Valentine’s Day on a Budget in Dublin, Ireland
Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend this year so raise a glass of the brown stuff (Guinness) and take off with your other half to Dublin, Ireland and make a day of it on your romantic quest.
Dublin is a city steeped in history – boasting grand architecture, plenty of canal ways and a whole host of famous dignitaries from the world of literature through to big screen stars. But the real beauty lies in the city’s ‘burbs, with its scenic coastlines, and on the outskirts of Dublin, with its picturesque mountains and panoramic views of the city.
If you and your other half love the great outdoors, there’s numerous places in and around Dublin to walk and talk; take a pew and view; and wine and dine. Plus it doesn’t have to cost an arm-and-a-leg either. Appreciate special moments with your beloved while basking in the splendours of the Emerald Isle.
Wicklow Mountains National Park covers part of a mountain range that extends over most of County Wicklow on the east coast of Ireland. The upper slopes and rounded peaks are blanketed with heath and bog. The open vistas are interrupted only by forestry plantations and the winding mountain roads. Fast-flowing streams descend into the deep lakes of the wooded valleys and continue their course into the surrounding lowlands.
Any newbie to Ireland heads for Glendalough, a 45-minute drive from Dublin, which is known as the ‘honeypot’ of the National Park. The combination of the stunning scenery and the fascinating monastic history make it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland. The name Glendalough means ‘valley of two lakes’. Stretching for over 3 km, there are numerous sites of interest at Glendalough including two lakes, the ruins of a monastery dating back to 618 AD and a waterfall.
There are numerous trails for walking of all levels at Glendalough, ranging from a short stroll to more demanding mountain hikes. So link arms with your other half and take your pick of walks through lush forests, expansive lakes and monastery ruins. Be sure to check out the Poulanass Waterfall. Although at times a grueling ascent, it’s worth the sweat as the top is a peaceful place to sit and reflect with your other half.
Remember to take some food with you too. Glendalough has places to sit and picnic but for those who can’t bear the cold, take a picnic with you and stop off en route from Dublin. There’s a great vantage point with spectacular views of the valley where you can eat before start your descent.
Make the most of your time in Glendalough and book a night’s stay at one of the B&Bs in the surrounding area. The Wicklow Heather – which includes a restaurant, B&B and luxury wood lodge – offers special deals starting from 75 for a weekend’s night’s stay and a 4-course meal. http://www.wicklowheather.ie
Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle for its lush green countryside and a stone’s throw away from Tallaght, in the south of Dublin, are the Dublin Mountains – an ode to the country’s namesake. Just a 15-minute drive from the Dublin suburb, Dublin Mountains are an expansive range of mountain-scapes where you can get lost with your love.
If you want to walk an established route, head for one of the recreation sites along the way including Tibradden Wood, laden with pine trees dating back to 1910, and Hell Fire Club, offering a variety of short forest walks. But if you and your beau like a bit of adventure, take a drive, head for the skies and see where it takes you.
The scenery along the Dublin Mountains is stunning. Snowy-scapes akin to Switzerland soon give way to lush forest. Turn around and you see a completely different picture to what you saw incoming. Other than the cold temperature, the season is not apparent up in Dublin Mountains as you can go from snow-topped mountains to sun-drenched valleys featuring autumnal reds and greens as you turn the corner quite literally.
Park up along the way wherever it takes your fancy, but be aware that some parts are private land and you can be done for trespassing! So look out for the random signs.
If you make it that far, stop off at the Johnnie Fox’s pub in Glencullen. Surrounded by the beautiful scenery and serenity of the Dublin Mountains, Johnnie Fox’s is known for being the highest pub in the country and one of the oldest too. Featuring live music, the Johnnie Fox is touristy but is worth a flying visit even if to just down a pint.
Dun Laoghaire Pier
Dún Laoghaire, about seven miles south of Dublin, is a coastal town which sits along the east coast of Ireland and is surrounded by rolling hills.
A stroll along Dún Laoghaire Pier, with stunning views of Dublin Bay, is a perfect start to your Valentine’s Day from the late afternoon. Watch the sun set as you walk along the 2.6km journey where you can enjoy sea views of the marina, bay and harbour.
Dún Laoghaire harbour is a good place to explore on an evening with its choice of restaurants and bars.