Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland, is home to some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. I have been lucky enough to visit Dublin twice now and it doesn’t disappoint – although it does rain a bit.
Dublin is situated on the east coast of the island of Ireland and was established as a settlement as far back as 140AD, with several different rulers over the centuries from the Vikings to the British. It gained independence in 1921 in the Anglo-Irish war.
Public transport around Dublin isn’t always necessary if you are staying in the centre, as everything is in walking distance, however Dublin does offer trains, trams and buses across the entire city. For tourists I recommend the trams as they stop frequently throughout the city centre and are quick. Tickets can be purchased at every stop and begin at €2.10 (2019).
One of the key stereotypes of the Irish is that they love a good drink and to have a great time. This may be true, but many of their bars do generally close around midnight so don’t expect to be out until the sun rises. However, there are still several places to have some local brew.
Temple Bar has been open as a bar since 1840 but has a rich history dating as far back as the 14th century. This bar is generally very busy and loud with live music and people singing along. It is a great place to grab a pint and enjoy the social Dublin atmosphere.
There are several other bars in the area, a unique one that you should check out is The Church. This is a church that has been converted into a restaurant/bar/cafe for a place to chill.
For those who like to learn a bit more about their whisky, you can visit the Old Jameson Distillery on Bow St., which was the site of the 1780 distillery up until 1971, when it became a visitor centre for these tours.
You can tour the distillery and learn the whiskey distilling process, as well as enjoying a tasting session. There is a gift shop at the end for you to pick up some goodies for your family and friends.
The most iconic alcohol-related place in Dublin to visit is the Guinness Storehouse. It has been open for tourists to explore since 2000, however, Guinness has been made in the same distillery since 1759.
It costs €18.50 online and up to €25 if you purchase your tickets at the door. It is a self-guided tour that goes through several levels of the distillery and the history of the Guinness brand.
It is kid-friendly and you do get a free pint of Guinness (kids get a soft drink instead).
You have two chances to get your free pint. The first choice is at the ‘pour it yourself’ station. You are taught how to pour a pint of Guinness – which is very different compared to other beers (or other dark Stouts, to be specific). Or you can enjoy your free pint at the 360 bar, which gives amazing views of the city along the Liffey River and Dublin Bay.
They say Guinness tastes better in Dublin, and they’re right! Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of Guinness I still recommend giving it a try as you do taste the difference.
On your walk through the streets of Dublin you will come across the Spire of Dublin, also known as the Monument of Light. At 120 meters high, this monument was created in 2003 and was part of the redesign in the new millennium.
With the Liffey River winding through the city you do need to cross the river going between bars, sites, and your walk around town. The most famous pedestrian bridge in the city is the Ha’Penny Bridge. It opened in 1816, and before this bridge and the city’s oldest bridge, Mellow’s Bridge, were constructed, there were ferry services to cross the river.
The Ha’Penny Bridge had a toll for pedestrians to cross it for its first 100 years, which was one and a half pence to match that of the ferry service. This toll stopped in 1919.
Grafton and Henry Street are the two main shopping streets in the city. Grafton Street was voted the fifth most expensive street to shop in the world back in 2008, but if you have some time and want to get some gifts (as there are many souvenir shops along here too) then here is the place. During the more festive time of the year they do a light display along these streets.
It wouldn’t be Ireland without stopping at some religious sites. Ireland is known for being a deeply religious country, although it has been very socially forward thinking in recent years.
Your first main stop is the Christ Church Cathedral.
It was first founded around 1028 and has your standard Gothic/Romanesque architecture inside and out, and is very beautiful to walk around and see.
St Patrick’s Cathedral was founded in 1191 and is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. Tickets costing €6.50 give you an opportunity to explore the Gothic Cathedral.
If you are in Dublin in summer, or if you are lucky for it to be a “warm” day, (please remember for Irish standards and don’t compare it to somewhere in the Mediterranean!) you can enjoy Phoenix Park. This large park out west of the city has lakes, a zoo, the American Ambassador’s office, and many paths for you wander during a relaxing day out. If you are lucky enough, you may even bump into some local deer that have been wild within the park since the 17th century.
Kilmainham Gaol will certainly add a bit of history to your visit. The now non-functional gaol serves as a symbol of nationalism from the events of the rebellion of 1798 to the Irish Civil War in 1919. A guided tour of the Gaol costs €8.00 and will go through the site itself and give you details on the types of prisoners that were held there. The tour will also go into the history of the Irish Civil War and the Rebellion and some of the major Irish figures who were brought here and guarded by the British, such as the leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916, who were also executed within the gaol. Kilmainham Gaol was decommissioned in 1924.
A lot of people when visiting Dublin see Trinity College. It is part of the Republic of Ireland’s number one ranked University (University of Dublin), was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth, and modelled after Oxford and Cambridge. You can walk around and enjoy the architecture.
The Book of Kells (also known as the Book of Columba) is found in the library here. It is an illustrated Gospel written in Latin, and is believed to have been created in 800AD. It will cost you €13.00 and while I personally have never seen it, many friends have told me how annoying tourists are whilst they are studying in the library, so it is clearly very popular!
Your final stop (or wherever you decide to see it in your day) is Dublin Castle. Built in 1204 it was the seat of the British Government’s administration in Ireland until 1922.
Walking around the grounds of the castle is free, however if you’d like a guided tour to learn more about its history and the history of the political and ruling figures of the region over time it will cost you €12.00. It is certainly an important site in Dublin worth visiting.
There you have it, Dublin. A city that has a mix of history and a great place to socialise with friends or make some new ones. Dublin is also a great city to act as a hub point if you wanted to see some of the beautiful wonders that Ireland has to offer.