Dublin, Ireland is a small, charming, very walkable city. Its warm people and ubiquitous corner pubs welcome visitors with friendly conversation over leisurely pints. You can expect rain even when it looks sunny, but don’t let that stop you from strolling along the city’s handsome Georgian squares. Dublin, once a medieval capital, is now emerging as an exciting commercial center and hip city-break destination with a vibrant nightlife. Visitors can easily spend a week in Dublin and not cover all the attractions, but here are five must-see sights of Dublin that you should put at the top of the list.
Book of Kells
The magnificently illustrated Book of Kells is a masterpiece from the early Celtic world, considered to be the most richly decorated medieval manuscript on the planet. It is a manuscript of the four Gospels, written in flowing Celtic script and skilled calligraphy by monks around AD 800. Scholars have spent years interpreting the rich symbolism of the intricate illustrations.
Original pages are on display in the Old Library of Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university. Be prepared for long lines to view the illuminated manuscript, but seeing the precise detail and vivid colors are worth the wait. Ticket price (€10 adult) includes admission to the Long Room, a striking space that houses 200,000 of the college’s oldest books.
The Guinness brewery, founded in 1759, produces a distinctive dark stout that has become one of the world’s best-loved beers. The Guinness Storehouse, known as the “Disneyland of Beer” is the most popular tourist attraction in Dublin, possibly all of Ireland. The Guinness brewery itself isn’t open to visitors, but the four-story visitor’s center next door houses the World of Guinness Exhibition – an interactive presentation showing the complete process of brewing and bottling. The Cooperage Gallery exhibits tools used to make the storage casks and Gilroy Gallery showcases the history of the brand’s award-winning graphic design. The world’s largest stout glass is on premises, standing over 200 feet tall – if filled, it would hold 14.3 million pints of Guinness! Finish your tour with a complimentary pint of Guinness at the restaurant and bar with fabulous views of Dublin.
Travel Maestro tip: The wait for admission can be an hour or more, but if you buy your ticket (€18 adult) in advance online from the Guinness Storehouse, you can skip the line and get a 10% discount.
Malahide Castle and Gardens
Malahide Castle was the ancestral home of the Talbot family from 1185 until the last Talbot died in 1973. Since then it has undergone a 12-million euro redevelopment to become a tourist attraction. The house is beautifully furnished with lovely antiques and National Gallery portrait paintings and an interpretive center in the castle’s basement. The major feature of the sprawling estate is the outstanding 20-acre Talbot Botanical Garden, including stunning walled gardens and West Lawn, seven greenhouses and a magnificent Victorian conservatory that are a horticulturists’ delight. Shopping and refreshments are available on the grounds as well.
Travel Maestro tip: Malahide Castle is actually about 30 minutes from the city center of Dublin, but worth the short trip. You can easily get there by DART public transportation. Admission €12 adult.
Dublin’s Temple Bar
Temple Bar is the bohemian district of Dublin situated along the River Liffey. The name actually comes from the aristocrat who originally owned the land in the early 1600s, Sir William Temple, and “bar,” the word referring to a riverside path. After years of decline, the area experienced an economic renewal and is now bustling with artists, young entrepreneurs, and of course, pubs. Remodeled factory buildings house artist studios and galleries, showcasing Irish culture through performance art, independent films, craft markets and furniture design.
Travel Maestro tip: While Temple Bar is a vibrant and trendy social area, it can get quite crowded and somewhat rowdy late at night. Beware of pickpockets and drunken revelers, particularly on weekends.
Grafton Street is the premier shopping street of Dublin where you’ll find Brown Thomas, the Irish department store. The pedestrian-only street runs 200 yards, intersected by multiple side streets with dozens of boutiques, flower sellers and, of course, pubs. Dublin’s buskers and street performers provide free entertainment to shoppers. During spring and summer, musicians, mimes and magicians practically line the sidewalks on both sides of the street. Grafton Street is also where you’ll find the statue of infamous Molly Malone, a.k.a. “the tart with a cart,” rumored to be a fish-trader by day and prostitute by night.
These are but five of our favorite attractions in Dublin; there are so many more that you won’t want to miss, from a wealth of impressive museums to historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral, from the homes of literary greats to Dublin Castle with its elegant State Apartments. You’ll also want to pick up a few Irish words and practice them as you lift a pint with a new friend in a traditional pub.
For more information on Dublin and help planning your Irish vacation, contact Covington Travel.
Other posts about Ireland that you may enjoy: