Co robić w tym mieście gdy macie weekend albo ciut więcej? Oto moje propozycje: miejsca, które odwiedziłam podczas moich 3 wizyt w tym mieście. Jeśli macie dodatkowe pomysły na atrakcje irlandzkiej stolicy- piszcie w komentarzach!
What can you do here if you have a short weekend away or a bit longer? These are my ideas: few spots I have visited during my 3 trips to that city. If you have any other ideas as what to do and see here, let me know in the comments below!
Go for a free walking tour!
This is my trick to see a new city “in a nutshell”. For me it’s the best way to explore it on your first day, when you have no idea as to where are the main attractions and you would most probably get lost like 5 times (I know I always do!). The free walking tour allows you to grasp the vibe of the city, it’s main hot spots, learn about it’s history in a fun way and also meet new people you can later hang out with- perfection! Also, you pay as much as you want to, so depending on your level of satisfaction with your guide, which I think is a great motivation for them to really make it interesting and special. I did a tour starting at Barnardo Square, City Hall by the Sandeman’s company, knowing that it’s one of the best tours and I wasn’t disappointed. There’s one at 10, 11 and 2PM so take your pick and go! It’s easy to spot the guides because they will hold red umbrellas.
Visit the oldest pub in the whole Ireland!
The Brazen Head– people were getting drunk here since 1198, isn’t that alone a great reason to visit? It is a pub with great atmosphere & interior, with pictures of all the famous people who ever performed here or just came for a Guiness (Tom Jones was here!). I’ve had a taste for something warm to eat rather than have a drink so
I tried their soup- Irish stew. The chunks of Irish lamb, vegetables topped with creamy mash potato were literally melting on my tongue- so delish! But the price was kinda high (15.5eur), still absolutely worth it. That meal gave me power to explore for the rest of the day in the freezing weather. You can also come here for an evening of storytelling (which is a very old Irish tradition, since the travelling bards were telling stories since forever here). It can be booked online on their website and it costs 40 euros, but the price includes dinner, live traditional music and ballads, best of Irish folklore and storytelling.
Listen to a choir singing in Irish!
If you think the language spoken in Ireland is anything like English, then you are soooo wrong. The Irish language is actually a Celtic one, so it sounds like nothing to an English speaker. It’s not widely spoken in the capital city, but if you go to other parts of Ireland, it is still used there. Still, it’s mandatory for all to learn it at school and all the signs in the whole city are in English (language of the oppressor after all) and in Irish. So I thought this might also be a fun thing to do, so as a way of getting to know the culture more I attended 2 Choral Evensong, sung by the Cathedral Choir- one at the Christ Church Cathedral and the other at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. To tell you a secret- it’s also a smart way to visit th cathedrals without paying for the tickets. You’re coming to pray, so as such you don’t need to be getting a ticket. Just make sure to check the schedule of services on the cathedrals website for the specific hours that day as they might change (it’s usually 6PM at Christ Church and at 5.30PM at St. Patrick’s).
Get to know the Vikings!
As you will be close to the historical, old town area when attending the Evensong at The Christ Church Cathedral, you will see a lot of excavations all around it. There is tons of them uncovered, just lying around everywhere you walk nearby the Cathedral. Old arrows and other weapons, foundations of buildings and so on, just sticking out of the ground. Try to catch them all! Very near you can also find the Old City Walls, which look very astonishing- grey massive walls, against the juicy, green grass that you can find only in Ireland. To me, those are the two colours that are associated with “Irishness” in my head. You will understand what I mean once you see it yourself. Green and grey- everywhere.
If you like a good, long walk…
Go to the Great South Wall and listen to the waves of Irish Sea. The Great South Wall goes over 4 kms into the sea which made it the longest sea-wall in the world at the time of it’s construction (today, still one of the longest in Europe). This wall also allows you to fall in love with the Lighthouses all over again (if you haven’t got that obsession yet, you will after that). The Poolbeg Lighthouse is a cute red lighthouse that stands tall and proud against the wild sea (I’m a sucker for those magical lighthouses, #sorrynotsorry). It was the world’s first lighthouse operated on candlepower! This is a very calming place, where the sound of the waves puts you at ease, you can watch the people fishing, swimming (they do, even in the freezing weather), walk around the nearby beaches and collect HUGE shells and watch some cool graffiti painted all over the place. I’m crazy so I walked all the way here from the city, which took me more than 3 hours one way. I was obviously exhausted afterwards so I took a ride with a nice Irish fellow Tom & his dog Shaun (as a hitchhiker). You can be less adventurous and just take a bus there and back 🙂
Go royal- The Dublin Castle and Chester Beatty Library
The complex of the Dublin Castle is pretty surprising as you walk through it, mixing very different architectural styles. On one side it looks very solemn, grey and overwhelming, then once you walk around it, it’s getting very creative and free with the colours and shapes. You just have to see it all! After visiting the castle area go few steps more towards the little park called Dubh Linn Garden. Here you will fin the best museum of whole Europe (according to the pole from 2002) the Chester Beatty Library. Sir Alfred Chester Beatty was a mining magnate who made a fortune and then spend it on collecting art from all over the world. He loved Ireland so much, he decided to not only spend his last years here (he was from NYC) but also leave the majority of his collection to the Irish Museums and Galleries. So what you can see in the Chester Beatty Library is the biggest collection of the manuscripts, miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and some decorative arts from the Islamic, East Asian and Western Collections. The books are beautifully decorated! On the top of the Library you can enjoy a terrace with a fabulous view of the Dublin Castle and the Dubh Linn Garden (which has the mysterious Celtic symbols “carved” into the grass). Oh, and did I mention it’s all free of charge?! Including the lockers. Opened Tuesday-Friday 10AM-5AM, Saturday 11AM-5PM, Sunday 1PM-5PM.
