Dublin has so many sights that it’s sometimes hard to determine what to visit. Travel Collective’s guide to the top attractions the city has to offer will give you a great overview of what not to miss.
As one of Europe’s top historical cities, Ireland’s capital packs peak art, subculture and character to fill a month-lengthy itinerary and still leave you wanting more. Plus, the city is very walkable. Despite its wealth and diversity, Dublin retains a small-town feel that never fails to allure visitors. Although there are heaps of nooks and crannies to explore within the city, those are the 20 you can’t miss.
Jameson Distillery Bow St
Jameson, founded in 1780, makes the best-selling Irish whiskey on the Earth. Although the distilling process no longer takes place at the Bow Street building, their interactive tour more than compensates for the lack of working stills. There are videos on the founder, John Jameson, and the progress from barley to bottle. The exciting tour also includes a tasting where the group will learn the difference between bourbon, scotch, and Irish whiskey (I’ll admit – we didn’t know this before). At the end of the tour, you can head to the downstairs bar for a cocktail. Bartenders can mix up a variety of whiskey-blended cocktails.
Dublin Castle, built in 1204, was originally the seat of power for British rule for 700+ years. In April 1684, a devastating fire tore through the castle which destroyed much of the building. A remarkable Georgian palace was built out of the ashes.
Since 1938 almost all of Ireland’s presidents have been inaugurated in St. Patrick’s Hall, which is one of the Palace’s many State Apartments. Visitors also enjoy touring the Castle’s gardens.
Many visitors opt to do a guided tour of the Castle and the gardens, which gives you a stronger sense of the Castle’s history. There are a variety of walking tours, many of which include an outing to Dublin’s oldest pub, The Brazen Head.
Christ Church Cathedral
The Christ Church Cathedral was built in 1030 as a wooden Viking house of worship. Over the course of hundreds of years, Roman and Gothic stylistic elements were added, and the Cathedral had extensive renovations done in the Victorian era. This period of restoration preserved the structure and ultimately prevented collapse in later years.
Visitors should not miss the crypt. The Christ Church Crypt is the largest in Britain or Ireland, and contains historical features such as: the oldest known secular carvings, candlesticks used when James II was in power, and the stocks formerly used in 1670.
The Guinness Storehouse is Dublin’s most popular tourist attraction. The tour consists of an interactive tour of the 7-story structure, which goes over the history and process behind the Guinness beer. We recommend doing the Signature Package Tour, which includes a gift memento box.
At the tour’s end, you can enjoy a perfectly pulled pint at the Gravity Bar, which has panoramic views of Dublin.
The Ha’Penny Bridge was constructed in 1816 and was Dublin’s first ever pedestrian bridge. The bridge’s real name is the Wellington Bridge, and when it first opened official’s charged a half-penny toll for anyone looking to cross it. The toll was dropped in 1919, but the “ha’penny” nick-name stuck. Today, it retains roughly 85% of its original decorative ironwork.
Old Library at Trinity Collage Dublin + the Book of Kells
This library looks like something out of a Harry Potter movie. Constructed in 1712, it took 20 years to build. Many Star Wars fans will recognize it because it bears a startling resemblance to the Jedi Archives of the Jedi Temple from Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.
The Book of Kells, one of Ireland’s most popular artefacts, is housed at the Old Library. This ninth-century manuscript tells the story of the four gospels of the life of Jesus Christ through calligraphy. The book’s 340 folios are made from calfskin, and the original artists used mineral pigments like red lead, lapis lazuli, and cooper for symbolism.
The Teelings Distillery
Believe it or not, Irish whiskey was once the world’s most popular spirit – more popular than scotch, even in Scotland. This all changed when the Scots began adopting the Coffey-still method of manufacturing whiskey (now called Scotch), which allowed them to increase production exponentially.
