Let’s go on a journey to Dublin, a vibrant country capital with unique atmosphere, and let’s prepare for the best things to do in this amazing city, tasting the best of what it reveals!
Dublin is a place with a loud personality. A walk throughout the city streets will bring you past historic architecture and vibrant artworks, and it is the perfect mix of contemporary and olden. The city caters to everyone with modern and hip cafes as well as aged pubs, and every person you meet is friendly and welcoming.
Dublin also boasts a stunning natural landscape with verdant rolling hills and a peaceful bay making up its perimeter. If you ever get a chance to explore this destination, take advantage of the opportunity!
Once you arrive, stow your bags safely in a luggage locker in Dublin. Get started right away and discover everything this intriguing locale has to offer. Enjoy every nook and cranny of the city and outlying areas.
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Basic Facts About Dublin
Before you make your way to this incredible city let’s see how much you know about it! Dublin stands as the capital city of Ireland and, taking up about 44.5 square miles of land, is the largest settlement on the island. In fact, that has been the case since the Middle Ages! Today nearly 1.5 million people call the city home, and an estimated 50% of them are under the age of 25.
The city stays cool year round with an average temperature of 41 degrees Fahrenheit during the coldest time of the year and about 63 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, so don’t expect a tropical vacation. You can expect incredible green landscapes due to the weather when you visit the Emerald Isle.
Dublin is a listed UNESCO City of Literature (one of only six around the whole world!) and has been home to a multitude of poets, playwrights and novelists including Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker and James Joyce, just to name a few.
Short History of Dublin
Featuring over 1,000 years of history, the story of Dublin is filled with excitement and character. It all began as a new town situated on the Liffey’s southern bank and was founded by the Vikings back in 841. Back then the settlement was referred to as Dubh Linn which translates to “black pool”. A look back at the city when it was first created would reveal a small village with wooden huts and thatched roofs and it remained this way until the time of the Danes when the first stone walls were built around the town’s perimeter in the late 11th century.
There were wars between the Irishmen and Vikings which would leave Dublin in ruins, although each time it came back stronger. By the 11th century, the city had a population of about 4,000 which may seem small in comparison to today’s cities, but at that time it was quite large and made Dublin one of the most significant towns in all of Ireland.
The Middle Ages brought a tale of war and conflict for Dublin when the King of Leinster invaded and took control of the city in 1166 which led to the Vikings fleeing to the sea. They eventually tried to reclaim the town after the King passed away in 1171, although the newly declared king and his Norman army won the fight. The city eventually came under the rule of the English after the English king came to Ireland and it remained that way for some time, even recovering from a disastrous fire in 1190. The town continued to grow until 1317 when the Scottish army invaded Ireland and besieged the town.
Living conditions continued to improve throughout the 16th century, although the 17th century brought the plague which resulted in about half of the population passing away. The city recovered by the end of the century and Dublin grew even more thanks to the expanding wool and linen trade in England.
By the 19th century, Dublin was home to nearly 180,000 people and developments in the transportation sector made it easier to get in and out of the city. As the 20th century progressed the city saw an age of redevelopment as some old buildings were taken down and new ones were put up. Today’s Dublin is modern and updated, although it remains close to its roots and many older buildings still stand.
Places to See and Things to Do in Dublin
Now that you know a bit more about Dublin you are ready to go out and explore it! Make sure not to miss the sights and activities listed below.
Grab a Pint at Brazen Head
Of course, there are lots of pubs in Dublin, but the Brazen Head is special because it is the oldest pub in all of Ireland! This establishment first opened its doors in 1198 AD and is still open for business today. Make your way to Lower Bridge Street and join the other loyal customers for a pint!
Go to the Zoo at Phoenix Park
Did you know that Dublin is home to the biggest city park in all of Europe? Phoenix Park takes up 707 hectares of land and is only beaten in size by New York’s Central Park. Aside from beautiful greenery and walking trails the park also houses the Dublin Zoo, which is its main attraction. The establishment focuses on conservation and spreading awareness about animals and is a fun activity for the entire family. Remember to keep an eye out for wild deer too, who call Phoenix Park home.
Brave Kilmainham Gaol
Kilmainham Gaol, the biggest unoccupied prison in all of Europe, is a very interesting place to visit. Its walls and cells have seen many things throughout the years and are filled with endless stories, even though it has been closed since 1924. Some well-known political figures have spent time inside the Kilmainham Gaol including President Eamon de Valera, Robert Emmet and Charles Stewart Parnell. The stonecutter’s yard outside of the gaol was even the place of death for 14 of the 16 leaders of the 1916 Rising who spent time in the prison.
