Are you planning a trip to Ireland? Maybe it’s on your bucket list, or maybe you have been and want to go back? Either way, the Emerald Isle is certainly a place worth visiting.
We just recently returned from our first trip together to Dublin, and we loved every minute! Although it was a short trip (we had both been before), it was so nice to be able to finally experience Ireland together and as plant-based eaters!
As with Iceland (see our trip post here), when we first told people that we would be going to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day, we were told that a.) it would be basically impossible to eat plant-based, and b.) that St. Patrick’s Day is not that big in Ireland. And like Iceland, we were so surprised at how easy it was to eat plant-based! And better yet, St. Patrick’s Day was a blast in Dublin!
Below we are highlighting some places to eat and things to do. Keep in mind that we only spent 3 days in Dublin since we have both been before. However, we have included some suggestions based off of previous trips. We will certainly have to go back to visit other parts of Ireland as plant-based eaters though!
Where to Eat
Happy Food Dublin is an all plant-based restaurant that is open for breakfast and lunch. They offer an array of dishes, bowls, sandwiches, smoothies, drinks, and of course, desserts! Our first day here we had the “burger” bowl for lunch and their snickers bar as a treat. Our absolute favorite meal though was their full Irish breakfast! As plant-based eaters, we did not think we would ever be able to have an Irish breakfast again, so we were pretty giddy when we realized we could. Their black pudding was especially good!
Helpful tip: Happy Food is part of a yoga studio called the Yoga Hub (see below under ‘what to do’), so you can take a class and then get in a great breakfast or lunch.
This place is amazing! Hands down our favorite! When you dine at Sova, you feel like you are just eating at any other restaurant that serves steak or pasta dishes, but it is all 100% vegan! We ate here two nights in a row, and enjoyed their “scallops” as an appetizer both times. We also had the gnocchi, tempeh Caesar salad, schnitzels, and of course, raspberry cheesecake! Plant-based or not, Sova is a place you just have to visit!
Helpful tip: Reservations are strongly recommended! You can call same day, but just know that you might be eating after 8:30pm depending on their availability.
Cornucopia was a savior for us! This is a great vegetarian and vegan counter-service restaurant right in the center of Dublin. With it being St. Patrick’s Day, many restaurants closed for the day or weekend, so to have Cornucopia as an option was very helpful! We grabbed lunch here a couple of times and dinner to go on our last night. After standing outside in the cold to watch the St. Patrick’s Day parade, we warmed up with Cornucopia’s lunch special for 14€ that included a seitan (“beef”) stew, salad of your choice, bread of choice and a green juice. Their scones are also amazing, and if you are in the mood for something other than beer, they serve wine too.
Places we did not get to check out
We were planning on going here, but just happened to stumble upon Sova first. However, Umi Falafel has multiple locations in and out of Dublin, so this is definitely a great option for plant-based eats.
Blazing Salads seems like a great to-go or quick lunch option. However, it appears they also offer evening cooking events where you can learn some fun, whole-food recipes!
Peploe’s is definitely on our list for next time! It seems like a nicer restaurant near St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin, and although it is not strictly a vegetarian or vegan restaurant, they have a whole menu with all of their vegetarian and vegan options!
If you are looking for vegetarian and vegan options, and are in the mood for Indian style food, this seems to be the place!
Mediterranean restaurant with vegan options that is north of Dublin city center. Their mezze platter looks really good, so this one is certainly on the list for next time.
We heard amazing things about this place from a waitress at Sova! Although this is not a vegetarian or vegan restaurant, they apparently have amazing vegan pizzas and dessert options. This definitely seems like a good stop after drinking a pint or two…
Where to Stay
Due to it being St. Patrick’s Day, places were much more expensive than they normally are in Dublin. Between the two of us, we have stayed at the University College Dublin (acceptable if you are a college student visiting friends – otherwise it’s creepy), Ballsbridge and Liffey Valley. All are great locations and close to Dublin; however, on our most recent trip we stayed in Ranelagh. This area is a really nice part of Dublin, a little more low key, but still tons of restaurants and pubs (I mean, there is always a pub to be found). The Airbnb that we stayed in was also close to Sova, Happy Food, and the Yoga Hub. And depending on where you want to go in Dublin, it is about a 10 to 15 minute walk.
