My visit to the Emerald Isle was everything I hoped for and more. I have nothing but good things to say about my trip to Dublin. This charming island is home to some of the nicest, most welcoming group of people. They draw you in with their folk songs, folk tales, great food and ambiance. With a rich history and heritage, the Irish take pride in sharing it with those who visit.It warms my heart to reminisce about drinking a pint of Guinness in a pub with live Irish music. My visit to Dublin lasted four days and it was enough time to see all the main attractions within Dublin and also to take a day-trip. If you want to see what this beautiful country fully has to offer plan for at least a week and get on the road. The smaller towns are the most charming.
Where to Stay?
I stayed in a Georgian B&B in Parnell Square, The Charles Stewart Dublin, and it did not disappoint. The room was on the top floor, and spacious, a nice change from every budget hotel I’ve stayed in while in Europe. The B&B has a TV room, free Wi-Fi (gets me every time) and traditional Irish breakfast for only 10 euros a person. It’s located near O’Connell Street, a short walk to the Spire and about a 20 minute walk to Temple Bar District, Trinity College, and Grafton Street.
How to Get Around?
Most of the main tourist attractions are located within the city center, so it can all be done by foot, and if you need a break just stop by one of the many pubs. Dublin also has an effective line of buses and trains (I didn’t take any of them) and bikes available if you choose to. I recommend taking a hop on hop off bus. The Dublin CityScape has a guided hop on hop off bus for only 10 euros for the entire day, by far the best deal I have ever seen. The bus picks up to start on O’Connell street and takes you to all the main attractions in Dublin, if you don’t hop off the tour takes about two hours, and if you’re lucky the driver will sing Irish folk songs. If you need transportation from Dublin Airport, Aircoach picks up outside the airport and makes several stops within Dublin, 8 Euros each way or 14 Euros if booked combined.
Food & Drinks
Guinness, Guinness, Guinness and then more Guinness. Once you have a pint of Guinness in Ireland it will never taste the same anywhere else in the world. There are way too many pubs to pick, but The Temple Bar holds a special place in my heart. Check out The Temple Bar because it’s awesome and you have to, doesn’t matter that many places advice against it. I checked it out every night and had fun each time. However, don’t stay put in one place, go pub hoping. And don’t forget about Irish whiskey and Irish coffee. The best Irish coffee I had was at the Irish Whiskey Museum. You can sit at bar and witness how this master piece is created.
Irish eats… where to begin? Fish and Chips of course, Irish stew, Black and White pudding, oysters, chowder, smoked salmon, anything with Guinness written on the menu and traditional Irish breakfast. Also, try the scones with butter and jam. If you venture into the smaller coastal towns try all the seafood you can get your hands on, for it’s fresh as fresh can be. Dublin has a wide variety of coffee shops. I often stopped at Costa, it has many locations throughout Dublin. Coffee shops and bakeries are great when you need a pick me up or are looking to grab a quick bite. I would classify Dublin as a foodie’s town, there are so many traditional eats and emerging restaurants by new chefs who add their own style. While in Dublin, I enjoyed going to dinner at The Bailey. The menu is modern but still traditional, and if you need to take a break from the pubs, this is the place, outside seating, romantic elegant look on the inside. I enjoyed dinning there a few nights. Located on Duke St. just of Grafton Street, it’s easily accessible after a day of shopping. There are a few other choices in the area worth checking out.
Where to Shop?
Grafton Street of course… or I should say Grafton street area. In this area you will find some of the bigger brand names, but don’t forget to check the shops on the side streets, as you’ll often find hidden treasures. Whether on a budget or not, check out the fancy department store Brown Thomas Dublin and look for your favorite designers. More shopping is available on the side streets of O’Connell Street.
Dublin doesn’t take a back seat to other cities when it comes to museums. I always find it overwhelming to try to visit all of the museums, I want to soak it all in, but it’s impossible. A tip: decide what you’re interested in visiting and make arrangements. Visiting a war museum might not be high in your list of priorities if you are an art lover. Remember the majority of Museums in Dublin are free to the public, while others are not too pricey.
National Gallery of Ireland
Art lovers shouldn’t skip this museum. Located in the heart of Dublin, The National Gallery of Ireland, is home to paintings, sculptures, drawings and national portraits. The building itself is modern and full of light with large windows that overlook the streets of Dublin and just a few short steps from Merrion Square and the Oscar Wilde house. Free Admission.
National Museum of Ireland – Archeology
If the decorative arts, artifacts, and archaeological findings are your thing, then visit the National Museum of Ireland. The Emerald Isle has a rich history, and here you will find artifacts from pre-historic Ireland, Medieval, and Viking Ireland. Free Admission.
National Museum of Ireland – Natural History
Also known as the “Dead Zoo,” this museum showcases skeletons and stuffed specimens from all over the world. This is one of the coolest museums to visit, since you can get up and close to so many specimens and observe in great detail how large they really are. It also shows a sad reality that if we don’t take measurements to stop hunting and poaching, one day, we will only have dead zoos. Free Admission.
