Dublin & Vienna Travel Tips

Sign up for a Walking Tour

As I suggested for Paris, the same goes for Dublin and Vienna. Sign up for a free walking tour with a local to learn about the city and its history. We did walking tours at the start of our time in each city and it definitely helped from a navigation standpoint, as well as having ideas of what to do during our time there.

For Dublin, we booked through Sandeman and for Vienna Prime Tours. A reminder that the tour is technically free, but the guides aren’t paid and live for the tips, so bring euros. We tipped about 15 – 20 euros per person.

Public Transportation


If you like taking buses, there are many in Dublin. We found it pretty easy to walk around the city, though we didn’t venture too far. A car would be absolutely nightmarish to drive – especially because they are on the opposite sides of the road and the streets are narrow and winding and often one way. To get from the airport to the city center, we took the AirCoach which picked us up immediately after we gathered our checked baggage and dropped us off near the hotel. Because our flight was so early out of Dublin, we opted to take a cab, which ran us 27 euros.


In Vienna, the metro system does not seem to align with Google – so if you use Google Maps for directions, keep this in mind. The stations are listed (it’s the blue square with the U) and when you click on one of the stations in Google Maps, the entire line is highlighted, which we found immensely helpful. The subway is fast, efficient and clean. It also runs on the honor system. The train from the airport to downtown was 4.60 euros for two tickets, and the 3-day subway pass was around 16 euros each. Not too shabby, and definitely allowed us to book an AirBnb that was slightly outside of the city.

Note if you buy a train ticket at the airport, there is a ticket desk right by the entrance that usually has a long line. There are self serve kiosks on the platform, and you can change the language to English. You are buying a ticket from OBB for the S7 line. When you change at a metro station (many of the lines meet with S7), you’ll need to buy a different ticket to continue on your journey.

Museums & Attractions 

I highly recommend purchasing tickets to museums ahead of time. The Belvedere in Vienna has a flex ticket, and you can purchase it for use any day over a certain time period. Others, like Kilmain Gaol require an exact date and time commitment. But ultimately you’ll spend less time in lines and happier for it.

Furthermore, if you want to participate in activities like the Austrian Opera or Spanish Riding school, you will definitely need to secure tickets beforehand as these are often sold out day of, or have limited selection.

Aer Lingus

Lounge Access 

We flew Aer Lingus and they offer access to their Lounge when you check in online (pay $25 or whatever fee they set and receive access to the lounge). The Aer Lingus / Jet Blue lounge in Boston is modern, and definitely quieter than the rest of the airport, but unless you plan to drink heavily at their bar, you likely won’t get your moneys worth. I personally love to escape the hustle and bustle of the airport, so I never mind paying the fee. The lounge in Dublin (after you go through US Pre-clearance) is fabulous. We were upgraded to Business Class for the return trip, and so we received access to their new lounge, but you can also purchase a day pass (I believe it was around 40 euros). The food is fantastic, the views stunning and they had the best luxury shower available for guests.

Bidding for Business Class

Speaking of lounge access and Business Class, Aer Lingus allows you to bid for business class tickets. Traveling on a holiday, we were definitely fortunate to not compete with actual business travelers, and so our $400 upgrade bid was accepted. It was the best $400 I’ve spent in 2017 thus far. The seats recline completely flat, the food is fairly decent for an airplane and it is overall a far more comfortable experience. You will receive an email from Aer Lingus about a week prior to give you the opportunity to bid if your ticket is eligible.

Flying through Dublin 

As you may have heard, US Customs is in Dublin, which means when you land in the US there is no need to go through Customs (which is great, but because I have Global Entry this doesn’t make too much of an impact). The boarding time on your ticket notifies you when you need to be through Customs, not the actual time you need to be by the gate (for example, ours was 2:35 pm and our flight left at 4:20). If you have Global Entry, there is a line to the left. Like home it is significantly quicker and far less people. Once you pass through though, there is no turning around. So if you want to buy Duty Free, do so on the other side of the airport and then follow the signs to US flights.


