By Briana Seftel
Learn to pour the perfect pint of Guinness and discover an unrivaled literary history in Ireland’s capital, Dublin. Think it’s all skyscrapers and business? Think again. Dublin is more like a small village within a city, with cozy pubs and peaceful parks around every corner. Whether you have 24 hours or a week, Dublin is the ideal starting point to an Irish vacation.
What to Know
Known as Ireland’s Fair City, Dublin straddles the River Liffey on the east coast of Ireland. Established as a Viking settlement in the 10th century, Dublin fell under British rule up until 1922 when Ireland gained its independence. Since then, Dubliners are fiercely proud of their rebellious history and small but mighty city.
Renowned for its Georgian row houses and walkable city center, Dublin is also a UNESCO City of Literature. The birthplace of authors such as Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, visitors can explore several sites like the Dublin Writers Museum, the Irish Writers Centre and the James Joyce Centre. Of course, no visit to Dublin is complete without a visit to some of its many pubs. Grab a pint, pull up a chair and settle into Dublin life!
When to Go
Dublin buzzes all year round. In March, there's the St Patrick's Festival, while summer sees the city's best weather and several festivals in the city parks and docklands. Fall is another great time to visit with music, theater, fashion and Halloween events. Come winter, Dublin doesn't slow down. Both the New Year's Festival and TradFest make January a wonderful time to visit.
How to Get Around
Dublin is generally thought to be divided into two neighborhoods: North of the Liffey and South of the Liffey. You’ll find most of the attractions south of the Liffey, however if you have the time, it’s worth exploring the local haunts on the north side. When it comes to a compact city like Dublin, walking is the best way to get around. You’ll get a good feel for the city and its inhabitants, so pack a pair of comfortable shoes and hit the pavement. Dublin also has an excellent tram system, the Luas, which operates on two lines from 5:30 am to midnight, plus the Dublin Bus and the DART (the railway that travels out to the north and south coasts). You can also download the free Transport for Ireland app to help you navigate the city.
Where to Eat
Dublin is a cosmopolitan, multicultural city with a dining scene to match. From Japanese to seafood, you’ll find all types of cuisine here. Avoid the tourist traps on Grafton Street and head for the smaller side streets where you’ll find tasty and affordable eats. This is Dublin, so you’ll never be too far away from a pub where the Guinness flows like water. Below are some of our favorite places to eat and drink in the city.
- Klaw 5A Crown Alley, Temple Bar Phone: +353 1 556 0117
- L. Mulligan Grocer 18 Stoneybatter, Arran Quay Phone: +353 1 670 9889
- Delahunt 39 Camden Street Lower, Saint Kevin's Phone: +353 1 598 4880
- Brother Hubbard North 153 Capel St, North City Phone: +353 1 441 1112
- The Long Hall 51 South Great George’s Street Phone: +353 1 475 1590
- Grogan’s 15 William St S Phone: +353 1 677 9320
- The Winding Stair 40 Lower Ormond Quay, North City Phone: +353 1 872 7320
- Fallon & Byrne 11-17 Exchequer St Phone: +353 1 472 1010
- Fade Street Social 4 Fade St Phone: +353 1 604 0066
What to See
At the Guinness Storehouse, you not only learn how to pour the perfect pint, you will also uncover the secrets of Ireland's famous stout that's been the stuff of legend for over 250 years. Through multiple floors and interactive exhibits, learn the fascinating history behind Guinness and end your journey at the Gravity Bar with spectacular panoramic views of Dublin.
A stop at Ireland’s most prestigious university is a must. Stroll through the beautiful campus and head for the awe-inspiring Long Room, the main chamber of the Old Library with its magnificent barrel-vaulted ceiling and around 200,000 of the university’s oldest books. You can also see the illuminated Book of Kells, the world’s most famous medieval manuscript containing the four gospels, written around 800 AD.
Travel tip: Buy your ticket online to avoid the long line at the entrance.
St Stephen's Green
For a breath of fresh air, head to St Stephen’s Green, known as Dublin’s green lung. On a sunny warm day, there’s no better place to have a picnic or simply stroll than this compact park surrounded by beautifully preserved Georgian homes. Across the way is Merrion Square, home to the iconic statue of a lounging and smirking Oscar Wilde.
Discover the historic heart of Dublin at the Dublin Castle. Originally built in the 13th century as a Viking fortress, the castle served for centuries as the headquarters of the British administration in Ireland. After the Irish Independence, the Dublin Castle was handed over to the new government. Today, visitors can enjoy a picnic on the lovely grounds or take a tour of the state apartments.
Temple Bar is the place for a night out in Dublin. Crammed with lively pubs, restaurants and bars, you’ll be spoiled with excellent choices. Whether you’re in search of a quiet place to sip a beer, a sports bar to watch a rugby match or a rowdy joint with live music, Temple Bar has it all.
Tips and Tricks
It takes 119.5 seconds to pour and serve a pint of Guinness.
All national museums and galleries in Dublin are free. Click here for more free activities in the city!
If you love traditional Irish music, plan a trip during TradFest, an annual festival showcasing the world's best traditional and folk music.
The Temple Bar Food Market runs every Saturday at Meeting House Square selling local fresh produce, cheese, bread and prepared food.
Just south of Dublin lies County Wicklow, known as the “Garden of Ireland.” With mountains, lakes and beaches, Wicklow is a great place to experience Ireland’s natural beauty without traveling far. You can also visit Glendalough, a glacial valley that's home to an impressive monastic settlement nestled within the hills.
Located approximately 90 minutes from Dublin, Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland and a fantastic city to explore in a day. Go behind the scenes of the famous Titanic at Titanic Belfast, feel like royalty at Belfast Castle, and sample tasty local fare at St. George's Market. You can also combine Belfast with Giant’s Causeway.
The fishing village of Howth is one of the easiest day trips from Dublin. Visit on a Saturday or Sunday for the Howth Market where you can peruse stalls selling everything from artisan food to handmade crafts. Behind the village lies Howth Castle, home to the Gaisford-St Lawrence family since the 12th century. While the castle itself is not open to the public, you can freely wander the castle grounds.