This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.
I always wanted to speak more than one language to be able to have a conversation with, almost, everyone in the world and I thought that the best way to do this was move in an English country. I received a lot of advices about which country I should have chosen and at the end I decided for Ireland in particular in the capital Dublin. I decided Dublin because a lot of people told me that the Dubliners are very friendly and always makes you comfortable. I moved to Dublin mainly to improve my English but then I found a job of my dream that I really like, and I decided to stay a little longer, now are two years that I live in Ireland.
Even if Dublin is the capital the city is not too big, but it is really nice, a mix of styles with old historical buildings, modern palaces and characteristic pubs. The city seems divided in two from the Dublin river, the Liffey, on the right the part more historic of the city and on the left the part more commercial and more modern; since in the last years Dublin had an economic boom that brought a lot of multinational and important company, the capital of Ireland grew up a lot and brought many people from other nationality for new job opportunities, I can say that Dublin is a very multicultural city. Inside the best Ireland tourist attractions cannot miss Dublin.
Things to Do in Dublin
The first must is Trinity College. Trinity College is the first University in Dublin; it is situated in Grafton Street in the centre of the capital close to the Whiskey Museum and the Bank of Ireland.
The college was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth, and it is widely considered the most prestigious university in Ireland and amongst the most elite in Europe. Once you enter the gate, you will see a large square with all-around magnificent Victorian-style buildings and a Chapel, but the best thing in the college is absolutely the Old Library.
The Old Library is fantastic, a spectacular that you must to visit; I recommend to buy an audio guide because there are many small particular exciting details that you can learn only with it.
The Long Room is the best part; it contains the largest collection of manuscripts and books in Ireland and one of the biggest in the world. The library was built around 1732; it includes more than 200.000 volumes, and some are significant and famous, an example is the Books of Kells, a copy of the Proclamation of the Republic of Ireland and the symbol of Ireland: a 15-century harp. The library is surprisingly beautiful with a roof in dark wood, shelves full of texts, the smell of the ancient books and 14 marble busts of famous writers and philosophers that frame the whole long room. The entrance is a little bit expensive but it is worth all the money, an afternoon very well spent.
St. Patrick's Cathedral Dublin. St Patrick's Cathedral is Ireland's largest cathedral in honour of St Patrick's. As the legend says in this place, in the past, Saint Patrick baptized converted Christians. In the beginning, it was only a small wooden church and only in 1924, it became the official cathedral with the size of the present one, over the years has been damaged many times due to various fires and finally rebuilt as the current one around the 900. Today it is a huge neo-Gothic cathedral gorgeous outside but mostly inside. Fascinating to visit especially for the detailed history not only of the church but also of some pieces that you can find inside it, like the wooden portal and the Count of Ormond's anecdote.
Dublin Temple Bar. The Temple Bar area is by far the most famous in the city centre, originally the Temple Bar was just the name of a pub, but it became very famous which also gave the name to the whole neighbourhood. It is easy to find it, a red building on a street corner with little plants and lots of people taking pictures. It is very nice outside and also inside. The only problem is that this pub is the most popular and usually is very crowded, especially by tourists. This whole neighbourhood is friendly full of pubs with live traditional music and various restaurants but, being the very tourist area the prices are usually a bit higher than other pubs in different areas of Dublin. However, it is still a must for your trip to the capital.
Guinness Factory in Dublin. A must in Dublin is to visit the Guinness Storehouse. Ireland is the country of Guinness, a dark beer with a strong taste and a creamy white foam on top, a treat. In 1759 Arthur Guinness, a young Irishman purchased St James’s Gate in Dublin; the building was bought for only £45 a year by signing a contract that expired in 10759. After many years the Guinness became famous all over the world for its strong and rich taste, but also for its original and funny advertising. I toured a couple of times (every time someone came to visit me) and my favourite part, except for the drinking part, is when they explain the great impact of advertising and how it has changed over the years. The other best part is when they teach you the art of tapping Guinness properly, you will also receive a certification. With the ticket, you too have a free Guinness and you can decide when and where to enjoy it.
Another product that makes the Irish famous is whiskey. In the centre of Dublin, there are two distilleries, Jameson distillery and Telling distillery, I visited both, and they have a different tour, different explanations, other activities to do and, of course, a different story. Both are very interesting, and both are worth visiting. The story of whisky begins with the Irish missionary monks. They discovered the capacity of distillation during their journeys but, instead of the regular use of distilling perfumes, they found a better use: distilling alcohol. Irish whiskey became famous all over the world. Although it had a difficult time with American prohibition in the 20th century, it is still one of the most valuable and tasteful.
The word whiskey in Gaelic means "water of life" and it is different from the Scottish word whisky; an "e" can change everything. There is a lot of competition between the two nations, and everyone thinks to do the best whiskey, but the only difference between them is the name and the time of distillation that change for one day. In both tours, there is the possibility to taste diverse types the whiskey so don't drink before the tour, or you will get drunk for sure.
