Dublin’s history, the current capital of the Republic of Ireland, began in the 8th century. Around this time, Vikings discovered the fertile grounds of Ireland. So they decided to establish one of their permanent settlements there, which they chose to call Dubh Linn (Old Gaelic for “Black pool“). Dublin has undergone many changes and survived many events, both fascinating and representative of the Irish people. If you’re interested in familiarising yourself with the Irish culture and its people, here’s a list of what to do in Dublin. From strolling through the cells of an old prison to making lifelong friends during a pub tour, one must spend more than a few hours in the beautiful city of Dublin.
What to do in Dublin: Join a free guided tour
This is probably the first thing that I do when I visit a new city and is often the most exciting and helpful way to get introduced to how things work in that place. Dublin was no exception.
We joined 2 guided tours of Dublin, both hosted by Dublin free walking tours. The first tour, which took us around the south side, lasted about 3 hours and we visited the main touristy areas around the south side of the river Liffey. If it wasn’t for this tour, we wouldn’t have known all the funny names people have created for the Millennium Monument (a.k.a. the Spire).
We also did the north side tour, which was designed around the events that led to the Irish independence. Both tours were fantastic, and our guides, Eoin and James, were very knowledgeable and passionate (despite the cold temperatures). However, you decide how much you want to pay your guide as the tours are not paid.
Note: These awesome guys also run a pub tour, which costs 20 euros per person, and you get to try some of the finest Guinness Dublin has to offer, as well as some other alcohol-infused substances, and you also get to listen to Irish music.
What to do in Dublin: Visit Trinity College and its library
Trinity College, which was built in the 14th century, is one of the oldest and best universities in Ireland. In fact, when it was first established, Trinity College was supposed to be the Irish equivalent of OXBRIDGE back in the UK. Although women and Catholics were not allowed to study there back in the day, Trinity College has since changed its ways. It now welcomes nearly 17,000 students of all genders, nationalities and faiths. The campus has plenty of buildings you can visit as a tourist, from its Science Building to the famous library that hosts the Book of Kells.
What to do in Dublin: Go to Dublinia
Dublinia is a lovely museum located within the grounds of Christ Church Cathedral. This museum presents the history of Dublin and how the Vikings created and used this settlement. The ticket costs 9.50 euros, but it’s a nice place to learn about how it all began interactively.
What to do in Dublin: Visit Dublin Castle
The castle is a great starting place to learn about Dublin’s history and how it has changed over time. Most of the places in the castle are free to visit. Still, most of the information about the castle is not displayed anywhere, so if you want a more in-depth tour, I would recommend buying a guided tour. The standard ticket is 7 euros for an adult. The tour takes you through some areas that are not available to visit without a guide, such as *spoiler alert* the undergrounds of the castle.
What to do in Dublin: Visit The Little Museum
The Little Museum is located slightly further away from the city centre but still within walking distance from the Liffey River. This museum basically presents the city’s history from the 1900s to the present day, all through little things, like photographs, household objects or books. This place is excellent if you want to learn more about the Irish Revolutions and how Ireland has gained independence from the British empire. The adult ticket was 8 euros. The guide even sang us songs made during the Revolution times, which was terrific. As a bonus, the museum has a whole floor dedicated to Bono and the U2, the Dublin rock band which have gained worldwide fame after creating hits like “Pride” or “Bad“.
What to do in Dublin: Check out Kilmainham Gaol
Kilmainham prison is believed to be the place where history was made – the history that has changed the future and Ireland’s shape (literally). After the failed 1916 revolution, people in charge of the revolution were brought to this prison and sentenced to death for their acts of treason towards the British Crown. However, the way they were killed is believed to be one of the reasons why a second revolution started a few years later, which has succeeded and allowed the Republic of Ireland to be formed.
Similarly, the prison is a fascinating place to learn about how people lived (and died) during the Great Famine of Ireland. On a more positive note, the east wing of the prison has been the location of many movies and was built to give prisoners more humane living conditions, such as having natural light and better insulation from the cold during winter.
What to do in Dublin: Have a pint in Temple Bar
Does this point need any further detail? Temple Bar is basically the boho neighbourhood of Dublin. Lots of cute coffee shops and pubs, superb food and street music. What more could you want?