Best Things To Do in Dublin
Dublin is one of the most walkable cities in Europe. Start in the north at Phoenix Park and head south to the River Liffey, cross the famous Ha'Penny Bridge and find your way to the medieval streets of Temple Bar. Pause for a pint before heading to the Trinity College campus. Shop along nearby Grafton Street before jaunting on to the peaceful St. Stephen's Green. From there, literary fiends can drop by the Writers Museum or the James Joyce Centre while visitors that enjoy a drop of the good stuff can tour the Guinness Storehouse or the Jameson Distillery Bow St.
Updated May 29, 2018
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Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, Trinity College is Ireland's oldest and most notable college. Among its alumni are such renowned writers as Jonathan Swift and Oscar Wilde. Today, visitors from around the world come to explore the college's verdant campus and towering Gothic-style halls.
But the real reason to visit is to take a gander inside the Old Library. These hallowed halls house an amazing collection of literature. Of all the books at the Old Library, the most famous and priceless one is the "Book of Kells." This illustrated version of the gospels was created around A.D. 800 by Celtic monks. The manuscripts' pages come to life with vibrantly hued depictions of Christ and his followers, bordered by intricate Celtic knots and other designs. Whether or not you're religious, previous visitors agreed that seeing the "Book of Kells" in person is truly a sacred experience. Although some visitors complained of crowds in the library, most agreed the "Book of Kells" is a must-see.
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St. Patrick's Cathedral is the largest cathedral in Dublin and the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland. Built on the site where St. Patrick is said to have baptized converts some 600 years earlier, this massive cathedral was erected between 1220 and 1259 with major restorations beginning in the 1860s. It remains one of the few buildings still standing from medieval Dublin.
Today, this is one of the most renowned and beloved churches in the world, hosting about 500,000 visitors annually. While you're here, make sure to spend plenty of time admiring the towering vaulted ceilings and the delicate details that accompany the Gothic style. Another must-see here is the tomb of famous author Jonathan Swift, author of "Gulliver's Travels."
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Widely known as one of the mote notable museums in Europe, the Chester Beatty Library is often overlooked by tourists. The library is home to an extensive collection of rare books, manuscripts and drawings dating back to 2700 B.C. The museum includes religious and artistic collections from across Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.
The library's namesake comes from the American mining millionaire and collector, Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, who donated his immense collection to Ireland when he passed in 1968. Works include Babylonian clay tablets, the Biblical Papyri and 260 different manuscripts of the Quran.
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This beautiful park (known for remaining green throughout the year) is a great place to spend a day outside without leaving central Dublin. It's been enjoyed by locals and visitors since 1880 when Arthur Edward Guinness re-opened it as a public park after it served as a private community for the wealthier residents of Dublin for more than century.
These days, the park is maintained by the Office of Public Works and includes a playground and garden for the visually impaired. The green space is also home to several monuments dedicated to some of Ireland's most important figures, including James Joyce and Arthur Edward Guinness. Past visitors appreciated the peaceful grounds and described it as a great place to relax in the middle of the city. Reviewers also praised the park's cleanliness and recommended future visitors pack a picnic to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere.
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When the hustle and bustle of the city gets to be too much, seek refuge in Phoenix Park, the largest enclosed public park in any European capital city. Spanning 3 miles (and encompassing more than 1,700 acres), Phoenix Park features plenty of lush green lawns, shady wooded areas and cool, clean lakes. The park once upon a time was the royal hunting park (in the 1600s) and opened to the public in 1747. To this day, visitors can encounter fallow deer.
Travelers can start out at the park's Visitor Centre & Ashtown Castle to learn about the history of the park and tour the medieval tower that dates back to the 17th century. The park is also home the 78-acre Edwardian estate, the Farmleigh house, which still acts as a working farm as well as a Victorian walled kitchen garden. Recent visitors called the park beautiful, clean and peaceful.
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This interactive museum details 1,500 years of Irish history, with stories of the 100 million people who left Ireland, how and where they lived, and their impact on the rest of the world. State-of-the-art interactive exhibits feature touch screens, motion sensor quizzes and audio and video recordings, which bring Irish history to life. Everything from Irish music and dance to Irish literature to touching letters home, reveal the Irish emigrant experience from multiple points of view.
Recent visitors called the museum highly educational and informative and said it's a must-see for anyone of Irish descent.
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According to many, this gaol, or jail, gives its visitors one of the most unique looks into the darker side Irish history. Occupied from 1796 to the 1920s, the prison housed many famous figures in the fight for Irish independence, including Thomas Francis Meagher and James Connolly, and was also the site for more sinister executions and hangings. Additionally, the prison acted as a transportation point for approximately 4,000 prisoners to the convict colony of Australia in the early 19th century. The gaol was known for the harsh treatment of its inhabitants, with no segregation by gender until 1881 when it became an all-male prison and overcrowding forced staff to place up to five inmates in cells designed for one.
