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20 Things to do in Dublin

A small capital with a humongous reputation, Dublin has a mix of heritage and hedonism that will not disappoint. All you have to do is show up. Even in these times of green juices and heart-monitoring apps, the pub remains the alpha and omega of social interaction in Dublin. The city's relationship with alcohol is complex and conflicted, but at its very best, a night out in the pub is the perfect social lubricant and one of the highlights of a visit to Dublin. Every Dubliner has their favorite haunt, from the never-changing traditional pub to whatever new opening brings in the beautiful people. With more than 1000 of them spread about the city, you'll be spoilt for choice.

1. Trinity College and Long Room

Trinity's greatest treasures are found within the Old Library, built by Thomas Burgh between 1712 and 1732. The star of the show is the Book of Kells, a breathtaking, illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels of the New Testament, created around AD 800 by monks on the Scottish island of Iona, but more stunning still is the 65m Long Room, the library's main chamber, which houses around 200,000 of the library's oldest volumes.

2. Molly Malone Statue

Previously located on the shopper’s paradise of Grafton Street, the lovely Molly has now been moved to Suffolk Street just across from O’Neill’s pub. Make sure to learn the song so that you can sing it to Molly. I’ll give you a few lines; “In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty, I first laid my eyes on sweet Molly Malone”. There you go; now, make sure to Google the rest of the lyrics, so you know her history.

3. Little Museum of Dublin

This award-winning museum tells the story of Dublin over the last century via memorabilia, photographs, and artifacts donated by the general public. The impressive collection, spread over the rooms of a handsome Georgian house, includes a lectern used by JFK on his 1963 visit to Ireland and an original copy of the fateful letter given to the Irish envoys to the treaty negotiations of 1921, whose contradictory instructions were at the heart of the split that resulted in the Civil War.

4. St Stephen's Green

As you watch the assorted groups of friends, lovers, and individuals splaying themselves across the nine elegantly landscaped hectares of Dublin's most popular green lung, St Stephen's Green, consider that those same hectares once formed a common for public whippings, burnings, and hangings. These days, the harshest treatment you'll get is the warden chucking you out if you disturb the carefully tended flower beds.

5. National Gallery of Ireland (A Free Museum Option)

A magnificent Caravaggio and a breathtaking collection of works by Jack B Yeats – William Butler's younger brother – are the main reasons to visit the National Gallery, but not the only ones. Its excellent collection is strong in Irish art, and there are also high-quality collections of every major European school of painting.

6. Ha'penny Bridge

So-called because back in the day, you had to pay a ha’penny to cross the bridge. Spanning the River Liffey, it offers great views of both sides of Dublin’s dividing river. People have started putting love locks on this bridge. I don’t recommend it as I don’t want the Ha’penny bridge to end up like the one in Paris

7. Temple Bar Neighbourhood

If you are not too tired and want to experience some of the Dublin nightlife, we recommend exploring the popular Temple Bar District. It is a good place to discover the “craic”, the all-encompassing Irish word for having a good time. This is the party capital of Dublin, and if you’re seeking out pints of Guinness, live music, and lots of the aforementioned “craic”, this is definitely the place to come.

Yes, the prices are higher than everywhere else in town, and it’s also going to be full of tourists. But there are plenty of locals out here too, and you’re pretty much guaranteed a good time. The most visited bar is The Temple Bar, but there are loads of bars in this area to grab a pint and many also offer food. A few others to consider are The Palace Bar, a traditional Victorian-era pub. The Brazen Head is believed to be Ireland’s oldest pub dating back to 1198, and Buskers which offers a more contemporary bar atmosphere with modern cocktails.

8. Dublin Castle

Slap bang in the heart of the city, the historic castle is well worth a quick visit on your weekend in Dublin. This is also a popular wedding venue. It has been used in movies such as “Becoming Jane” and “Michael Collins”.

9. Christ Church Cathedral

Another religious beauty, you can also see the mummified cat and rat. Scenes from the Tudors were filmed here. In fact, my sister was an extra in a few of the scenes. Buy a combination ticket and visit Dublinia next door for a bit of a living history tour of the city.

10. Dublinia

is a historical recreation (or living history) museum and visitor attraction in Dublin, Ireland, focusing on the Viking and Medieval history of the city. Dublinia is located in a part of Dublin's Christ Church Cathedral, known as the Synod hall.

