Last Updated on March 21, 2023

Dublin, the capital city of Ireland, is a vibrant and lively city with a rich and fascinating history stretching back over a thousand years. It’s been the capital of Ireland since the 12th century and has played a significant role in Irish politics and culture throughout the years.

Known for its lively arts and vibrant culture, Dublin hosts a wealth of museums, galleries, theaters, and music venues. It’s also home to many famous writers, including James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Oscar Wilde. The people themselves are famously welcoming and friendly, giving Dublin a warm and convivial atmosphere.

Like many European capitals, Dublin is renowned for its many impressive buildings and landmarks, including the elegant Georgian architecture that characterizes much of the city center. Nature provides additional beauty due to the city’s proximity to both the mountains and the sea.

Lastly, Dublin is a mecca for pubs and nightlife. Its public houses or “pubs” are an essential part of the city’s social scene. The nightlife here is renowned with a range of bars, clubs and live music venues to suit every taste.

Here are some places to visit and things to do in this fascinating Irish city that will remain with you long after you return home. If you’re looking for a Dublin VRBO to stay in while you visit, here are our recommendations.

Visit Phoenix Park

Dublin is home to one of the largest parks in Ireland. The Wellington Monument, the US Ambassador’s residence, the Presidential apartment, and the famous Dublin Zoo can all be found in Phoenix Park.

Located just two miles from Dublin city center, Phoenix Park is always a welcome escape for urban Dubliners to enjoy the peaceful landscape.

Explore Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle has been in existence for over 800 years, yet this imposing structure has maintained its beauty and prestige throughout the ages. Here you can turn back the hands of time as you visit and view the relics on display.

This historic fortress once served as the former seat of British rule in Ireland. The castle grounds include the State Apartments and beautiful gardens worth exploring.

Admire the Trinity College Library

Ireland’s largest library, Trinity College Library holds countless well preserved ancient books and texts, including the Book of Kells, maintaining them in perfect condition.

The architectural design of the library, founded in 1519, is superb. In fact, you may notice that one of the most famous sections of the library, the long room, bears a striking resemblance to the archives of the Jedi in “Star Wars” films although this likeness was completely unintentional.

While the main library is open only to staff and students, assistants can escort tourists into a part of the library where you can glimpse the great historical archives that document the lives of the Irish.

Whether sunny or raining outside, the atmosphere in the library is perfect for reading – all you have to do is simply pick up a book and get lost in its pages.

National Museum of Ireland

The biggest museum in the country, the National Museum of Ireland hosts fascinating displays that reach deep into Ireland’s Celtic and Viking past. Inside, you’ll find exhibits like the bog bodies – a collection of bodies of ancient people found preserved in bogs throughout Ireland.

The museum also has an extensive display of Celtic and Viking medieval era gold artifacts collected from various parts of the country. Displays covering other Dublin locations include furniture, glassware, a silver and ceramics section and even a miliary exhibition on artifacts, weapons, and memorabilia covering the military history of the Irish from 1550 to the present.

Visit the Avoca Wool Shop and Cafe

Avoca is a small village little more than an hour outside of Dublin, famous for its wool products. It hosts Ireland’s oldest weaving mill, founded in 1723.

For those unable to make the trek, the downtown Dublin Avoca Wool Shop and Café sports high-quality woolen garments produced from sheep that are bred in the Avoca area. You’ll find warm, cozy sweaters and other clothing made entirely from wool. These products have proven to stand the test of time and are worth the investment.

When you finish browsing, head upstairs to the kitschy restaurant for some high-quality, artisan foods and drinks.

The Haunting History of Kilmainham Gaol

This former prison, now a museum run by the Office of Public Works, has played a major role in the history of Ireland. Many Irish revolutionaries were imprisoned and executed here by orders of the UK Government. A small hanging cell was built in the prison’s first floor in 1891. 

Local guides provide in-depth knowledge about the deeply moving history contained within its walls. First built in 1796, the gaol was the site of degrading and inhuman treatment of its prisoners for years, especially women and even children.

Decommissioned in 1924, the gaol was such a site of human suffering that there was initially little interest in its preservation as a monument to the struggle for national independence. A massive restoration project in 1960, however, refurbished much of the decrepit prison to its earlier operational appearance.

It now houses a museum on the history of Irish nationalism and offers guided tours of the building.

