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best Dublin experiences/favorite things to do

I will be arriving in Dublin in a month, and I really wanted to get some input from fellow travelers about their favorite Dublin experiences and must-sees. I know the basic information and have researched quite a bit, but I will only be there for 4 days and want to make certain that I get a real feel for the culture. Any reccommendations about restaurants would be great, too. It is much better to hear it from actual people vs. a guidebook. :)

Posted by
319 posts

Jill,

I just got back from two weeks in Ireland, four days of which was spent in Dublin. If you're looking for culture, I'd suggest a few things off the top of my head.

One is traditional Irish music. Great places to enjoy this are the musical pub crawl (great intro to the music, excellent musicians, good time). Also, Cobblestones pub has trad sessions that really give you a feel for what a session is all about.

If you're interested in ancient Irish culture, then you'd want to check out the national museum, which has some great artifacts including the Tara Brooch and Ardagh Chalice. The Book of Kells was fascinating as well and a great window into early Christian culture in Ireland. Finally, you might consider heading to Newgrange and the Hill of Tara. This is a day trip to the north of Dublin. You can rent a car and drive yourself or take a tour. I took the Mary Gibbons Tour and would highly recommend it. You're guaranteed a speedy entrance into Newgrange, which fills up quickly during the summer season. These sites were sacred to ancient Irish communities; Newgrange is older than the pyramids.

Pubs are of course a great place to get a feel for the culture. Everyone has their favorites, but I enjoyed Brazen Head (possibly the oldest pub in Dublin, and you can picture the medieval inn it once was) and Stag's Head (just up the street from Trinity College, but hard to find and therefore not touristy at all.

Feel free to post any further questions.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
9363 posts

The best thing I did in Dublin was to visit Kilmainham Gaol. It gives you a wonderful education about the struggle for Irish independence. The tour takes about 90 minutes, but there is also a museum there which is well worth going through.

The hop-on, hop-off bus tour is a good overview of the city. The ticket is good for 24 hours, and you can get off at any point, see what there is to see, and get back on to continue your tour when you are ready.

The Georgian house tour is well worth the time, too. It's on Fitzwilliam St just off of Merrion Square.

As for restaurants, Bewley's Oriental Cafe on Grafton St. has the best tomato soup I have ever had. If you want pizza, try the Bad Ass Cafe in Temple Bar.

Posted by
67 posts

I agree about the hop on / hop off bus - you can see so much of Dublin and get off when something interests you. I suggest riding the bus all the way around which takes less than an hour and then choose what you wish to see.

There are day tours to Newgrange and also Wicklow Mountains/Glendalough. Both sites very historical and beautiful - last time I went to Wicklow mountains and had a great time. Either is a great way to see some of Ireland without driving.

You will love Dublin or anyplace in Ireland.
Have a GREAT trip!

Posted by
1806 posts

I really liked the crypt under St. Michan's Church. This is a definite off-the-beaten-path for most first time visitors to Dublin. But it is small and doesn't take a lot of time to go through.

For quick and cheap eats, I like Lemon (creperie) and the gourmet food hall downstairs at Marks & Spencer on Grafton Street is great for buying things to have a picnic in Merrion Square or St. Stephen's Green.

Posted by
12040 posts

My best experience in Dublin? Grab a pint and have a conversation with a local.

Posted by
2462 posts

Just get out and walk - it's a pretty walkable city and you can cover it well on foot. St. Stephens Green is a pretty park and the locals hang out there. A pint in any pub will get you a local experience, just stand at the bar. But be warned, Dublin is a mecca for people from everywhere else and in Temple Bar we saw more Brits, Germans, and Americans than the Irish. RS recommends more "local" pubs and his recommendations are spot on.

For more culture, I personally liked the WB Yeats exhibit in the National Library (very well organized and interesting) and also enjoyed the National Gallery (Yeats' brother Jack was an accomplished artist - don't miss his special tucked away gallery between the old/new parts of the musueum). The National Museum is also quite good - don't miss the bog people.

Posted by
208 posts

Excellent trip Jill!
I spent 2 days in Dublin last month with a friend. Some of the things I particularly enjoyed - Ha'penny Bridge Pub (right by the Ha'penny Bridge no less). For an Irish meal and dancing, go to the Arlington Hotel. If you can - book it as soon as you get to Dublin - and try to get a table close to the stage. There is Irish Dancing at 10ish. We were a fair bit away from the dancing, but I stood by the stage (as close as possible - its cordoned off for the diners near the stage so they can see too).

