In honour of St. Patrick’s Day, we thought it would be fun to take a quick look at some cool things to do in Dublin, Ireland. To say that we’re excited to begin flights to Dublin would be an understatement, and if the response from our guests is any indication, so are many of you!
Here are 17 things to see, do and experience in Dublin.
1. Guinness Storehouse
The first thing many Canadians think of when we hear the word “Dublin” is a tour of the famous Guinness Storehouse, at the heart of the St. James Brewery, and maybe a pint of Guinness in the Gravity Bar. If that’s the kind of thing you’d fancy doing while in Dublin, you have two options: the General Tour (reservations not needed) or the Connoisseur Experience, an exclusive tasting experience for the true beer enthusiast (reservations required). Reservations are required for the Connosseur Experience, .
2. Grafton Street
Grafton Street is well-known for its wide range of shopping, and is a place you don’t want to miss if shopping is your thing. It’s also a popular people-watching spot, complete with bars, restaurants and lots of talented buskers.
3. Temple Bar
This charming neighbourhood features cobblestone streets and lots of character. It’s filled with great bars, cafes, and art galleries, and has amazing architecture everywhere you turn.
4. National Botanic Gardens
The National Botanic Gardens are located in Glasnevin, 5 km north-west of Dublin city centre and are nothing short of magnificent. The gardens cover 19.5 hectars, and are are immaculately-kept. According to visitdublin.com, features include “an arboretum, sensory garden, rock garden and burren area, a large pond, extensive herbaceous borders, and annual display of decorative plants including a rare example of Victorian carpet bedding.” There are 4 different glass houses to check out as well. The best part? General admission to the gardens is free. If you’d like, you can also arrange a guided tour for €2 per person.
5. Trinity College Library
Depending on where you stay in Dublin, Trinity College may be on your way to or from Grafton Street. The downside of stopping at Trinity College? If you stop there, you may not make it to Grafton Street at all. The upside? If you don’t enjoy watching your partner/spouse shop the day away, you may not make it to Grafton street at all! Established in 1592, Trinity College is the nation’s oldest university, and is a beautiful campus worth checking out. While you’re there, be sure to stop off at the Trinity College Library for a glimpse at some of Ireland’s oldest and rarest books, including The Book of Kells.
6. Book of Kells
Written around the year 800 AD, The Book of Kells is a manuscript of the four gospels written on vellum (calf skin). It attracts over 500,000 visitors per year, and is, by far, the most famous manuscript in the Trinity College Library. It is renowned for its lavish decoration and is consistently rated as one of the top “must-see” things in Dublin. If you want to get an idea what The Book of Kells is all about, download the iPad app or browse through the library’s Digital Imaging Service.
7. Brazen Head
No trip to Dublin would be complete without a visit to the Brazen head – Dublin’s oldest pub. Established in 1198, the Brazen Head features live music every night and has a selection of great food to go with whatever’s quenching your thirst.
8. Chester Beatty Library
Located in the Dublin Castle complex, the Chester Beatty Library is an award-winning art museum and library that is home to a large collection of rare books and manuscripts. It is described by the Lonely Planet as “not just the best museum in Ireland, but one of the best in Europe”, so it may come as a surprise that admission is free. Once inside you can check out samples of the world’s heritage from about 2700 BC to the present century, including artistic, religious and secular works.
9. National Museum of Ireland
The National Museum of Ireland first opened its doors in 1890 and, since then, has been transporting visitors as far back as 7000 BC. It features extensive archeological collections of the Viking Age, Celtic and Medieval periods of Ireland, plus Decorative Arts, Country Live and Natural History exhibits that show the true Diversity of Ireland.
10. Phoenix Park
At 707 hectares in size, Phoenix Park is one of the largest urban parks in Europe and features Áras an Uachtaráin, the residence of the President of Ireland at the centre. About 1/3 of the park is covered by broadleaf trees, including oak, ash, lime, beech, sycamore and horsechestnut. The Victorian People’s Flower Gardens have been a favourite of many visitors since they were added in 1840. There are attractions for old and young alike, and wildlife lovers may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the herd of Fallow Deer who call Phoenix Park home.
11. Irish Museum of Modern Art
The Irish Museum of Modern Art was established in 1990 and rapidly established itself as an important presence on the international art scene. It features dynamic exhibits and education programs that are designed to create enjoyable and engaging experiences in modern art for its visitors. Admission is free.
12. St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is one of Dublin’s most popular attractions. It was built between 1220 and 1260 and is one of the few buildings left from the medieval city of Dublin. Today, St. Patrick’s is the National Cathedral for the Church of Ireland and is still the largest cathedral in Ireland.
13. St. Stephen’s Green
Located adjacent to Grafton Street, St. Stephen’s Green offers visitors a break from the bustle of the big city. The central park of St. Stephen’s Green is one of three ancient commons in Dublin, but it’s current layout is thanks to the several restoration that occurred throughout the 1800s.
14. Dublin Castle
Since its establishment in 1204 AD, Dublin Castle has played a prominent role in Ireland’s history. It has been the site of every Presidential inaugration since the foundation of the State, and has stood witness to some of the most pivotal events in the country’s history. The complex covers 11 acres and contains 2 museums, 2 cafés, an international conference centre, 2 gardens, Government Buildings and State Apartments. Part of the complex is free to visit. Guided tours of the State Apartments and Medieval Undercroft require tickets.
15. Abbey Theatre
Get a glimpse of modern Irish theatrical culture, while experiencing the history of leading Irish playwrights and actors of the 20th century, including William Butler Yeats, Augusta, Lady Gregory, Sean O’Casey and John Millington Synge at the Abbey Theatre. In addition to watching plays, spoken-word performances or attending workshops, you can also take-in a backstage tour to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Ireland’s national theatre.
16. Kilmainham Gaol (Jail)
Find out what it would have been like to be imprisoned in this Irish “bastion of punishment and correction” between the years of 1796, when it first opened, and 1924, when it closed its doors. A guided tour of Kilmainham Gaol, one of the largest unoccupied Gaols in Europe, provides insight into recent Irish political history and rebellion, and is truly eye-opening. This is a popular tour; tickets cannot be purchased in advance and are sold on a first-come, first-served basis, so it is a good idea to arrive early.
17. National Aquatic Centre
For a break from all the history, culture, shopping and tours in Dublin, check out AquaZone, at the National Aquatic Centre. It is one of the most innovative water parks in Europe, and features facilities with names like The Masterblaster, The Dark Hole, The Green Giant, The Lazy River and The Flow Rider. Whatever your taste in aqua adventure entails, you’ll find it here, and then some.
If you have any other suggestions for visitors to Dublin, we’d love to hear them. Please leave a comment below.