The date is 17th March, which can only mean one thing…Happy St Patrick’s Day! ☘☘☘
I thought for this post I would get into the Irish spirit and re-live my trips to my favourite city, Dublin, and offer my top 10 things to do when visiting
Dublin: The fair city, has to be one of the best cities to visit, any time of the year. I visited three times in one year; twice with friends and once with family. All three trips were amazing, and although I did some of the same things on each trip, I still enjoyed them.
So, a bit about Dublin; it is the largest city and capital of Ireland, and has a rich history. It was once home to a Viking past, with the museum Dublinia showcasing this Medieval time of Dublin’s History. Dublin is home to medieval castles, and churches, as well as beautiful Georgian architecture which all reflect the city’s history. The name Dublin also apparently translates to “Black Pool” and comes from the Gaelic dubh linn. It was named this from where the River Liffey and Poddle Stream met, forming a deep pool at Dublin Castle.
In more recent history, Ireland went through a war of independence, with Dublin being at the centre of this revolution. Some buildings were damaged in this fight with The General Post Office demolished and bullet holes can still be seen in the Daniel O’Connell Statue.
10 things to do in Dublin:
Now that you have a bit of background history on Dublin here are my top 10 things to do when visiting the fabulous city. Some of these activities are free too!
1. Free Walking Tour
On both my first and third trip, one of the first things we did was take the free walking tour. This is a great way to get your bearings and have a good nosey around the city, as well as learning about of history. The best bit is; its free! There is the optional donation that can be given at the end of the tour if you enjoyed.
There are two walking tours that you can do; the South tour and the North tour, both starting from the Spire (big needle) on O’Connell street. We took the South tour on both of my trips, which started at 11 a.m. which is really handy if you have grabbed an early flight over.
On this tour you get to see; Trinity College, Temple Bar, Dublin Castle, Christchurch Cathedral and St Patrick’s Cathedral. The tour lasts a few hours and is a must do, especially if the weather is fine and dry. It’s not so appealing when the weather is wet, but it is whatever your preference is.
The North tour focuses on the political history, including the Easter rising of 1916, and leaves the Spire at 3 p.m. On this one you get to visit; Garden of Remembrance, Moore Street Market, Spire of Dublin, Custom House, and The General Post Office, including The 1916 Rising. I really wanted to do this walk on all the trips I did but found that there was so much to do that I couldn’t fit it in. I know I will definitely be attempting this one the next time I visit.
On the tour, the guides also give a little sales pitch on some of the paid tours you can do, with one being a Dublin pub crawl for €20. This one was so tempting, but again it is one for the next trip. The guides take you around the less ‘touristy’ areas of Dublin to visit real Irish pubs, where you get to taste craft beers, whiskey and Guinness as well as listening to traditional Irish music, all of which are included in the €20. There is also the option of having some proper Irish grub too, but this is not included in the price.
2. Guinness Storehouse
Now, I have done the Guinness Storehouse three times, and it has to be one of the most expensive pints of Guinness you will ever buy, but it is definitely worth it for the view you get from the Gravity Bar. This is one of Ireland’s biggest and most popular tourist attractions and takes you through the history of Guinness. Online the ticket price is €17.50, and I think it may cost a little more if you buy the tickets on the door, but I can’t quite remember how much this was. You can also get deals when purchasing tickets for the hop on -hop off bus tour.
So, you get to take your own tour around the factory, learning about the history, having a tasting experience, pulling your own perfect pint and having a free pint of Guinness at the end in the Gravity Bar. It should be noted that if you choose to pull your own pint that this counts as your free pint, and you would have to purchase another in the Gravity bar if you wanted. You can also claim a free soft drink if you are not into Guinness or are underage. I keep mentioning the Gravity bar, but I would so recommend visiting this bit as the views across Dublin are stunning, and you can also see the beach/sea areas of Dublin.
3. Irish Whiskey Museum
Keeping with the booze theme (there might be a few more boozy things to do on this list!), The Irish Whiskey Museum is the place to visit. I absolutely loved it here, and actually discovered that I am slightly partial to a bit of good Irish whiskey. This place differs from The Jamieson’s Distillery as they offer tastings of other Irish Whiskey which may be a bit less known to Jamieson’s. For every visit, I upgraded to the ‘VIP’ tour which gets you an extra whiskey to taste, as well as a glass to take away. This cost about €20 as opposed to the standard, which is roughly €3 cheaper than the VIP ticket.
Before any whiskey tasting can commence you are taken on an interactive history of Irish whiskey tour, which the guides really make come to life. If you have visited the Guinness Storehouse, you will see similarities in the screens/videos playing. All staff here are fab, and you can tell that they have a passion for whiskey which comes through in their knowledge. All in all a good fun afternoon, where you might feel slightly tipsy afterwards.