In the southern part of the city surrender by some walls, we can find The Dublin Castle. It doesn't seem a real castle from outside with blue, yellow and pink walls anyway it was erected in the early thirteenth century on the site of a Viking settlement. It served for centuries as the headquarters of English, but In 1922, following Ireland's independence, Dublin Castle was handed over to the new Irish government. It is now a major government complex and a key tourist attraction located off Dame Street. Today tourists can have a tour around the original old apartments and visit the art gallery inside. As I'm not too fond of museums, I have never been inside the castle, but my favourite thing is the garden behind it.
The Dubhlinn Garden situated behind the castle, it is a square park designed as a helicopter landing pad with six pathways inspired by the Celtic knots. The name Dubhlinn that means Black Pool, in Gaelic, gave the name to the city Dublin and it is the perfect place to relax after a long walk.
Another "must to see" is the Kilmainham Gaol, the old jail of Dublin. Attention is possible to visit the prison only with an organized tour so, you have to book on the website the visit, and it is not possible to go there and buy a ticket. The prison was established in 1796, and it is still the symbol of rebellion against the British for many Dubliners indeed numerous revolutionaries were locked up and executed in this prison. The jail was built to keep one prisoner per cell, but when the Irish Potato Famine hit the country in 1845, the prison became full and the people crammed in cages, and they preferred to stay in jail instead of going hungry. The dungeon was dark and cold, without electricity and heating; during the Victorian period was built another part with a lot of lights because it was thought that the sun helped to cure the behaviours. In 1924 the Goal was closed after the release of Éamon de Valera, who years later would become President of Ireland and it was opened to the public after a reconstruction project started in 1960. The people that reconstructed the jail were voluntaries and to scrape together money for the works a lot of movies and also music clips were shot here, the most famous are: The Italian Jobs and In the Name of the Father as film and the video for the U2 song Celebration. This jail is the best place to discover more about the people of the revolution and to learn more about the history of Ireland, highly recommended.
If you are walking in the principal street O’Connell Street, I’m sure you’ve seen a huge needle sticking out of the middle of this road; The Spire is a 120m tall gigantic silver monument. In 1966 a bomb destroyed the previous monument of Nelson Pillar and left for a lot of years, exactly for 37years, a hole in the middle of Connell Street. Many different projects arrived during this period but none of them were modern, contemporary and adapt for the street and city. In 1998 was launched competition and this time was choose the project of Ian Ritchie; in 2002 the first structure was built and in January 2003 was completed. The magic of the Spire is the design and the game light; during the day you can see the lively city of Dublin on the surface of the monument and at night, you can see a really nice game of lights. The first time I saw the Spire I thought, why? It has no sense it is just a high needle but when I started to live here, I start to see the high monument as a reference point and a beautiful symbol of Dublin.
I don’t usually like going to museums, but one day I found the ticket to the Epic Museum at an affordable price and I said why not? The worst that can happen is to miss a Sunday afternoon. I am so happy to have visited the Epic because it is really well done. The museum talks about the considerable immigration from Ireland worldwide, especially in the United States. At the Epic you can find out why people have moved, what they’ve become, what traditions they’ve brought with them and now they’ve joined other cultures, you can see the people who have changed their lives and become doctors or lawyers, but also criminals. I liked this museum not only for all interesting stories but also because it is very interactive and very technological, you can also send an electronic postcard.
I liked the Whiskey Museum too, even if it is very different from a typical museum. It has an exciting tour with stories and legends about whiskey but also about the people drinking whiskey. I am not going to tell you the story because I don't want to spoil it. I also found a tour guy very funny and good at talking about whiskey and history; she was very passionate about the museum, and all this helped a lot to enjoy at the maximum this attraction. You will also have a taste of whiskey and know more about the taste of it. I recommend this museum; it is interactive funny and fascinating.
Around 20 minutes by bus from Dublin, situated in Dublin Bay where the River Liffey flows into the ocean you can find the Poolbeg Lighthouse. It is funny the way that I found it, I was in an art gallery one day, and there was a picture of this red lighthouse, and after a few research, I discovered that it was in Dublin and of course I had to visit it. I love this place because to reach it there is a lovely walk surrounded by a fantastic landscape with nature, ships and the sea without a car and the noise of the city.
I am lucky, I still live in the centre of Dublin but near the green lung Phoenix Park. It is the biggest park in Dublin and not only but also in of all Europe. The park was initially formed for royal hunting and was open to the public in 1747; today is open every day for all day, and it is trendy for jogging, running, bicycle or just for a walk. Phoenix Park is the house of the zoo of Dublin, the cricket club and for the deers indeed it is straightforward to find deers all over in the park, and they are not afraid of people, and you can walk around them and watch them, of course, without annoying them.
I spend a lot of time here because it has something familiar with my house in Italy with a multitude of fields, animals and fresh air, I really like to bring a blanket with me on a sunny day and enjoy the warmth.
National Botanic Garden.
I hope you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it on Social Media. Share your pictures on social media using #tastravelnow or tag me so I can see them!
Also, follow me on Instagram and subscribe to my email list so that you will never miss a new post!
If you would like to book travel insurance for your trip to Dublin, I recommend checking out Travel Insurance Master!
Looking for activities and tours in Dublin? I suggest you check out Get Your Guide. To find out more follow the link below and be inspired :)