Wondering how to discover the “real” Dublin? Well, Wild N Happy Travel has put together a little guide to help you explore the best attractions in Dublin.
We will have you exploring this charming city through a local guide’s eye. Discovering each part of this city’s unique geographically layout that is split by The River Liffey, from Howth in the north to the headland of Dalkey in the south and everything in between.
So if you are taking one of our many Guided Tours of Ireland and only have a short time to discover the capital city of Ireland pre or post tour then check out this recommended list of the best attractions in Dublin.
1. Trinity College and College Green
Trinity College is probably the most renowned visitor attraction in Dublin. It’s located in the heart of the capital and it’s the oldest university in Ireland having been founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I.
Trinity occupies a 40-acre site and retains some of its old and wonderful features such as cobbled squares, gardens, and parks and is famed throughout the world for its collection of great treasures.
These include, on permanent exhibition, the 9th-century illuminated manuscript, the Book of Kells, the Books of Durrow and Armagh, and an ancient Irish harp. It’s best to time your visit strategically, as buildings open to the public can become crowded during peak season.
Address: College Green, Dublin 2.
Information Link: www.bookofkells.ie
2. The GPO – The General Post Office
The GPO, the General Post Office, is an outstanding place to visit and is a must-visit for those wanting to gain a better understanding of this pivotal event in Irish history.
It is located on O’Connell Street and was built in 1814. It is the scene of the failed 1916 Uprising and bullet holes still dot the Neoclassical portico. Inside, it has a really informative museum about the 1916 Easter Rising. Its focus is predominantly on the period leading up to the uprising and the uprising itself. However, there’s plenty of interactive information and displays about other key events, including the Irish War of Independence right up to the Northern Ireland peace process. Guided tours are available, and come highly recommended.
Address: O’Connell Street Lower, North City, Dublin 1
Information Link: www.gpowitnesshistory.ie
3. Famine Memorial
No event in history has had a more profound effect on Ireland and the worldwide Irish Community than that of the Great Irish Famine (1845-1849).
On Custom House Quay, in the Dublin City Docklands, you will see the Famine statues. These haunting figures commemorate the most profound disaster in Irish history, when Ireland lost more than one million citizens to starvation.
The cause of Famine is blamed on a potato disease commonly known as potato blight. Although blight ravaged potato crops throughout Europe during the 1840s, the impact and human cost in Ireland, where one third of the population was entirely dependent on the potato for food, was exacerbated by a host of political, social and economic factors which remain the subject of historical debate.
Address: The Chq Building, Custom House Quay, North Dock, Dublin 1
4. Moore Street Market
Anyone who said fruits and veggies from Ireland aren’t good, will be second-guessing themselves at this market. Open Monday through Saturday, make your way to this age-old marketplace for some great deals.
This open-air market was long ago eclipsed by grocery stores, but it’s still worth wandering through—even if only for nostalgia’s sake. It has vendors lining both sides of the cobblestone street, peddling local produce and meat, as well as imported items like tropical fruits.
Dublin is known for its many amazing markets including Dublin Flea Market, Temple Bar Book Market, Blackrock Market (Dublin’s oldest market!), The Green Door, and many more!
Address: Moore St, North City, Dublin 1, D01 RC65
5. Grafton Street
A short southerly stroll from Trinity College takes you down towards Dublin’s premier shopping location, Grafton Street. A statue of Molly Malone sits at the bottom of the street, so it’s impossible to miss.
This eclectic stretch of 500 metres buzzes morning, noon, and night. It is a magnet for buskers, from classical quartets to traditional fiddle players and singer-songwriters. Many famed bands and musicians have given impromptu performances here, including Bono of U2.
Aside from buskers, you will find a broad range of boutiques, jewelers, and department stores, including upmarket Brown Thomas. Many would say that the jewel in the crown is Bewley’s Oriental Café, a Dublin institution at this location since 1927.
Address: Grafton Street, Dublin 2.
6. St. Stephens Green
The 22-acre park is a Dublin gem and a paradise of tranquility away from the hustle and bustle of downtown city life.
Located at the top of Grafton Street, you will see the Fusilier’s Arch, the main entrance to St. Stephen’s Green. If the weather permits, try and experience the park as the locals do and stretch out on the grass for some rest and relaxation, or grab a picnic lunch.
In the centre of the park is an ornate fountain at its center, a bridge over a duck pond, a children’s playground and immaculate flower beds blossoming with colours. Surrounding “the Green” (as it’s known locally) are beautiful Georgian buildings, although some sadly fell by the wayside during redevelopment, in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.
Address: St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.
7. Merrion Square
Considered one of Dublin’s grandest Georgian squares. At its center is a pretty park with a vibrant statue of that most colorful writer and renowned Dublin wit, Oscar Wilde.
