If I have to describe Dublin in one line, I’d say:
A city full of history, rich culture, stunning architecture and friendly people!
When most people think of Dublin, they think of drinking, and the spectacular night life! Pub crawls are one of the most fun things to do, where you see plenty of locals dancing to Irish music (and plenty of tourists trying to learn). But even though you can have a great time with just pub crawling, there’s plenty of other things to do (especially if you’re not too much of a drinker).
Most attractions in Dublin can be explored on foot, but public transportation is also a decent option. If you are in Dublin for multiple days, invest in a prepaid Leap Pass which could be used for Dublin bus, and even some trams and trains. The card is a little cheaper than having to buy a ticket each time you travel, and certainly convenient than having to carry coins.
Also, note that any tax you pay towards your purchases throughout your trip is redeemable. Just take the receipt to the kiosk at the airport on your way out (cha-ching).
But most importantly – Get Your Irish On!
1. Kilmainham Gaol – This former prison, now a museum is a must go place if you are interested in the history of Ireland. It is recommended to book tickets in advance as they sell out pretty quick.
2. Trinity College – Apart from great architecture, this college is the host for one of the biggest libraries in the world. You can find plenty of ancient books here, including the famous Book of Kells. If you’re interested in a tour, look for one offered by a current student, and get to learn the history of the college, along with how things have changed.
3. St. Patrick’s Cathedral – This cathedral has to be on your must go list when in Dublin. This is the tallest and largest cathedral in Ireland with spectacular architecture. Consider taking a guided tour here to learn more about the cathedral’s rich history. The daily sung service they offer is surreal, and it feels so peaceful to be a part of it, so definitely try to attend one if time allows.
4. Guiness Storehouse – Even though this is not a functioning brewery anymore, it’s still a fun place to go if you want to learn about the history of the storehouse. You can participate in a group seminar where they show you the best way to pour beer, and how it affects the taste. The tour ends on the rooftop at Gravity Bar where you get to enjoy great views of the city along with a complimentary drink.
5. Jameson Distillery – If you take a tour here, you’ll get to do a side by side comparison of the three most famous whiskeys in the world – Jameson, Johny Walker, and Jack Daniels, and get a certificate for doing so. I’m not much of a whiskey drinker, so I didn’t enjoy the drinks. But the good thing is, I am now a certified whiskey tester (is that a thing?)
6. Temple bar – I heard somewhere that Dublin has over a thousand pubs. Well, if you only have time for one, go to the Temple bar. This is one of the most famous pubs in the world, so expect (very) long wait times during the peak hours. The temple bar area is great to see the nightlife, and for bar crawls. There’s tons of bars and restaurants to keep you occupied.
7. Phoenix park is another great park, located a little outside of the city center, but easily accessible by bus. This is one of the largest indoor parks in Ireland. The park can be explored on foot, but it is a huge park and if you have time limitations, renting a bike is the best alternative. We rented our bikes from the visitor center and rode it all the way to the Wellington Monument. There’s a zoo inside the park that is worth checking if you have the time.
8. St Stephens Green – A public park located in the city center, and one of the best places to get your nature fix, and some peace and quiet in the middle of a busy city. It’s also a great place for bird watching. The park kind of reminded me a little of Central Park in New York.
9. Dublin Castle – If you decide to go here, make sure to do the guided tour, which offers a lot more information and makes the visit worth the while.
10. Malahide Castle – Just like Dublin Castle, a guided tour will be really helpful here as well. This castle is famous for haunted rooms, and supernatural activities.
Howth Cliff Walk was one of my favorite things to do near Dublin, and it is a great alternative if you can’t go to Cliffs of Moher. Now let me be clear, Howth Cliffs are no Cliffs of Moher, but they are pretty good, considering the vicinity to Dublin. It takes a couple of hours to get here, but it is easily accessible by bus or train. You can probably spend an entire day here hiking, and admiring the cliffs.
Although there is a lot to do in Dublin, staying in Dublin doesn’t quite paint the full picture of Ireland. So if you have time left in your itinerary, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND going out of Dublin to the countryside to get a true sense of Ireland. If you don’t want to rent a car, there are plenty of day tours from Dublin you can take advantage of.
We took a day tour to Blarney Castle, and kissed the famous Blarney Stone that’s supposed to bring good luck. The drive to the castle is very scenic, and you get to see lush greenery and sheep everywhere, just like most of us imagine Ireland to be like. The bus also stopped at Cobh at the Titanic Experience Museum. Cobh was unfortunately the last port of call for Titanic. The museum is very interesting and shows replicas of some of the cabins on the ship.
There are a LOT of other day tour options from Dublin, including Cliffs of Moher, Ring of Kerry etc. so definitely check it out if you’re interested.
Until next time,