Dublin, Ireland has always been on my must-see list. Pubs, the color green, friendly people, Celtic symbology, fairies & leprechauns, and Guinness were all swirling around like sugarplums in my head. Ok, so Ireland is much more than these clichés, but I did find a refreshing desire to preserve tradition and Irish culture everywhere I turned.
For one, the Irish language was written and spoken everywhere, hand-in-hand with English. Traditional music and dance were abundant and the music scene in pubs was fantastic. I loved the fun and easy-going atmosphere of the city, and it was exceptionally easy to navigate. People were as friendly as they’re famed to be, and the grass and trees were so green they actually glowed (juxtaposed with plenty of flower-boxes overspilling everywhere).
4-7 days is ideal to explore Dublin, and here is our must see guide to the best sights:
Temple Bar Pub and Cultural District
This is the heart of Dublin, and the neighborhood is filled with cool shops, classic pubs, art galleries, and live music day and night. The heart of the action is Temple Bar pub, easily recognized by its bright red facade and cluster of tourists out front. Step inside this multi-roomed pub for a pint of Guinness and some tunes. If you have time, take a pub crawl. There are even pub crawl tours that focus on literary pubs that Irish writers hung out at, as well as traditional Irish folk music spots.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
If you only go to one church, make it St. Patrick’s. Jonathan Swift was dean of the cathedral at one time, and is also buried here, standing upright, strangely. Another great church to visit is Christ Church Cathedral in the heart of the city, with its cavernous crypt museum and candle-lit cafe underneath.
For a slice of Irish history, a tour of Dublin castle is perfect. It’s also the only way to visit the castle aside from the exterior courtyard. On the tour you’ll learn what Irish life was like under English rule, the Easter Rebellion, and all sorts of quirky details about Irish high society. You’ll also get to wander through regal banquet rooms, presidential meeting halls, and below the castle grounds.
Dublin Castle Grounds & The Chester Beatty Library
The grounds of Dublin Castle are free to explore and include a stunning chapel filled with stone sculptures and stained glass and the not-to-be-missed Chester Beatty Library. Located beside a manicured garden overlooking the castle walls, the library is filled with a top notch collection of illuminated texts, ancient biblical papyri, and rare books from many cultures that draw scholars and tourists alike.
Guinness is synonymous with Ireland, and in Dublin you can go straight to the source. Somehow you can taste the difference, and the scent of hops in the air is delightful. The factory is filled with hands-on interactive exhibits that walk you through the Guinness-making process, with a tasting room mid-way. You end your tour on the top floor in the all-glass Gravity Bar where you’ll enjoy panoramic views of Dublin over a pint of Guinness.
Dublin City Guide, Part 2
Check out part 2 of our Dublin City Guide with more sightseeing top picks, plus the low-down on some great places to grab a bite:
Dublin City Guide, Part 2