Can you explore Central Dublin in 15 hours?

In November 2017, I booked a flights between the United Kingdom and Boston. Now in order to make it as cheap as possible, I choose to fly with hand luggage only and went from the cheapest destination I could find. This was a slight problem. as it In order to get the cheapest possible flight from the United Kingdom to America, worked out to fly to Ireland first and then onwards to America. It makes no sense really, but if that was the cheapest then I would do it. Doing  this left me in Dublin with a 18 hour layover. Well, 15 hours after getting to and from the airport, plus having to get through pre-clearance.

My flight from Birmingham was due to land at 9pm. knowing this I had pre-arranged to stay at the Spire Hostel, in the centre of Dublin. I’ve previously been to Dublin in 2015 to obtain my Iranian Visa, for the Mongol Rally. During my weekend, I visited the Guinness Storehouse, Jameson’s Distillery and the Temple Bar Area. I have a some vague locations of some of the attractions minus the Temple Bar, I blame the Guinness!

The things of interest in Dublin

Only having a limited amount of time, I opted to visit more the historical areas of Dublin. After finding my bed for the evening, I accidentally headed out without a hat, a big mistake in -2°c. After getting lost several times I finally ended up on the Ha’Penny bridge, a place I about online to be a must visit. They’re not wrong! Not from Ha’Penny Bridge is the Temple Bar district were I was trying to get to.

Ha'Penny Bridge
Ha’Penny ridge at Night

In order to see as much as possible I woke up at 7am, aiming to be out the door at first light, trying to get some photos of the sunrise. This didn’t happen, in fact I left the hostel at 9. Staying in a hostel there are always interesting people. I met a Russian lady from Siberia exploring Europe. I was amazed to meet a Russian in Dublin and she was just as amazed that I had been to her hometown.

Lyubov' in Dublin
Meeting awesome people in Dublin

Which direction first?

I head straight for the river, were I spotted a sailing mast down river. It seemed like a good place to start, I was keen to find out more about this sailing ship., The Jeanie Johnston, a transatlantic tall ship built to carry cargo, but ended up carrying emigrants from Ireland to the New World. You can have a guided tour of the ship, unfortunately, the tours were not running on the day. Following the river further, I found signs for Grand Canal Square and Energy Theatre. They sounded interesting, until I found that they were a business area. Not somewhere I wanted to be. Luckily for me, some more signs pointed me towards the Trinity College. After navigating several back streets, getting lost and thinking a police station was the college. I eventually found Trinity College and the Bank of Ireland. Unsurprisingly the college was shut to tourists. Fortunately the courtyard of Trinity College was open. This was really calm at 09:30am in the middle of winter. I can imagine that in mind summer, it’s not so calm.

Jeanie Johnston
Jeanie Johnston at day break

Opposite the Trinity College there is a tourist information, were I got some pointers on what I must see. The list I was given included, Grafton Street, St Stephens Gardens, the Castle and the City Hall. Now by there map the distance between all of these was only 2 miles, but to explore all of them in 2 hours, that’s a whole different game! I happened to be next to Grafton Street, which was a great start an added bonus being Christmas time it was very festive. They even had a huge Christmas tree at the end of the street. It’s a shopping street full of some very quirky and more know branded shops. I couldn’t resist looking in camera shop. At the end of Grafton street is, through a stone arch, is St Stephens Gardens a quaint peaceful garden with several water features including a small lake. I strolled down one side of garden to get a feel of the gardens before heading to my next destination, the Castle.  

Trinity College Dublin
Trinity College in Winter

Finding the Castle and heading to Boston

After walking for 10 minutes, I came across the Market Arcade an old traditional market, surprisingly it was also closed. The castle, which was not the ‘typical’ type of castle, with high walls and a big keep. No this looked more like university, with a square in the centre, still it was an fascinating structure. Next to the castle is City Hall along with Christ Church Cathedral just around the corner. I didn’t really have time to even see these buildings. I did have a quick glance into the Cathedral which looked magnificent. My time to explore had come to an end, as it was now time to head to the airport and onwards to Boston.

Can you explore Dublin in 15 hours? Well that depends entirely on your definition of exploration. I mean by it’s defination: “ex·plo·ra·tionˌekspləˈrāSH(ə)n/, noun, the action of travelling in or through an unfamiliar area in order to learn about it.” I certainly explored Dublin by this definition,  but in no real detail. I would definitely be looking to come back.



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