We had only two days to see Dublin, Ireland so we were careful to prioritize all the things there are to do. We arrived in the afternoon, so we spent time walking around on our own. Grafton Street is a fun pedestrian walkway full of stores and restaurants, but we quickly ventured off this tourist-worn path. We wandered around St. Stephen’s Park before visiting Merrion Square whose claim to fame is a statue of Oscar Wilde, one of Ireland’s many famous writers.
We made advance reservations at as many attractions as possible since Dublin has lots of visitors, even during the shoulder period of September. We took a free walking tour by Yellow Umbrella Tours that was fabulous. (You tip what you think the tour is worth.) The guide gave us an overview of the city and its history as we walked by Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral, and many other famous sites. This three-hour tour was an excellent introduction to the city. (Hop On/Hop Off Buses are difficult in many parts of Dublin because of traffic congestion, so a walking tour was a great alternative.)
One of the highlights for our trip was the Kilmainham Gaol which we visited based on TripAdvisor’s recommendations and great advice from friends who had recently visited Dublin. The Gaol (Jail) will look familiar to anyone who has seen the “Italian Job.” (Make certain you get tickets online to both Kilmainham Gaol, the Book of Kells, and the Guinness Storehouse. We made reservations five weeks before our trip and many times were already filled. You could still get in, but the lines were long!)
Another highlight was the Book of Kells, which is a copy of the New Testament Gospel written and illustrated by monks around 800 A.D. Visitors walk through an intriguing exhibit before seeing the book itself which is preserved under glass and open to a different place each day. I may hear a lot of disagreement, but seeing the actual book was less impressive than walking through the Long Room afterwards. The Long Room is the historic Trinity University Library that houses over 200,000 books. Harry Potter lovers will appreciate it even more since it was the inspiration for the Harry Potter Hogwarts Library.
We couldn’t leave Dublin, the birthplace of Guinness beer, without visiting the Guinness Storehouse. This massive showplace shares the history of Guinness and then gives visitors the opportunity to sample. The Storehouse is not the actual brewery. Instead, it was built as a seven-story tourist attraction with an atrium that is shaped like a pint of Guinness. The top floors are packed with food courts and people drinking. We enjoyed the view more than we enjoyed the crowds.
Dublin has so many great places to visit that it is difficult to choose, but stops at both St. Patrick’s and Christ Church Cathedrals are beautiful reverent places for a moment of quiet amidst the hustle and bustle of Dublin. The Temple Bar district is a fun area in which to visit pubs and watch people. It is touristy and crowded, but no trip to Dublin would be complete without it. (If you stay in this convenient district, make certain you ask for a back room since partying continues late into the evening.)
We’ve shared a few of our favorite places in Dublin. If you have visited, what were your favorites?