Things to Do in Dublin
Towering 702 feet (214 meters) above the Atlantic Ocean at their highest point and stretching for 5 miles (8 kilometers) along the water, the famed Cliffs of Moher define the rugged west coast of Ireland. They're also one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland, with tours available from Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick, Killarney, and Doolin.
The Giant's Causeway is a cluster of approximately 40,000 basalt columns rising out of the sea on the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the area draws thousands of tourists each year who come to marvel at and photograph this natural wonder.
Dublin Castle has served many functions since it was built by King John of England in 1230. Originally a defense center against Norman invaders and the seat of the English government, it has since also been the site of the Royal Mint and police headquarters. Today, the castle grounds attract visitors and function as a venue for Irish government functions and ceremonies.
The bronze Molly Malone Statue commemorates the young woman featured in the local ballad, 'Cockles and Mussels'. As the song goes, this beautiful woman plied her trade as a fishmonger through the streets where her statue now rests, until she suddenly died of a fever. As a nod to the folk song, a statue was erected on the corner of Grafton and Suffolk streets and unveiled at the 1988 Dublin Millennium celebrations.
This tune has been adopted as Dublin's unofficial anthem, boosting this heroine to eternal fame. Though there is debate as to whether or not a Molly Malone like the one in the song ever existed, she is real to the people of Dublin and is remembered both in song as well as on June 13, National Molly Malone Day. The statue also acts as a popular rendezvous spot for groups as the beautiful bosomy woman with her cart cannot be missed.
One of the oldest buildings in Dublin, Christ Church Cathedral is located in the former medieval heart of the city. Founded in 1030 by Sitric, King of the Dublin Norsemen, the grand cathedral (also known as The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity) has long been a place of pilgrimage for Ireland's devout. Incorporated into the Irish Church in 1152, today it's the seat of both the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic archbishops of Dublin.
Renowned for its design, on a one-hour tour you'll get to explore the interior, keeping a look out for its famous stained glass windows, the smaller chapels behind the main altar, and the secret underground floor. You'll get an insight into the history of the cathedral, and hear the strange tale of the mummified cat and rat. You'll visit the crypt — one of the largest and oldest in Britain and Ireland, and also get to have a go at ringing the bells of Christ Church Cathedral in the belfry.
Dating back to AD 800, the illuminated manuscript known as the Book of Kells is renowned for its extraordinary illustrations and ornamentations. Its intricate drawings incorporating Celtic and Christian traditions are a testament to the incredible craftsmanship of the medieval Irish monks believed to have created it while on the remote island of Iona in Scotland. Despite Viking raids, theft, and fights between various Irish and English factions, 680 astonishingly detailed vellum (calf-skin) pages of the book remain intact.
One of Ireland’s most prestigious academic institutions, Trinity College Dublin sits in Dublin’s city center and boasts alumni including esteemed literary legends such as Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, and Samuel Beckett. Tourists from the world over come to wander the historic cobblestoned campus and see the Book of Kells, a prized medieval manuscript housed in the Trinity College Library.
Established in 1757, Kilbeggan Distillery had a 50-year production pause before reopening in 2007. Set in a whitewashed, slate-roofed heritage building, the historic Irish whiskey distillery houses vintage equipment including an antique pot still and a waterwheel that once powered the distillery.
The 7-story, pint glass–shaped interior of the Guinness Storehouse, one of Ireland’s top visitor attractions, draws travelers from all corners of the world who want to see the birthplace of the famed dark beer and get a taste straight from the barrel. Highlights include multimedia exhibits and a complimentary pint.
The famous Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle & Gardens is officially called the Stone of Eloquence, with a legend that states if you kiss the stone, you will never be at a loss for words. People travel from all over the world to kiss this mystical stone, which can only be done by hanging upside down over a sheer drop from the castle's tower. In addition to the draw of the stone, the 600-year-old fortress also boasts an array of handsome gardens and several interesting rock formations known collectively as Rock Close and given whimsical names such as Wishing Steps and Witch's Cave. Take your turn to kiss the stone, but don't leave the castle without exploring the grounds a bit too.
More Things to Do in Dublin
A compact cluster of crowded cobbled lanes, Temple Bar is an urban playground known for its nightlife. Once a rundown slum before artists and bohemian types—drawn by cheap rents—moved in, Dublin’s so-called cultural quarter has since been revamped. It is now home to galleries, vintage shops, cafés, cultural institutions, and a high concentration of pubs.