Dublin Writers Museum
Dublin is home to some of the greatest Irish writers, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, W.B. Yates, among many. Irish literary tradition is renowned around the world with 4 Nobel Prizes. Being the literary nerd that I am, I couldn’t leave Dublin without visiting this museum. The museum is small, but a decent amount of time should be spent here. You will be given an audio guide to learn more about each particular writer. The admission will set you back 7.5 Euros.
Irish Whiskey Museum
This will be one of the best tours you will take in Dublin. It’s more than just going there to sample whiskey, it has a rich history and more renowned names than just Jameson. You’ll join a group of about 20 people, and the guide will walk you through the history of Irish whiskey, in a story-telling way, the only way the Irish know how. You will learn the proper way to drink whiskey and can sample a variety of them. I paid 19 Euros for the premium tour and got to sample 3 types of whiskey plus one aged 10 years.
List of other museums worth checking out:
National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History
The National Leprechaun Museum
Irish Museum of Modern Art
National Wax Museum
Old Jameson Distillery
Alhought, it was closed while I was in Ireland and it won’t re-open until St. Patrick’s Day 2017. it’s worth checking out.
Monuments & Statues
I usually don’t make it a priority to visit, but Dublin’s folk tales, songs, and nicknames make these a lot more interesting.
Molly Malone Statue
Located (temporarily) outside the tourism office in Suffolk Street, the statue is also known as “The Tart with the Cart” or “The Trollop with the Scallops.”
As the song goes:
In Dublin’s fair city,
Where the girls are so pretty,
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone,
As she wheeled her wheel-barrow,
Through streets broad and narrow,
390 ft. in height stainless steel spike monument in O’Connell Street.
James Joyce Statue
Life-size bronze Statue of famous novelist James Joyce (author of Ulysses) is a popular attraction for tourists. The statue is also known to Dubliners as “the prick with the stick.”
Two Irish Ladies
Or commonly known as “the hags with the bags,” they are located near Ha’penny Bridge.
Oscar Wilde Statue
This one is probably one of the most famous and most photographed statues in Dublin. Located in the corner of Merrion Square Park, this monument to the famous playwright is covered in wonderful and interesting details.
Trinity College – Book of Kells
You can go straight to see The Book of Kells or you can have a Trinity College Student show you the grounds. The guided tour is only a couple more euros. You will be given a personalized tour of the college as well as learning lots of fun facts. Keep in mind you don’t actually get to go inside the college buildings. After your tour of the campus, head over to see The Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is protected under glass to prevent damage and no photos are allowed, so remember to be respectful. Also keep in mind, tourists will hover over the book and you’ll have to fight your way through the crowds. Don’t forget to check out The Long Room, if you are a book nerd like me, then you will enjoy seeing the spectacular collection of books. For more information visit Trinity College
Temple Bar is the most popular area of the city and it’s easy to know why. Bars, pubs and taverns make up the structure of Temple Bar, but the real soul is in the people who work, perform and visit. Enjoy beer, live performances and one of the best atmospheres imaginable. Check out theculturetrip for ideas on the best pubs and taverns at Temple Bar. A few places advice you to stay away from Temple Bar and visit other places like the locals, but I advise to not skip Temple Bar.
St. Stephen’s Green
This beautiful park in the heart of Dublin, makes for a perfect picnic spot, stroll in the afternoon or simply sit down and do some people watching after shopping on Grafton Street.
If you are an architecture junkie don’t miss out the Georgian Townhouses that surround Merrion Square. Once home to some of the wealthiest families in Dublin, this area is the heart of Georgian Dublin, check out the colorful doors, design or simply stroll through Merrion Square Park. If you want to learn more fun facts about Merrion Square visit: The Journal
Guinness Store House
The Guinness Store House deserves a post of it’s own, but I’ll just have to give you the breakdown. Step back in time and learn about the history of Guinness, and how it took the world by storm. Don’t miss the infamous 9,000 year lease signed by Arthur Guinness. This is a visual museum and a bar awaits when you get to the top. The ticket is about 14 Euros and it includes either a pint of Guinness at the Gravity bar or you can learn to pour your own pint.
I picked the option of learning to pour my own Guinness, and the secret is, afterwards you can take your self-poured pint up to the Gravity bar, get 2 for the price of 1. Avoid the long lines at the Guinness Store House, purchase your ticket online and skip the lines. When you find yourself in Dublin don’t Skip on the Guinness Store House.
For more information visit: Guinness Storehouse
Built in the 13th Century, not really a castle anymore, don’t forget to check out this government building. Sit on the steps and admire the architecture from across.
Christ Church & St. Patrick’s Cathedral
There’s nothing like admiring churches all over the world, and these two impressive medieval cathedrals should be high in your list of priorities.
My visit to Dublin was an unforgettable one. I fell in love with the Island and the people. And Dublin is just the beginning of my future exploration of Ireland.