Ireland has been one of my favourite destinations during this trip. As you may recall, I spent almost half a year in the north, marvelling at its amazing landscapes and many attractions. However, after a while living in the Antrim coast, I started to get very curious about the Republic, so when my boyfriend proposed me to spend a weekend in Dublin after Christmas, I couldn’t say no!
I’m a huge fan of big cities. I’m a city girl, so capitals have always attracted me and Dublin did not disappoint. With an amazing nightlife and plenty of places for book lovers like me, the city never gets boring. I’m sure that it still has many spots to discover and I will certainly return in the near future, but, for the moment, here is a list with my top 10 things to do in Dublin!
What to do in Dublin
I’ll start with my absolute favourite. As you may know already, I’m an undeniable bookworm, so whenever I’m in a new place, I’m always looking for the coolest libraries and bookshops in town. I had seen so many pictures of Trinity College before coming to Dublin that I could not wait to set a foot inside. It had been listed many times as one of the best libraries in the world, so I practically dragged my Conor at sunrise during our first day in the city.
The ticket to get into the library costs between €10.00 and €13.00 and it also includes the exhibition of The Book of Kells. The exhibition was the prologue to the actual library and, although I enjoyed the exhibition, the moment I crossed the gates and got into the archive I experienced a bookgasm, if such thing exists (it totally exists).
Somehow I think the place looks bigger in the pictures. In reality, it is much more compact, but not less impressive. All the wooden floors and staircases made me want to start my Transfiguration duties and earn 10 points for Ravenclaw.
You can’t really browse around the books, since there are security cords between the shelves. But you can still bask at its marvelousness and take a ton of pictures. There is also an exhibition in the middle of the chamber and a gift shop at the end of your visit, so it and Conor almost had to push me to the exit because I wanted to move and live there forever. Why he still dates me, I’ll never know.
I wish I had time to visit more museums and artsy places, but a week was not nearly enough to cover all the must-see spots. However, make sure to check this great guide if you want to know more about the cultural scene in Dublin!
2. Molly Malone Statue
So, after our intellectually stimulating morning, Conor wanted to visit a more relaxed spot, so he took me to Molly Malone statue. The main appeal? Basically our gal Molly has huge boobs and tourists like to take pictures with her because of that. However, digging a bit deeper, I found out that Molly Malone is actually a song about a fishmonger who sold cockles and mussels in Dublin. Some people say that she was a prostitute, some others say she wasn’t, I really don’t give a damn, but the song is very cool and it has become an unofficial anthem of Dublin. If you have never heard of it before, I’m gonna fix your life and next time we meet we can all sing “alive, alive, oh!” (this guy does a really cool cover).
3. Grafton Street
There are two things I love besides books: shopping and movies. Therefore, Grafton Street seemed the next logical destination. The place it is not only the main commercial street in the city, it is also the standing stone of many renowned musicians and one of the locations of the film “Once”, by John Carney. The protagonist is a street musician that plays his guitar exactly on Grafton Street, so I was dying to actually see the spot. If you haven’t watched the movie yet, do it after reading this post and here is when I’ll share another YouTube video just to keep it interesting.
Anyways, Grafton is packed with street musicians. I’m still amazed by the talent we found there. Seriously, these people should have their own records produced! Conor and I spent most of our coins praising the artists. There are also plenty of shops, amazing window displays and souvenir stores. Grafton Street is one of those things you simply can’t miss when you are looking for things to do in Dublin.
4. Saint Stephens Green Park
Grafton Street ends at Saint Stephens Green, which is basically a lovely park with a pond, a few walking paths and a James Joyce statue that made me go fangirl mode again. If you are looking for some inexpensive things to do in Dublin, this might be a good choice.
5. Ha’penny Bridge and Samuel Becket Bridge
Since it was still winter, night came pretty quickly, but it was all right, because it meant we could contemplate the city under the street lights, which made it even more charming, if that’s possible. We decided to take a stroll around the river and the sight we found marvelled us.
