Dublin glows with warm smiles, passionate prose, boisterous banter and creamy dark stout.
Oscar Wilde, the romantic Dubliner worshipped by millions, once said he could resist everything except temptation. Visitors to Dublin will quickly appreciate his dilemma.
For centuries the Emerald Isle’s capital challenged the stuffiest of British edicts with national sentiments first banned, fought for, eventually accepted and now much admired. Dubliners lead from the heart and you’ll love every moment of your time to this intriguing city.
Here’s a city guide to the top things to do in Dublin.
Dublin’s city streets are a fascinating historical attraction in themselves. Wander at will and take it all in.
To learn more about Ireland’s struggle for independence, much of which was played out on the streets of Dublin, book well in advance for a guided walking tour with Historical Walking Tours of Dublin. The Revolutionary Dublin tour is an absolute must.
One of the city’s most recognisable landmarks, Dublin Castle, was the seat of British power until 1922. The Record Tower is the oldest surviving section.
You’ll need to duck to enter the Little Museum, a quaint Georgian home brimming with heirlooms from Dublin’s past 100 years.
To head further back to a time of Vikings, Pagans and Christians in medieval battle, visit the archaeology wing of the National Museum of Ireland. The crypts carved out beneath St Michan’s Church are the final resting place of Irish Crusaders, who marched through Europe to reclaim Jerusalem in the 11th and 12th centuries.
Seeing the Book of Kells at Trinity College should be at the top of your Dublin cultural ‘to-do’ list. Created in the 9th century, the manuscript is one of the world’s most important religious documents, and illustrates the four gospels of the Bible.
Beside a quill and inkwell William Butler Yeats’ timeless adage ‘There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met’ is one of many exhibits on display at the National Library of Ireland.
The luck of the Irish may be world-renowned but you’re at long odds of losing your shirt at the Casino Marino. This is actually a historic home, and one of the finest examples of 18th century neo-classical architecture in Europe. The TARDIS-esque building cleverly conceals 16 rooms on three floors, masked as a single space from the stunning exterior. It’s open May to October.
In Ireland sustenance often takes a liquid form, and you’ll find plenty of options to quench your thirst around the lively Temple Bar precinct.
Head over to the Old Jameson Distillery, one of the world’s oldest whiskey houses, and join a history tour to uncover the story behind the subtle flavours of this delicate spirit.
The world’s favourite stout, Guinness, is of course available on tap at the Guinness Storehouse. Here you can master the art of pouring the perfect pint. Retire to the 1837 Bar & Brasserie for fresh Irish oysters or join the 18th century revelry at the Brewers’ Dining Hall, which serves Guinness-flavoured stews, savoury pies and chocolate mousse!
Beat the tourist food traps in town with the award-winning Fab Food Trails. On the Dublin Tasting Trail, you’ll sample the cheeses, meats and pastries loved by locals and often missed by visitors. Mix with the beautiful people on the Food and Fashion Trail, or check out their recently launched coffee trail with more than a few tasty treats along the way.
Irish food, the epitome of warming comfort fare, is slow-cooked with love. Learn more at the Dublin Cookery School, where you’ll begin with bread baking and finish with chocolate tempering.
Get the jump on your holiday gift shopping with a visit to Carrolls for Irish-made merchandise. There are stores across Dublin. Tempt sweet tooths back home with Guinness dark chocolate and shamrock shortbread, whiskey fudge and Irish cream truffles. Dazzle the family fashionista with lucky charms of glowing emerald.
The heritage of Keats, Joyce and Wilde looms large in Dublin and you’ll long to turn a few pages of Irish literature. Lean on the learned staff at Books Upstairs for Dublin’s latest best sellers and hear emerging writers read from their text or perform poetry.
Whatever your handicap, the Royal Dublin Golf Club offers plenty of picturesque challenges. The course is set in a UNESCO World Heritage-recognised biosphere. The landscape teems with wildlife, including egrets, hedgehogs, hares and even seals. Since 1885, golfing greats have tackled the 65-hectare links, featuring grassland, sand dunes and marshes blossoming with colourful orchids.
Next, go for gold and or just have a go at a range of Gaelic Games. Test your eye-hand co-ordination with Hurling — an Irish brand of hockey, or dodge your friends in a fast-paced game of Gaelic Football. There’s even the opportunity to master the art of Irish Ceilí Dancing.
Do you have any tips for top things to do in Dublin? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Barry Johnson is a freelance writer living in Sydney, but with a trail of Aussie souvenirs scattered throughout previous homes in Europe, America, Asia and the Middle East. Barry believes travelling is an adventure where the highlights push you on to the next trip and the lowlights can be laughed at with hindsight. Without a passport, he’d have missed getting lost in the Californian forest a week after the Blair Witch Project went viral, building a giant Buddha on a Cambodian mountain, camel racing in an Egyptian desert and teaching English to Peruvian children as they taught him Quechuan — the language of the Incas.