Dublin City Guide

With a rebellious history, Dublin is full of heart. Learn how Irish influence has spread around the world at a local museum, sip some Jameson at the distillery and tap your foot along to some trad music at a local pub. 

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Hi everyone, 

This past summer, Mark & I, along with his Mom & Dad took an 11 day road trip across Ireland! It was one of our most fun adventures to date so we will be writing a lot about this trip in the coming weeks. Our first stop was Dublin so it’s only fitting I share the best things to do in this bustling capital. 

Sandeman’s Free Walking Tour

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Trinity College

One of the first things we love to do in a new city is take a free walking tour. Sandeman’s is a company we’ve used all over Europe and the guides always offer an incredible amount of information. The walking tours typically last 3 hours, with a short break in the middle to use the bathroom or get some coffee. Some of the highlights of our walking tour included Trinity College, Molly Malone Statue, Dublin Castle & the Temple Bar district. It’s a great way to orient yourself to a new city and fight off jetlag since you’re doing so much walking! 

Dublin Castle

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Originally created to be a military fortress, Dublin Castle later became the home of the British Monarch’s Irish representative. Today it is used for important national events in Ireland and acts as a museum. Although we did not have time to visit the inside, we were able to see the outside during our walking tour! 

  • Cost: €8 (self guided) €12 (guided) 
  • Buy tickets online here: Dublin Castle
  • Estimated time needed: 1 hour (guided) 

Irish Emigration Museum 

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The Irish Emigration Museum is great for anyone with Irish heritage or an interest in history. It focuses on the story of Irish Emigrants who left Ireland and accomplished great things. It’s a very modern museum with a lot of things to read about. I recommend booking your tickets online since you’ll get a discount! 

Molly Malone Statue

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We first learned about Molly Malone during our walking tour, when we came across her statue on Suffolk Street.  You’ll find this fictitious character’s name in songs and in pubs throughout the world. The statue portrays a young woman selling her cockles and muscles through the streets of Dublin. Her chest has begun to bronze due to many handsy tourists rubbing her for good luck! 

St. Stephen’s Green

St. Stephen’s Green is a large public park in Dublin. It’s a beautiful area to take a stroll in or have a picnic in nice weather. 

Little House of Dublin Museum

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Across from St. Stephen’s green you’ll find the Little House of Dublin Museum. Arguably one of the coolest museum experiences we’ve visited to date, this place was recommended to me by a friend who went to college in Dublin. A standard ticket includes a 40 minute guided tour through the first two rooms of the museum. Afterwards, you’re able to wander to the upstairs 3 rooms and explore on your own. This is a great spot for anyone interested in Irish culture! 

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. It has served as an important religious and cultural hub in Dublin for almost 800 years! 

Afternoon Tea

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One afternoon in Dublin, Mark’s Mom & I set off on a girls date to do afternoon tea, while the boys visited the Jameson Distillery. A few of my colleagues who had visited Dublin before recommended this spot. (From the outside, it almost feels as though you’re entering someone’s home so it felt a bit hidden). The inside of the bar / restaurant was gorgeous, but since it was such nice weather the day we were there, we lucked out and sat outside on their patio area. It almost felt like you were in a fairy garden or green house, so it set the mood perfectly for tea. The whole experience was exquisite so I would highly recommend this to anyone looking to treat themselves while in Dublin! (I recommend skipping lunch –  or having a light lunch before doing this since you’ll eat so many goodies). 

  • Cost: €28
  • Reservations: House Dublin
  • Estimated time needed:  2-3 hours

Jameson Distillery

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Like I mentioned above, Mark & his Dad took a tour of the Jameson distillery while we did tea. John Jameson originally opened the doors to his distillery in 1780, and they have been opened in Dublin ever since! The Bow Street experience is the most standard option you can choose, and includes a 40 minute guided tour, a whiskey tasting and a complimentary drink at the bar when the tour is finished. Mark’s favorite whiskey to this day is the Jameson Distillery edition, which cannot be bought in the US! He was able to take a bottle home from this trip. They also offer some whiskey blending or cocktail making classes if you’re looking for something more to do there. 