Crossing bridges might not sound as some of the most exciting things to do in Dublin, but just the view is worth it, believe me. First we stopped at the Ha’penny (officially, the Liffey Bridge), which is the heart of the city. I started seeing pictures of this particular place since I hopped off the plane in Dublin’s airport, so I was really looking forward to see it in person.
Afterwards, we endured the cold and walked all the way to Samuel Becket Bridge, which is in the other side of town, but shouldn’t be missed, since it is shaped like a harp, which is Ireland’s national symbol. C’mon, can you think of other things to do in Dublin that are more romantic/budget friendly than these?
6. Oscar Wilde Statue
Huge bookworm alert (again). Fortunately for me, there are plenty of things to do in Dublin if you are a book lover. One of the firsts stories I read as a child was The Canterville Ghost, so I was beyond excited to visit the birth place of Oscar Wilde, especially after discovering that there was a statue in his honour. On our second day, we walked all the way to Merrion square to meet my childhood friend. I loved the colours and the pose, which I think were true to his character. Additionally, the area around the square is amazing for having a walk, a coffee or simply getting to know the city a bit more!
Conor and I are not particularly religious people. However, church seeing somehow becomes a huge part of every trip (La Sagrada Familia, anyone?), so we decided that, if we were going to visit any religious place during our stay, it’d have to be St Patrick’s Cathedral. And we didn’t regret it! The day of our visit there was going to be a concert in the cathedral at night. They needed to rehearse the event during the day, so the ticket price was reduced while they musicians practiced. So we got a discount ticket and a free concert!
The church is beautiful to say the least. It is big enough to keep you entertained for a while and it has several activities inside the place. Not only a gift shop, but a drawing station and several arts installations. It is one of the most entertaining things to do in Dublin, even if you are not religiously inclined.
Where to drink in Dublin
Conor let me choose most of the things to do in Dublin during our stay. However, he had one condition: visiting Guinness Storehouse, and, obviously, I couldn’t say no to that.
The truth is that I’m not a big beer drinker, but I do enjoy a pint from time to time, and it would be foolish not to have the unofficial drink of Ireland right?
Once more, the official tour is not exactly cheap. It costs €18.00 to visit the factory, which is the price of a decent meal. However, fun fact: if you decide to visit early in the morning, you can get in for only €14.00. Since we have no shame, we decided to take the first tour and arrive to the storehouse at 9:00am. I’m sure it was 5:00pm somewhere.
The place is huge and has multiple floors dedicated to various aspects of Guinness making. Additionally, they take you into a tasting room, where they let you smell the different stages and ask you questions about the product. Since my boyfriend is both, a huge nerd and a heavy beer drinker, he answered most of the questions and got to sample the good stuff before everyone else.
The tour ends with a master class on how to pour the perfect Guinness pint. And believe me, it is not as easy as it sounds. You need to tilt the glass at certain degree and let the beer sit for a while and the top it up without spilling. If you do it right, you get a certificate. If you don´t… Let’s say that Ireland won’t give you a hundred thousand welcomes next time you visit.
You get a free pint at the end of your journey (the one you pour), but, somehow, Conor managed to get three pints for himself and we ended our visit enjoying them at the top of the building (which is shaped like a Guinness pint, by the way). The view from the bar is amazing and even if you don’t like beer, it is one of those things to do in Dublin that you can’t miss.
We found The Irish Whiskey Museum by accident and it quickly made it to one of the top things to do in Dublin. It wasn’t really in our itinerary, but we were tired and in need of a drink, so the moment we saw the word “whiskey” we were sold. However, there was a little plot twist, apparently, they were renovating their alcohol license and they weren’t legally allowed to sell us any whiskey.
We were heartbroken, as you can imagine, and we were about to leave when the waitress came up with a solution: Irish coffee. Yup, turns out that, since Irish coffee contains cream, it is basically a dessert, so it doesn’t count as alcohol.
Two please, and make them extra Irish.
