The highlight of my year was being able to visit Dublin and London for a short week around Thanksgiving. If you have been here long enough, you may remember my 2019 trip to London, Dublin, and Paris; this time around, it was more feasible to go to Dublin for three days and London for two days. My friends and I were able to do the trip for around ~$1500 per person total, and I’m going to share my planning process, trip highlights, and an itinerary you can download for your next trip.
Since I have been to London a few times now and Dublin once before, there were some things I could skip (like Buckingham Palace, afternoon tea, Trinity College, etc.), but if it’s your first time, you may want to consider reading my original blog post about my 2019 trip. My main focus was seeing more of the beauty Ireland has to offer, exploring more of Dublin’s city centre, eating my way through the two cities, and seeing London all done up for Christmas. To be honest, it would be a lot easier to pick one country or the other, but with London being a cheap, one-hour RyanAir flight away, how could I resist going to one of the best cities in the world for Christmas vibes?
Planning: Where to Stay, Budget, COVID Restrictions
Although I enjoyed staying at the hotels I previously stayed in, I decided to try The Fleet in Dublin and the Hilton DoubleTree Tower of London. I prefer to stay in the Temple Bar district (despite what locals/tour guides say) because it’s within walking distance of everything I want to see, and guests have to be buzzed in by the concierge after a certain hour. I also decided to stay at an American brand hotel in London because it’s bigger, included breakfast, and they typically have luggage storage. The Hilton DoubleTree is extremely close to the Underground, which is something else I look for in a hotel. The Fleet was about $250 per person for three nights (I split with one other person) and the Hilton was $77 per person for one night. The other hotel included in the budget is the Radisson Blu Hotel at Dublin Airport ($78 per person) because we had an early flight to catch back to the US after coming back from London. The hotel itself isn’t much, but there’s a shuttle to and from the airport, you can get wake-up calls from the front desk, and breakfast is also included.
With about $406 spent on hotels, I’m happy to report that the total for a roundtrip flight from the US to Dublin and back and the roundtrip flight from Dublin to London and back ended up costing around $450 total (per person). I found the international flight with the help of Skyscanner and brought a carry-on suitcase and a carry-all bag to avoid spending a lot of money on toting my luggage around. That left $644 in my budget for a day tour in Ireland ($57), food, and souvenirs. I don’t typically buy a lot of souvenirs, so most of my budget was left for food and train tickets.
COVID Restrictions: While I don’t want to promote international travel with the Omicron variant running rampant globally, if you choose to travel, please visit the UK and Republic of Ireland government websites regularly. Things can change very rapidly in response to COVID data, so it’s best to be on top of it. The guidelines changed the day I returned to the US, but in short (as a fully vaccinated US citizen):
- You will need to complete some sort of traveler form for each country, even if you are stopping by on an hour-long layover
- You will need to present negative COVID test results to enter the UK and Ireland (PCR is now required for the UK rather than lateral flow). In my experience, you need to schedule the test in advance for the UK traveler form and enter your confirmation code on the form
- You will need to present a negative COVID test taken within 24 hours of returning to the US
It can be really intimidating and stressful, but I was able to get the hang of things fairly quickly. I created a folder in the camera roll on my phone with the QR codes/screenshots I needed for traveling. I also decided to book my test at London Gatwick Airport since it was the airport we flew into; it’s more pricy than getting a test in London or having a kit delivered to the hotel, but the convenience was worth it as I got my results via e-mail before I left the airport. I suggest looking into testing carefully to ensure you meet the deadlines required for each country and to ensure you will get your results in time.
As for restrictions in the two cities, vaccination cards and IDs were verified at every restaurant and pub in Dublin and each party had to sign in for contact tracing purposes. Masks are required on public transportation and indoors and are strongly encouraged to be worn outdoors in crowded areas. In London, masks are required on public transportation, and I wore my mask indoors unless eating, drinking, or taking pictures.
These restrictions may be bothersome to many people, but I honestly didn’t mind it – I was just happy to be there.
The highlights of the Dublin leg of the trip were definitely the food, pub crawl, and heading over to Galway… aka, the entire leg of the trip. I posted about the restaurants on Instagram, but here are my recommendations:
The Ivy at Dawson Street: Part of The Ivy group in London, this restaurant is worth the splurge! It’s gorgeous and the food and drinks are incredible. The service was also good, and I haven’t stopped thinking about my experience there.
Pink Restaurant: As a lifetime lover of the color pink, this restaurant felt like a safe space. The food and drinks were great here as well, and every corner was aesthetically pleasing. I recommend making a reservation in advance if you’re going on a weekend.
The pub crawl took place in the Temple Bar district, and despite the midnight curfew that was implemented just before our arrival, my friends and I had fun. I made a digital pub crawl bingo card again and things got competitive real quick. For the tour, we once again went with Paddywagon for the Cliffs of Moher Tour. The bus picked us up at 8 AM from the Molly Malone statue and we returned around 8 PM; it was a full day of nothing but beauty.
The London leg of the trip was a bit more rushed, but I’m so glad I got to visit two of the many London restaurants I have saved on Instagram:
Park Row: I’m a Marvel girl, but this DC-themed restaurant is a must-try. It really feels like you’re in Gotham City! Once again, the food and drinks were amazing, and the menu is just as fun as the decor. Reservations (waaay in advance) are recommended.
Cinnamon Bazaar: I guess I have to try a new Indian restaurant each time I go to London. Last time it was Dishoom, this time it’s Cinnamon Bazaar in Covent Garden. They had Bottomless Biryani a few months ago, which I would’ve loved, but the butter chicken was everything and more!
I went bar hopping for the first time (by opening the Maps app on my phone and seeing what was close and open) in Soho and had a good time; Be At One was the last bar of the evening and definitely the most fun. Another highlight of the London leg was walking around Covent Garden and the area near The Eye, grabbing a mulled wine, and looking through the Christmas markets.
You can download my trip itinerary here:
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments section, and safe travels!