Day Trip to the Wicklow Mountains

For a break from the city, a visit to the nearby Wicklow Mountains is a great escape. They occupy the entire center of County Wicklow and extend into the counties of Dublin, Wexford and Carlow.

Tours from Dublin include half and full day trips taking visitors through the pastoral Irish countryside to the quaint villages of Glendalough and Wicklow, past movie filming locations, stately mountains, heavy forests, stunning lakes and lovely babbling mountain brooks.

Other popular day trips include the Cliffs of Moher and the historic town of Kilkenny.

Take a Walking Tour

A walking tour is a great way to explore Dublin’s hidden gems and learn about the city’s history and culture. Whether you take a guided tour or explore the city on your own, you’ll admire the rich Irish culture on display.

Stroll down Grafton Street, a pedestrianized shopping street, and enjoy the street performers, cafes, and shops. Browse local markets, including the Dublin Flea Market, where you can find handicrafts and vintage clothing.

Take time to sample the local cuisine. Dublin is known for its traditional Irish dishes such as fish and chips, Irish stew, and soda bread.

Lastly, you can attend a wonderful entertaining live music performance at one of the innumerable pubs, clubs, and concert venues throughout the city.

Along your walk, one thing you’ll notice is the colorful array of doors seen throughout the city. The locals paint their doors in bright colors to distinguish them from their neighbors. This practice has grown into something of a tradition, even to the point of reflecting the different Dublin neighborhoods. These picturesque doors are artworks in themselves and the lasting impact they leave is simply amazing.

Grattan Bridge In Dublin, Ireland
Grattan Bridge In Dublin, Ireland. Courtesy of Shutterstock.

Graveyard Tour of the Glasnevin Cemetery Museum

Glasnevin Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Ireland and the first cemetery museum in the world. Home to an estimated 1.5 million burials, this storied place holds the graves of some of the most notable figures in Irish history including legendary Irish novelist Brendan Behan, 19th century pro-Catholic political leader Daniel O’Connell, and Michael Collins, the 20th century revolutionary and politician who fought so diligently for Irish independence.

Many of the tombs are topped with tall headstones and statuary, giving the cemetery/museum a haunting beauty. Local guides provide a brief biography and interesting stories on each of many of these heroes.

Glasnevin is considered the top tourist recommendation by many in Dublin.

Walk across Ha’penny Bridge

Built in 1816, this bridge has become one of the most-visited attractions in Dublin. Many tourists come here to take photos and admire the view of the River Liffey which runs through the city.

Originally called the Wellington Bridge, the name changed to Liffey Bridge, which remains the bridge’s official name. But it’s most commonly referred to as the Ha’penny Bridge as a result of the fee charged by the locals for others to gain passage (a halfpenny). The bridge and associated fee directly replaced a fleet of ferries that were in dire need of repair.

Enjoy a Pint at the Guinness Storehouse Factory

No trip to Ireland is complete without trying some Irish beer and especially, a Guinness Stout. The world-famous Guinness Storehouse is located in the heart of the St. James Gate Brewery, just a few minutes’ walk from Heuston Station. Visitors can stroll through all seven floors of the factory, learning about the history and brewing process of the stout.

The tour itself is quite interesting and commences with a refreshing pint of Guinness at the tour’s ending.

Party in The Temple Bar

Partying at the Temple Bar has been a standing tradition since the 1300s, famous for its bright red façade. Many tourists come here to enjoy an authentic Irish whiskey, strike up a conversation and mix with the locals. 

It has a reputation as a noisy tourist attraction and night-time activities here can get boisterous, but rarely does a tourist leave Dublin without having a drink and photo in this iconic establishment.

Visit the Hallowed Grounds of St Patrick’s Cathedral

Long before there was a St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, a more famous St Patrick’s graced the capital city of Dublin. Founded in 1191 as a Roman Catholic cathedral, St. Patrick’s is currently the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland.

Also the largest church in Ireland, this stately church holds the tomb of famous author and satirist Jonathan Swift, once a deacon here. It’s towering presence with its nave, floor, and choir sections possessing stunning beauty make this one of Dublin’s top tourist attractions.

Dublin leaves a lasting impression on its visitors. From its many landmarks, impressive architecture, lively pubs, spirited nightlife, painted doors, and natural beauty, it’s sure to hold a warm place in your heart until the verdant hills of the Emerald Isle bid you to return.

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