  • Cost: €22 (Bow Street Experience)
  • Buy tickets online here: Jameson Distillery
  • Estimated time needed:  1-1.5 hours 

Kilmainham Gaol Museum

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Kilmainham Gaol was another recommendation received from my friend who lived in Dublin. Gaol in Irish means jail. Each ticket includes a guided tour where you learn about the haunting past of this building. Kilmainham Gaol opened in 1796 and closed its doors officially in 1924. Today, the building represents Ireland’s past of militant nationalism, the rebellion of 1798 as well as the Irish Civil War. I highly recommend purchasing your tickets online well in advance, as they will sell out weeks ahead of time! 

Guinness Storehouse

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Since it’s arguably Ireland’s most famous beer, we had to make sure to visit the Guinness Storehouse during our time in Dublin. The brewery tour includes 7 floors of the history of Guinness, how the beer is made and a 360 view of Dublin at the top floor Gravity bar. The ticket prices range depending on what day and time you visit the Storehouse. My biggest recommendation for you would be to visit in the morning on a weekday. I know it sounds strange, who wants to drink beer in the morning – I thought the same thing so we booked tickets for 2:30pm on Saturday. However, when we visited, it was so crowded and busy! It felt difficult to enjoy all aspects of the brewery and museum, which are really fun and interactive. The gravity bar was packed body to body, so you could hardly enjoy your Guinness. I can imagine it’s much more relaxed in the morning or during weekdays so heed this advice if you want a relaxing visit! 

  • Cost: €19.50 – €23
  • Buy tickets online here: Guinness Storehouse
  • Estimated time needed:  2-3 hours

Trinity Library & the Book of Kells

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Spontaneously after a few drinks at the Guinness factory, we decided to visit Trinity Library and the Book of Kells since we had some free time to spare. Although the line was very long, it moved along quite quickly and we were able to get into the exhibit before it closed for the day. The Book of Kells was said to have been made in 800 A.D. and is a partially illustrated book of the Gospels. After we saw the exhibit the Book of Kells, we went upstairs to the library. Trinity Library might be one of the most picturesque libraries in the world! You may even recognize it from some of the early Harry Potter films too. 

  • Cost: €11-€14
  • Buy tickets online here: Trinity Library
  • Estimated time needed: 1-1.5 hours

Day trip to Glendalough

If you’re only visiting Dublin on your trip to Ireland, I recommend making time to take a day trip from the city to explore more of the countryside! Glendalough is about an hour away from the city and offers views of the Wicklow mountains. If you don’t have a car, you can catch a public bus to get there. We did not visit Glendalough on our trip since we had a lot of other things planned in the countryside during our road trip, but have heard wonderful things about it! 

  • Cost: €10-20 (bus ticket) 
  • Estimated time needed: Day

Temple Bar District

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Despite what you may believe, Temple Bar is actually an entire neighborhood in Dublin and not simply one bar. The cobblestoned streets are lined with pubs supplying live music! It’s definitely an area of Dublin you’ll want to check out, though I would warn against spending too much time here. Our guide advised us that the pubs overcharge for drinks and there are other cool pubs in the city once you get off the beaten path a bit. Nonetheless, our walking tour took us down this road and we ended up going back later in the day for a pint, mostly to soak up the ambiance of such a beautiful part of the city. I must admit some of our favorite spots in the city were found away from this area, so it really is good to branch out! 

Listen to Trad Music at a Pub

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Wall of Brazen Head Pub

 Finally, it’s not a trip to Dublin if you didn’t listen to some trad (traditional) Irish music with a cold pint while you were there. Celt bar was about a 2 minute walk from our Airbnb and made for the perfect night cap. The singer had everyone up and dancing! We also had an awesome dinner at the Brazen Head – Dublin’s oldest pub! Some other recommendations made to us by colleagues were: O’Donoghues Bar, The Palace Bar & Mulligans. Overall, you can’t go wrong by popping into a pub you hear live music coming from. If it’s too crowded or you don’t like the vibe, move along to the next one! 

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Overall, we loved Dublin and it was the perfect first leg of our adventure. There are countless things to do and see there, so it’s great for anyone looking to learn more about Irish history or enjoy some live music. Although we only had 3 days in Dublin, it was enough time to see the things we wanted to. Stay tuned for more posts about our Irish road trip! 

Cheers! Amanda


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