Dublin City - Lots to Love
By Jayne Leonard
14 May 2015
Dublin - Ireland's capital - is a vibrant and welcoming city, bursting with history, culture, family activities and an eclectic mix of pubs, cafes and restaurants. Named as one of the World’s Friendliest Cities by Conde Nast Traveller, it’s a must-visit on your trip to Ireland.
If you Like CULTURE, you’ll Love:
- The National Museum of Ireland - home to the greatest collection of Irish heritage, culture and natural history materials in the world. With three different Dublin locations, each focussing on a different topic, visitors can learn about Ireland’s Archaeology (Kildare Street); Decorative Arts & History (Benburb Street); and Natural History (Merrion Street).
- The National Gallery of Ireland - located Merrion Square in the heart of Dublin, it holds our largest collection of European and Irish fine art - with over 15,000 works dating from the 13th to 20th centuries. Enjoy exhibitions, events, and the gallery’s conservation works.
- The Chester Beatty Library - housed in Dublin Castle, it has been described by Lonely Planet as not just the best museum in Ireland, but one of the best in Europe! It's the only museum in Ireland to win 'European Museum of the Year' and holds collections from Asia, the Middle East, North Africa & Europe with manuscripts, prints, drawings, rare books and decorative arts.
If you Like HISTORY, you’ll Love:
- Guinness Storehouse, St James's Gate - Ireland's number one visitor attraction brings visitors on a magical journey into the heart of the Guinness brand. Learn how each pint is made, sample the Black Stuff and enjoy panoramic 360 views of Dublin City from the rooftop bar.
- Trinity College Old Library & Book of Kells Exhibition, College Street - one of Ireland’s top attractions and Ireland’s oldest university. Famous for its graduates Swift, Wilde and Beckett, its Library houses the Book of Kells - the world-famous 9th-century gospel manuscript.
- Saint Patrick's Cathedral Dublin, Saint Patrick's Close - a medieval gothic place of worship that has been at the core of Irish life and history for over 800 years. Approximately 700 people are buried here, including Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels; and the first Earl of Cork.
- Dublin's City Hall on Dame Street - a prime example of the Georgian architecture for which Dublin is world-famous. Enjoy the multi-media exhibition which tells the story of Ireland’s capital city, from the arrival of the Vikings to the present day; and see treasures such as the Great City Sword and Mace, medieval manuscripts and period costumes.
- Malahide Castle and Gardens, Co. Dublin - a stunning 12th century castle, fully furnished with beautiful period furniture and an extensive collection of Irish portrait paintings from the National Gallery of Ireland. The 4 acre walled garden, home to some of the rarest plants, is a 'must' for any gardening enthusiast.
If you Like FAMILY DAYS OUT, you’ll Love:
- Dublinia in Christchurch, Dublin 8 - combining fun & education, this is an exciting interactive attraction, showing visitors what Dublin city was like in times past through three experiences: 'Viking Dublin', 'Medieval Dublin' and ‘History Hunters’. Board a Viking Warship and try on their clothes; play medieval games and learn of warfare, crime and punishment; and see genuine Viking and medieval artefacts and explore the city’s earliest maps. Kids love it!
- Hopping aboard a Dublin Bay Cruise departing from Sir John Rogerson’s Quay (with one of 5 cruises to choose from) to catch a glimpse of some wildlife and famous city landmarks from a new perspective; or discovering Dublin from both land and water on a World War II amphibious vehicle with Viking Splash Cruises.
- A behind-the-scenes tour of one of Dublin’s stadiums and a chance to follow in the footsteps of your sporting heroes. Visit the birthplace of Irish Rugby at Aviva Stadium in Ballsbridge; while hurling and Gaelic Football fans should head to Croke Park & the GAA Museum, Jones’ Road. Both tours bring you to areas which are normally off-limits and showcase impressive sporting memorabilia - the ultimate fan experience.
If you Like THE GREAT OUTDOORS, you’ll Love:
- Phoenix Park, one of the largest city parks in Europe and home to Áras an Uachtaráin (the residence of the Irish President), Dublin Zoo, the People's Gardens, the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, wild fallow deer, squirrels and more.
- The New Dublin Free Walking Tour, a free 3 hour tour revealing 2,000 years of fascinating history covering Dublin’s Medieval Walls, Viking remains, St. Stephen’s Green, the 1916 Easter Rising, U2 and lots more!
If you Like TO SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP, you’ll Love:
- The buzzing Grafton Street, lined with beautiful historic buildings housing Irish stores like Brown Thomas and Weir & Sons, alongside the best in high-street brands like Next, Karen Millen and more. At one end of this street you’ll find St. Stephen’s Green shopping centre with over 100 outlets.
- The Powerscourt Centre, just off Grafton Street. It's the ideal place to find the perfect Irish made gift, or high-end fashion as you can browse through home-grown design at Irish Couture, the Loft Market and Marion Cuddy; check out the centre’s four antique shops; take a tour of Powerscourt; or enjoy one of the in-house cultural events.
- Dundrum Town Centre - lying outside the city, this is Ireland’s largest shopping centre and a multi-award winner. A shopper’s paradise, it houses 169 stores to include an array of restaurants and a cinema.
- Temple Bar Weekend Markets - On a Saturday, enjoy the tastes and aromas of the Food Market; discover the best of Irish handmade craft and design at the Cow’s Lane Designer Mart; and browse through antique books and vinyls at the Book Market (held on Sundays also).
