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2 days in Dublin

On the way to our Scotland tour, we will stop in Dublin for 2 days, our first taste of Ireland. Perhaps it means we will go back someday.
Other than a HOHO bus and seeing the Book of Kells, what are MUST SEEs?
Is there a key section of town so we can stay in the middle of things and not waste time getting where we want to go?
And what is a key pub to experience?

Posted by
694 posts

I found the Book of Kells disappointing mostly because it was SO crowded i couldn't take time to really look and read. Try to go when it isn't so busy. The Chester Beatty Library (museum) on the grounds of Dublin Castle is free (suggested donation) and has a tons of interesting exhibits.

We were on a tour which put us in the Hilton adjacent to St Stephens Green. Could easily walk to Grafton St, Temple Bar, several museums, etc.

We didn't do a pub in Dublin but had two great dinners at
Gallaghers Boxty house - - beer and good irish food
Matt the Thresher - excellent seafood

Fyi, if you're a tea lover try and pick up some Bewleys Irish Breakfast tea. They have a cafe on Grafton st.

Posted by
623 posts

You'll probably want to stay in the area around St. Stephen's Green but it can be pricey. As you move away from that area the hotels will get less expensive. O'Donoghue's is supposed to be a good pub, and good for traditional music. I haven't been but was told by two different "locals" that it's the place to be. Generally speaking, you'll want to avoid Temple Bar, unless you like drunk 20-somethings. I'm sure there are "authentic" pubs in Temple Bar but I don't know where they are. As for must-sees, I would say Kilmainham Gaol should be a priority, especially if you want to understand Irish history. It's not in the central area of Dublin City Center but I think the HOHO bus stops there and it is certainly easily accessed by taxi. If you are there during the summer you will definitely want to pre-book tickets. It sells out weeks ahead of time. By the way, the Book of Kells is generally less crowded first thing in the AM or late in the afternoon. You will only see a few pages of the actual book. But the exhibit explaining the Book of Kells is pretty interesting and the Long Room is pretty fun to see. If you sort of hang back after a timed-entry goes through you might have a better experience. The Archaeology Museum is very good and if memory serves, has other illuminated manuscripts. As mentioned above, the Chester Beatty library is excellent.

Posted by
234 posts

I agree that Kilmainham Gaol is a must see, and it is (or was when we were there) a stop on the HOHO bus. And the Archaeology Museum was another favorite, as was the Trinity College walking tour, led by students in the history graduate program at Trinity. Book of Kells was just OK but the attached library was a treat. We stayed in the St. Stephen's Green area and were able to walk to all of the sights we wanted to see (except for Kilmainham and we used the HOHO bus for that and the Guinness Storehouse). We did the musical pub crawl in the evening. It was enjoyable but the pubs themselves weren't particularly memorable.

Posted by
128 posts

Just came back from a long weekend (4 days) in Dublin. The Gaol is a must. Dublin castle was pretty entertaining too because we had a great guide. I enjoyed Guinness and Jameson, but they were definitely crowded. Agree that Kells is a mob scene. I enjoyed the Archaeological Museum...and you can't beat the price.

We didn't do HOHOs, but for two days it might be worth your while because they tend to hit all the above sites. Do yourself a favor and spend minimal time in Temple Bar, unless you like to hang out with rowdy drunk twentysomethings.

Posted by
62 posts

I'm so sorry to disappoint, but my friend and I are headed to Dublin today and have just seen on the website that the Book of Kells will not be on display 11/4/19-March 2020 for conservation 😣😣 we are still looking forward to the Trinity College walking tour, though! Have fun!

Posted by
483 posts

Just seconding the recommendations for:

  1. Kilmainham Gaol (reserve a date/time on-line in advance.

  2. Matt the Thresher (one of our best meals in Dublin; excellent food, energetic vibe; you can make a reservation on-line in advance.

