Dublin is a fairly small city, but it is full of fun and life. There is a certain Irish humor that I kept encountering all throughout my trip that made the experience feel all the more engaging. There is also a heaviness that was tangible to me stemming from a long history of Ireland's quest for independence and recent contlicts within the last century. If you're planning a visit it is definitely worth reading up on the War for Independence and the North Ireland Conflict in order to get some sense of the history. I also found folks are very open in talking about their views on these periods. Besides this rich history Dublin has a lot of beautiful places to see and visit. Here are the spots I recommend which I visited.
There are a number of beautiful parks around Dublin. Weather permitting they are lovely to explore and spend time in.
I started my trip in Pheonix Park, accessible within about an hours walk from Dublin's center. The park is huge- it is actually the largest park in Europe. It has lots of open field, as well as paths for running and jogging, and includes a variety of forest areas. The park is also home to a large group of fairly domesticated deer. I really enjoyed spotting them- it is not often I have seen deer with full antlers and they were both beautiful and a bit intimidating. I later learned these deer are so friendly you can walk right up and feed them, but without knowing this I kept a healthy distance.
St. Stephen's Green
This is a beautiful small park close to the center of the city. When I came it was beautiful out and I sat and read on a bench. The park was busy with tourists, kiddos, and folks on their lunch breaks.
Behind St Stephen's Green is this pristine little park. It was absolutely beautiful and for some reason totally empty. This would be a great place to bring a picnic and hang out.
There are lots more little parks, like this one near the National Museums, if you feel like catching some green while out and about.
One amazing thing about Dublin is their national museums are all totally free! I went to two but in addition there is a decorative arts and history and a country life museum. The four national museums are all open 10am-5pm Tues- Sat and 1-5pm Sun and Mon. The National Gallery of Ireland is considered separate and has slightly differing hours but is also free.
National Museum of Natural History
I stumbled into this museum in the pouring rain. I actually wasn't planning to go. But it ended up being my favorite of the museums I went to. They have dubbed this museum the "dead zoo" because it is filled with thousands of varied taxidermy animals, as well as skeletons, castings, crystals and fossils, insects and sea creatures. It's a tight moderate sized space. I would've loved to bring kids here as it is an incredible display.
National Museum of Archeology
This museum is probably quite interesting if you are into artifacts, which to be honest, I am not really. BUT... this museum was recommended to me by a guide because it has several incredibly old (200-500 BC) preserved bodies/parts found as part of an exploration of a bog in which people where killed/sacrificed. It's grim, but also pretty incredible to see.
National Gallery of Ireland
The layout of this gallery is a bit confusing and the displays are not large, but there is some beautiful art on display here including this piece from Monet. They also have paid temporary exhibitions and regular events.
Irish Whiskey Museum
There are a lot of whiskey related tours in town, but in general they are each put on by a specific brand, i.e. Jameson. The Irish Whiskey Museum operates as an individual entity. The tour was pretty quick and informative and quite interesting. I felt I understood whiskey in general and the history of whiskey in Ireland a little better than when I began.
At the end of the tour you do a whiskey tasting with 3-4 whiskeys depending if you do the regular or premium tour- 22 or 25 euro (you can also get a discount if you bundle with other tours). The whiskeys were great and it was a good way to spend some time on a rainy afternoon. My personal favorite and the group general favorite was a whiskey called The Irishman. You can also purchase a variety of whiskeys in the store downstairs and they have a bar with great cocktails.
Walking the Liffey
It's gorgeous to just spend some time walking along the River Liffey which runs through town. There are beautiful bridges and pubs all over you can see walking, plus if you head north along the river it'll take you very close to Pheonix Park.
There are all sorts of cute installations amongst the alleyways in Dublin. Anne's Lane has an umbrella installation. Lover's Lane had love themed tiles. There are lots of lit up and flagged streets. You'll mostly find these by just walking and really keeping a keen eye out.
Taking a walking tour
I took another Sandemans free walking tour here. The guide, Ciaran Behan, was probably one of the best I've ever taken with. He was incredibly knowledgeable about the current and historical state of Ireland, besides having a flair for the more dark side of history and a great sense of humor. I'd highly recomend him for a walking tour- he does a general one and a dark sided themed one.
Pubs and Bars
There are about a million pubs in Dublin. I went to a lot of great ones but generally just recommend getting off the main Temple Bar drag if you've found yourself there and trying a bunch. That said, the Irish Whiskey Museum bar had the best whiskey sour I've ever had. I also enjoyed Sin E and Mulligan and Haines. You should also get a Guiness if you haven't tried one and if you enjoy them (or not) take the Guinness Factory Tour.
Queen of Tarts has incredible brunch food, as well as baked goods. They have two small locations and it is definitely worth a trip. I enjoyed the potato cakes with poached eggs and a banana cake.
The food in Dublin is generally quite expensive so I was on the lookout for more affordable eats. I found this spot which has great savory and sweet pies and it very affordable. I had a chicken and leek pie for 6.50 euro and it was a great lunch meal.
Murphy's has several locations across Dublin and Galway if you're in the mood for a sweet treat. They're very friendly. I enjoyed the Brown Bread ice cream which is an unusual and great local flavor.
Lastly there are lots of pubs to get Irish Stew, Beef and Guinness Stew, Seafood Chowders and other dishes. I only got to try a couple but recomend just trying some places and seeing what you enjoy!
Outside of Dublin
It is definitely worth taking the time to day trip from Dublin. You can check out my
I also heard great things about Howth and The Giant's Causeway.
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