Dublin weather felt comparable to Boston. We were perfectly comfortable in our wool coats and sweaters. Vienna is cold – icy, biting wind cold. I wish we had packed long johns, heavier coats (like my ski parka!) and cozier socks. I wouldn’t have said no to hand/feet warmers either! If you are moving quickly from the train station to a museum or restaurant, you’ll likely be fine. But if you do a walking tour, or plan to be outside for a long period of time, and you want to be comfortable, forgo fashion.



Its customary to leave a small tip when eating in a restaurant in Austria. However, unlike America, you don’t have the check delivered to you and then the opportunity to ponder the waiter’s tip. Rather, when you receive the check, the waiter is standing by to immediately take your credit card. When you hand them the card, state the how much you’d like them to charge. So if your bill is 36 euros, say 40 euros and hand over your card. If you are paying in cash, same rules apply. Never leave money on the table.


There is not a huge push to tip in Ireland, but rule of thumb is if you want to leave a tip, it’s about 10%. Unlike Germany, there is no issue if you want to leave some money on the table, but if you’re paying by card you’ll need to ask them to include the tip (you’ll have the opportunity to punch it in yourself, rather than the waiter doing so). There isn’t any need to tip cab drivers either, but we did so as someone picked us up at 4:30 am, and that in of itself deserves a little extra money.

Cafes in Vienna

One of the most magical things to do in Vienna is sit in a Viennese cafe and order something warm and delicious. When you walk in, it’s likely a madhouse. No one will seat you, simply find an empty table or booth and sit down. A waiter will come by to take your order. Viennese coffee is very good, and they have a wide range of options. They will usually serve it on a silver platter with a small glass of water. Most menus list allergens too, so be sure to check out the last page for the list. (A = gluten) While the cafes do usually take cards, they prefer cash, and I even witnessed them refuse cards for those who didn’t have a “high enough bill.” What constitutes a “high enough bill” seems to be at the discretion of the server. The waiters we interacted with all spoke English and wanted us to just tell them what we were interested in vs. trying to point things out on the menu. When you’re ready for your bill, make sure you tell your waiter. They won’t be back to check on you until they clear away your plates.

Dublin (Day 1 & 2)

We didn't go into Guinness, but we passed it!
We didn’t go into Guinness, but we passed it!

Here is what I have learned about Dublin:

  • They are incredibly proud of earning their Independence from England
  • Beer is really everywhere
  • Donuts are the new cupcakes

Okay, and plenty more too, but I think those nicely sum up our two days in Ireland’s capital city.

To start off our whirlwind trip of Dublin, I booked James and I a walking tour for our first activity. We landed on Tuesday at 8:30 am, arrived at the hotel by 10 am and proceeded to take a two hour nap. Once again, we were on a plane with a SCREAMING toddler who did not at any point take a breath of air or pass out from the exertion of full on temper tantrum in the six hours we flew. It was only ear plugs, noise canceling headphones and Beach Houses’ Depression Cherry that made a few light hours of sleep possible.

James was not into taking this picture, but it is the only proof of his massive burger.
James was not into taking this picture, but it is the only proof of his massive burger.

Following our nap, we made our way to Avoca, a store filled with wool sweaters, blankets and scarves, as well as a quaint cafe. We headed to eat first. I had Avoca’s take on the Irish breakfast (scrambled eggs, leek pork sausage, bacon, roasted tomato and roasted mushrooms). It was amazing. James ordered a massive burger with Irish cheddar, cabbage and an aioli. We then proceeded to purchase our weight in sweaters, scarves and blankets (oops!) before heading on our walking tour.

We booked the tour with Sandemans New Dublin  and were taken on a three hour trek of the city – starting with Dublin Castle, weaving our way through the temple bar (an area, not an actual place, though plenty of places call themselves that because tourist trap), Trinity College and more. We learned a significant amount about Irish history, including Viking rule for a few hundred years, English rule for more than 700 years and eventually the rebellion that brought about Ireland’s independence – the Easter Rebellion of 1916 (it’s also the 100 year anniversary). The 1916 rebellion was a failure but considered the starting point of Ireland’s path to independent in the early 1920s.

