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Top Things to do in Dublin, Ireland

Updated: Apr 30

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Street of Dublin Ireland

The third largest island in Europe and the 20th largest in the world, Ireland has a significant cultural influence in literature, music, and sports such as horse racing. Tourists make their way to the island yearly to visit World Heritage Sites, castles, cathedrals, and the lush open fields that make the country popular. The capital city of Dublin is the most touristed city in Ireland as well as the largest, and it’s a great location to visit on its own or to use as a starting point for a massive Irish adventure. While in Dublin, here are the things you don't want to miss.

Dublin Castle

From 1204 to 1922, the Dublin Castle served as the British government’s Irish administration. A great deal of the castle was damaged in an 1864 fire, but the surviving structures can still be visited by interested tourists. Also still standing are two of the towers: the Bermingham Tower and the Record Tower. Today, the buildings are open to the public except for during certain state functions.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Named the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland, St. Patrick’s Cathedral was founded in 1191. Its choir, which was established in 1432, is known all over the world, and it still performs every day during the school year. St. Patrick’s is the largest cathedral in the country, and tourists can visit throughout the day via guided tour or using a mobile app. This cathedral was used 1,500 years ago as a place for Saint Patrick to baptize Christian converts.

Guinness Storehouse

A staple of Dublin, Ireland, this seven floor attraction opened in 2000 and was constructed in 1902. It's housed in the former fermentation plant of the St. James Gate Brewery building. The storehouse contains a glass atrium shaped like a pint of Guinness, and at its base is a copy of the 9,000-year lease signed by Arthur Guinness. Some notable attractions in the Guinness Storehouse include the 5th floor Brewery Bar—an eatery that serves Irish cuisine while incorporating Guinness in many of the dishes, and the 7th floor Gravity Bar, which offers amazing views of Dublin as well as a free pint of the namesake beer.

Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol was in operation from 1796 to 1924, and it’s known for formerly detaining and executing leaders of many rebellions. It held famous names such as Henry Joy McCracken and Robert Emmett alongside ordinary criminals with anything from petty theft charges to rape and murder charges. None of the prisoners were segregated, and as many as five people were sometimes kept in a single cell. Public hangings were held outside the prison until 1820, and in 1891, a small hanging cell was built on the first floor for more private executions.

The jail was eventually decommissioned by the government due to poor living conditions. Several restoration attempts were performed until the final one in 1971, which made the prison suitable for opening as a tourist attraction. Today, it serves as a museum with guided tours, and it's one of the largest unoccupied prisons in Europe.

Trinity College Dublin

Ireland’s oldest surviving university, Trinity College was founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592. Many students attend to learn law, literature, and humanities, and it's currently considered one of the most elite academic institutions in Europe. It features Georgian architecture, which often earns it rankings as the most beautiful campus in the world. The Library of Trinity College includes the original "Book of Kells" as well as a copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. For these reasons, the library receives more than half a million visitors each year, making it one of the top things to do in Dublin, Ireland.

National Museum of Ireland

The National Museum of Ireland features four branches: Archeology, Decorative Arts and History, Natural History, and a Country Life branch near Castlebar.

The Archeology branch contains objects from the Medieval and Viking periods as well as prehistoric pieces. Visitors can see Bronze Age jewelry, displays from Egypt, Cyprus, and Rome, and treasures from the church.

The Decorative Arts and History branch is located in the former Collins military barracks. It houses the Great Seal of the Irish Free State as well as furniture, weapons, and a Chinese vase from 1300 AD.

The Natural History Museum is known as the Dead Zoo by locals because it’s home to specimens of animals from around the world. Country Life, the most recently opened section, is focused on life from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century.

Temple Bar

Temple Bar Dublin

Known as the cultural corner of Dublin, Temple Bar is a world famous nightlife destination. It was named after Sir William Temple, who built a house for his family there in the 1600s. The area, located on the south bank of the River Liffey, offers restaurants, nightclubs, and bars—most notably the Temple Bar Pub that's been open since 1840. It has two renovated squares, Meetinghouse Square and Temple Bar Square, the former being named after the nearby Quaker Meeting House where movies are screened outside in the summer.

Where to Stay

I decided to list hotels in the city center, which is a good jump-off point for exploring Dublin. Quite a luxurious choice, The Shelbourne sits on St. Stephen's Green and is a five-minute walk from tons of popular attractions. Significantly more affordable, Holiday Inn is an O'Connell Street hotel within a 17-minute walk to Dublin Castle. You can also stay in a real life castle; the Clontarf Castle Hotel has four floors and 111 rooms.

Dublin, Ireland is a city rich with history and culture. Fans of literature, Viking history, and a good pint of whiskey can find plenty of things to do in the city. Grab a drink at the Temple Bar Pub, learn about Dublin in the National Museum, and head back to leave a comment to tell me your experience!

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