Now a preserved museum, Kilmainham Gaol is very popular among visitors – many reported having to wait for the guided tour. Visitors suggested getting there early to ensure entry or booking an online timed ticket, but even those who had to wait said it was well worth it thanks to the knowledgeable, passionate guides. While you're waiting to tour the prison, check out the museum exhibit describing the history of the prison and its preservation or grab a quick snack at the on-site cafe.
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If you're an art lover, make sure to save some time for this extensive (and free!) museum, which has housed Ireland's national art collection since 1854. Here you'll find numerous works by such renowned artists as Caravaggio, Vincent van Gogh and the French impressionists. But the main attractions are works from some of Ireland's masters, with an impressive collection of works by notable residents as William Leech, Roderic O'Conor and Jack B. Yeats. The National Gallery also hosts notable traveling exhibitions as well as concerts and lectures.
Recent visitors called the museum outstanding and well worth a visit. If you're a fan of the arts, previous travelers recommended you set aside several hours to tour the museum. You'll also want to grab a map at the entrance as its collections are spread out, according to reviewers.
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Right in the heart of the city, the site of the Dublin Castle has played a part in Ireland's history since the land was used by Vikings to build a fortress in A.D. 930. Parts of the castle were built and torn down through the ages, but the oldest remaining structure, the Record Tower, dates back to the 13th century.
In addition to having been a stronghold against foreign attacks on the city, the castle and its grounds have also been home to a prison, an office of record, a water station, a seat of parliament, a royal court for entertainment and a military residence – all before 1850. The castle grounds were also the site where the Easter Rebellion of 1916 began, and after five years of fighting, where the treaty that granted Irish independence was signed. Many previous visitors recommended taking the guided tour, which they say is more extensive and informative that the self-guided tour.
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Did you know that in Irish, whiskey is called uisce beatha and literally translates to "the water of life"? Chronicling the history of the Jameson family and the "water" they're known for, the Jameson Distillery no longer makes the hard stuff (that's done elsewhere) though it does offer tours that provide insight on just how to do it. Whiskey drinkers hail the 40-minute guided tour (and the included tastings) as informative and fun, with energetic guides and a beautiful refurbished facility.
Whether you're a fan of whiskey or not, learning about the history is sure to entertain anyone. Even non-drinkers say they enjoyed the informative tour. Like learning that the founder of the most famous Irish whiskey, John Jameson, was actually a Scotsman. Or that the Latin on the bottle's label, Sine Metu, means "without fear."
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Like the Jameson Distillery, the Guinness Storehouse is no longer a functioning brewery, but it will give you an insider's view into the history and process behind the storied stout. Take the self-guided tour through the former brewery's seven floors to learn about the history of the one-of-a-kind beer, from the ingredients used in the brewing process to the iconic advertisements seen around the world. At the top, you'll be treated to a complimentary pint and city views from its rooftop Gravity Bar.
The best part of the tour for some visitors? The complimentary pint at the end along with the rooftop views. Even non-beer drinkers enjoyed the storehouse for its interactive and multimedia exhibits, but noted that during peak times they can be crowded. Other comment that tickets are a bit pricey. To save some coin (and skip the line), pre-purchase your tickets online in advance.
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When you need a break from all the museums and historical sites, head to Grafton Street. This pedestrian street – which runs from Trinity College to St. Stephen's Green – is Dublin's premier shopping district. Here, you'll find everything from familiar brands to more unique items like quirky shoes and used books. There are also two shopping centers in the area, the Stephen's Green Shopping Centre and the upscale Powerscourt Centre. So, if you're looking for a place to exercise your credit card, this would be it.
Along with the interesting shops, recent visitors praised the people-watching along Grafton Street, as well as the performers. Many called it a great "Dublin landmark" worth a stroll for the atmosphere alone.
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Often compared to Bourbon Street in New Orleans, this neighborhood is Dublin's famous party hub. During the day, this district thrives on artistic vision, featuring numerous independent galleries and performance art venues. At night, dozens of pubs open their doors to those looking to share a pint of Guinness and click their heels to spirited Irish music.
Many visitors say the district has become more of a tourist trap than an authentic representation of Dublin's pub culture, but while in Dublin it is a sight one must see. Pull up a chair, order a (overpriced) pint and enjoy the music.
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Although the Abbey Theatre looks quite contemporary, even swanky with its glass front and the theater name bathed in blue light, the performance venue has turn-of-the-century origins. Famed poet, W.B. Yeats, along with another Irish writer, Lady Augusta Gregory, opened the national theater in 1904. It's since been rebuilt and now features 628 seats and a continuous playbill of Ireland's most promising playwrights.
Visitors raved about the venue, describing it as the premier place to see quality theater in Dublin, adding that performances never disappoint. Many recommend taking the 90-minute backstage tour, which includes an up-close look at the theater's current production, as well as its portrait collection. Reviewers described the tour guides as friendly, informative and funny, and said the tour enriched their theater experience. Ticket prices vary by show, as do hours. Tours, which are scheduled to coincide with the running dates of performances, cost 12 euros (about $14). Located north of the Liffey on Lower Abbey Street, you can find performance information on the theater's website.
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