James outside the Dublin Castle.
James outside the Dublin Castle.

Midway through the tour, we stopped at House of Cha, a tea and coffee shop, for a black spicy chai (recommend!). A few folks on the tour opted to drink a Guinness in fifteen minutes instead.

For dinner that evening James and I made reservations at Gallagher Boxty, a potato inspired restaurant. The majority of the menu is gluten free – and it’s a good thing they list allergens everywhere because I would have been super skeptical otherwise! James and I split potato pancakes with syrup and bacon. For dinner I had steak wrapped in a potato pancake with a cream sauce. James had potato dumplings. We split vanilla ice cream with toasted almonds and honey figs for dessert.

Because I’m in Europe, and I have a plethora of delicious wine available, I picked up a bottle of pinot grigio rose to enjoy back at the hotel room. Being crafty, I stored said one in the window sill to keep it chilled. The maid luckily left it there!

The following morning we made our way to Kilmainham Gaol, the famous jail that housed many of the political rebels from 1916 (and then subsequent rebellions until Ireland was granted freedom). We opted to walk versus taking one of the city’s buses, which proved to be an enjoyable adventure. Breakfast however proved to be a bit difficult to track down. Disgusted by the options at my hotel (the usual cold cuts, hard boiled eggs and bread I can’t eat), we stopped at Kaph for lattes. Sadly their only food was pastries, so I ventured on until I found a small grocery store, and to James’ disgust, I proceeded to eat a cold paella in a cup dish. 

For seven euros, Kilmainham Gaol includes a guided tour, and we learned about how the jail was a reformist prison (similar to Eastern State Penitentiary in Pennsylvania) in which prisoners were subjected to complete silence and solitary confinement. As I mentioned, this is the jail with the political rebels, but the majority of the prisoners committed petty crimes, or more “run of the mill” crimes such as assault, murder, etc. During the potato famine, the jail housed more than 9,000 inmates over the course of one year, vastly over capacity. 

The tour lasts about an hour, and there is a well thought out museum that follows, allowing you to view some of the prisoner artifacts, as well as letters, jewelry and clothing from the rebels. Definitely worth a visit, and is conveniently across the street from the National Museum of Modern Art (free but we had plans so weren’t able to go).

Our next stop was Hatch & Sons, an Irish bakery and cafe that boasted to have some solid Irish food (including a very good Irish breakfast). I ordered beef stew and a flourless almond and orange cake. James had smoked salmon on brown bread and a piece of carrot cake. Full to the brim, we headed upstairs to The Little Museum of Dublin which also includes a guided tour of a few rooms filled with Irish artifacts from 1900s – 1990s. It was most definitely a nice summary of Irish history (both political and pop culture), though at this point we didn’t want to hear one more peep about the 1916 rebellion. So we headed over to the National Museum of Ireland Archaeology. Here is where the bog people live (persons who had the unfortunate event of being killed and then thrown into a peet bog, preserving them for thousands of years). I of course found this fascinating while James could have probably gone without seeing this exhibit.

We meandered through the streets of Dublin back to tour hotel, popping into shops and finalizing our journey by a trip to a gourmet grocery store to pick up some goodies one can only find here. The gluten free biscuits are my jam (pun intended?). We cozied up at the hotel in what looks like an Irish grandmother’s living room for a few hours before our dinner at the Pig’s Ear.

The Pig’s Ear is fabulous. Michelin star rated (which doesn’t always mean delicious, but this time it did). The restaurant was cozy, made up of multiple floors and covered with stuffed bunnies and statues of pigs (don’t worry, not stuffed). I had celeriac soup to start, with salmon and cauliflower and a buttermilk custard. James had a lobster crab salad to start, Shepard’s pie made from venison and cheesecake in a jar.  I sadly was glutenized – it wasn’t the restaurant’s fault, it was definitely my own and I should have been more wary of something, but sometimes I play chicken with my stomach. And even this didn’t sour my overall opinion of the restaurant. That’s how good it is. I highly recommend it – reservations definitely required!

The remainder of the evening we spent packing our suitcases and preparing for our 4:15 am wake up call.