Being Irish I feel I should have more knowledge and experience about what attractions tourists should see when they visit Ireland and Dublin which may or may not be justified. This list of what to do in Dublin I hope justifies that feeling. A lot of Irish people would always put something that any self respecting tourist see’s such as the Book of Kells on the long finger and say ‘sure I’ll do it next month’ and before they know it they are 40years old and still haven’t done any local sightseeing. It is so easy to see that there is no point taking the time out right now in seeing it!
Time to Do: To see all of the sites below takes 2 days, a full weekend.
From my experience of being in and around Dublin for a long time I will try and give my top 5 sightseeing places to that include the ‘essentials of being Irish’!
What to do in Dublin – Trinity College (Book of Kells)
The Book of Kells is Irelands premier historical attraction and rightly so and is located in Ireland’s oldest university, Trinity College. At 421years old right in the heart of Dublin it is a must for visiting tourist. This amazing book of the gospel has been around for 1200 years and is still in pristine condition. It is located in the centre of Trinity in the Old Library (which itself is a tourist attraction and with the Long Room houses the longest single chamber library in the world with 200,000 books) and they turn a new page every day. It is hard to believe that monks painstakingly drew the book on calfskin before the Romans were conquered or 1000years before the America’s were discovered. The book is thought to have started in Scotland in 506AD and was brought to Ireland to escape Viking raids. It also moved around Ireland to escape the Scandinavian rascals and is thought to have been finished around 800AD in Kells, Co.Meath. 300years of work and escape! Trinity College itself is well worth a look around with a pleasant atmosphere and white 18th century sandstone buildings reminding you of the rich history associated with it and with the several Nobel winning writers that studied there.
Open Mon-Sat from 9.30-17:00 and Sunday (May-Sept) 9.30-16.30 and Sunday (Oct-Apr) 12.00-16.30. Price €9 for adults
What to do in Dublin – Croke Park
The 4th biggest stadium in Europe is the home of gaelic games (GAA) with both gaelic football and hurling being played there. Both are amateur sports and are the two biggest sports in Ireland and are played almost exclusively in Ireland. Although played on all continents it is usually by Irish that have moved abroad. For anybody who hasn’t seen either then you are in for a treat as the games are very fast played over 70minutes. Gaelic football is a mix between soccer and rugby as hard as that is to believe and is one of the models of how Ozzie rules (AFL) originated from. Hurling is like ice hockey or lacrosse played on grass but you can handle the ball. It is actually where lacrosse originated from. To an outsider it looks ridiculously dangerous but in reality it isn’t. Check them out on youtube for a better idea.
The main competition is the ‘All-Ireland Championship’ and is played from May to the final in September. There are games all over the country every weekend during this time and there will always be games in Croke Park. There should be no problem getting tickets up as far as August and as the games get more serious from then on so does the scramble for tickets.
There are game on for most of the year so if you want to experience real Ireland you could go to a local club match which would be an experience in commitment from the players and abuse from the sidelines!
Croke Park is located in Drumcondra off Dorset Street north of the city centre. It can be walked from O’Connell Street in 20minutes. If you feel adventurous you can even walk around on the roof.
(If you are looking for the main competitions then in the ‘Fixtures’ go to ‘GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship’ for football and ‘GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship’ for hurling.)
What to do in Dublin – Pubs in Dublin
Well I suppose I couldn’t give my view on Ireland without mentioning the pubs and the drinking could I? Sure aren’t we great craic and even more craic with drink on us! The drinking culture is an attraction in itself!
Before I go on I must point out to any would be tourists that the centre of Temple Bar is a big tourist trap. The pubs are nice and there is traditional music but almost everybody you meet there are foreigners and the pints are more expensive than normal. There are lots of hens and stage from England etc so I would recommend to sample it but not to stay the evening there. There are plenty of other pubs in and around the area that are better, cheaper and nicer.
Some of the pubs around the city that ‘locals’ go to:
- Stags Head: This ancient bar dates back to the 1780’s and is a quintessential Irish Bar. Very central located just off Dame Street through an alleyway on Dame Court.
- Foggy Dew: This cosy bar is perfect for an afternoon pint. Very central only 300mtrs from the front of Trinity College on Dame Street.
- Keheos: This Victorian decorated bar has lots of snugs to settle down in. Just off Grafton Street on South Anne Street.