I enjoyed the National Museum - no photos though. I liked the Book of Kells though I thought it would be "more". Not sure what I thought it would be, but its worth a look. No photos.
Hit Guinness and the 360 Bar - what a fantastic view of Dublin! Don't forget to get your free pint! I'm not a Guinness drinker - but you HAVE to try it there! Photos allowed. Get your picture taken in front of St. James Gate!
I also enjoyed the Writer's Museum. Its quite interesting.
Get your pictures taken with the statues of James Joyce and Molly Malone.

Enjoy!!

Posted by
9363 posts

In my opinion, the Guinness Storehouse isn't worth the outrageous price you pay. You see nothing of the brewing process (it's not a tour of the plant), but more of a giant advertisement. You have plenty of opportunity to buy Guinness merchandise, too. As for the "free" pint? The ticket to get in was upwards of 13 euros the last time I checked -- hardly free. Particularly with your limited time, I'd skip it.

Posted by
484 posts

Jill, If you enjoy live theater Dublin has a good deal to offer with the Abbey,Gate,Gaiety and several other theaters. It certainly is a grand way to enjoy an evening out, with dinner,the theater and a few drinks afterwards.

Posted by
12040 posts

I also enjoyed walking around St. Stephen's Green, one of Europe's most attractive (if smaller) city parks.

I stayed a significant distance south of the main tourist areas, in the Ballsbridge section of town. Just wandering through these well-kept neighborhoods and along the beach walkway (yes, believe it or not, Dublin has a beach... of sorts...) was a very pleasant way to fight jet-lag on my first day.

Posted by
147 posts

best part about Dublin is leaving it. No really, the hop on/off tour, the University, and the other touristy stuff is worth a day, but the City is full of tourists, and may as well be NY. You get a much better feel for the culture in the smaller towns away from the big city.

Posted by
484 posts

Take a look at the Chester Beatty Library(free) Dublin Writers Museum, Museum of Modern Art,ride the LUAS to its end and then back again. You will find very few tourists. If you go to Grafton Street, O'Connell Street,Temple Bar etc. then you will encounter a herd of tourists. The same can be said for Kinsale,Dingle and especially Killarney. You can avoid the crowd if you are not hesitant about doing something other than what the masses do.

Posted by
12172 posts

My best Dublin times were walking through parks (we had great weather) and along the South canal. I saw a couple of people wrestling with a canal locke and jumped in to help - which started an afternoon of conversation with locals, one of whom had been a cadet at the Irish academy in 1963 and marched in JFK's funeral.

Trinity College library is special. I also enjoyed seeing the post office with bullet holes.

A literary pub crawl would be an enjoyable evening. A daytrip by bus to Newgrange, Tara and Boyne Valley is one of my personal highlights.

I wasn't impressed with the Quays. It's generally big bars that you could find anywhere.

Most of my top Irish times were listening to trad music in small town pubs. Like most cities, Dublin has lots to see and do but loses that small town feel, which is a big loss in Ireland.

Posted by
22 posts

For a short gaunt outside the city, you can't beat Powerscourt (beautiful from March to October) and it's incredibly easy to get to. The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport) or their innercity rail will take you to Bray, then just catch a bus from there. You might need to check schedules, but it remains one of my favorite places. It showcases the real beauty of the country...if you have time it's a must see.

Posted by
158 posts

Howth is a lovely little coastal village just outside Dublin....worth a bus ride out there for a morning or afternoon! The BeachComber Pub is fun too!

Posted by
100 posts

We spent just over 2 days in Dublin a couple of years ago and had a great time there, however, if your looking for a real feel for Irish culture, this may not be the place for you. The countryside and small towns are really where it's at. That being said, we still loved Dublin. Our first night there we ate dinner at the Shack which was recommended in RS book, very good, but kinda pricey. We also had fun just walking around the city and noticing differences. St. Stephen's Green was great and so was the Georgian house someone else mention (although, it took us forever to find because we were confused by the street signs). We enjoyed O'Donoghue's Pub one night for music and a few pints (although, don't eat dinner at the pub across the street from there, I can't remember the name, but it wasn't great). We also had lunch at a place called Little Caesars which was great. When it was recommended to us we made a face and the lady assured us it was not like the Little Caesars here in the states and she was right, it was a cozy, fun and had great italian food. Hope you have a great time!!

Posted by
9363 posts

Amber, it might have been me who mentioned the Georgian house tour. And it took me forever to find it, too! Actually, the address was wrong in the edition of the RS book I used (it's on Lower Mount, not Upper Mount, and the two don't connect like many Upper/Lower streets do). I contacted the RS people when I got back and they said they would look into it. Maybe they didn't. Anyway, I'm a little bit pleased to know that it wasn't just ME who was confused. :)