We recently visited Ireland for the first time. We flew from San Francisco to Dublin for several reasons; flights were affordable, there was cheap and easy transportation available from Dublin International Airport to downtown and we had heard many wonderful things about this compact and colorful city. Are you visiting Dublin for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in Dublin’s Fair City.
When I have a visitor from out of town, the first place they want to see is Guinness Storehouse, but I also take them to the Creative Quarter for a more local, authentic experience bursting with wonderful restaurants.
Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth the First of England, Trinity College is a must stop in Dublin. It has the largest single chambered library in the world. You’ll want to buy your tickets in advance online. I highly recommend you reserve a guide to have the Book of Kells explained. It’s a magnificent manuscript dating from 800 A.D. We used Josephine Rice, featured in the above video. She is a professional tour guide who made Dublin come alive with her history and knowledge of the city.
When I want to escape the crowds and tourists, my favorite place to visit is St. Stephen’s Green first thing in the morning.
If this is a romantic trip, I recommend the President’s Bar in the Davenport Hotel for afternoon tea. The Hotel is located on the corner of Merrion Square in Dublin.
The best place to walk the dog is Phoenix Park. At 1,752 acres, it is the largest urban park in Europe.
Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit Dublin Zoo.
If you are looking for typical Irish cuisine, I recommend The Old Storehouse in Temple Bar. For excellent quality cheese, go to Sheridans Cheesemongers. The staff is very knowledgeable and they’ll let you sample before you purchase. The best part, many of the cheeses are able to be vacuum-sealed on site so you can take them home with you. My favorite shop for handmade Irish chocolates in Dublin is Cocoa Atelier. By the way, I found a lovely chocolate shop, Hazel Mountain Chocolate, in the Burren in County Clare and Glaslough Chocolate makes creamy truffles in County Monaghan.
The best place to go for a pint of Guinness is Long Hall. Did you know that this Victorian Heritage Pub is a personal favorite of Bruce Springsteen?
“At the Long Hall I had the best pint in Dublin,” said Timothy Cojocnean, a law school student from San Francisco.”The barkeeps here are trained for up to four years before being promoted to full barkeep. More interesting than that, The Long Hall is Bruce Springsteen’s favorite watering hole when in Dublin. In fact, when I asked the barkeep about it, he told me that he was sitting in the same seat that I was!”
Looking for cheap food near the river? Go to Dublin Woolen Mills and Brother Hubbards. For an expensive, yet quality meal, go to Chapter One or Bang.
For authentic Irish music, stop at Oliver St. John Gogarty’s Bar, an Irish pub in the heart of Dublin’s Temple Bar district.
When you come to Dublin, get your picture taken at Molly Malone’s statue. If you happen to be in the city in March, take a seat on the Grandstand to watch the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
In Dublin, outdoor lovers will want to walk along the River Liffey. Looking for a little exercise? Walk along the Boardwalk. Just outside of Dublin is Howth Head; try the Cliff Path Loop.
After a day of adventure, The Shelbourne is the best place to go for a spa treatment.
If you are a museum lover, Dublin’s best museums are The National Museum, The National Gallery and The Chester Beatty Library, and all of them are free!
The Irish Times will keep you posted on what’s happening in this Fair City.
You can tell a lot about Dublin from visiting and watching a Gaelic Football match at Croke Park.
In the spring you should attend the Saint Patrick’s Day Festival. In the early summer you should attend Bloom Garden Festival in Phoenix Park.
Did you know that Dublin is known for theater? Plan a visit to Dublin’s Theatre Festival in the fall. While it’s no secret that Ireland gets a lot of rain, come to Dublin in the winter to experience the cozy pubs and traditional Irish music.
Insider Tip: Check out the often over-looked National Museum at Collins Barracks.
I’ll bet you didn’t know that the harp is the symbol of Ireland. It’s believed that Ireland is the only country to have a musical instrument as the emblem of the country. The picture of the 14th century harp, on display in Trinity College, is made of willow and brass strings. The harp on the Euro coinage is unique to Ireland.
Just outside of Dublin you can visit Barberstown Castle, an authentic Irish castle in Straffan, County Kildare. For additional Insider Tips follow luxury travel writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter or Instagram @Nancydbrown.
Insider tips to the Best Things to See and Do in Dublin, Ireland, YouTube videos and all photography by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. Thanks to Tourism Ireland for assistance in arranging my tour with Josephine Rice. For additional information visit Dublin’s Official Travel and Tourism Guide.