Are you interested in traveling to Ireland and thinking of stopping by the country’s capital, Dublin, but don’t know what to do when you get there? Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite ten things to do in Dublin. From activities to restaurants and bars, this list has a combination of the best Dublin has to offer!
Built in honor of Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is not only a place of worship, but also one of the top tourist attractions in Dublin for those interested in both its architectural beauty and historic relevance. There is an entrance fee of €5.50/adult to tour the cathedral, but with the beautiful stained glass windows and majestic architecture we certainly think it’s worth the modest expense.
Trinity College is home to the oldest library in Ireland and also came in at #2 on CNN Global Experiences List for “Coolest Libraries in the Wor... Not only does the library contain over 200,000 books, but it stores the famous manuscripts of the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells contain four Gospels in Latin, with colorful Celtic art and calligraphy. They only turn a page a day and over 500,000 people visit it every year!
Located just a couple blocks from Trinity College and Grafton Street, O’Neill’s Irish Pub & Restaurant is everything you’d want and expect from an Irish pub. It’s been around for over 300 years and is the very definition of “pub culture” with a rich wooden bar, numerous nooks and crannies, and live music 7 nights a week. If visiting an authentic Irish pub during your trip to Dublin is one of your main goals, O’Neill’s is it.
Though this gaol (pronounced: jail) is unoccupied now, its history is one of political unrest and turmoil. Some very famous Irish political leaders were imprisoned and executed here, including Padraig Pearse, Joseph Plunkett and Thomas Clarke. There was no separation of men, women and children in this prison and they were held in deplorable conditions quite often – 5 to a cell in some cases. If you’re interested in the political history of Ireland, definitely try to get on a guided tour of Kilmainham Gaol. It’s an extremely popular exhibit so we advise to get there early in the day before all the tours are filled. You cannot book entrance to the Gaol in advance unless you’re with a large group.
Speaking of history, make some room in your schedule to check out the oldest pub in Ireland, The Brazen Head. This famous pub dates back to 1198. I’ll let that sink in. 1198. James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, Daniel O’Connell, and Michael Collins all spent time in The Brazen Head during their respective times. They also host traditional Irish music every night, so while you’re taking in the ambiance of an establishment that’s been around for 9 centuries, you can also enjoy a fantastic meal and a bit of the Irish craic as well.
The Irish House Party is “traditional Irish music and Irish dancing at its very best, performed by All Ireland champion musicians, dancers and entertaining presenters” who engage with the audience as well as perform. Enjoy a fantastic dinner at the Irish House Party Pub and then move into an intimate auditorium setting where you’ll experience the music, dancing and stories that make Ireland such a charming and fascinating country.
I find the City Sightseeing buses to be one of the best ways to get your bearings in any city. Your ticket is valid for 2 consecutive days which means you can really max out the potential on this tour. We suggest taking the tour the entire way through (about an hour and a half) so you can get a feel for the layout, history, and stories of Dublin. Once you have an idea of everything that’s available to you, you can then decide which sites you’d like to explore further later in the day or the next day. Bonus – these buses go to all of the major tourist areas and sites in Dublin. Since you can hop on and off the bus at any stop, it makes a lot more sense to use these buses to get around than taking a cab or the city bus.
If you’re looking for nightlife, Temple Bar’s the place. There’s an actual bar called “Temple Bar,” but for this list we’re referring to the entire area of Temple Bar which includes many of Dublin’s popular pubs, clubs and restaurants. During the day, Temple Bar Area’s known as a cultural center of Dublin. With its old world charm, cobblestone streets and tucked away alleys – you feel like you’re stepping back in time. As soon as the sun sets, though, Temple Bar turns into the hub of Dublin’s “going out” scene. There’s a mix of bars featuring traditional Irish music and house dance music – especially on weekends.
Who doesn’t love Irish whiskey? We recommend getting to the distillery earlier in the day as their guided tours and tastings tend to fill up. (Drinking before noon is totally cool in Ireland. It’s even cool here – I’m not judging.) According to their website, your “journey begins with an audio visual presentation followed by a guided whiskey tour through the recreated distillery scene and culminates in the Jameson Discovery Bar with a complimentary glass of Jameson and mixer plus a chance for selected volunteers to become a ‘Qualified Irish Whiskey Taster.’”
The number one tourist attraction in Ireland had to make it to number one on our list too. With over a million visitors every year, the Guinness Storehouse is more of an experience than a museum tour. You can explore Guinness advertising through the years, see how Guinness is made, and enjoy a complimentary pint in their Gravity Bar located on the 7th floor which offers a 360 degree view of Dublin. There are guided tours and self-guided tours available, but exploring on your own is just as entertaining. The Storehouse is also home to the best beef stew I’ve ever had. Seriously, it’s amazing.
What do you think? On your last Ireland vacation did you go somewhere else in Dublin that you think should’ve made our list? Let us know!
By, Hilary Flanagan