Dublin is a beautiful European city that has something for everyone. Whether you choose to have a city break or spend a week there, this city will surprise you.
Best Things to Do in Dublin
In a nutshell:
- Lively and colourful streets.
- Lots of history and museums.
- Beautiful parks and gardens.
- Pub culture and live music.
- Dark tourism (ghost and mystery tours).
- International atmosphere.
- Welcoming and friendly local people.
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What to Do in Dublin for a Weekend
Dublin Trinity College
When somebody talks about Dublin, the first image that comes to your mind is Trinity College!
This university was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I as the “mother” of a new university inspired by the collegiate universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
It’s Ireland’s highest-ranked university and who wouldn’t like to study in such a picturesque campus?
The Old Library and The Book of Kells
Located in the heart of the city centre in Trinity College Dublin, this is a must-see!
The Book of Kells is one of the Medieval treasures, a manuscript that contains the four Gospels of the Christian scriptures in Latin.
Unfortunately, when I went to Dublin The Book of Kells wasn’t available due to ongoing conservation plans. Despite this, I received a 15% discount on my ticket.
Although the Book of Kells wasn’t there, it was worthy to check the exhibition and, especially, the Old Library.
You get to the library through the shop and as you climb the stairs you’ll see this impressive book paradise. You’ll feel like in a Harry Potter movie!
Initially, the library was restricted to the public so only upper-class could get in. As time passed, graduates could get in and later it was open to the public. It was in 1904 when it became an accessible learning place and women could study there.
It’s great to learn some of the history behind and you can find out more about this library in the tablets located on the sides.
Online admission fee (as per 14/02/2021): €16.00 per adult.
TIP: Get there as early as possible to avoid crowds inside the library or waiting outside to get in.
Stephen’s Green Park
This is a lovely park located in the city centre next to St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre and Grafton Street. It’s one of the largest garden squares in Dublin that you can’t miss.
The park has beautiful sculptures, monuments and a fountain which make it special from other parks. For example, you can see the Fusiliers’ Arch and the fountain representing the Three Fates.
It’s a very relaxing space where you can watch the seagulls and ducks in the lake, sit down on the benches near the fountain or simply walk around.
TIP: If you’re visiting Dublin during Christmas, you should go to Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre to see beautiful Christmas decorations and tree.
A beautiful Georgian garden square located in the south of central Dublin. Not only you can enjoy being in this garden but explore the neighbourhood.
You can see beautiful ivies in the houses and the well-known and colourful Dublin doors.
Urban legends say that upper-class Georgian Dubliners began painting the doors of their homes in bright, vivid colours.
This place has recently become a popular location for photography lovers and Instagrammers.
St Patrick’s Cathedral
This cathedral is the tallest (43 metres spire) and largest in Ireland and it’s considered as the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland.
It’s an impressive building surrounded by a square garden and nice houses.
Next to the cathedral, you can also visit Marsh’s Library, a well-preserved library of the late Renaissance which was the first library opened in 1707 in Ireland to the public.
Check entry fees at St Patrick’s Cathedral website.
It’s Dublin’s main attraction and government complex which is full of history. To start with, the castle was built by the dark pool, “Dubh Linn”, which gave this city its name.
I wasn’t able to do the self-guide since there was a major event and the tickets were sold out. So my main tip is to book in advance!
However, even if you don’t want to pay the admission fee, and you happen to be there during the festive season, you must go there and have fun in the Christmas market located in the castle.
In this Christmas Market, you can find Artisan craft stalls, carol singing, carriage rides during the weekends. It has everything you need to get into the festive mood.
Self-guide: Adult €8.00
Guided tour: Adult €12.00
It’s one of the most lively areas in the city. You’ll get this feeling straight as you walk there: its colourful buildings, people from all over the world walking around and taking pictures, its quirky boutiques… and you can’t miss the actual Temple Bar pub!
The area is surrounded by cute and small cafes, restaurants and Irish pubs so if you’re looking for places to eat or drink, you’ll find one here.
I love the area because of the colourful and vibrant streets, however, I must admit it can get very busy!
Fancy getting into the Irish spirit? You’re in the perfect place. Get your friends and go to the pub to have a drink and enjoy live Irish music.
Here’s where all the nightlife happens!
Spire of Dublin
The Spire, also well-known as Monument of Light, is an impressive 120 metres in height monument located on O’Connell Street.
There’s no way you’ll miss it because you can see it from far away, however, it’s amazing to stare at it closer because you have the feeling that the spire is endless.
TIP: Walk along St. Henry street for a great view and picture!
Phoenix Park and Dublin zoo
Irish nature and wildlife are amazing and you don’t need to go far to realise this.
If you’ve already seen all the must-see places in the city centre, explore the outskirts and its green landscapes. Phoenix Park is huge and has plenty of things to see.
One of my favourite things is that you can see wild deer.
Also, if you love visiting zoos, Dublin zoo is next to it. They have a good variety of animals to see and learn about them.
Kilmainham Gaol Museum
If you’re curious about dark tourist places, you should visit the Kilmainham Gaol Museum.
This prison opened in 1796 as the new County Gaol for Dublin and was closed in 1924.
Nowadays, this prison represents the tradition of militant and constitutional nationalism from the rebellion of 1798 to the Irish Civil War of 1922-23. Some of the leaders of the rebellions were detained and in some cases executed here.
It’s an intriguing and scary museum but you do get the feeling of how the prison life was during those years.
TIP: Book in advance since the entrance to Kilmainham Gaol is by guided tour only and is managed through timed tickets.
How to get Dublin City Centre
The best way to get to Dublin city centre from the airport is to 747 bus. You’ll be in Dublin city centre in about 40 minutes. It’s a double-decker bus so you should sit in the window seats in the second deck for a view.
The price is 12 euros return and they’re very frequent.
Dublin stole my heart and it’s one of my favourites European city breaks! You’ll love it as soon as you get there.
If you are asking yourself “Is two days in Dublin enough?” My answer is yes and no. Although you can see Dublin’s main attractions in two days, if you love exploring beyond the city centre, you may want to stay longer.
If you are considering staying longer in Ireland, the best way to explore the country is by planning a road trip.
What about Dublin’s weather? What do I pack for a weekend in Dublin?
Although Dublin is a charming place, be prepared for chilly weather, especially if you go during autumn and winter months. I had three layers on me plus coat and gloves and I was still cold. Luckily, it was sunny!
No matter what season is, you should always take an umbrella and raincoat with you. The weather can quickly change!
Last but not least, Dublin is expensive (especially food and drinks) in comparison to other European cities and that’s why you should plan in advance which museums and attractions you’ll be willing to pay to see. Most of the UK museums have free entry but you won’t find the same in Dublin!
Whenever you visit it, I’m sure you’ll have a great time!
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