Recently we took a trip to Dublin, as you may or may not know this wasn’t our first time visiting the city. On our last visit to Ireland we spent a good chunk of our time outside of the city. It was an amazing trip but once we returned home I started wishing we would have looked around Dublin a little bit more. So when we were planning our 6 week adventure in Europe I really wanted to go back to Dublin because I didn’t think we saw all it had to offer. Plus since then I’ve found out from my DNA test that I’ve got quite a bit of Irish in me, and that always makes things more fun doesn’t it? I needed to drink beer and eat potatoes with my people.
So after this long weekend in Dublin I’ve rounded up 12 things I think you shouldn’t miss while visiting. Yeah, there might be other things to do, but if I didn’t like them they didn’t make the list. In no particular order here are my picks for things you just can’t miss.
THE GUINNESS STOREHOUSE
You can’t skip a visit to the Guinness Storehouse while in Dublin. Even if you hate the beer, you’ll find something interesting inside to look at. The Storehouse is bustling with activity with interactive exhibits, demonstrations, a huge gift shop, and several restaurants to stop at if you get hungry. If you’ve never tried Guinness or you just aren’t a huge fan of the taste, try it here. Yeah, it’s a heavy beer but the beer here is so fresh and creamy with so many flavors that it will never taste as good as it does here. I don’t drink Guinness at home but I do here.
Last time we visited Dublin we had such limited time that we didn’t get to visit the Kilmainham Gaol (pronounced jail) and I was really disappointed. The former prison housed many members of Irish Republican movement, as well as women and children. Walking through the narrow stone passageways and looking into the tiny prison cells it’s hard not to feel their misery as they were guarded by the British Troops.
The top photo you can see the newer part of the prison, called the Victorian Wing. The rounded appearance of the wing was to give the prisoners a feeling that they were always being watched, this section was also light and bright as they thought that would help reform the criminals.
The photo with the cross is where the leader of the party, James Connoly, was executed. He never stayed in an actual prison cell but in the first aid unit and he was soon going to die anyway from his injuries, but that was deemed to be unfair. So he was wheeled out to the execution yard on a stretcher, propped up in a chair, and excuted by British firing squad.
DINE AT THE BANK
The Bank on College Green is my favorite restaurant in Dublin, I know I mentioned it in my old blog post on Ireland. Inside you can visit this 2 story old former bank and admire the gorgeous architecture. It’s a great place to just stop, rest, and grab a few drinks, but they also have great food, including brunch, lunch, and dinner. It looks like a fancy place, and it is, but you can walk in dressed very casual and won’t have a problem.
SHOP FOR WOOL
Ireland is known for their wonderful Irish wool. You can find great places throughout Ireland to shop, but in Dublin I love the Aran Sweater Market. They have a great selection of sweaters, scarves, blankets, ponchos, mittens, and novelty items. Plus if you’re out of luggage space they’ll ship it home for you. Did you know that each of the Aran stitch patterns in the wool have a special meaning? The cable represents luck, the ladder stitch is for health, and the diamond for wealth are just a few examples. Each article of wool tells a story. I bought the poncho on the left by the way, and I’m really excited to wear it.
The Temple Bar is a very well known district to get your drink on in Dublin. The locals hate it and the tourists are always sure to visit. It gets loud, crowded, and full of drunks but I find it pretty PG-13, it’s not a Bourbon Street or anything. Here you can find authentic old pubs, modern bars, tons of restaurants, and a few hotels. If you’re looking for a calmer vibe be sure to visit earlier in the day.
We stayed at the Temple Bar Hotel with a window overlooking the street. I’m well aware people party all hours of the night here, so when I saw our hotel had ear plugs on our nightstand I knew exactly what they were trying to say. We had a sound machine and slept fine though it, seriously never travel without a sound machine!!
WALK ALONG THE RIVER LIFFEY
Be sure and take a nice stroll along the River Liffey, it’s a great way to soak up the city’s energy and admire the many bridges along the river. Above, Ha’penny Bridge is the most famous bridge in Dublin, this pedestrian-only bridge was built in 1816 and is made of cast iron, and it used to cost half a penny to cross it. Right across from Temple Bar and in the heart of Dublin you can’t miss it.
QUEEN OF TARTS
Queen of Tarts is an adorable little cafe and bakery open for breakfast and lunch. Just walking past the bright red exterior will make you want to walk in for a visit, try to avoid peak times because it’s pretty small inside. If you do wait, it’s well worth it. The breakfasts are out of this world amazing and they have so many incredible baked treats to pick from. I settled on the smoked bacon & leek potato cakes and the strawberry meringue, both incredible, they have pretty great coffee drinks too.
This is probably the prettiest cemetery I’ve ever seen. You can really step outside the city and get lost inside the sea of gravestones, stopping to read about the people and families buried beneath. Opening in 1832, there are over a million people buried here, and there is a new section that is still being used. It’s quiet and peaceful inside with a museum, cafe, and flowers for sale near the gate.
SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL
No trip to Dublin is complete without a visit to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Inside you’ll find tombs, carvings, and stained glass. Compared to other cathedrals in Europe it’s more simplistic but still majestic and full of history. Saint Patrick is the man who is credited for bringing Christianity to Ireland, and it was here at this site that he first baptized people.
CITY SIGHTSEEING BUS DUBLIN
We love doing city bus tours in most places we visit. Here with the City Sightseeing Bus you can take 2 routes around the city, there are stops all over, just find one of the stops, buy a ticket and your good to go. If you’re unsure of where the nearest stop is ask your hotel. These sightseeing busses are a great way to rest your feet and hear some history. You can buy a 1 or 2 day pass, and individual or family passes.
CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL
Christ Church Cathedral is the oldest building in the heart of Medieval Dublin, filled with exquisite architecture it’s one of the leading attractions. Inside is one of the oldest and largest crypts in all of Brittan and Ireland, dating back to the 12th century. Founded by King Sitric over 1,000 years ago who was the Viking King of Dublin at the time. This should definitely be a stop while visiting the city.
MOLLY MALONE STATUE
Known as the Tart with the Cart, Molly is a hit with locals and tourists. I honestly find her character a little confusing, from what I understand Molly Malone was a fictional person, a lady of the night, with a full bosom who died at a young age from a fever. She inspired the unofficial Dublin Anthem also known as Cockels and Mussles. You can find Molly on Grafton and Suffolk Street in Dublin. She’s very popular so if you want to get a photo with the busty lass you may need to wait a while.
Those who want to know a little more about what Ireland has to offer besides things in Dublin be sure and read my old blog post Ireland in March. I touch on a few things in Dublin but I have more focus on the entire country and all of it’s unique beauty. Just a warning some photos aren’t good quality, but if you’re interested in exploring Ireland it’s definitely worth a read.