You can also grab a really good Irish coffee in the small cafe area, expertly made by the staff there. Definitely, a must try!
4. Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship
Again, I have visited this twice and is another one for the history lovers out there. The Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship is an authentic replica of the real-life ship that you can tour around. It tells the story of the Irish famine, and how families escaped this by travelling from Ireland over to America on the ship. Did you know that during the famine tonnes of food was being exported to over places rather than feeding the starving? This is some of the histories you learn whilst on the tour.
We had the same guide on both visits, and he was extremely knowledgeable about all things to do with the history of the ship, as well as bringing the stories to life. Just a word of warning, if you don’t like mannequins/wax figures this may not be the tour for you, as there are quite a few dotted around the ship.
Each tour last about 50 minutes and run on the hour, every hour between 10 a.m and 4 p.m., and costs approximately €10.
5. Statues and Memorials
There are quite a few memorials and statues that can be found around the city of Dublin. I guess one of the most famous would be the statue of Molly Malone. You know the one:
“In Dublin’s fair city
Where the girls are so pretty
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheeled her wheelbarrow
Through the streets broad and narrow
Crying “cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh”
Located on Suffolk Street, a turning off of Grafton street and sort of located behind the Irish Whiskey Museum (in terms of streets/roads).
There’s also the famine memorial, which is close to the Jeanie Johnston, and various ones located around the many parks. You can find the Oscar Wilde monument in Merrion Square Park, The O’Connell Monument and the Sir John Gray Statue just off O’Connell Street. So many to mention! See how many you can find during your visit!
Dublin has an abundance of parks, some big and some small, all worth checking out! One of the best ones to have a walk around is St Stephen’s Green, located near Grafton Street. There are 22 acres of park to explore, with a lovely lake and ornamental gazebo near to the north of the park. It is a great spot to have a picnic.
Nearby is Merrion Square is another one of Dublin’s Georgian squares which is great to visit. This is where the Oscar Wilde statue can be found. On the opposite side to St Stephen’s Green, as you walk down Harcourt Street, there is Iveagh Gardens, which has a lovely waterfall situated inside of it. It is also quite hidden between streets of buildings and can be classed as one of Dublin’s hidden gems.
7. Temple Bar
Deviating back to the booze theme, if you visit Dublin, there is definitely one area you should frequent, if only once. That is Temple Bar! I know, I know, it is such a tourist trap, and beer prices are sky high, but the atmosphere is brilliant. I also know that you can find great live music all over Dublin in the various little pubs but Temple Bar does offer some great live music. This area was once destined to be a new bus terminus, however, this was scrapped in favour of improving the area to become Dublin’s cultural quarter. There are quite a few different pubs to wet your appetite along Temple Bar, with most offering somewhere to eat also.
If you want to step away from this area, one of my favourite pubs to visit (and spend hours in listening to live music) is O’Donoghue’s. I love this place, even though it is quite dark and the toilets are not the best, I love the atmosphere and the live music. Did you know The Dubliner’s made a name for themselves performing here in the 60’s?
8. GhostBus tour
Okay, so this one is a bit different, but is a fab evening experience, especially if you like to be spooked. The Ghostbus Tour takes you around a few places in Dublin that are supposed to have a spooky past, so you get a little bit of history too. Be prepared to jump and scream as the guides are really good at putting on a show and trying to get you involved in the various activities.
The tour is on a converted double-decker bus, and it takes you around various sites, including a hidden graveyard in the city, and now into the medieval vault so Dublin Castle. I think when I did the tour we went to the crypt area of Christ Church Cathedral, and who was the unlucky one to keep getting picked on…me! It was so much fun though!
9. Kilmainham Gaol
Who doesn’t love an abandoned old jail? Kilmainham Gaol is both eerie and fascinating at the same time. The jail has a vast history, and during the revolution was home to many political prisoners. As you tour around the jail, you get to learn a bit about this history, and actually, see inside some of the cells where they were housed.
Recently they have restored several areas of the jail where you can now visit, unfortunately when I visited there was one part of the jail that was inaccessible, so I guess I will just have to visit again! (Any excuse!)
10. Grafton Street
Do you like shopping? Grafton Street is definitely for you. I loved walking down here, and it really reminded me of walking down Briggate in Leeds. There are a lot of higher end shops along here, as well as a few places to grab a drink and snack. You can also find a variety of buskers and artists along the way as you make your way down the street. At the top of Grafton Street, there is St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, which is definitely worth a look in, if only for the beautiful architecture.
(I couldn’t find my pictures of the shopping part, so thought I would show the architecture of Ha’penny Bridge)
So, there you have my list of things to do when visiting Dublin. Are there things on the list that you have done? Or are there things you think should be on the list of things to do? Let me know in the comments below.
I’m now going to look at my next trip to Dublin!
Thanks for reading,