We also bought some whiskey chocolates to accompany our drinks. After all, it was dessert time. I tell you, this is the perfect way to finish an evening in Dublin, so make sure to write it on your list!
I left this at the end because it is pretty obvious. Google “things to do in Dublin” and it will appear in every single site. However, it is worth a look. Overpriced and packed, yes, but with a great atmosphere and nice music.
Turns out that The Temple Bar is not really one bar only, is an entire area in the city full of different pubs and night entertainment. Obviously, the most famous one is “The Temple Bar” (duh), but there are several other options with live music and an awesome crowd.
I’d suggest going straight to the original Temple Bar and, if it is too busy, just walking around until something else catches your eye. I promise, there will be plenty of pubs tempting you with their awesome folk music and super cool facades!
Where to eat in Dublin
Before our trip, Conor really insisted on visiting this place for lunch. I’m pretty sure he had a date with another girl in the same coffee shop, but with that chocolate cake, I can understand why.
The Queen of Tarts is a lovely café not very far from the town centre. They specialise in desserts, but they have lunch and dinner options as well. The day we visit we had only had three pints of Guinness for breakfast, so we were pretty much starving when we got there. The place is super popular and we queued for about 20 extra minutes, but when we finally got in, they took us into a cosy little living room full of old china and mantelpieces. We asked for some tea to start and I order the vegetable frittata while Conor went for the Philly steak sandwich with soup.
For dessert, my guy went for the classic chocolate fudge cake, while I opted for an apple crumble. The cake was super moist and the frosting had just the right amount of chocolate and the crumble had a nice acidity that went well with the sweetness of the caramel sauce. I’d definitely visit it again and have another go with a different dessert!
We ran into The Riddler entirely by accident. We were walking towards the town centre when we found a chalkboard with… Well, a riddle: “Though I live beneath a roof, I never seem to dry. If you will only hold me, I swear I will not lie”.
I completely ignored it, but I’ve told you before that my boyfriend is a huge nerd, so he stood there, contemplating the board and the moment he figured it out, he ran into the place and got a free coffee. Yeah, it’s fun to travel with him.
Since the coffee was on the house, we decided to have breakfast there. We ordered some eggs and toast and Conor almost drove the waitress crazy by solving all the riddles written in the walls. Unfortunately, we just got one free coffee, but the food was nice and the place was cool, so, if you are looking for things to do in Dublin that involve eating food and solving puzzles, this is your place!!
Finally, I could not talk about things to do in Dublin and not mention Brother Hubbard. Once more, we came across it unexpectedly, while we walked around the city on our last morning in Dublin. The scent coming out of the place was delicious, so we decided to give it ago. It wasn’t until we sat down that we discovered it was a Middle Eastern inspired café and that it was one of the Top 100 Places to Eat in Ireland according to McKenna’s Guide, so I call it a win-win.
Conor had the Moroccan Special with chorizo while I had the Greek style omelette and both dishes were absolutely amazing! They were flavourful and rich and came with tons of veggies and interesting spices. This was definitely my favourite restaurant of the whole trip!
Where to stay in Dublin
When it comes to the best things to do in Dublin, location is key. After a year of travelling around, I’ve come to realise that Airbnb is the best option when you are looking for some affordable options that still maintain some privacy. Conor and I stayed at Simon and Roberto’s place, in a lovely room with shared kitchen and bathroom. It was very near Guinness Storehouse (I think that’s why Conor chose it). Also, the place was within walking distance from the city centre. You can book their place in here. Also, I’m giving away £32.00 on your first Airbnb booking. You just need to redeem the coupon and prepare for your next travel!
If you have more than a weekend in Dublin, you can’t miss the chance to explore a bit more of the surroundings! For a perfect day trip, you should definitely visit Ireland’s Eye by ferry. It is a lovely island perfect for hiking and birdwatching and it is just 15 minutes away by boat! If you have a bit more time to spare, a roadtrip to Galway might be a good choice as well. Just remember to make the most out of your trip to Ireland!