Brief visit to Ireland advice

Reader question: I’m making a brief visit to Ireland next week, flying into Dublin because I found some cheap Air Canada tickets online, driving to Belfast for dinner and staying the night there, and then potentially free the next day and evening before flying out of Dublin again late the next morning. I have not been to Ireland before. Looking for advice. Should I spend my free evening in Dublin? (which would seem to make the most sense since I’ll be flying from there the next day). If so, where? Or is there someplace between Belfast and Dublin compelling enough to stay the night there instead? And any advice on not to miss (given my very brief stay). Thanks!

My answer (or rather a friend’s answer since I have never been to Ireland). If anyone can add something useful, please comment below.

Dublin is great, especially Grafton Street. Temple Bar district in Dublin is very cool. There are better places than Dublin in Ireland BUT it is still a great city. I worked as a journalist in Belfast back in the ’80s, but Dublin is where I would go for a great weekend night out. It’s hard to top. My favorite Dublin night spot is The Brazen Head, which may very well be the oldest pub in the world (12th century). It’s a great place for a good pint and live music.

Belfast is a great, great town. The city center has come a long way. It’s a small city but one where you can have a lot of fun. Take a Black Taxi Tour in Belfast. Driver takes you out to all the former hotspot areas in the Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods. Very knowledgeable guides, fascinating tour. I’ve been to Belfast a half-dozen times and would go back in a heartbeat. A bit of a drive from Belfast but the Giants Causeway is really close to the Bushmills distillery.

In the end, if I was flying out the next day I would want to stay in or near where I was leaving from. One, that is a lot of traveling in one day between the car and flight. Two, who wants to drive hung over? Get on that plane and sleep. So a plan might be, and this is what i would do on the free day, the Black Taxi tour around Belfast, then drive down to Dublin, and walk around Temple Bar shooting photos and pub crawling till I can’t drink anymore (with an if found return to The Morgan Hotel stamp on my forehead). But stay sober enough to make sure I got to the brazen head at some point.

If you had the time, Book of Kells at Trinity College. James Joyce Tower. Pilgrimage to St James Gate (Guinness Brewery) or O’Connell Street.

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