Dublin is a blast of a city. I don’t care who you are- if you’re fun, like to drink and have a good time, you’ll have a great time in Dublin.
I was there a few weeks ago and to share my favourite spots & experiences for anyone who’s going to be headed across the pond. There’s the obvious things you have to do in Dublin, like visiting the Guinness factory but I’ve opted to focus on the less obvious things like hotel choice, site-seeing in the countryside and food.
The Morrisson Hotel
The Morrisson Hotel is smack dab in the middle of the downtown core of Dublin. Located on Lower Ormond Quay you can see the river directly from your window in many of the rooms and it’s basically the first thing you see as you exit the building. With a bridge only a few feet away, you immediately find yourself in Temple Bar- which is a hub for great places to eat, live music and Irish culture. Add to it that four of the best gay clubs/bars in the city are all within a 5-minute walk and you’re basically set.I highly recommend this hotel if you’re staying in the city. It’s boutique, it’s central, the staff is super friendly and you’ll never be closer to everywhere you want to be in Dublin.
Wicklow / Glendalough
About and hour and a half outside of Dublin is a the village of Wicklow, and about 20 minutes from there is the old monastic site, Glendalough. While speaking with some of the Dublin locals I was told that these were both places I needed to get out and visit if at all possible while I was there. Not only are they absolutely breathtaking, but the people were reported to be even nicer than those in Dublin- and that was really saying something. Thankfully, these reports were completely true. One Saturday I drove my rental car out to Wicklow and pulled up to a coffee shop so that I could ask the locals where the best places to check out were. Unfortunately I’d gotten a late start to the day so didn’t have a ton of daylight left at this point so I had to forgo the Wickow sites and went straight to Glendalough. Fortunately, it was well worth it. Glendalough was founded by St. Kevin (seriously, his name was St. Kevin, which I also learned means “fair-begotten” in Latin) is one of Ireland’s famous monastic sites dating clear back to the 6th Century, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.
Whether it’s the cemetery surround the old chapel, the chapel itself, the round tower or the numerous surrounding countryside hiking/walking trails- Glendalough is a picturesque and gorgeous place to spend the day. If you take the trails up towards the lakes, you can also see the cave where St. Kevin lived for a period of time as a hermit and the lakes themselves are equally beautiful.
As I mentioned, 4 of the best gay bars in Dublin were right around the corner from the hotel in which I was staying, The Morrisson.
- Panti Bar – Panti Bar was the first bar that we visited and is literally around the corner from The Morrisson Hotel. Owned by a drag queen named “Panti” (go figure) the establishment has a bar upstairs with a small stage area and a full dance floor downstairs. The crowd is friendly and very mixed, though I gathered that the night we went there wasn’t a “normal” night because they were having some sort of Euro-Vision event. That said, my friends and I went there a number of times throughout the week for post-dinner drinks and I thought it was fabulous.
- The Front Lounge – Front Bar is much more of a pub feeling place than a “bar”. There’s no dance area but tons of tables and places to sit and chat with your mates. The night we went, the local Gay Rugby league was having a fundraiser and it was completely packed. Again, a great, friendly, mixed crowd.
- The George – The George is your regular gay dance club, but tons of fun. Two levels with a balcony that rings the dance floor, there’s a lot of space and plenty of bars to keep you “hydrated”. They played a lot of fun music and I met some really friendly and cool people while there. This was also the bar where I realized that we gay people are pretty much the same no matter where you go… I started off the night on the balcony watching the dance floor and saw all of the typical cliche’s you’d expect. There was the older weird guy who is ass-ugly but tries to make up for it by spending 3 hours daily at the gym who dances, alone, on stage trying to be “hot”. There was the twink who shows up with only his girlfriends and desperately tries to channel his inner Pussycat Doll on stage, hoping to catch some hunk’s eye. The two cute guys who actually could dance (really well actually) but spent the majority of their time laughing at the first two people I mentioned… and then there were the two lesbians, bombed completely out of their minds also “dancing” (which was more like a rousing game of “let’s see how much pussy juice I can get on your thigh”) on stage who kept running into everyone else. It was a complete gong show- and I loved it.
- The Dragon – The Dragon is apparently right down the street from The George, however I never made it to this location. I mention it only because it’s apparently the other dance bar and is owned & operated by the same people as The George. From what I heard, the music is a little more hardcore (trance/techno)- so I made a pass on this location.
To wrap up my little Dublin travel map, I wanted to include some information about my two favourite places to eat while there. I love food and I was really pleased with the selection I was able to find!
- The Winding Stair – This place was absolutely amazing. Aptly named due to the fact that you enter through a winding staircase, it’s a cozy 2nd-floor establishment with great menu and wine selections. For my meal I started with a venison dish as my appetizer and followed it up with a brilliantly cooked piece of lamb. Neither venison or lamb have historically been “my thing” but the waiter (who was gorgeous, by the way) recommended them- and who was I to disagree? Paired with an exceptional Syrah, which also came highly recommended. Simply put, I had a great meal, in a great location and served by an awesome staff.
- Monty’s of Kathmandu – Monty’s is Nepalese food, which very closely resembles East Indian cuisine. The restaurant itself is a bit kitschy- but the food was fantastic. Bear in mind that Indian food is one of my all-time favourites and we stumbled across Monty’s after speaking with the hotel staff about good places to eat. If you like Indian-type food, you’ll love Monty’s
All in all, the 1.5 weeks I spent in Dublin were absolutely phenomenal. I can’t wait to go back! The people were SO nice and truly enthusiastic about sharing their country with us. The accent is adorable (if somewhat hard to understand at times), the food is great and the scenery is gorgeous. You pretty much can’t go wrong!