  3. Trinity College tour (inexpensive; fun and interesting; takes less than an hour).

The HOHO bus worked well for us (altho we wound up taking a cab to the Gaol when it looked like we'd be late for our reservation if we waited any longer). We also found the museum at the GPO to be an efficient and fascinating history lesson regarding the 1916 Easter Rising. More info here:

Posted by
3657 posts

You don’t mention when you are going?

Skip the Book of Kells. Not worth time or money. I enjoyed Dublin Castle and was there in summer so Riverdance performance was also quite special.

Posted by
1172 posts

Kilmainham gaol for sure. Buy tickets ahead. I enjoyed the Book of Kells so I say go.. the long library is breath taking. Buy tickets ahead and you can just walk in.

We also really enjoyed Gallagher's Boxty house as well as the Brazen head. It is the oldest pub in dublin and the food was great. My daughter still says they have theist fish and chips she has ever tasted.

St Patrick's Cathedral was also great. As was the Chester Beatty Library.

Posted by
10 posts

We were in Dublin in late September and I agree with other posters that the Book of Kells 1st thing in the morning is less crowded and should provide a quieter space in which to read/listen to the information before seeing the actual book.

As for pubs in Dublin, our neighbors from Dublin recommended Kehoe's and our daughter's 25 year old college mate (also from Dublin) recommended Toner's. Of course it depends on what you are seeking, but both were full of locals. Same with Doheny & Nesbitt (>Victorian) across the street from Toner's.

We also had an engaging docent at Dublin Castle and would recommend -- great variety -- medieval tower, Chapel Royal, the castle proper. Gardens in back and leading to the Chester Beatty that was recommended above.

We enjoyed another fantastic docent and tour at Christ Church. Tour includes the nave, belfry and crypt.

We found Dublin to be very "walkable". We stayed at The Dean which I would recommend only if nightclub noise doesn't phase you... I thought it was grand, my husband won't stay there again... we did walk everywhere we went from that location.

Have fun!

Posted by
138 posts

I agree with the other posters about the Book of Kells. We had the unfortunate timing to get in with a large Asian tour group whose cultural behavior is at odds with mine. Much shoving and pushing to get anywhere first. But the Long Library was amazing. I would suggest the Emigration Museum is you have the time, especially if you have Irish ancestors (I do). As for hotels, we’ve stayed at the Harding Hotel and found it to be well situated and within walking distance of most of Dublin’s high spots. It’s right across the street from Christ Church Cathedral and the AirLink stop (from/to the airport).

Posted by
2 posts

Greetings from Ireland, some great recommendations already posted here so I'll be brief.
The books of Kells, when crowded is truly awful and its so contradictory of Trinity College, a shining light of education and learning to herd tourists in around a national treasure to maximise their revenue. BUT, the library is simply amazing and would be a shame if you did not go and see it, its truly awe-inspiring.
And in terms of pubs - don't miss 'The Celt' on Talbot street, near the 'Stilletto in the ghetto', err I mean the Spire. ;)
Le meas/with respect
Stephen McPhilemy
Rick Steves Ireland Guide
Dingle, Derry & Dublin

Posted by
38 posts

Thank you for all these wonderful ideas!
We are going May 2, 2020.
We like local tours rather than just exploring on our own. Have you found any great local tours? There are so many to choose from!

Posted by
132 posts

We did Viator tours for Gaol and Book of Kells/Trinity late May 2019. Timed entry for both, thought a good value. Also had timed entry to Guiness, not my cup of tea, but interesting.

We picked up a tour at the entry to Trinity as suggested by Rick for the Historic area of Dublin. Though that to be a good tour and a great value also. There were three guides, divided up the crowd that met at the entry.

Allocated 2 days to Dublin prior to Norway cruise, used UBER to get around when we did not wish to walk or felt tired or time constrained. For us this was plenty of time in Dublin.

Spent a couple of hours at the Brazen Head Pub listening to music on a Saturday night. We did not book the Rick Steves recommended pub crawl, it was full when we arrived, but the Brazen Head was recommended by the guide. Was a bit different but quite good.