Dublin is a city that oozes a quiet charm and exudes a lot of the fun you expect from the Irish in equal measure and retains its local feel without being too much of an over-commercialised tourism hub. Whether you are a culture vulture or pub-crawler, or there for a long weekend or a whole week, there’s plenty to keep you occupied and give you a taste for further travel in the Emerald Isle. Here’s the top pick of things to do in Dublin from my three-day adventure there:
The Guinness Storehouse
Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of Guinness and have only consumed it as part of a ‘Tia Maria and coke topped with the black stuff’ mix (seriously, it tastes great) – but no trip to Dublin is complete without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse at St.James’ Gate Brewery. It part of the city’s great heritage after all!
With several floors detailing the history of Guinness and it’s founder, Arthur Guinness, the ingredients and brewing process, how to replicate great recipes and examples of the fun advertising through the ages, this is a quirky and interactive exhibition which ends with you being able to pull your own pint and later sip away on an expertly poured one on the seventh floor gravity bar, which has a very cool ceiling! Your celebratory pint is included in the cost of the €14.85 admission price.
The Cobblestone Pub Crawl of Temple Bar
The Irish like to drink, dance and be merry and the Temple Bar area is as much of an institution as some of the city’s major monuments. In fact, it’s a culturally preserved part of Dublin, whose cobble stoned streets and traditional architecture were saved from ruin during the modernisation of the city in the 1960’s.
Not only is it home to old traditional pubs, restaurants and banging nightclubs when the sun goes down, but it also hosts some of Dublin’s top cultural haunts including The Irish Film Institiute, the Irish Stock Exchange and the Central Bank of Ireland. Expect to snap many a photo here – the beautiful backdrop kind and the ones you might not remember!
I love architecture and so Trinity College was a must see for me – it’s Ireland’s oldest University, founded in 1592 and is one of the seven listed ancient universities of Britain and Ireland. Quite simply, this area of the city is stunning – from the old gates and fine buildings to the classic statues and immaculate green landscaping. There’s also a contemporary art gallery and the Samuel Beckett Theatre on site, so be sure to keep an eye out for forthcoming exhibitions and shows around the time of your visit – especially the annual Dublin Fringe Festival, part of which is hosted here.
Dublin Walking Tour
I’m a huge fan of walking tours in my home city of London and Dublin does them just as well – and they are great for seeing the hidden of the city that you may either walk past or not be able to find very easily. Pat Liddy’s Walking Tours depart every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and start on Dublin’s main street, O’Connell Street, and for 45 minutes will take you on a stroll through the city’s iconic extras including the General Post Office, the Henry Street shopping district, St Mary’s Church, the Ha’Penny Bridge and the former Houses of Parliament.
Statue Hunting in Dublin
I had my heart set on finding the Oscar Wilde Statue in Merrion Square Park, being a huge fan of his work, and in Dublin you will come across a LOT of statues, some historical and some controversial. So much so that I heard over the years a few have been removed!
Still, they are a quirky addition to the cityscape and what I love most about them is that many have humorous and somewhat rude nicknames. Take the well-known fishmonger, Molly Malone, whose cart-wheeling statue in Grafton Street has been given the name “The Tart with the Cart” or “The Trollop with the Scallop”. Look out for the two ladies sitting on a bench on the Ha’penny Bridge, known as “The Hags with the Bags” and the James Joyce statue, yielding a walking cane and thus given the title “The Prick with the Stick.” You’ve got to love the Irish sense of humour and it’s a great conversation starter with the locals. Who knows what other hilarious names you might learn!
For a leisurely stroll or a picnic in the sunshine (depending on what time of year you go, of course) head to St Stephen’s Green – a lush public park near to the well known Grafton Street and the St Stephen’s shopping centre. It’s the largest park in the city, perfectly landscaped and full of flowery colour and twinkling lakes. If you look at an ariel view image, it almost looks like a mini Central Park – perfect for escaping the city’s crowds.
History buffs can get their geek on at Dublin Castle, which was the seat of British rule in Ireland until 1922, and was then used as a royal residence, a meeting places for parliament and law courts, as well as a military station to name a few. It’s now used for official State visits and official government meetings and international engagements. Expect opulent drawing rooms, throne rooms and grand corridors. Or schedule your visit to coincide with a music or theatre events taking place here (updated on the official website).
With luscious landscapes, history and old architecture, a land of brewery culture, statues with funny names, and an area dedicated to a perfect night of bar crawling on the preserved cobbled stoned streets, Dublin’s mixture of culture and modernity, calm and Irish charm, makes for a great and varied city break.