In the 1930s, a perfect storm of United States Prohibition, the Anglo-Irish Trade War, and the Great Depression caused the Dublin whiskey distilling industry to collapse. Fast-forward to the 1990s, and a renewed local interest in Irish whiskey led to the Teeling’s Distillery to be opened in 2015.
Visitors can take guided tours, which include a tasting of three whiskeys or a handcrafted whiskey cocktail.
Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison in Dublin which has now been transformed into a museum. Originally constructed in 1796, the prison has held leading political and social figures in Ireland over the years. Prisoners have included figures such as Henry Joy McCracken (a founder of the United Irishmen), Easter Rising revolutionary Patrick Pearse, and Éamon de Valera, who later became the President of Ireland. The torture and execution of rebels also occurred on the prison grounds.
The prison officially closed in 1924, and in 1960 it underwent restoration and transformation into a museum and monument to Irish nationalism.
Entrance to the prison is by guided tour only.
Howth is a charming fishing village that is perfect for a day-trip from Dublin. The little town is known for it’s seaside views, amazing seafood, and handicrafts that you can buy from local merchants. If you’re looking for some outdoor adventures – there are a variety of amazing trails which lead to spectacular views. Our favorite is a 6 mile hike to the Howth Cliffs.
Sports lovers can’t miss Croke Park. Named after Archbishop Croke, one of the stadium’s first patrons, it is the third-largest stadiums in Europe and a home for Gaelic sport in Ireland.
Visitors can take a tour of the facility, which includes a unique opportunity to try hurling and Gaelic football.
St Patrick’s Cathedral
Rumor has it that Saint Patrick once used the Cathedral to baptize people into Christianity. The building was constructed between 1220 and 1260, and it’s architect, Archbishop Luke, was partially blind by the time it was finished and tragically never saw the end result.
Jonathan swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, is a famous dean of the Cathedral. He is buried on the grounds and many of his early works are on display.
Visitors can enjoy self-guided, free tours of the Cathedral.
National Gallery of Ireland
The National Gallery of Ireland, first opened in 1864, includes over 16,000 pieces spanning seven centuries. Popular artists with work in the gallery include: Monet, Rembrandt, Turner and Picasso.
Jack Butler Yeats, one of Ireland’s most well-known 19th Century painters, has work in the gallery. He is well known for his romantic portrayals of Irish (both urban and rural) life. Hibernophiles (fans of Irish culture) will love the works of Jack Butler Yeats, one of Ireland’s most important 19th-century painters. Yeats was known for his romantic portrayals of Irish urban and rural life.
National Museum of Ireland
The National Museum of Ireland is made up of four museums, including three in Dublin: the Museum of Archaeology, the Museum of Decorative Arts & History, and the Museum of Natural History (also known as the “dead zoo” for it’s range of taxidermic animals).
All of the museums are free to enter.
Chester Beatty Museum
The Chester Beatty is a museum and library. It began as a collection of rare objects from around the World, compiled by a rich American mining engineer named Sir Alfred Chester Beatty.
Upon his death, he left his entire collection to the Irish state and it is now housed in the Chester Beatty Library. Artefacts include Japanese paintings, Islamic manuscripts, and Chinese snuff bottles.
Admission is free.
St Stephen’s Green
St Stephen’s Green is an urban park in the heart of Dublin. In 1663 it was converted into a public park, and immediately became a fashionable place for high society to meet, take a walk, and engage in gossip or intellectually stimulating conversation.
In a widely criticized move, the park was privatized in 1814. But in 1877, Sir Arthur Guinness (a landowner, not the famous brewer) bought the land and returned it to its public status.
Phoenix Park is the largest urban park in any European capital city. It spans an impressive seven square kilometers (2.7 sq miles), and includes the Dublin Zoo. The Zoo, established in 1831, is one of the oldest Zoos in the World.
The park is also home to The President of Ireland. Visitors can take free guided tours of the home, Áras an Uachtaráin, on Saturdays. The tours are done on a first-come-first-serve basis.