports pubs, nightclub for dancing, and a family friendly restaurant. We were exhausted and didn’t end up going to the nightclub, but we were told it was revamped from an old movie theater. How cool is that?
- I am unashamed to admit I had “have sheep cross the road” on my list of experiences for this trip. Gus tried to tell me this only happens in the movies, but on our way out of Kildare, the most beautiful herd of sheep blocked our path! As my husband stared in disbelief, I enjoyed every second they delayed us from getting out of town!
- Situated among the Wicklow Mountains is Glendalough. We saw the round tower from a distance and decided to make our way in that general direction. This 6th century monastic settlement has many hiking and walking trails with incredible views and a couple restaurants for you to stop in for a breather.
- While we enjoyed our time in Dublin, I would be remiss if I didn’t warn you to not spend all of your time here or make this your only stop in Ireland. The city is incredible, historical, and so much fun. Just don’t forget there’s so much more to Ireland than Dublin.
- Also, don’t spend all of your time in the Temple Bar District. This area is crawling with tourists. Grab your photo of the infamous Temple Bar and listen to the live entertainment, but don’t get stuck here. After the perfect gram, stop in the small whiskey shop next door for a tasting of Yellow Spot or Green Spot! If you’re a whiskey drinker, these are rare in the states.
- One of the reasons I absolutely LOVE Airbnb is because of the connection it gives you to a local in the area. I want to share with you one of his tips. He said, a traditional Irish bar will have no music and no TVs; the only sound you’ll hear are the conversations of those around you. Although that may not be the most entertaining of establishments, it will be the most authentic. Just keep that in mind while searching for the next authentic pub.
- Porter House: Out of all of the pubs and bars we went to on our journey across Ireland, this pub had the best music. I still listen to the clips I took on my phone! The pub has three floors and the band is situated in the middle so they can be seen and heard from all levels. Bonus: There is NO Guinness option here (shocking, I know). Instead, you have the opportunity to try one of the other local brew options! We also really liked the food. Make a reservation and go early to grab a spot on the bands level—you may end up here all night!
- A note on how we get reservations internationally. We never buy the international data plan for our two week trips. If the restaurant has an online site you can book your reservation when you have wifi. Most cafes have wifi and if they don’t publicize it, buy a coffee and then ask. Nine times out of ten, they will give a paying customer their wifi password. If that doesn’t work, make a quick stop by the restaurant you’re wanting to go to and just see if they have any last minute cancellations!
- The Boxty House: While this is in the Temple Bar District, it was the one place our airbnb host recommended we go for a traditional Irish dinner. We were able to get reservations (they are typically booked well in advance) because of a cancellation. If you can imagine stepping into your grandma’s house for a Sunday dinner then you can envision what it is like to have dinner here. You just can’t beat that. A Boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake–each carb is as glorious as it sounds. And the service is fantastic!
- Grafton Street/Market Arcade: If you enjoy shopping, look no further than these two areas. Don’t mistake “arcade” for a game place. In Dublin, arcades are shopping centers, and the George’s Street Arcade is an indoor marketplace with different shops.
- Murphy’s Ice Cream: The ice cream is homemade in Dingle, Ireland. It is delicious and worth the wait to try!
- Queen of Tarts: The cutest little dessert and tea/coffee shop. We loved this vibrant spot and it was a short walk from our airbnb so we went a couple of times! Have a tart and Baileys hot chocolate with fresh whipped cream for me!
- Burdocks Fish & Chips: Grab your fish & chips to go from this local joint and then head over to St. Stephen’s green to enjoy a picnic in the park (especially if it’s nice day!) Bring extra napkins, it’s a greasy meal, but aren’t all the best fish & chips?
- Brazen Head: Fancy a pint at the oldest pub in Dublin? Go here. Also, great outdoor space if it’s not raining!
- Hell-bent on not spending all of our time in Dublin, we booked a train ticket from Dublin to Howth for the day. It was extremely easy to navigate Dublin’s DART train and we purchased tickets the morning of. It was a short wait as they have trains running every fifteen minutes.
- Do the Cliff Walk which takes you on a walking trail with spectacular views of Dublin bay, Ireland’s Eye and a lighthouse.
- Beshoffs Fresh Seafood: If you’re going to a seaside village, don’t get pub grub, get seafood. This spot was great. We had oysters, seafood chowder, and a whole fish!
- Upon arriving back in Dublin, walk along the River Liffey and pop in some of the local shops along the water.
Our memories aren’t of the iconic “can’t miss” tourist spots. They’re full of the in-between moments. The last second decision to take a left and not a right. Getting used to crossing the rotaries (roundabouts) every mile or two. The chats with the local bartender who remembered our name. The insanely green landscape that took our breath away at every turn. It was the scream we shared the first time a huge truck forced us off the road. And the laughter as we realized we were incredibly lost and undeniably happy about it.
An Irish Proverb says, “What fills the eyes fills the heart.” Ireland, you filled our hearts and our eyes and we cannot wait to meet again.
P.S. We missed so many sights that I still have on my list! If you have more than six days to spend in Ireland, I would suggest researching more about the below areas.
- Ring of Kerry
- All of Northern Ireland
Do you have any other recommendations for Ireland? Let me know! See the gallery for more photos of our Ireland trip!