Dublin; the capital of Ireland and home to history, heritage and award-winning stout. This cultural hub is a popular spot for European-lovers looking to get a taste for typical Irish life. With millions of people flocking to the city for Guinness, historical architecture and vast, green spaces unlike anywhere else in Europe. No two experiences will be the same, with so much to see, taste and explore, you’ll fall in love with the quaint charm and elegance of this literary landmark of Ireland.
Follow our article as we uncover the top five places to visit on your next trip to the Emerald Isle, from medieval castles to stunning Georgian architecture and tasty tipples.
Tara Povey who blogs at Where is Tara tells us more about the city and why she loves it: “I grew up in Dublin, so I sometimes take it for granted. But the more I travel the more I realise that Dublin in an amazing city. It has that perfect mix of historic and modern architecture. The people of Dublin really make the city though, if they see someone looking lost they'll offer them directions, they'll even walk you there themselves.”
A former prison set in the heart of the city, those looking to get a glimpse into the criminal and historical background of Dublin should make sure this magnificent building is on their must-visit list. Now a museum owned by the Office of Public Works, visitors to Kilmainham Gaol can wander its eerie corridors, explore the 24-square-feet cells and get a glimpse into life inside the prison.
Olivia who blogs at Olivia Leaves has been based in Dublin since 2013 but loved visiting when she lived in London, she always recommends the museum to friends and family:
“Dublin was the first city I visited in Europe, and I've been here ever since! It's a special place that is growing rapidly and developing a very cosmopolitan centre, without losing its friendly, community feel. If you're visiting Dublin for the first time you don't want to miss Kilmainham Gaol. It's the jail where Irish revolutionaries were held during the 1916 Easter Rising and the tour will give you an amazing history lesson. It's my favourite attraction!”
Justine and her husband Scott from Wanderers of the World agree: “I visited Dublin with my other half, Scott, in April 2016 for a long weekend and was instantly struck by the city’s rich history, impressive buildings and ease with which to get around. Furthermore, a guided tour around Kilmainham Gaol - where many Irish revolutionaries including the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were imprisoned and executed - will be both educational and bewitching.”
One of Ireland’s most prestigious universities and home to the Trinity College Library and Book of Kells exhibition. Founded in the 1500s and opened by Elizabeth I, visitors to the site today can book guided tours around the cobbled and grassy squares and revel at the magnificent Georgian buildings. Visit the library within the university and discover the Book of Kells exhibition, a display of ancient Latin manuscripts and illustrations, dating back to the 9th century.
Justine and Scott recommend visiting the tombs within the University: “During your trip to Dublin, you must make it your mission to marvel at the dusty tomes within the Trinity College Library and Book of Kells exhibition.”
James and Sarah from The Whole World or Nothing mention Trinity College in their recommendations for visiting the city: “We visited Dublin as part of an epic road trip we took around Ireland in 2017 and instantly fell in love. Dubliners are characteristically friendly and welcoming and the city itself is absolutely charming, full of fascinating history and beautiful architecture. Places not to miss off your must-see list are Dublin Castle, Trinity College and Ha’penny Bridge.”
The Temple Bar
The perfect spot for people looking to relax after a busy day of exploration and those with a thirst for a Guinness or two, The Temple Bar is one of Dublin’s most popular pubs and rightly so. Famous for hosting traditional Irish music nights, a large selection of traditional whiskies and one of the best atmospheres across the city, it really is a must-visit when wandering around the city.
“Last year my best friends and I went to Dublin for a weekend exploring this wonderful city.” Says Sophie who blogs about her travels at Sophie’s Suitcase. “We spent the weekend drinking, walking, eating and drinking some more. We explored every corner of this famous Irish city, travelling back in time at Trinity College, going on a food tour, having a picnic on Stephen’s Green and learning how to pull the perfect pint at the Guinness Factory.
“In the evenings we headed out for dinner, first stopping for cocktails at the Vintage Cocktail Club, before heading for a private dining experience at The Pig’s Ear. I’d then recommend heading to Temple Bar, for a pint and live music, and then the next morning head to Green Bench Café for the best sandwiches in Dublin. Travelling with my best friends is my favourite thing to do, and I’d definitely recommend a weekend break in Dublin!”
James and Sarah agree that heading out to enjoy the pubs throughout the night is the best way to get a feel for the real Dublin: “Our biggest recommendation would be to sample the legendary nightlife. And of course, there’s no better way to do this than watching some live music with a pint of the black stuff, Guinness. Head to the Temple Bar area for your pick of great pubs.”
Kara from the Whimsy Soul has visited Dublin twice and loved the atmosphere of the cosy pubs during both visits: “I've visited Dublin twice. The first time was when I was 18, about two weeks after I graduated high school. Ireland was my first solo international trip and I immediately fell in love with the cobblestone streets of Dublin, the friendly faces everywhere I went and of course, the live music and beer I could legally drink in the pubs! The second time I visited was on my European honeymoon trip. Dublin was kind of our "date night" city - so many pubs offering anything from cosy nooks to trendy eats that it felt like one big date night during our visit.
“Some of my favourite memories from Dublin are the nights I spent drinking a Guinness and listening to someone play songs like "Galway Girl" in pubs. The live music here is charming and gets you in the "Irish" spirit.”
Ha’penny Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the River Liffey in the centre of the city, connecting The Temple Bar in the South with the shopping district in the North. Since 1816, the bridge was home to thousands of love locks all dedicated to previous visitors at the river crossing, which has since been removed and banned from the site.
Head to the location at night and witness the white bridge glow as the decorative lights glisten in the water below, creating a truly enchanting picture from both sides of the water. If you’re looking for a romantic walk or the perfect Instagram spot, then a wander over this famous bridge is a great option.
Possibly one of the most iconic attractions in the city, the Guinness Storehouse is now a museum and tourist attraction for true lovers of Guinness. Covering seven floors of Guinness history, visitors take a tour around the historical site that has produced famous Irish stout for hundreds of years before taking you on a journey through the history of the drink and allowing you take a sip for yourself.
The Global Grasshopper, Becky, talks all about her visit to the brewery on her blog, depicting her journey through the museum: “Guests start their storehouse journey in the atrium where a seven-story pint glass creates an impressive entryway. A 9,000-year lease signed by founder Arthur Guinness, pictures and other historic documentation are available for review on the ground floor. Arthur Guinness Business Centre on the third and fourth floors holds multiple conference centres and private event spaces available for rental.
“Displays highlighting Guinness’ development sit throughout the building. Graphic designers used bold fonts and eye-catching décor to keep guests entertained while exploring. Each ticket includes a complimentary pint or soft drink. Interested parties use their ticket to obtain certification at Guinness’ fourth-floor Pour Your Perfect Pint Bar or for a pint at the seventh-floor Gravity Bar.”
Dublin is home to much more than just tasty beer and historical sights, book your next European cruise to the Irish capital and discover the hidden secrets and undiscovered gems for yourself. If European river cruises are more your style, take a look at the locations you can visit on some of our iconic river voyages.