The sights and sounds of Dublin build slowly upon arrival, giving an initial impression of a diverse and variegated city hiding its charm and wonders behind an invisible curtain. But before too long that curtain is drawn back to reveal brick facades with different colored doors, revolutionary statues marking a country’s long fight for freedom, and a pulse and atmosphere that give way to the cheerful welcome of Dublin’s people.
by Vanessa Bassett
|Bonus Find: Kehoe's|
Dublin can take you in many directions. Whether your scene is music, museums, historic sites, walking tours or pubs, you will find more than one thing you enjoy in Dublin. Dublin is accessible, easy to navigate, and fun to experiment with. Of all the cities in the world, this is a great one in which to take a wrong turn, to stroll down an old alley, or to get lost and ask a local for help. The Irish are friendly and welcoming, and are more than happy to steer you in the right direction. However, sometimes getting lost can be part of the fun, an essential ingredient in that grand adventure we seek. So sit back, relax, and allow Dublin to take you on a tour. You might be surprised at the unexpected delights you encounter.
Start your day off by arriving at St. Stephen’s Green on the corner at the bottom of Grafton Street. Grab a fancy new-fangled donut for breakfast on the go from Rolling Donut. Wander up Grafton Street, observing this very fashionable, forward-looking avenue, with its bright lights and techno beats. In between the trendiest stores you will see street performers setting up their guitars and microphones for a day of song and poetry.
Finish your walk up Grafton Street at Trinity College, where you can start the sightseeing portion of your day with a tour of the historic campus led by a lively and engaging member of the student body. Trinity has an interesting architectural history, which you will hear all about on your tour. When you are done learning about the many interesting features of the campus, head over to the remarkable Trinity Library to see the Book of Kells. An outstanding monument to art and culture in the dark ages, the Book of Kells transports you to ancient Ireland, prompting you to consider the thought, energy, and inspiration that the artists infused into its pages. Upstairs from the Book you will find one of the original copies of the 1916 Proclamation of Irish Independence, housed in the Long Room. Along with many historic books and documents, you will also find the oldest harp ever to be found in Ireland.
From Trinity, head over to the Science Gallery, a short walk away. Here, rotating exhibits showcase science and art in this museum/art gallery hybrid. On your way to the Gallery, stop at Lolly and Cooks for lunch. Stay and people watch in the café or head over to St. Stephen’s Green for a picnic lunch in the park.
After your visit to the Gallery, take some time to walk around this area of Georgian Dublin. Several historic Georgian style houses are in use in the area, distinguished by their brick facades and colorful front doors. Number 29 Georgian house is a well preserved house-turned-museum which you can tour and learn about the Georgian period influences in Dublin. To top off your experience, have dinner at Restaurant41.
If you haven’t quite had your fill of new experiences and exploration, plan to attend a traditional music pub crawl. Traditional music is a great introduction to Dublin nightlife, mixing old cultural traditions with diverse new crowds. Any of the tourist information offices will have crawls to choose from, and TripAdvisor has several with great reviews.
|Doors, doors, and more doors!|
From Wickow Street, walk across the River Liffey on the O’Connell Street Bridge and take a self-guided walking tour of O’Connell Street. As you stroll up this historic promenade, you will see many statues dedicated to the revolutionary leaders of Ireland. You will pass the National Post Office on your left, where Patrick Pearse read the 1916 Proclamation of Irish Independence from the front steps. End your walk at the Garden of Remembrance, which honors all those who gave their lives to the cause of Irish freedom. Across the street from the Garden of Remembrance is the Dublin Writers’ Museum, which you can add onto your day’s itinerary if you wish.
Turn around and head back towards the river, taking different side streets and exploring Dublin along the way. Cross back over Ha’Penny Bridge, the original toll bridge of Dublin. Once across the bridge, you’ll find yourself in the Temple Bar district, a fun and historic area with great potential for exploration on foot. Have lunch at the Exchequer, which features sustainable Irish seafood.
From lunch, walk to Dublin Castle and Christchurch Cathedral. Visit one or both, taking advantage of the history lessons and photo ops that will unfold as you explore. This part of the city was once inhabited by Vikings: archaeological evidence of their settlements is on display at the National Museum Ireland - Archaeology.
Walk back through Temple Bar as evening starts to set in. You will soon be in the midst of Dublin’s most bustling nightspot, an engaging area for dinner and drinks. Have a traditional Irish dinner at The Quays
Today’s plans will take you out of Central Dublin. The tourist offices are great at setting you up on the right bus for your excursion. Public transportation in Dublin is quick, clean, and cost efficient. Renting your own car for the day is also an option: just be prepared to drive on the left hand side of the road.
Heading west out of Dublin, start the day with breakfast at locally owned Wuff. From there, continue heading west for a visit to Kilmainham Gaol, a former prison where many of Ireland’s revolutionaries were incarcerated. This jail and its occupants played a pivotal role in Irish history from 1796 to 1924.
After your visit, head back towards central Dublin, stopping at Third Space Smithfield for lunch along the way. Check out the community space and art exhibit while you are there.
While you are in the neighborhood, take a short walk from your lunch spot to the National Museum of Decorative Arts and History. Here you can explore everything from Irish haute couture and silver collections to military history and contemporary craft.
After your crafty museum stroll, continue on foot a few blocks further to the Jameson Distillery. Take a fully guided tour or simply attend a whiskey tasting at one of the world’s most famous distilleries.
Wrap up your day in west Dublin with dinner at The Brazen Head. After your introduction to Irish jails, armies, and revolutionaries, bring it all together in Dublin’s oldest pub. With parts of the original building dating to 1198, this pub has historically been a meeting place for many of the rebels and revolutionaries you’ve spent your day learning about. Be sure to stick around for the live traditional music, regarded by many as some of the best in Dublin.
|The Campanile of Trinity College|
For your final Future-ish day, have breakfast at Queen of Tarts on Cow’s Lane. Headed by two New York trained pastry chefs, modern culinary techniques combine with local charm in this Temple Bar nook. This breakfast spot is highly rated and much visited.
After breakfast, head to the Chester Beatty Library to view an eclectic collection of manuscripts, art, and rare books. The founder, Chester Beatty, was a U.S. born mining magnate. After making his fortune in mining, he spent his years collecting art and manuscripts from around the world, maintaining their historic preservation as his utmost goal.
|Bonus Cathedral: St. Andrew's|
Allow yourself some options for the afternoon. If you are intrigued by the evolution of art in Ireland, head back out towards west Dublin and check out the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The historic museum building dates to 1684 and houses multiple rotating collections. Just down the road from the IMMA is the Guinness Storehouse, which might provide a much needed respite from seeing the city’s finest sights. Alternatively, a 20 minute walk east takes you back towards Trinity College, where you can spend more time with bog mummies and the Tara Brooch at the National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology. Or on the way, opt for the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl which traces the steps and haunts of the many internationally famed writers who called Dublin home, from pub to pub over cobbled streets. Cafes, gastropubs, restaurants and sweet shops abound in this city, heralding past, present and future as tourists and Dubliners alike enjoy this spirited metropolis.
As you wind down your stay in Dublin, keep in mind that there is always more to see. Just when an area seems mapped an explored, another colorful corner unveils itself, leading to another new journey down a winding brick lane. Dublin holds all sorts of surprises and delights for travelers of all ages. In this city, you can rest assured that there is something for everyone. Whether it be fascinating historical sites, world renowned food, friendly welcoming people, or simply the knowledge that there is still more to explore, Dublin’s farewell will only be a soft “see you later”. Odds are you will be back for more.