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Ten top things to do in Dublin, as chosen by a Dubliner

The Temple Bar Pub

The Temple Bar Pub

Ireland’s capital city of Dublin is a vibrant and vivacious city. It is literally packed full of things to see and do whether you are looking for a lively music scene, to unlock the secrets of the past, or perhaps to walk in the footsteps of Joyce or Behan or even Bono, as long as you have the energy, Dublin will keep offering you all her delights and treasures as you walk her streets. And yet despite being a Dubliner myself, she still reveals new nuggets to me and I see as if for the first time. So allow me to take you to some of my favourite spots in my favourite city!

Ten top things to do in Dublin

1. St. Michan’s Church is one of Dublin’s best kept secrets! Located on Dublin City’s Northside the current structure dates from 1686 but the foundations are from the late Viking Age approximately 1095. Outside, the church is arguably unimpressive, but inside it boasts some great detailed wood work and an organ which is thought to have been played by Handel. But for me the best part of this church is the crypt which due to its unique air-tight quality, has mummified several corpses, amongst them the body of a purported 400 year old crusader who once stood at over 6 feet tall. Locally it was believed that if you rubbed his left hand (the right one and feet having being severed at death) it would bring good luck! Not so sure myself!

2. Glasnevin Cemetery is just 15 minutes from Dublin City Centre and it was for many years the cemetery of choice to be buried in – evident when you learn that the who’s who of Irish History seems to be interred here from the Catholic Emancipator Daniel O’Connell to Ireland’s first president Eamon De Valera to writer Brendan Behan and musician Luke Kelly –to name but a few. Take a tour with the knowledgeable and engaging guides, wander the museum and check the records to see if you have relatives buried here!

Dublin Bay and the DART on a sunny day taken in Dalkey

Dublin Bay and the DART

3. The Dart – is Dublin’s electric train system and runs along the coast from Howth in the north of the Dublin to Greystones to the south in County Wicklow. This efficient service allows you to tour of the many coastal villages along Dublin’s coast with Howth and Dalkey (check out Bullock Harbour here) to the South two of my frequent spots! And make sure you get a delicious 99 ice-cream a must have accompaniment – no matter the weather!

4. Viking Splash is a fun tour for kids of all ages! This amphibious vehicle takes you along the streets of the capital to the Grand Canal Basin – where it enters the water. Encouraged to behave like a marauding Viking but with great History lesson built in, release your inner Viking on this fun tour! Roooooooaaarrr!!

5. Leo Burdocks is a little taste of heaven for most Dubs and the name is synonymous with great fish and chips! The first and oldest of the shops is located just opposite Christchurch Cathedral on Werburgh Street. So make like a Dubliner and order the finest dinner around! Allow the taste and scent of the salt and vinegar to be enhanced by an al fresco dining experience in the greeny grounds of the cathedral.

6. An alternate way to see the city is with a Segway tour of the Docklands. Roam the cities newly redeveloped docklands area with the aid of guide, learn the history and have the best fun you can on two wheels! Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!!

7. Dublin Zoo – Sure most major cities have zoos, but Dublin Zoo, is in my opinion just a little special. One of the world’s oldest zoos (it opened in 1830) it has reinvented itself in recent years with fantastic new habitats for the animals including the magnificent African Savanna. With over 400 animals to see and 28 hectares of lakes, gardens and habitats to walk around, this should not be missed.

8. Iveagh Gardens – We like our parks here in Ireland, with Dublin having more green spaces per square kilometre than any other European city. And in Dublin we do have some beautiful parks such as St. Stephens Green at the top of Grafton Street. But for me the Iveagh Gardens (Hatch Street on Dublin’s South-side) is the clear winner, a hidden gem lost amongst the urban sprawl this is usually the reserve of clued up locals and lucky office workers who happen upon it. A small but beautifully landscaped park with a water feature and statues enjoy a quiet picnic here in this secret haven.

Powerscourt Townhouse

Powerscourt Townhouse

9. Powerscourt Townhouse is just off Grafton Street and is a renovated Georgian style house once owned by Viscount Powerscourt who’s “little” country retreat was the dazzling Powerscourt Estate in Wicklow. The house was originally built to entertain guest during the time parliament ran and while the house may now host a myriad of over 70 boutique shops, once can still glimpse some of the original features which awed guests in the 18th century. A unique shopping centre and a great spot to people watch in, have a coffee and watch the world go by!

10. National Gallery – Ireland’s National Gallery lies in the heart of Georgian Dublin on Merrion Square –just beside the houses of parliament – Leinster House. It has over 14,000 artworks such as Caravaggio, Monet, Picasso ,Goya and Yeats. But for me the real draw has always has been “The Meeting on the Turret Stairs” by William Burton which was recently voted Ireland’s favourite painting. It captures the tragic and ill-fated last meeting of Hellelil and Hildebrand – two lovers torn apart by fate – and it is an exceptionally emotive and mesmerising piece. With only limited viewing times, be sure and catch it!

So, next time you’re in Dublin I hope you’ll take up some of my suggestions! Dublin is a small and safe city, easy to walk around in and with a thousand years of history coursing through her streets you are really are walking through time. Here at TourIreland.com we provide tours of Ireland – north, south, east and west, and whether you would like to travel her highways and byways by Self Drive, Chauffeur or Escorted Coach we can organise that for you! Hope to see you soon!

Guest post submitted by Niamh Allabyrne.

Image Credits:
The Dart – Failte Ireland Imagery
Powerscourt Townhouse – courtesy of Powerscourt Townhouse

6 comments

  1. Add Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin – combine with Glasnevin Cemetery – and it’s a good list!

  2. Oh, a Segway tour sounds fun- I hadn’t heard of that 🙂 I’m a
    a fan of the Smithfield area of the City and I think the Collins Barracks of the National Museum of Ireland there is worth a visit if you enjoy Decorative Arts & History– there are wonderful displays of Irish furniture through the decades, clothing, a section on the fab designer & architect Eileen Gray, and a room with drawers you can open to find all sorts of decorative treasures within- Irish Lace, embroidery & so on. The buildings are lovely, it is free, and generally not very busy. There’s also a military & Easter Rising section, & a section on the ship the Asgard, but I’ve not made the time to go see those yet- but I will!
    PS: In the Smithfield Square, the Third Space is a great place to get good coffee, and eat. Good value, tasty, & friendly! For a bit more money, the tiny 7 Social also has good food and is up the road between the Collins Barracks & The Square. 🙂 Susan

  3. There was plenty of suggestions via Facebook to add to this list of things to do in Dublin
    -Kilmainham Gaol
    -National Archaeology Museum
    -Leprechaun Museum
    -A walk along the river Liffey
    -Take the Dart train out to Bray or Howth.
    -Take a walk around St.Stephens Green.

    Keep ’em coming…

  4. Liam, I really loved the statues/sculptures around Dublin. You could spend a day just hunting them all out. My favourites were Molly Malone, the Famine Sculptures, Oscar Wilde’s statue to name just a few. But there are so many more. Perhaps a suggestion for another blog post for you, to list them all with their locations 😀