I love Dublin. I can’t recommend a visit here enough. While the city isn’t the prettiest in the world (and on a cloudy day it can feel downright gloomy), there is so much literary and cultural history here you can’t help buy always feel inspired. This is just a fun city (probably helped by the fact the Guinness and Jameson factories are located here) with a lot of amazing pubs, nightlife, live music and dancing (so much Irish jigging), and an up and coming foodie scene. But, more than that, Dubliners are a friendly, inquisitive bunch always happy to show you a good time and crack a good laugh.
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Dublin
1. Tour the Guinness Storehouse
2. Relax in St. Stephen’s Green
3. Take a tour of Trinity College
4. Kilmainham Gaol
5. Temple Bar
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Explore the Chester Beatty Library
Situated at the back of Dublin Castle, CBL boasts a wonderful and significant collection of exhibits which include Asian, Far-Eastern, and Islamic artifacts. CBL also has temporary exhibitions to complement its collection, together with lectures by invited guests, workshops, and relevant events, most of which also free to attend.
2. Learn about “Dublinia”
Take a fascinating tour of Viking and medieval Dublin. The exhibitions include medieval street scenes, Viking longboats, and the chance to experience the recreated sights and sounds of these bygone eras. Most tours also include a visit to Christchurch Cathedral. Admission is 8.50 EUR and it’s open daily from 10am-6:30pm with extended hours in the summer.
3. Visit the Dublin Zoo
The zoo is one of Dublin’s most popular tourist attractions and can be found inside the expansive Phoenix Park. It’s the world’s third oldest zoo, so worth a visit if you have extra time in the city. Admission is 17 EUR and is open from 9:30am to at least 4pm.
4. See Dublin Castle
At the heart of the city lies Dublin Castle, built in the 13th century. While it’s not what you would imagine as a castle, it does depict Ireland’s history pretty well. Today, the building is used for important governmental business, state receptions, and inaugurations. You can explore the grounds for free, but a self-guided tour at the State Apartments costs 6.50 EUR. The opening times for the castle are 10am-4:45pm daily, except for Sundays when it opens at 10:45am.
5. Go on a literary pub crawl
Dublin is famous for its literary greats – Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, and W.B. Yeats are just a few of this city’s most famous writers. The literary pub crawl includes a walking tour, extracts from famous literature, and it culminates with street performances and a fun literary quiz. It costs 12 EUR.
6. Tour the Jameson Distillery
Whiskey is as famous as beer in Ireland, and if there is one thing to do in Dublin, it is to sample of the local flavor. Although Jameson isn’t made in the city anymore, the Distillery visits are 2nd best to Guinness, where you can learn about the process and have a few samples at the end of the tour.
7. Wander through Phoenix Park
This massive grassy space is the largest enclosed city park in all of Europe. The homes of the U.S. Ambassador and the President of Ireland can be found here, as well as some wild deer, as it used to be a royal hunting ground. There is also a polo field and the Dublin Zoo within the park.
8. See Prehistoric Newgrange
This grassy knoll might look unimpressive, but below the surface, it houses a Stone Age passage tomb. Dating back to 3200 BC, this unusual construction is older than the pyramids.
9. Shop on Grafton and Powerscourt Center
This is one of Dublin’s neatest shopping centers. Located just off of Grafton Street that has great shopping of its own, inside of a restored 18th-century townhouse, you can find anything from cafés and galleries to clothing stores and jewelry shops. While some places are pretty expensive, there are plenty of great bargains to be found as well.
10. Take a walking tour
I’m always a fan of walking tours as they give you a lot of insight and history to the destination. While there are many free walking tours in the city, if you want something deeper, try Context Travel. I really love their tours. They are lead by leaders in their field (i.e. a history tour is lead by a history professor) so you always walk away with a really deep understanding. I was a big fan of their tour on the 1916 revolt!
11. Listen to a Traditional Irish Music Session
While there are many pubs that feature live music, there are only a handful that feature impromptu jam sessions with local musicians. For an unpolished sampling of traditional Irish tunes, try heading to Hughes Pub. You’ll get a traditional Irish experience like no other!
12. Sample the Perfect Pour
If you’re serious about your Guinness, you’ll want to make sure you head to a pub that serves the perfect pint. Guinness actually reviews all the pubs in Ireland regularly, ranking pubs on the quality of their pour. To make sure your pub serves the best pint, take a look for a red Guinness sign on the outside of the pub. Any pub with a red Guinness sign is rated by Guinness themselves to pour the perfect pint! Sláinte!
13. Take a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher
If you don’t have time to fully explore the west coast during your visit, try taking a day tour to the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs are one of Irelands top attractions, and really should not be missed! Most tours will also include a stop in Galway, which will give you a little taste of life in western Ireland. Tours from Dublin will take the whole day as you literally need to cross the entire country, but if it’s your only chance to see the Cliffs of Moher then you shouldn’t pass it up! Expect to pay around €50 for a tour.