So you’ve never been to Dublin but always fancied a visit? Well you’re in for a treat. Most first time visitors to Dublin who don’t know much about the city or its culture plan to see the same sights, namely the Guinness Brewery and its interactive visitor centre, the Guinness Storehouse as well as a traditional Irish pub with some Irish dancing and music to have the ‘craic’ with the locals (a prominent Irish term to describe having fun and enjoyable conversation, pronounced like “crack”) . While that all sounds fine or ‘grand’ as we would say in Dublin, surely we can give you a few more options just in case you might have higher expectations for your stay.
For this post, we’re going to try to keep it light and fluffy but if there is something that we mention that you’d like to read more about, don’t worry, we’re busily writing new pages of content and we’ll link them up to this post as soon as possible. So back to your first visit plans.
This desire to visit the Guinness Storehouse is often in spite of the likelihood that most people who visit the Guinness Storehouse are not regular drinkers of the ‘black stuff’ and may not be too fond of its distinctive taste at first. It’s a bit of cliché to say but Guinness is often an acquired taste. Nevertheless, it’s not Dublin’s most visited tourist attraction with over 4 million visitors for nothing and its connection with Irish culture is bound by history. It continues to be the best-selling alcoholic drink in Ireland and loved the world over.
Guinness Storehouse in Dublin City
However, there are many other options for you to enjoy during your trip to Dublin. Before we begin, let us start by stating now that unless you’re planning to read this blog until tomorrow, we’re going to have to leave aside the night life end of Dublin. You’ll just have to wait until we launch that separate post in the next few days. It’s just too extensive and we’re really not being dramatic plus we feel that unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re likely to be aware that Dublin is a pretty decent spot for an enjoyable night out.
Jameson Distillery, Smithfield, Dublin City
So back to our daytime alternative and staying within the city limits and the subject of all things alcoholic, you could enjoy the tamer and slow-paced but arguably more interesting Jameson Distillery museum, home of the famous Irish whiskey. A walking tour through the city is also highly recommended passing some of the important and interesting landmarks of the city starting at Parnell Square and walking through the heart of the city including O’Connell Street, Temple Bar, College Green and Trinity College, Grafton Street Area, Kildare Street and the government buildings and down to Stephens Green on the south side of the city centre. Along the way, you will discover that there is definitely more to Dublin than meets the eye. In addition to its traditionally recognised landmarks like Trinity College and Grafton Street or famous people like James Joyce, U2 and Colin Farrell, you’ll discover through this tour some other little gems that you might not have known about Dublin or Ireland before. At a steady pace, this entire walk can take as little as 30 minutes. However, if you’re not much of a walker, there is an alternative.
Shopping in Grafton Street
Like any other major city in the world, one of the most popular ways to see Dublin is by taking an Open Top Bus Tour. There are several companies to choose from but day passes are available for around €18 for adults. These tours allow you to get on and off the bus when you want to visit all of Dublin’s major attractions at your own leisure whilst covering a much larger area than the suggested walking tour including the Phoenix Park, Dublin Zoo, Guinness Storehouse and Kilmainham Gaol (Jail in Irish), where many of Ireland’s rebellion leaders were imprisoned or executed.
Cruise along the River Liffey
Alternatively, you can take to the water to discover Dublin on a Liffey cruise. There is currently only one company and one boat operating such a service and it’s only open from March to November but it is well worth a visit and the tour guides on board do make the trip with historical knowledge as well as a bit of Irish wit and charm thrown in for good measure. It takes you from West to East, from the Ha’penny Bridge past Liberty Hall, the Customs House and the Famine Memorial and back to your original point. Adult prices are around €14 and it takes about an hour. Almost all of Dublin’s public museums and galleries including the National History Museum, the National Gallery and the National History Museum are free of charge so if history and the arts are your thing, these are just some of the highlights available to you.
For those who don’t care too much about the culture and the history and are more interested in some retail therapy, the city essentially offers you two main options, Henry Street, located on the northside close to O’Connell Street or the more affluent Grafton Street on the southside, which in 2008 was ranked as the fifth most expensive main shopping street in the world. Both of these streets include their street’s flagship department stores, the former, Arnotts and the latter, Brown Thomas.
If you have a car or are happy to avail of a taxi or public transport, there is so much more to see within 30 minutes drive from the city. You can have some memorable days out exploring scenic villages such as Howth or Dalkey, walking through beautiful gardens and parks such as the Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin and St Anne’s Park in Clontarf, both of which are just on the periphery of the city. You could also view some of Ireland’s many enchanting castles and grand houses such as Malahide Castle or Newbridge House.
A bit further out but still only an hour or so from the city are some magnificent sights located in Dublin’s three neighbouring counties, Wicklow, Meath and Kildare.
Powerscourt House & Gardens, Co Wicklow
There is the stunning Powerscourt House & Gardens located in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow. less than an hour from the city and well worth the trek as is Powerscourt Waterfall located a further 15 minutes past Enniskerry. Avoca and Glendalough are other popular tourist spots in Wicklow which has become known as the ‘Garden of Ireland’. There are some excellent historical landmarks in the northern border county of Meath, ‘The Royal County’ such as the prehistoric monument at Newgrange in Co Meath, Trim Castle (which was used in the filming of Braveheart) and the Hill of Tara, home to a range of ancient monuments and according to tradition, was the seat of the High King of Ireland, again about an hour from the city. Finally, in Kildare, the traditional home of Irish horse breeding, you can enjoy the Japanese Gardens and the adjoining National Horse Stud as well as one of Ireland’s most famous horseracing tracks, The Curragh. Despite mentioning quite a number of places, we really haven’t even touched the surface yet. Have you raised the bar for your first trip to Dublin yet? That’s the spirit.