Ireland conjures up many a mythical vision for the bucket list traveler; from the green, saturated hills of rural Kerry, to the stunning, rustic coastline of Galway, it’s remained a perennial favorite among tourists from all over the globe. Yes, it rains a lot (though not quite as much as they’d have you believe) and yes, there is a hardy borderline obsession with alcohol, but the other rumors are also true; the people are friendly, welcoming, and bizarre in their own special way and the Guinness IS better than anywhere else in the world. It’d be extremely tough not to come away from a visit to Ireland without a collection of amusing anecdotes and encounters, and what better place to gather up these memories than the Irish capital: the fair city of Dublin.
You’ll notice Dublin’s unique charm as soon as you touch down on its cobbled streets. It’s so unlike any other capital city; compared to the sprawl of London and Paris, or the skyscrapers and bright lights of New York or Ottawa, Dublin feels distinctly like a town – cozy, friendly and very walkable. However, there’s a lot to do in this little capital and you can get a head start by checking out the BUCKiTDREAM app and seeing which other travelers have visited, then get inspired by checking out what they got up to. As you do, jot some ideas down in your BUCKiTDREAM planner, and get ready for your very own Irish adventure!
Here’s a little list of the best things to do in Dublin to get you started!
Stroll ’round St. Stephen’s Green Dublin’s premiere slice of greenery, St. Stephen’s Green, is a wonderful place to take a leisurely stroll or sit and people-watch. You can actually find your way out of it too, unlike Central Park.
Visit the Jameson Distillery The Irish are proud of their whiskey, and rightly so. You can enjoy an in-depth tour of the Jameson Distillery, which features a rewarding tasting session at the end of it.
Get Locked up in Kilmainham Jail One of Ireland’s busiest jails until its closure in 1924, Kilmainham has seen a lot of action over the years, including the untimely end of the leaders of the 1916 rebellion. The popular tour is informative and creepy in equal measures, and not short on atmosphere.
Go for a Real Pint in Kehoe’s Many places purportedly have the best pint of Guinness in town, but Kehoe’s is certainly a heavyweight contender and also contains some proper old-school Dublin atmosphere. No one does a pub like the Irish – whatever the weather, Kehoe’s is well worth the visit.
Stagger Around Temple Bar Dublin’s old quarter, Temple Bar is certainly not short on atmosphere; though you’ll get the most ‘craic agus ceol’ (fun and music) during a nighttime visit. You’ll also get a chance to enjoy one of Dublin natives’ most persistent evening pastimes; getting roared at by complete strangers.
Stroll Around the Museums All museums are free to enter in Dublin, so you can check out the prized Caravaggio in the National Gallery, an astounding collection of stuffed exotic beasts in the Natural History Museum or the scrolls of Dublin’s history in the Collins’ Barracks History Museum, which includes the trenchcoat that Michael Collins was shot dead in, bloodstains and all.
Take a Day Trip to Wicklow The ‘garden county’ of Wicklow is directly under Dublin, and contains some of the best scenery in the country, just outside of the capital. You can bag yourself a day trip pretty easily, and be back in Dublin in time for dinner.
Be a Viking For a Day (or an hour) One of Dublin’s more unique excursions involves hopping into a converted WWII sea/land vehicle, donning a Viking helmet and bellowing at unsuspecting passersby. You’ll travel the streets and waters of Dublin’s fair city, and get a pretty comprehensive history of the place as you go.
High-end There are plenty of five-star hotels in Dublin, but the jewel in the crown has to be the magnificent Shelbourne Hotel, located smack bang in the middle of the city just off Stephen’s Green.
Medium For a medium budget place to stay, why not try the Central Hotel, situated just off George’s Street. This historic inner city hotel stretches over the shops and restaurants surrounding it and contains one of the best secret bars in town, the Library Bar.
Budget There are friendly hostels aplenty in Dublin city, all usually full of young, like-minded travelers you can hang out with. Airbnb is a good bet too, as the city is so small that you should find yourself within walking distance of the center with most places.
In recent years, Dublin has seen its food scene pick up significantly, and it’s now considered one of the finest gourmet towns this side of the Irish Sea. With a range of international dishes and flavors for you to choose from, and a price to suit everyone’s budget, Dublin can seriously delight with its culinary selections.
Most of the restaurant scene can be found in and around George’s Street. Surprisingly, some of the best food you can find in Dublin is Asian; Yamamori is a three-restaurant chain based in the city and serves up some of the most mouth-watering meals. For the best burger in town, Bunsen should be at the top of your list, and it’d be a crime to leave Dublin without staggering up at 2:00 am to join the drunken hordes queuing for a slice of authentic New York pizza at DiFontaines.
The Irish specialty. Dublin nightlife, and some day life is fueled by alcohol, making it one of the top party spots in Europe. But while the clubs and loud pubs can be a whole lot of fun, there’re simple pleasures to be found in Dublin’s drinking scene too; watching the world go by while cradling a slow, leisurely pint of the black stuff outside Grogan’s, or an afternoon cocktail or two at ornate yet cozy Peruke & Perwig.
Beware the tourist traps, however. A pint should never cost more than €5.00 max, though some places happily chance their arm with €7.50 and up. Another danger sign is any fat middle-aged man hammering a treble-saturated guitar, crashing his way through ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’ with the subtlety of a blunt ax; though no doubt you’ll hear him before you see him and can safely avoid. There is wonderful traditional music to be found in Dublin, and most of the time all you’ll need to do is follow your ears. If you’re lucky, you’ll have one of the most memorable nights of your life; surviving a proper session with some diehard natives can be an almost transcendental experience.
Tips and Culture
There is such a thing as ‘Irish Time’; generally, it can be found anywhere between fifteen to one hundred and twenty minutes beyond Greenwich Mean Time. This temporal attitude could be described as ‘relaxed’ at best, and at worst as ‘damned ignorant’, but be sure to keep it in mind if you’re making any appointments with an Irish native because you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be on local time.
If you find yourself out on the town and strike up a companionship with some Dublin-ites, don’t necessarily turn down a drink, even if you don’t want it. It can be perceived as insulting, especially as most Irish drinking etiquette operates on a ‘round’ basis; that is, you buy drinks for everyone in the friend group in one go, then everyone else does the same. It keeps things even and makes sure that no one falls behind. It’s a strict, unspoken moral code; Irish people take drinking and socializing very seriously altogether.
The best time to visit Dublin is completely arguable, and despite the sage-like advice you’ll get from some locals, it’s a crapshoot; you could get a perfectly clear, crisp day in early November, and get incessantly drenched on June 21st. Generally, the tourists don’t overtake the place at any one time of year, so you could say that the best time to visit the Irish capital is any ol’ time you like!
A ‘must drink’ once you’re in Ireland is obviously the Guinness, so it stands to reason that the ‘must see’ is the famous Guinness Storehouse, a wonderfully detailed and comprehensive attraction dedicated to the Emerald Isle’s favored beverage. You’ll ascend a giant pint-shaped structure which outlines the history of Guinness, get a chance to try your hand at the notoriously tricky pour, and take in some stunning panoramas of the surrounding city at the Gravity Bar, which crowns the Storehouse.
For a small city, Dublin certainly has a lot going on, and there’s more to discover once you get there. Like a lot of European capitals, half the fun of visiting Dublin is to discover your own little secrets and places. Dublin has a long and varied history, from garrison town to party capital, and it’s all waiting to be explored. So what are you waiting for? Hopefully, you’ve got a few ideas ready to go in your BUCKiTDREAM planner, and are eager to start your own Irish adventure!