Highlights of Northern Ireland with Paddywagon Tours
Our first stop was at spectacular Carrick-a-Rede. There is a rope bridge that was initially built by salmon fishermen to get to the small island across to catch fish in their nets. The bridge rests (and sways!) 23 meters above the sea. As I’m scared of heights I was wary about crossing the bridge. But we were told that the bridge is now reinforced with steal cables and nobody has died…yet! With that in mind, I figured what the heck- don’t look down and just cross it. I was really glad I did because I was fortunate to get a photo of just myself on the bridge, which now stands as one of my all time favorite travel photos…And like all the others before me, I didn’t fall off!
The Paddywagon Giant’s Causeway Day Tour from Dublin costs €60 ($80 USD), leaving Dublin at 7:30 am and returning around 8:15 pm. There are 3 centrally located pickup stops in the center of Dublin. It’s a convenient, worthwhile and fun way to experience the best Northern Ireland has to offer. *Updated summer of 2018: Paddywagon no longer offers this exact day tour from Dublin. They do offer a day tour from Dublin to Belfast that includes a visit to the 6th century monastery of Monasterboice and the Titanic Experience. Price of that tour starts at $52 US per person*
Where to Stay in Dublin?
First you need a place to stay, and it’s a good idea to book a hotel with free cancellation in advance. Later if prices change and you find a better deal, you can easily cancel your reservation and book another one. Here are hotel and bed and breakfast recommendations for Dublin:
Shelbourne Hotel is Dublin’s most historic luxury hotel, as several US Presidents and many foreign dignitaries have stayed there. They have a wonderful cocktail lounge and fantastic dining options. Even if you’re not a guest, swing in for high tea and enjoy a lovely view of St. Stephen’s Green.
The Merrion Hotel is another excellent luxury choice. This 5 star hotel offers an old world luxury experience in a great location.
O’Callaghan is a small chain of centrally located, comfortable hotels with good breakfasts. Trinity College often puts job applicants and guests up in these hotels. We stayed at O’Callaghan St. Stephens Green when Bell interviewed for her post doctoral position at Trinity College and highly recommend it.
ABC House Dublin and Egans House are quintessentially Irish bed and breakfasts a little outside the center of Dublin. They both offer reasonable comfort for those that don’t want to spend a lot to sleep. We spent a week at ABC House Dublin while searching for our apartment when we first moved to Dublin. We stayed at Egans House on a visit to Ireland.
Generator Hostel is conveniently located right next to the Jameson Distillery (fun!) and is part of a reputable chain of hostels in Europe that are known for being clean and having a fun atmosphere.
Families especially will find the best deals on short term apartment rentals. If you’ve never used Airbnb, sign up here for freeand receive $40 credit off your first stay!
Want to travel to Ireland for Free?
Play the credit card points game and use bonus point sign ups for free plane tickets! The most popular card among travel hackers is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The card also includes complimentary priority pass lounge access with free food, drinks and wifi. The annual fee seems steep at $450, but it includes $300 in travel credits. The 50,000 bonus point sign up is good for $750 in travel credit, enough for a free plane ticket to Ireland! They’ll also compensate you $100 for free Global Entry and TSA pre-check to skip airport lines.
If you don’t travel very frequently, the Delta Skymiles American Express Gold Card is free the first year and just $95 each year after. They give a 40,000 point bonus after you charge just $1,000, so this is a great card. You’ll typically need around 60,000+ miles for a free flight to Ireland, but you can earn these miles with everyday purchases. There are other perks to having the Delta SkyMiles AMEX Gold Card, like free checked bags on Delta flights.
Disclosure: Paddywagon Tours provided this tour free of charge, but we received no financial payment for this review. Bell was unfortunately unable to take the tour due to prior commitments (she certainly wanted to). The opinions, experiences and photos included in this article are solely those of Alex. Also, this article contains some affiliate links.