- Doyles and Bowes Bar: Good place to start and end a night with a pub that converts into a late bar. Where Westmorland and D’Olier Street meet, 50mtrs from the walls of Trinity College. Bowes Bar is just at the back and is a great place for a cosy pint of Guinness.
- Whelans: On Wexford Street and is a bar as well as a live venue and night club. Known for live music and has live acts every weekend and sometimes during the week. Check out who is on at www.whelanslive.com
- Toners: A real old man’s pub but attracts a young crowd. On Baggot Street and serves a great pint of Guinness.
- The Barge: If the weather is fine then a great place to sit by the canal and sup pints. But to do that the weather must be fine! A good pub either way and is a late bar. Situated a little further out of town on the Grand Canal and Charlemont Street.
Wexford and Harcourt Street is where most of the late-er action happens in Dublin with plenty of late bars, night clubs etc going on. With places such as Whelans, the Village, The Palace, Flannery’s, D2, Dicey Reilly’s and Copperface Jacks to choose from.
What to do in Dublin – Phoenix Park
The biggest city park in Europe, the Phoenix Park has history, walks, deer, sport and a zoo to entertain you. It is home to the historical Aras an Uachtarain (The presidents house), the Wellington Monument (the tallest obelisk in Europe at 62mtrs completed in 1861), the Magazine Fort as well as lots of deer which reside permanently in the park and are free to roam wherever they want. There is plenty else to see with flower gardens and tea kiosks aplenty and if you head at weekends you may see football, cricket or polo played on the grounds.
As the park is large, renting a bike is the way to see the most in the shortest time. You can rent bikes in the city centre or when you arrive at the park. See website below.
Dublin bus has many buses that stop on the edge of the park. The closest to the city centre are Bus numbers 25 and 26 from Pearse Street stops at Parkgate Street and bus number 46A stops at the North Circular Road entrance. The Luas rail service goes to Heuston Station from O’Connell Street and from there it is a 5min walk to the Park entrance.
What to do in Dublin – Guinness Storehouse / Jameson Distillery
Guinness: Brewed in St. James Gate since 1759, the black stuff is synonymous with Ireland. So where better to go than to where it started and watch the two part pour yourself. After the sightseeing tour has educated you about how Guinness is made, the history and the crazy ad campaigns you can enjoy a great view of the city from the Gravity Bar on top and pull your own pint.
Open 7days from 9.30am-17.00. Tickets are €16.50 (€14.85 online) and includes a complimentary pint of Guinness. Located on James Gate off James Street. www.guinness-storehouse.com
Jameson: World famous whiskey distillery located in Smithfield in Dublin. Open Mon-Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-6pm. Tours last 1hr and go every 20minutes. www.tours.jamesonwhiskey.com/Home/The-Old-Jameson-Distillery-Dublin.aspx
What to do in Dublin – Other notable exceptions
Literature: Birthplace of James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Becket, William Butler Yeats, Bram Stoker among others it is no wonder Dublin is a UNESCO City of Literature (www.dublincityofliterature.ie). There is plenty to see from a literary point of view from literary pub crawls (www.dublinpubcrawl.com) to statues (north Earl Street) to museums and libraries (Chester Beatty)
History: Dublin is over 1000yrs old so has plenty to offer in historical terms. Dublin Castle and the GPO in the city centre in the heart of the city is well worth a visit to find out how Ireland struggled for so many years to get its independence. Christchurch Cathedral, Kilmahnam Gaol, Georgian Dublin are all sights that should be seen if you have some extra time with Government buildings and the National Library right in the city centre.
Practicalities – About Dublin
€1 = US$1.30
- www.dublinbus.ie has an extensive route around the city the fork out from the city centre. Will always be running but not exactly at the time they tell you.
- www.luas.ie. A very slick light rail system through the streets of Dublin. There are 2 lines (red and green) with one going from west of the city centre through O’Connell Street to West Dublin and the other going from Stephens Green southwards. This service is always on time.
- www.dart.ie (brings you to the irishrail site)The DART is a rail service goes along by the coast from north County Dublin through the city centre at Pearse Street and Tara Street and heads southwards to Greystones in Co. Wicklow with plenty of stops on the way
- www.irishrail.ie: This train service goes from Heuston Station or Connelly Station to the rest of Ireland
- Population: 1.27million
- Reasonably priced double room €55
What to do in Dublin – Map of Dublin
|Book of Kells, Trinity College|
|Stags Head Pub|
Grafton Street, Dublin, Ireland
|Foggy Dew Bar|
Dame Street, Dublin, Ireland