Visit the Guinness Storehouse
You may or may not know that Dublin is actually the birthplace of Guinness! The brand was created in 1759 after Arthur Guinness began brewing the now world-famous beer, and the Storehouse is still one of the city’s top attractions. Whether you are a fan of beer or not, this place is worth visiting, and there are plenty of interesting multimedia exhibits to enjoy on-site.
Stand Up Paddleboard in the Irish Sea
Stand up paddleboarding is a popular pastime in Dublin. It’s easy to rent a board, personal flotation device, and whatever else you need for an adventure on the water. Beginners in the sport can take lessons right at Grand Canal Dock. If you’ve had some experience on a board, why not try SUP yoga classes?
Trek Around Dublin Castle
You can’t visit Dublin without seeing the grand Dublin Castle! It lies on the same site as a Danish Viking Fortress from 930 AD although construction for this castle only began in 1230. Throughout its lifetime the castle has served many purposes including an execution site, a court and a fortress. Today it is still used as a venue for important events, like presidential inaugurations!
Take Advantage of Free Museums
Museums are always great places to visit in every city, and Dublin makes them easy to enjoy by offering free entry. Some of the ones to keep in mind include the National Gallery of Ireland, the Hugh Lane Gallery, the National Museum of Ireland and the National Museum of Decorative Arts and History.
Visit Trinity College and the Book of Kells
The Book of Kells is one of the most important artifacts of the city and actually dates back to the Middle Ages! The manuscript is stored safely in the Trinity College Treasury and is definitely worth seeing. The rest of the campus is also beautiful and has been a significant part of the city since it was established in 1592. You will be amazed by the Trinity Library which houses nearly 200,000 novels, many of which are very old! On campus, there is also the Science Gallery and Douglas Hyde Gallery displaying fantastic contemporary art exhibits.
Bike at Glencullen Adventure Park
Do you like to mountain bike? If so, you’ll want to head to Glencullen Adventure Park, just 20 minutes outside of the city. With awesome trails and tracks for bike enthusiasts, this excursion will get your blood pumping and your muscles working. Rent a bike and helmet, and then choose a trail based on your skills.
Your trip to Dublin will be much more enjoyable if you do some research and plan ahead. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Visit in the Spring or Fall
Many people say that these are the best times to visit Dublin because it won’t be as busy as during the summertime but you will still get to experience pleasant weather. The attractions and landmarks will still be open to visiting but you might even be able to take advantage of reduced prices! Plus, the gorgeous foliage in autumn makes it an absolutely beautiful time to see the city.
Plan for Rain
Wet weather is common in Dublin so don’t expect your entire trip to be full of sunshine and outdoor activities. It is best to plan for at least a couple of days of rain by having some fun indoor attractions in mind.
Consider Buying a Visitor Card
If you are going to be relying on public transport to get around most of the city then you might want a Leap Visitor Card. This will make getting around much easier and can save you money, too. You can choose from different options that will allow you to use public transport as much as you want for a specified number of days.
Prioritize Comfortable Shoes
While exploring Dublin you will definitely be traveling a lot by foot since most attractions are grouped together. Having comfortable shoes will make a huge difference, so definitely pack a pair that you won’t mind spending an entire day in. It is also important to note that most of the streets are cobbled and not always even, so sturdy boots or running shoes are the best picks.
Bring a Reusable Bag for Shopping
Dublin, and in fact most of Ireland, will charge you to take home plastic bags when shopping. You can save a bit of money and help the environment by packing a tote or reusable bag when you go out for groceries or other items.
Pack a Universal Travel Adapter
Unless you are already traveling from inside the UK you will need a universal travel adapter to charge your electronics. They use a different kind of plug here and you won’t want to arrive and find out that you can’t use any of your devices!
Are you ready to discover this fabulous Irish city? Get ready for a walk through the past with excitement around every corner. From wandering the Trinity College Campus to spending an entire day in Phoenix Park, Dublin is the perfect place for active travelers.
As well, Dublin is a fantastic city to visit filled with ancient stories and traditions. You will love vacationing here especially if you have an interest in history, although there are plenty of modern adventures waiting for you to discover as well. Just taking a walk through its cobblestone streets will bring you past some extraordinary places and it is sure to be a vacation that you will never forget.
Take a look at this video for more impressions from Dublin:
Check some travel books about Dublin:
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Hi, we are Krasen and Ying Ying. Krasen is from Bulgaria, and Ying Ying is from China. We are passionate about geography and history, and we believe that the best way to experience it is by exploring the Earth in reality, not in a school, and not virtually.
So, we created this blog Journey Beyond the Horizon, where we share geographical knowledge, travel guides and tips how to experience it when you explore our planet, and a lot of inspiration.
And we wish you a happy journey, not just virtually, but most of all- in reality.