Dublinia features historical reenactment, with actors playing the roles of Vikings and Medieval Dubliners (in full costume), and encourages visitors to join in. It recreates Viking and Medieval-era buildings (houses, etc.) and street scenes.

11. St Patrick's Cathedral

The grand medieval cathedral is the tallest in all of Ireland.  Hmmm, are there too many churches on this list? Upholding the religious stereotype! But seriously, this is a gorgeous building. If you have a chance to attend a choir recital here, take it. And there’s a nice little garden area beside it, perfect for a picnic.

12. Kilmainham Gaol

Step into the past and see where the heroes of the 1916 Easter Rising were housed after events that ultimately (in 1949) led to Ireland officially gaining its freedom from England. Learn more about the previous inmates of the prison too, they weren’t all heroes. Scenes from the original “Italian Job” were filmed here, not to mention “Michael Collins” and “The Wind That Shakes The Barley”.

13. Guinness Storehouse

Home of the famous Irish “Black Gold”, learn about Guinness’s history, see how it’s made, and enjoy a pint from the panoramic bar. This is a massive tourist trap of course, so be prepared for crowds. However, it’s worth it for all the old Guinness ads and the view from the Gravity Bar at the top of the Storehouse. Despite the crowds, it is something you need to tick off the bucket list of things to see in Dublin.

14. Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship

The Jeanie Johnston tall ship (fee*) is a remake of the original Jeanie Johnston, a three-masted sailing ship that was originally built in Quebec, Canada, in 1847. It was one of the so-called “famine ships,” which was used to transport emigrants between Ireland and North America. During the Great Famine in Ireland from 1845 to 1849, about one million people died in the country, and a million more people left Ireland to seek a new life, primarily to the United States, the UK, Canada, and Australia. Liverpool was a particularly popular city for emigrants and it is estimated that today about three-quarters of the population has Irish roots.

15. EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum

Ireland has experienced a number of periods of mass emigration, not just during the Great Famine, and many Irish people continue to emigrate. If you want to learn more about the Irish emigration experience, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum (fee*) is a museum that tells the story of Irish emigration around the world. Ireland is a country that has had its fair share of troubled times, and this has led to an estimated 9 to 10 million people who have emigrated since 1700! 

16. GPO Witness History Exhibition

If you’re interested in learning a little bit more about 20th-century history in Ireland, particularly the 1916 Easter Rising, a visit to the GPO Witness History Museum (fee*) should be high on your list. This is found in Dublin’s General Post Office (GPO) on O’Connell Street, a beautiful Georgian building built in 1814 and one of Ireland’s most famous buildings.

17. Dublin Writers Museum

This museum has displays dedicated to some of the most notable writers in Irish history, including James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, and William Yeats to name but a few. It is housed in a beautiful 18th-century mansion on Parnell Square and is next door to the present-day Irish Writers Union.

18. James Joyce Centre

James Joyce is brought to virtual life in this beautifully restored Georgian house. As well as some wonderful interactive details, the exhibits include some of the furniture from Joyce’s Paris apartment; a life-size recreation of a typical Edwardian bedroom (not Joyce’s, but one similar to what he would have used); and the original door of 7 Eccles St, the home of Leopold and Molly Bloom in Ulysses, which was demolished in real life to make way for a private hospital.

19. Jameson Distillery Bow St.

See where Jameson Whiskey was made until the 1970s and sip on some of the legendary firewater. It’ll put hair on your chest! This is one of my favorite tourist attractions in Dublin. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable, and it’s great value for money. Try the Jameson and a ginger complimentary cocktail at the end of the tour; it’s delicious.

20. Irish Night at The Merry Ploughboy Pub

The Merry Ploughboy pub in Dublin is the place to be if you are looking for some of the best Irish entertainment around. In this unique pub, you will be able to experience The Merry Ploughboys are a band that specialize in playing traditional Irish music. The band has been together since 1989 and has been performing music for their audiences in Dublin ever since. In fact, the same performers who founded the group are still playing with the band – a fact that is impressive enough by itself and tells you something about the excellence and quality of the group. During the show which starts at 8.30 pm (it’s a very good idea to book your tickets in advance as they are very popular and can quickly sell out at ) and combines Irish music, dancing, and songs.  Halfway through The Merry Ploughboys show, they will leave the stage for a break and on will come the All Ireland and World Champion Irish Dancers who are based in Dublin. They put on their own fantastic show which has been commissioned especially for the pub. After this interlude, The Merry Ploughboys take to the stage once again and wow the crowds.

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