We stayed at Ranelagh Rooms, and we would absolutely stay there again. However, bed and breakfasts and other vacation rentals are plenty in Ireland, so we would also check out other places too. Ranelagh in general is surprisingly close to things to do and is a really nice area. If we were to go back for a longer trip, we’d probably try to find a place with a kitchen, otherwise, Ranelagh Rooms would be on our list.
Rental Car: Yes or No?
Getting around Dublin is very easy without a car. You can walk, take a cab, the bus, or tram. We mainly walked or took a cab because they are very easy to get! There is also an app that you can download called MyTaxi that is essentially like Uber. However, if you are planning on traveling outside of Dublin, then a rental car is recommended. The first time I went to Ireland I drove around the whole southern coast and up to Galway with my father, and it was a lot of fun to be able to stop in the towns we wanted and not have to worry about carrying our luggage around on buses or trains. Plus, getting around is pretty easy once you adjust to the fact that you are driving on the other side of the road!
Helpful tips: Rental cars in Ireland tend to be manual. You can certainly pay more for an automatic, but they are not guaranteed, and keep in mind that you do not necessarily want to upgrade to a larger, automatic, vehicle, especially if you will be driving the Irish countryside. This is simply due to the fact that country roads can be quite small and narrow.
Additionally, depending on your age, make sure you can actually rent a car. If you are between the ages of 25-75, you are good. However, you may rent a car if you are between 21-24, but, you will have to pay extra. The same applies if you are between the ages of 70-75. If you are over 75, you may not be able to rent, but you can provide proof of health and proof of being accident free in the past 5 years.
What to do
A visit to the Guinness factory is kind of a must. When we first went (about 10 years ago), it was a little more low key than it is now. It was still busy, but now it has definitely gotten a bit crazier. However, it is still a fun experience if you go in with an open mind, and knowing that you will get to drink some of the freshest Guinness you will ever have! Although the Guinness factory now has multiple bars throughout, we still recommend going all the way to the top – the Gravity Bar – and drinking a pint while you take in the full view of Dublin.
Helpful tip: Buy your tickets ahead of time. This is not required, but, it allows you to bypass huge lines and get right in. Plus, if you buy online, you can sometimes get tickets at a cheaper rate directly from the factory website.
When you think of Ireland, you may think of Jameson Whisky. While you can certainly make a trip to Jameson, Teeling Whisky is currently the only place that actually makes its whiskey in Dublin! We opted to visit them because we wanted something a little different, and found the history really interesting. The tour is great, and they do not beat you to death for long. It was probably about a 20-30 minute tour, and then you get to taste. We are not personally whiskey people, but it was still a lot of fun. The recipe for the iced tea in the photo was a mixed drink they made with their whiskey, and it was dangerously good! You would not know that there was whiskey in it!
On a random note, the staff at Teeling were so friendly (I mean, Irish hospitality is everywhere) and even got a cab to us within a couple of minutes of us asking.
O’Neills is one of many Irish pubs in Dublin. This also just happened to be a place that both David and I had visited on our previous trips, so we wanted to go together. It is a pretty relaxed place and deceivingly large, but the way it is sectioned, you feel like you are in a small, quaint, pub. They also have plenty of food options, just not anything vegetarian or vegan friendly. The buffet may though when it rotates food.
The Dawson Lounge, aka the worlds smallest pub, is really only “probably the world’s smallest pub” (as their sign reads). However, because you have to walk downstairs below street level, this pub is often overlooked so it is not overcrowded with tourists, despite it being right downtown! When we went, it was actually really fun because it was filled with a bunch of Irish military men that were all drinking and getting ready for the festivities (we saw them in the parade the next day).
Kimainham Gaol was a prison in Dublin that opened in 1796. The prison closed down in 1924, but the history of this place is fascinating. Many famous leaders of the rebellions and Irish republican movement were jailed here, along with children, including a 7 year-old! This is a tour definitely worth doing (it is only about an hour), so much so that David has done it twice!
Helpful tips: Purchase tickets in advance as they can sell out. Also, if you visit during colder months, be sure to dress warmly as the prison is quite cold.
