13 Essential Places to Visit in Dublin & the Surrounding Area
Known as the ‘Emerald Isle’, Ireland is known for its green hills, medieval castles, as well as being a cradle of history and traditions. As the capital city, Dublin has a lot to offer to its visitors. Even if you find yourself there for five days or less, you’ll be able to go around the city and see the main attractions and even more. Here is a list of some of the best things you can do there, including the surrounding area and some extras!
It is one of the most famous areas of the city. Located close to the river Liffey, in the town centre, Temple Bar has still a medieval feel, with its little cobbled alleyways. Nowadays, the area hosts many Irish cultural institutions (like the Irish Film Institute), art galleries, shops, and pubs. Worth visiting both during the day and night, this place will always be bursting with vitality and people. If you fancy going out for dinner or just for a drink, you will be spoilt for choice. Don’t miss the opportunity to listen to some traditional live music and have a good time in this buzzing atmosphere.
As well as being one of the most well renowned universities in the world, Trinity College is without any doubts a great tourist destination. Since 1592, this college has been hosting some of the most famous intellectuals of all times: Yeats, Wilde, Beckett, Walton, Stroke and many others walked on the same soil countless of students are walking on today. Visitors are always attracted to this ancient place, especially by its library which holds more than 5,000,000 volumes and is the keeper of the famous ‘Book of Kells’. This is definitely a great cultural stop where history and modern life entwine.
Dublin Writers Museum
As the UNESCO city of literature, Dublin is a place bursting with literary events and places. It has been for many years an inspiration and the setting of many books ( like Joyce’s Dubliners). In this museum, located in a 18th century house, your visit will be enhanced by audio guides which will make you walk throughout Dublin’s literary history. Portraits, original novels, letters, and old newspaper will enrich your journey back in time. This is the perfect place for bookworms but also for those who want to find out more about the vast Dublin’s literary heritage.
The High Lane Gallery
Established in 1908 and perfect for every art lover, this modern gallery hosts a wide variety of Irish and French artists such as Renoir, Pisarro, and Manet. Alongside with this permanent collection, the gallery hosts various exhibitions throughout the year. For free admission, you will get the chance to admire these amazing works of art and also the area dedicated to Francis Bacon, completed in 2001 with a faithful reconstruction of his art studio.
Located in the town centre, this castle has been an important place for the city’s history since 1204, when it was founded. A former royal residence, nowadays the castle is kept open as a main tourist attraction and as a conference centre. Among its amazing rooms you can find the Throne Room, The State Dining Room and the bedrooms. You can also take a walk in the beautiful gardens and explore this ancient place.
Chester Beatty Library
This museum was awarded the title of ‘European Museum of the Year’ in 2000. That is probably because it hosts one of the most significant collection of the Islamic and East Asian world. It is located inside Dublin Castle’s complex and the collection, which used to belong to Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, is divided in two: ‘Sacred Traditions’ and ‘Artistic Traditions’. Both are definitely worth visiting, and you can admire all those precious manuscripts, miniature paintings, drawings, and rare books completely for free.
Perhaps this won’t interest those who don’t like beer but for those who can’t resist to the peculiar flavor of Ireland’s red ale, this place will be a little paradise. Not only because you will get to know the history and the process that allow you to sip your tasty beer but also because you will have the possibility to drink it for free, taste the variety of the brand, and gain a certificate for pouring your own perfect pint! Don’t forget to go up to the ‘Gravity Bar’ where you can finish your visit with enjoying the beautiful view of the city (sipping a glass of Guinness if you want!).
Designated by UNESCO as an heritage site, this park is one of the biggest in Europe. It hosts a huge variety of plant life and if you’re keen to spend some time next to nature, this is the perfect spot in the city. Inside it feels like the park never ends, and if you venture inside it you can also find the residence of the President of Ireland, the Victorian’s People’s Flowers Garden and other monuments or historic buildings. It is a great place to spend a couple of hours or a day with the family.
The Surrounding Area
If you have extra time but it is not enough to visit the famous ‘Cliffs of Moher’, then Howth and Malahide are the perfect compromise. Almost an hour far from Dublin, these places will give you the chance to explore the island a little bit more.
If you don’t want to deny yourself the pleasure of seeing the great coastal side of the island, then Howth is a nice alternative to spend a day going around. Located an hour away from Dublin, this coastal village will offer you the opportunity to go around the bay following a beautiful itinerary around the cliffs. If you don’t fancy walking don’t despair: there is a castle to visit, a lighthouse, and a museum of vintage radio, located in the Martello Tower. Plus, if you are a seafood lover you’ll be spoilt for choice: plenty of restaurants offer fresh fish on a daily basis.
If you’re longing to visit one of the many Irish medieval castles but don’t have enough time to go too far, then Malahide Casle is the perfect place to go. This 11th century castle lies among the green hills of this seaside village, and it belonged to the Talbot family. It includes a botanical garden hosting a wide variety of plants and a Victorian period conservatory. Like Howth, it is only an hour away from Dublin with the train.
And some extras...
The Winding Stair
This little bookshop is located on the lower Ormond Quay in Dublin, among cafés and other shops. It seems like something you might usually find around somewhere else, but if you go inside you will be propelled into a bookish little world. There are tables near the window where you can sit and sip some tea surrounded by countless books, and there is also another small room in which you can find some really old secondhand books to look at and buy. Definitely worth a little visit! There is also a restaurant with the same name located upstairs.
Queen of Tarts
This will be heaven for all the cake lovers: this place has won many times the prize for best place to eat cakes and breakfast in Dublin and it definitely deserves it. You will get the chance to taste amazing homemade pies, muffins, and cakes for a good price. Also worth visiting for brunch or lunch. So, why not indulge yourself and have a tasty blackberry and apple crumble?
It seems as though ‘Emerald Isle’ is not only referred to the never ending green stretches that cover Ireland’s surface: Ireland deserves this name also because of the richness of the Irish heritage and culture that will fascinate you right away.
By Marta Catalano