We had such an amazing time in Dublin. I love the capital city of Ireland. It is a vibrant, lively city full of history, great shops, top restaurants, and some of the friendliest people that you will meet anywhere in the world. We had so much fun exploring that we needed to add one more day onto our visit. Below in no particular order of what I loved, are my recommendations on how to spend your time when visiting Dublin, Ireland.
Top Things to Do and See in Dublin, Ireland
The Dublin Castle
This is a must see. Be sure to sign up for the walking tour so that you can go below and see one of the corner bases to the original castle. Water still bubbles up a bit where the moat once was. The castle, rebuilt in the style of a palace, is a working institution. During the tour you will visit the rooms where the presidential inaugurations take place. Beautiful and majestic rooms filled with history! Also walk through the gardens and be sure to stop in the Chester Beatty Museum.
The Chester Beatty Library and Museum
The Chester Beatty Museum was a real find. I had not heard of this museum until we were taking the tour through the castle, and our tour guide was proclaiming its virtues. This museum holds books and artifacts from the great cultures and religions from around the world. There are papyrus pages of the Old Testament among other rather old artifacts. Surprisingly, admission is free! They do ask for donations, but there is no entrance fee. There is a restaurant on the premise, which was good for us, as we ended up spending a lot more time than expected on the grounds of the castle, and we suddenly found ourselves very hungry. We shared a great Greek salad, stuffed grape leaves, and baklava. Delicious!
As a Chihuly fan I was pleasantly surprised to find an exhibition of the Ulysses Cylinders by Dale Chihuly and Seaver Leslie at the Coach House, Dublin Castle. The collection includes watercolors by Leslie and glass cylinders by Chihuly based on James Joyce’s Ulysses.
In short, there is much to do and see on the grounds of the Dubin Castle. This is a must-do when you are in Dublin. And the Coach House is free, too!
Christ Church, Dublin
This is an impressive church. We had a prior commitment so we could not stay here as long as we would have liked – there is much to look at and take in.
It was a wonderful surprise to happen upon a choir practicing for an afternoon concert. So while walking around and looking at the paintings and sculptures we had this beautiful choir singing a mix of church, Broadway, and Disney songs.
The church has a basement with even more artifacts to enjoy. It is dark and damp below with the feeling as though you are walking through a crypt. Actually, I think it is a crypt. Down below they serve tea and pastries. It is a rather dark place for a spot of tea if you ask me. And right across from the tea table you see on display a mummified cat and rat. Supposedly they got caught in the organ.
It’s a must to walk through the temple bar district and stop in for a pint and some traditional Irish music. Our favorite pub in Temple Bar was the Oliver St. John Gogarty. We loved the music, the décor, the fish and chips, and the beer. Guinness for Gavin and Smithwick’s for me.
St. Stephens Green
This is a large city park in the center of Dublin. Enjoy a walk through the park and find a bench to sit upon for some people watching. The park is filled with people of all kinds; some meandering, some jogging, others briskly walking through on cell phones in business attire, while mums are pushing strollers, and others are walking hand-in-hand. Strolling through the park you will find blooming flowers, statues, fountains, a playground, and a large pond filled with ducks and swans.
We picked up picnic supplies at Sheridan’s Cheesmongers. If you love cheese like I do, do not miss this shop with its large selection of Irish cheese. The shop is at 11 Anne Street – right off Grafton. Shop for cheese, bread, meats, and olives; enjoy a tasty relaxing picnic in the park.
High Tea at the Westbury Hotel
When I think of high tea, I think of England, not Ireland. But I must say that high tea at the Westbury was a delicious and relaxing way to spend a couple of hours. So if you are feeling a bit jet lagged like we were – this is a perfect spot to sit, relax, and recharge. The service was impeccable! The food out-of this-world yummy, and the window view has you looking down on the city streets. We loved this experience!
Trinity College and the Book of Kells
I will say that this was first and foremost on my must-see list. And I am glad that we did. I love reading, I love books, and walking through the library was a book lover’s dream. The Book of Kells is an important piece of art and literature. But as a book, it is opened to one page and many, many people are huddling around the glass case vying for a look. If time is limited, head over to the Chester Beatty Museum – so much more to see! And the Chester Beatty if free.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
This is another beautiful church to walk through. It is just a short walk from Christ Church Cathedral, and like Christ Church this is a Church of Ireland cathedral.
Brazen Head Pub
This pub is officially the oldest pub in all of Ireland dating back to 1198! It is a wonderful pub with different rooms – some inside and even an outside courtyard. The have live music every night. The place was full, but after a bit we were able to find a place to sit and enjoy our pints while listening to the music. Lots of chatter and laughing in this pub.
For any beer lover, this is a must. The tour is self-guiding and you travel through many floors of the Guinness storehouse. The tour ends with a lesson in pouring your own pint. You then take your beer to the 7th floor to sip and enjoy as you look out over spectacular views of the city.
We did not take the tour – you must reserve a spot ahead of time as they fill up! But we did stop in and Gavin enjoyed his own whisky tasting while I relished my Irish coffee. In addition to tours, Jameson also offers a show called the Barrelman’s Feast. The show includes dinner, a signature drink, and live music and Irish dance. We did not attend this as we had tickets to Gaity Theater to see Riverdance (which we loved), but if Riverdance was not playing, we would have headed to the Barrelman’s Feast. Like the Jameson tour, buy tickets ahead – they sell out.
The Laurels Perrystown
This is a pub in a residential are of Dublin and is filled with locals. We headed over to the Laurels because a friend of ours’ cousin owns the establishment. So we hopped in a cab and headed on over. We really did not know what to expect, but what we found was a lively large pub filled with locals. The food was delicious, the beer perfect, and TV screens showing sporting events filled the walls.
The Literary Pub Crawl
A fun way to hear a bit of Ireland’s literary history and enjoy a pint or two. The tour guides are very knowledgable and with a bit of theatrics they share the works of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and more. This is a very fun mix of history, literature, culture and drinking.
Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tours
Whenever I visit a large city for the first time as a tourist, I enjoy the hop-on hop-off bus tours. This gives you a great layout of the city and fills you in on some important knowledge. I find this to be very helpful, especially when I am jet-lagged and low on energy. The tour is helpful in giving me the information that I need to plan the remainder of the trip. Plus, it covers ground that I would not otherwise see.
The Dublin bus drove us through Phoenix Park. Phoenix Park, a large walled city park includes manicured garden, tree-lined streets, and open grasslands. It is also home to the Dublin Zoo, the the United States ambassador’s official residence, and Áras an Uachtaráin the residence of the Irish president. Surprisingly the two residences are next door to each other.
Shopping (or just walking) Grafton Street
Grafton Street is an avenue full of shops – high end to tourist kitsch. You will also find coffee shops, restaurants, and pubs. So much to see! Enjoy wandering and browsing in and out of the shops. Walk the city and enjoy all the sights and sounds that surround you…