Wicklow Mountains National Park, also known as the Garden of Ireland, is one of the country’s six national parks and an easy day trip from Dublin, only 18.5 miles (30 km) away. Travelers frequent this County Wicklow mountain range to spend time away from the city and enjoy the stunningly wild landscape that is so markedly different from the typical green, grassy plains of the Emerald Isle. You’ll find 50,000 acres (20,000 hectares) of low mountains, serene lakes, and deep glacial valleys offering chances to fish, kayak, and hike.
Explore beyond Dublin with a day trip to Glendalough, a sixth-century monastic complex one hour south of the city center. Set between two lakes, Glendalough is a popular destination for travelers who want a taste of the Irish countryside. It’s also a common stop for hikers setting out along the Wicklow Way, which runs through the valley.
The largest church in Ireland, the majestic St. Patrick’s Cathedral has borne witness to nearly 800 years of Irish history. The church was supposedly founded on the site where Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick, baptized converts and is known for its exquisite stained-glass windows, marble statues, and medieval tiling. St. Patrick’s is as much a significant spot for literary pilgrims as it is for their religious counterparts; Jonathan Swift, the esteemed author of “Gulliver’s Travels” once served as dean here and is now buried within its gray stone walls.
For nearly 200 years, this distillery produced one of Ireland’s leading whiskeys, before Jameson—together with other producers—moved operations to a purpose-built facility in Middleton, County Cork, in the 1970s. Now, the Jameson Distillery Bow St. has been revamped as a visitor center showcasing the history and heritage of the brand.
Once a common used for sheep grazing and public executions, St. Stephen’s Green became public park in 1877. This popular 22-acre (9-hectare) park offers benches and green lawns for relaxing, beautiful flower beds, a lake full of ducks, children’s playgrounds, and busts of prominent Irish historical figures.
Grafton Street, a stretch of pedestrianized road in Dublin’s city center, connects two top landmarks: Trinity College and St. Stephen’s Green. Both a main thoroughfare and a destination itself, Grafton Street is lined with shops and restaurants, and is known for its groups of musicians called buskers. Wander into the adjoining side streets to order a pint at a classic Dublin pub.
At 1,752 acres (709 hectares), Dublin's Phoenix Park is one of the largest urban parks in Europe. This is the home of the Dublin Zoo, as well as the Victorian People’s Flower Garden, Áras an Uachtaráin (the official residence of the president of Ireland), and a herd of about 300 deer, which roam freely around the woodland areas and grassy lawns.
The General Post Office (GPO) is intricately connected to Ireland’s battle for independence, having been attacked by Republican rebels during the 1916 Easter Rising, and also damaged by crossfire during the Irish Civil War. Still a working post office, the GPO also houses the GPO Witness History Visitor Centre, featuring interactive exhibits.
Situated on Dublin’s Northside, O’Connell Street is one of the city’s main thoroughfares. As well as being home to shops, bars, and restaurants, this broad boulevard is also the setting for several statues, the 390-foot-high (120-meter-high) Spire monument, and the bullet-pocked General Post Office (GPO)—a key site in Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising.
Founded in 1990, the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) is located in a former royal hospital on 48 acres of land with a formal garden and medieval cemetery. In addition to its substantial collection of artworks, special exhibitions, educational programs, lectures, workshops, and studio tours draw visitors to the museum.
Wild, beautiful, and sparsely populated, Connemara, extending from Galway to the Atlantic Ocean, is Ireland at its most rugged and elemental. The indented Atlantic coastline is interspersed with beaches and seaside hamlets, while the interior encompasses bog, mountains, lakes, and empty valleys where sheep outnumber people.
Set in a Georgian townhouse, the Little Museum of Dublin looks at 20th-century life in the Irish capital. Featuring an eclectic collection of items—many of which were donated by Dubliners themselves—the exhibits cover everything from the 1916 Easter Rising to JFK’s 1963 visit to Dublin to the meteoric rise of Dublin rock band U2.
A family favorite, the 69-acre (28-hectare) Dublin Zoo has been around since 1831. Over 400 animals from about 100 different species can be seen across its various sections. In the African Savanna, rhinos, zebras, giraffes, and ostriches roam, while the Asian Forests exhibit is home to lions, snow leopards, and crested black macaques.
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