Dublin can make for a good starting point of any European vacation – the people are friendly, the language is familiar and the setting is amazing.
As the plane was descending, I was making the most of my middle seat (at the window-guy’s expense) – thinking ‘look at that coastline – I’d love to hike that!’.
I hadn’t done my homework before getting on the plane, so I just asked around. Literally, asked the gal giving me a pedicure (yep, I really hadn’t done any of my homework!) where she’d take friends who were visiting Dublin for the day. Her answer: Howth Cliff walk (Howth rhymes with ‘both’, just for the record).
Howth Cliff Walk
The bonus of this hike is that you take the DART to get to the trail head! When I’m traveling, I love watching people do their every-day business (particularly fun when I am very far away from my own work). This is a 25-minute people watching excursion with a purpose. This a gentle walk: part manicured paved path and part trail. No hiking boots necessary, but you’ll want real shoes (not flip flops).
Howth is the last stop on the DART, so it’s impossible to get lost – there’s a great village to explore or cross the street directly outside of the station to find the trail head. It’s an out-and-back, so enjoy for as long as you see fit!
I couldn’t let my short stay go by without heading to the ‘mountains’ – and that was going to require more knowledge than my pedicure gal could provide. So I reached out to the team at Mountaintrails. I doubt it happens very often, but I was the only one who booked that day, so I had an amazing personal guide experience. These guys know their stuff and I was thrilled to get the one-on-one time. They picked me up in the city center and we did the Brockaghs day hike (about a 7-mile jaunt). I was very glad I was with a guide – we weren’t on any real ‘trail’ (as in, it wasn’t marked), basically just headed up the mountain. No matter where you go in Wicklow Mountains, you’ll be exposed to the elements, so plan/pack accordingly.
Given that I’m not a night person, I surprisingly chose an AirBnB in Temple Bar – and was glad I did. It really wasn’t loud and I was surrounded by great cafes, galleries and bookstores in the morning. Location, as they say, is everything.
You may be wondering: Is it safe?
I never felt unsafe – in fact, I met several women in Dublin traveling on their own and they all seemed to have that same feeling. That said, it’s a big city, so keep your eyes open and use good judgment. And when the taxi cab driver asks if you want a receipt, the answer is always ‘yes’! (that was a rookie move on my part – he way overcharged me after I flippantly said ‘no receipt’).