If you Like EERIE & THE AFTERLIFE, you’ll Love:
- Glasnevin Cemetery Museum - the final resting place of over 1.5 million people has had its fair share of the macabre! Take a tour of this top Dublin attraction to learn about the harsh realities of life in Dublin and eavesdrop on the stories of former gravediggers.
- St Michan’s Church on Church Street - described by Frommer’s guidebook as being both ‘unique and macabre’, it contains the mummified remains of many of Dublin’s most influential 17th, 18th and 19th century families. It’s so creepy, it’s believed to have inspired Bram Stoker, creator of ‘Dracula’!
- Dublin’s Christchurch Cathedral - explore the cathedral's medieval 12th century crypt, the largest in Britain and Ireland. A mummified cat and a rat, trapped in the organ in the 1860’s are the most unusual (and popular) inhabitants of the crypt - known locally as Tom and Jerry!
- Taking a terrifying tour! Hop on The Ghostbus to hear chilling tales of the Lady in White, graveyard torturers and the grizzly Dr Clossey to name but a few! Or head to ‘Castle Dracula’ - a thrilling and bizarre tour through tunnels, bridges and the Gargoyle Courtyard, finishing with the Castle Dracula Show in Ireland’s only graveyard theatre.
If you Like GOOD FOOD, you’ll Love:
- Amuse on Dawson Street, a newly opened fine-dining establishment whose owner/head chef has worked in several Michelin-starred restaurants. Bringing Asian flavours, namely Japanese, to modern French cuisine, the dishes here will certainly amuse and delight.
- Las Tapas de Lola - this Irish-Spanish co-owned restaurant, located in the lively Camden Street, has over 50 authentic tapas to choose from! Along with a great wine list and delicious sangria, it’s a great start to a night out in the heart of Dublin City.
- The Chop House on Shelbourne Road. A casual venue, it's a must for steak lovers. It was named the Best Gastro Pub in Ireland by the Restaurant Association of Ireland in both 2012 & 2014, and was Dublin’s Only Michelin Recommended Gastro Pub 2014.
- Paulie's Pizza on Grand Canal Street Upper - Fans of ‘real’ pizza (from a wood fired oven of course) will want to visit Paulie's. A busy little spot, it’s open nightly from 6pm to 10pm.
- Brother Hubbards, on Capel Street, is a 'friendly little cafe' serving simple, homemade good food for breakfast and lunch. Their all-day Brunch Menu offers treats like a Middle Eastern Breakfast Plate; Semolina Pancakes; or Turkish Eggs Menemen.
- The long-established Cornucopia Restaurant on Wicklow Street - a vegetarian delight, it also caters for vegans, coeliacs, sugar-free and raw/living foodists. In this casual eatery, expect locally grown and organic meals along with a huge range of salads, soups, pates, and more.
If you like ENTERTAINMENT, you’ll Love:
- Catching a show at The Abbey Theatre, Lower Abbey Street - Ireland’s national theatre - founded by W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory in 1904, focussing on works by Irish playwrights.
- The Gaiety Theatre on South King Street, offering a full programme of opera, musicals, drama, dance, festivals & pantomime, including the 20th Anniversary Riverdance Show in Summer 2015.
- The 3Arena (formerly the o2) - a 14,500-capacity amphitheatre in Dublin’s Docklands which has hosted some of the world’s best known music acts from One Direction to Il Divo - see Ticketmaster.ie for a full line-up and tickets.
- The Laughter Lounge, The Comedy Cellar and the International Comedy Club - for side splitting entertainment, head to one of these great venues, which have all hosted the best in new and established Irish and international acts over the years.
- The Bord Gais Theatre, The Olympia, The Helix and Vicar Street - more top Dublin venues, all of which offer a year-round eclectic mix of top-class entertainment.
If you Like GREAT NIGHTLIFE, you’ll Love:
- Ireland's oldest pub: the Brazen Head, located on Bridge Street Lower. Just a short walk from Christchurch Cathedral and The Guinness Brewery it's well worth a visit for its traditional Irish music, historical value and Irish folklore evenings.
- John Kavanagh’s ‘The Gravediggers’ - another great traditional watering hole, founded in 1833, this pub is famous for its great pint of Guinness. Located across from Glasnevin Cemetery, it got its nickname from the secret serving hatch that enabled gravediggers to drink on the job!
- Temple Bar - known as Dublin’s Cultural Quarter, and famous for its lively nightlife, this area is brimming with nightclubs, restaurants and bars. Check out The Old Storehouse, The Temple Bar Pub, Oliver St. John Gogarty’s, the Quays Bar and the Foggy Dew. Here you’ll also find Dublin’s first pub-brewery, The Porter House - a busy and quirky pub with many different levels, live music nightly and a wide range of ales, lagers and stouts along with their own speciality brews.
- The Blind Pig - for something a little different! Secretly tucked away in Dublin, this underground cocktail bar recreates a 1920’s speakeasy with some of the city’s best cocktails. Keeping with the theme of secrecy, booking is essential to request to visit at a particular time - you will then receive instructions on the location (which is less than a 5-minute walk from Trinity College)!
Finally, a quick note on City Transport!
Getting around Dublin is easy as the city is serviced by two train stations (Connolly and Heuston), the Luas light-rail transit service, Dublin Bus, the DART rail system and Hop-on, Hop-off Bus Tours. Taxi ranks are widespread throughout the city but its worth downloading the Uber or Hailo app to get a taxi to come to you! For more details on getting around, see our post on 'Know Ireland' and our list of Top Websites to Help you Plan.
Of course, don't forget to check out www.TopAttractionsDublin.com for more great Dublin Attractions!
What’s the one thing you’d recommend to see/do on a visit to Dublin?
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