My Top 5 Tips for the BEST St. Paddy's Day in Dublin!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Several years ago I read an article about travel bucket lists - and one of the big items was celebrating St. Patrick's Day in Dublin! Back when I was at University, St. Paddy's was a big deal. The bars opened at 8 or 9am and the green beer flowed all day. My senior year, we were in line at 7:30am and by the time we finally got in the bar they were already out of green beer! So I tucked the idea of celebrating the "real" St. Paddy's day in Dublin on my travel bucket list and thought some year I'd give it a try.
Dublin, Travel, St. Paddy's, @Awayweego

St. Patrick's Day is not celebrated in Northern Ireland like it is in the Republic of Ireland so my husband really had no interest in joining. When my college roommate/bestie was over to Ireland for a visit last September we hatched a plan to make 2017 the year to tick this off our list. We learned a few things along the way and I'm excited to share my top tips. We took the train down to Dublin from Belfast, which is my favorite way to travel there. Roundtrip, we paid 30GBP, and on the train between Belfast and Dublin, you can bring your own alcohol. We brought along a bottle of champagne, some snacks and kicked up our feet for the 2.5 hour journey. Here are my top tips for celebrating St. Patrick's Day in Dublin!
Top 5 Tips for St. Patrick's Day in Dublin @awayweego
View from our room at the Westin

1. Book Early! I cannot emphasize this enough. It is a busy time of year obviously, and hotel rooms book up. Public transportation is also limited as the parade redirects traffic through most of the city, so it makes sense to choose your location and commit, rather than booking to stay outside of the city and thinking you'll save money that way. If you're going to do it, do it right! We opted to stay at the Westin Dublin, which has an excellent location next to Trinity College AND is directly on the parade route! If you're willing to spend the money, they even have suites overlooking the parade so you don't even need to leave your room to see it. I didn't book early enough to stay there on St. Patrick's Day, so our plan was to arrive the 16th, stay the night, and head back to Belfast on the 17th to celebrate the end of the night in Belfast. This actually worked out nicely because we were in both Irish capitals on the big day!

2. Make a Plan! The St. Patrick's Day Festival takes place over several days, but the main event is the parade on St. Patrick's Day, March 17th. If you want to see the parade, plan on staking out your territory several hours in advance of the parade's start at noon. Don't feel like standing around and possibly getting caught in the rain? Book lunch overlooking the parade route. The Westin Dublin offered a buffet lunch with views of the parade so you don't even have to go outside! Unfortunately, we were too late to book this. At 49 Euro each, it would have been a great way to see the parade, have lunch and stay dry! It did start raining midway through the parade. We did neither of those things and fought through the crowd for a (poor) view of the parade over the heads of the many folks in front of us.
Dublin, Ireland, St. Patrick's Day @AwayWeego
Our Hotel - Gone Green for the Festival

3. Celebrate like the locals! As we came to learn, the celebrations in Dublin were quite a bit different than what we were used to in the US. While there was partying going on, it was not the same as it is back home. The Shamrock leggings, green wigs, and Irish tattoos were all sported by Americans and other tourists. Those Irish that were out drinking were very young (too young for the pub even). For the rest of the locals, the Feast of St. Patrick is a holiday off work to spend time with the family and enjoy a meal together. There were some families enjoying the parade together, but they were fewer in numbers. As much as I love to travel with the family, I was really glad NOT to have the kiddos with me. The crowds were heavy, and there would have been no way to push a pram through the streets thick with people.
St. Paddy's Day, Parade, Dublin @AwayWeeGo

4. Get Away from Temple Bar! Everyone thinks that Temple Bar is the place to go in Dublin to drink with the locals. You will hear some Irish music, but you'll also find every other American and Tourist in Dublin, not to mention overpay for your drinks. Contrary to popular belief, Temple Bar is a neighborhood of bars, rather than an actual bar. Go and have a look around, grab a pint and move on. Head on over to St. Stephen's Green where you'll find less tourists, better pricing and more authentic "Dublin". We enjoyed cocktails at a lounge called Cafe en Seine ocated at 40 Dawson Street, Dublin. Yes, it's French, but it is a really cool location. It was voted the "Sexiest Bar in Ireland" and is a really unique place to grab a bite to eat during the day, or a drink in the evening.

5. Stay Safe! Tourists are magnets for petty crime, like pickpocketing. Even my father in law found himself a target of pickpocketing while in Dublin. This is obviously even more important when so many folks are drinking, and the streets are so crowded with people. Keep your valuables safe and don't carry around your passport or large amounts of cash. Lock them up in your hotel safe. We kept minimum cash and cards on us. I used a wristlet that I could grip the whole time, and my friend wore a money belt with her valuables tucked under her waist band. I always recommend taking a copy of your passport, as well as leaving one at home in the event you lose or have your passport stolen. With a copy, it's easier to replace!

All in all, we had a great time in Dublin for St. Patrick's Day! I would definitely do it again, but I would plan farther in advance and definitely get booked in for a lunch with a view of the parade, rather than fighting crowds.

Where is your favorite place to celebrate St. Patrick's Day??

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