Take a leisurely stroll around the square and journey back in time to the Georgian era. If you notice the top windows in many buildings are smaller than those lower down. This was done in order to create an optical illusion of the houses being taller than they really are.
Also if you are an artist at heart, at weekends, local artists line the perimeter of the park and display their paintings on the railings.
Address: Merrion Square, Dublin.
8. Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral is built on the site of Dublin’s first church, which was founded in 1028 and made of timber.
It was restored in the 19th century and dominates the surrounding area. The Great Nave has magnificent early Gothic arches, and you can also see the 14th-century replica of the tomb of legendary Norman conqueror Strongbow, who is buried elsewhere in the cathedral. The fragment that lies alongside is said to be part of the original tomb and has the nickname, “Strongbow’s son.” Parts of the vast crypt, which runs the length of the building, date from the 13th century.
Address: Christchurch Place, Dublin 8
Information Link: www.christchurchdublin.ie
9. St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland. It is said that St. Patrick baptized converts to Christianity in AD 450 at this very location.
Like Christchurch, the original edifice was made of timber. In 1192, another church was founded and constructed of stone. Just over a century later, another reconstruction took place and its status was raised to that of a cathedral.
Over the centuries, much embellishment has occurred, chiefly in the mid 1700s, when the steeple was built, and during the late 1800s, when there were substantial renovations. Gulliver’s Travels author and satirist Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), who was Dean of St. Patrick’s for 35 years, is interred in a tomb to the right of the entrance beside his long time love “Stella” (Hester Johnson 1681-1728).
Address: St. Patrick’s Close, Dublin 8
Information Link: www.stpatrickscathedral.ie
10. Dalkey & Killiney
Just a 25-minute southbound trip on a DART (Dublin’s light rail network) from the city center is Dalkey, and one stop farther along, Killiney.
Dalkey was once the main trading post on Dublin’s east coast, and the harbor at Coliemore Road was the place where medieval cargo ships could off-load their wares. Opposite the harbor is breathtaking Dalkey island, and an uphill stroll of around 15 minutes brings you to Vico Road with stunning views out over Killiney Bay. For more panoramic vistas, continue up to the top of Killiney Hill, a public park that is home to many species of wildlife and birds.
Both areas can easily be explored from Dalkey town and it’s recommended to disembark at the earlier stop, as there’s an excellent visitor center at Dalkey Castle, which includes information about the area, historic and cultural exhibitions, and best of all, live theater performances as part of a fun guided tour that scales the heights of the castle ramparts.
Address: Castle Street, Dalkey, Co. Dublin
Information Link: www.dalkeycastle.com
11. Howth Head
Howth Head (Binn Éadair) is a peninsula about 13 km from Dublin city centre on the northside of Dublin Bay. Originally an island, it is connected to the mainland by a tombolo or land bridge created by deposited sand at Sutton (Cill Fhionntáin) and is accessed by both Dublin Bus and DART train services.
The terrain rises to above 100m and the highest point is Black Linn ( Dubh Linn). 570 acres are designated as a Special Area Of Conservation (SAC), including bogland covered in yellow gorse. A network of paths circle the cliffs of the head with views of Ireland’s Eye (Inis Mac Neasáin) and Lambey Island (Reachrainn), the Irish Sea, Dublin Bay and the Dublin and Wicklow mountains.
Howth village and its enclosed harbour are situated on the north side of the head with two islands, Ireland’s Eye and Lambey Island just off shore. There is a lighthouse in the harbour while the Bailey Lighthouse is on the rocky south east tip of the head.
Address: Howth Head, Co. Dublin
Information Link: www.visitdublin.com
12. Phoenix Park
Phoenix Park is the largest enclosed urban park in Europe, some 1,750 acres. Hundreds of deer roam the parkland, and the President of Ireland’s official residence (Áras an Uachtaráin) is here along with Deerfield, a beautiful 18th-century property home to the American Ambassador to Ireland.
There’s a visitor center located close to a 17th-century tower house, Ashtown Castle, for those wishing to find out more about the park and its environs. At the far Castleknock Gate end and on some 78 acres stands stately Farmleigh House, dating from the 1800s and purchased by the Irish state from the Guinness family in 1999.
For generations of Dubliners and those coming from abroad, the main draw is Dublin Zoo, which attracts more than one million visitors annually, dates back to 1830, and is the second oldest zoo in Europe.
Address: Phoenix Park, Dublin 8.
Information Link: www.phoenixpark.ie
I should say there are many more places to visit but the list goes on and on. So hopefully my humble recommendations on best attractions to visit has helped you in planning your discovery of Dublin.
If you need any advice on planning or further recommendations on what to see and do, then please feel free to contact one of our many dedicated tour experts. They are full of free knowledge, always ready to answer any questions you might have and will offer you the best advice in achieving your dream holiday.
Take care and safe adventures!