Visiting Dublin for a Day

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If you’re visiting Ireland, odds are you’re stopping off in Dublin.

If you’re visiting Ireland, odds are you’re stopping off in Dublin.

As the largest city in the country, it would be easy to spend an entire trip exploring its alleyways and shops. In a perfect world, this is the way to do it, taking your time to really dig into the city and learn about its culture before heading off into the gorgeous Irish countryside.

However, sometimes travel plans are tight and time is not on your side. If you’re only visiting Dublin for a day or two, you can still see a good chunk of what the city has to offer.

If you don’t have much time to spare, we recommend at least checking out some of the highlights. I’ve included three quick favorites below. If you want more ideas, be sure to download our free First Timer’s Guide to Dublin on Buggl.

Sunrise as the ferry arrives in Dublin, Ireland

Sunrise as the ferry arrives in Dublin, Ireland

Take a New Dublin Tours walking tour

Our walking tour group mimics the sleeping setup at the former location of a Viking village.
Our walking tour group mimics the sleeping setup at the former location of a Viking village.

Much of the city is accessible on foot. It’s not a terribly huge city, and you don’t need to rely on public transportation to get to the good stuff.

Taking advantage of this, New Dublin Tours offers walking tours with knowledgeable guides that are native residents of the area. This was the very first thing I did when I arrived in Dublin, and it was a great way to get oriented and familiarize myself with the area.

Each tour is slightly different, but they all hit on the same highlights. We were taken to some of the most significant landmarks in Dublin, including the Dublin Castle, the birthplace of Jonathan Swift, old Viking grounds, and the Temple Bar district.

While walking through this ancient city, the tour guides provide an engaging overview of its tumultuous history.

The best part about this tour? It’s completely and totally free. Of course, be sure to tip the tour guide at the end.

Visit Kilmainham Gaol

IMG_6226 The Republic of Ireland is well-known for its rebel spirit, and Dublin is no exception. The battleground of several revolutions, most notably the 1916 Easter Rising, Dublin is a perfect representation of the war-torn heart and soul of Ireland.

Historic monuments dot the city, in parks and along urban streets, but if you really want to get to the heart and soul of the revolutions, journey a little further afield, to Kilmainham Gaol.

This is where numerous Irish nationalists were taken and lived their final days before execution.

The prison-turned-museum is split into two main sections. First, there’s a three story exhibition area, with hundreds of artifacts that bring the revolution to life. These self-guided exhibits discuss the tense politics in Ireland as it was tugged between British rule and independence. Several of the artifacts on display are truly chilling, such as a letter written by an 18-year-old nationalist to his mother the day before he was hanged for treason.

The second portion is the gaol itself. Tour guides take visitors through the walkways and the cells that held prisoners over the years while discussing the personal histories and stories of these rebels, bringing them to life. Each of the rebels executed here has their own unique story, and all of them are equally heart-wrenching and inspiring.

Entrance to the gaol is €6.00 for adults and €2.00 for children with tours scheduled throughout the day.

See the Book of Kells and the Hogwarts Library

Because what geek doesn’t want to go to one of the most cinematically famous libraries in the world. Making appearances in Harry PotterStar Wars, and a number of other films, the Old Library at Temple College is exactly what you think it should be. With arching ceilings, shining banisters, rows upon rows of weathered manuscripts, and an exhibit displaying the famous Book of Kells, this is definitely a library worth visiting.

Do a little pub hopping

IMG_20130724_160553_798After a busy day of sightseeing, no doubt you’ll have earned a drink. Luckily, no trip to Dublin is complete without an exploration of the pubs, restaurants and breweries that make it famous.

Lucky for you, there are plenty of options. Here are a few of my favorites:

Guinness Brewery

The Disney World of beer breweries, the St. James’ Gate Brewery is the largest stout brewery in the world. A trip through the 64-acre grounds will take you through the entire brewing process, and ends with a free Guinness at the top of the building – which features a gorgeous, panoramic view of Dublin.

Jameson Distillery

If whisky is more palatable than beer, a trip to the Jameson distillery leads visitors through the whisky-making process. A free whisky sample is included in the tour.

Temple Bar Quarter

The Temple Bar quarter the general area just south of the River Liffy (which splits Dublin roughly in half). This entire area retains its medieval structure, with cobblestone streets and small, tightly-packed shops. Within the quarter there are a number of excellent pubs and restaurants, one of which is the Temple Bar itself, for which the quarter earned its name. This restaurant/bar has amazing sandwiches and great drinks. Also in the Temple Bar area is Oliver St. John Gogarty’s, a pub and hostel that features live musical performances every night.

The Brazen Head

Established in approximately 1198, Brazen Head is Ireland’s oldest pub. Featuring traditional Irish cuisine and a number of drinks, the most exciting part about this pub is the building itself. Over the centuries it has been expanded upon, and the resulting pub is a web of rooms and corridors waiting to be explored. Obviously this is only a small piece of what there is to do in Dublin. I haven’t even touched on Trinity College, the Book of Kells, the gorgeous parks, or the obscene number of fantastic restaurants. You definitely won’t be bored while visiting Dublin!

So much to do, so little time

This list just touches on a few highlights in a city teeming with things to see and do.

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