Okay, let’s break down Temple Bar for a second. I feel like it needs to be mentioned because it is a famously known section of Dublin (including the actual Temple Bar itself). However, Temple Bar is on another level of touristy. The actual Temple Bar pub can be fun due to the fact that they have a lot of live Irish music. In general, Temple Bar is certainly an experience and you can stroll through the area, but it is not a place that I would recommend spending all of your time. If you visit, try to go when Lad Lane is playing (the schedule is posted on Temple Bar’s website).
Yoga Hub is attached to Happy Food (I know, it all sounds a bit hippy, but it’s a great place). We went here for a special St. Patrick’s Day class and it was so fun and just what we needed. The Yoga Hub has several different instructors and styles, and they were so nice and welcoming when we came. They even have mats and all props that you would need to borrow.
Other Dublin Sights and Activities
Trinity College Dublin is a beautiful place to simply see or stroll through, but ultimately, it is a college campus. However, the Book of Kells is housed at Trinity, which you can purchase tickets to view.
For being the oldest Irish pub (dates back to 1198), you would think that this place would be an ultra tourist destination; however, every time I have been, I have been one of a handful of people there (this could be due to the fact that I’ve only been during the day and not evening). It is really cool place to hang out, grab a bite to eat, or drink. It is dark, old, and you really feel like you are going back in time.
Another place that is beautiful to visit or stroll by. We did not go this trip, but that is simply because we had both been before. Unless you want to attend a service, St. Patrick’s is a place you could visit in between other stops as it is self-guided.
Okay, promise us one thing right now – you will not take a tour bus to get dumped off here! I mean, you can, but it will kind of take away from the experience of this pub. It is about a 20 minute drive from Dublin city center, but this really is a great place to grab a couple of pints. It is old, dingy, dark and filled with locals. There is also an interesting story behind this pub’s namesake, but you’ll just have to visit.
Outside of Dublin
Since we only spent a few days in Ireland this time, we stayed in Dublin. However, for a longer trip, getting out to the countryside and visiting other counties is highly recommended! Between the two of us on previous trips, we have visited Blarney Castle, Dingle, Kerry, Cork, Galway, and the Cliffs of Moher – all southern and western parts of Ireland. We have also visited Skerries (north of Dublin) and Howth, a coastal town about 30 minutes outside of Dublin. All of these places have their own charm and you really cannot go wrong.
Helpful tip: In case you did not know (because I did not until I arrived), in order to kiss the Blarney Stone, you have to go to the top of Blarney Castle and then hang upside down (bottom right picture) in order to reach the stone. There are hand rails and two guys who hold you though.. Irish safety at it’s finest! 😉 Despite that, the fact that locals probably pee all over the stone, and hoards of people put their mouths on the same spot every day, I would kiss it again in a heartbeat!
Our Day-to-Day Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrived from Iceland at 11:30am
-Cab ride to Airbnb
-Grabbed lunch at Happy food
-Walked to Teeling
-Cab ride to Gaol
-Cab ride to Guinness
-Dinner at Sova
Day 2 – Dublin
-Full Irish Breakfast at Happy Food
-Walked to Dublin City Center and grabbed a drink at O’Neills
-Lunch at Cornucopia
-Pint of Guinness at Dawson Lounge
-Quick stroll through Trinity
-Temple Bar to watch Lad Lane (a favorite band we saw on a previous trip)
-Dinner at Sova again
Day 3 – St. Patrick’s Day
-2 hour St. Patrick’s Day yoga class at the Yoga Hub (was so fun and perfect way to start the day)!
-Grabbed a bagel and coffee at place near the studio (many places were closed for St. Patrick’s Day)
-St. Patrick’s Day Parade
-Lunch at Cornucopia
-Plenty of pints at The Old Stand (and watched Ireland’s Rugby team beat England)
-Pints at O’Neills
-Grabbed dinner and dessert to go from Cornucopia
-One last Guinness at The Barge (a pub in Ranelagh)
Day 4 – Flew home
-Helpful tip: Dublin airport does not offer much for food (no matter if you are plant-based or not). We recommend buying food beforehand to bring, or at the very least, arrive to the airport early so you can grab food prior to going through security. Once you are through security, the options are very slim!