Find out more about the Irish people’s history at the North Dock
If you go by the river Liffey, you will find the Famine Memorial– an extremely touching work of art that commemorates all the victims of the most tragic time in the Irish history- when people had to flee Ireland to escape the starvation in 19th century. Those overwhelming statues show Irish people: hungry, skinny, dressed in rags, walking towards ships to bring them overseas, away from the poverty. The Ireland oppressed by the British was lead to starvation by them- when the potato crops were destroyed, the Irish suffered years of mismanagement and mistreatment from England. Brits allowed all other food products to be shipped off the island while the people there remained starving. Because of that 1,5 mln people died and another million emigrated from the country. On the other side of the street you will find the Irish Emmigration Museum – adult ticket is 15euros. Opened from 9AM to 5PM, except Mondays.
Ireland’s gem: Trinity College and the Book of Kells
The University of Dublin was founded by the Queen Elisabeth First. The Library of Trinity College contains over 6.2 million printed volumes and significant quantities of manuscripts, including the Book of Kells. That Book is a masterwork of Western calligraphy and represents the pinnacle of Insular illumination. It is also Ireland’s
finest national treasure.It’s so awesome that there’s even an animated movie about it- The Secret of Kells (2009). You can visit the Library and see The Book of Kells for the price of 11-14 euros (adults) from May to September: Mon – Sat 08:30 – 17:00 ,Sun 09:30 – 17:00 and from October to April: Mon – Sat 09:30 – 17:00, Sun 12:00 –
Visit the coolest part of the city- Temple Bar
This quarter is filled with the 100% Irish pubs, but it’s also a very hip place to be even if you’re not drinking. You can buy art, second hand books, vinyls and more right in the streets. Stroll through the it to admire the flowers hanging in abundance at every entrance. Get a pint of Guinness at the most famous bars – The Temple Bar or the Quays. Cheers and thank me later!
If you like science…
Visit the Science Gallery at the Trinity College. It’s free of charge and an amazing way to spend an hour or two when it’s raining outside (which will be pretty much 99% of your time in Dublin, honestly). The exhibition was focused on sounds and music the last time I visited, so you can try out different ways of making music yourself as it is a very interactive exhibition and what makes it cooler- there is staff that explains what to do and how to use the exhibits, they are very friendly so don’t be shy to ask them for help if you need explanation. Open from 11AM to 7PM Tuesday-Friday, then weekends from 12AM to 6PM but makes sure you check their website as it changes.
Go to a park- chill & rest
There’s one where you can adore lovely flowers and the Oscar Wilde Memorial (it’s in the corner closest to the National Gallery, to save you up time looking for it) called Merrion Square Park. Another one, with a big lake is St. Stephen’s Green– nearby there’s lots of street artists performing, so you might catch a show of dancers and/or singers. And last but not least, my personal favourite: Iveagh Gardens by the National Concert Hall. Iveagh Garden is smaller than the other parks, but the magic lies in somethign else than size here. You will find lovely fountains topped with gorgeous sculptures, a waterfall, grotto’s and more. This is a superchill place and although I came here in the rainy weather (oh, what a surprise in Ireland) I loved it so much! I can only imagine what it is like on a warm sunny day (I believe they still happen sometimes in Dublin). Highly recommended by Aga.
Fall in love with the Georgian Dublin’s architecture
While you’re in this part of the city, you might notice colourful doors, with fancy columns and decorations. If you wonder if those mean anything then, yes! Those are the iconic Doors of Dublin, photographed by many and loved by all! This is a lovely example of the Georgian architecture, called like that because of the period of reign of four Georges, kings of England. Typical Georgian doorways can be found around the Merrion Square, Fitzwilliam Square, Baggot Street Lower, Leeson Street, Harcourt Street and a bit further away at Mountjoy Square. But basically wherever you go, you will see some of these cuties! Blue, yellow, red, green- they certainly light up the whole city with their happy colours even on a day without any sun (which is like every single day here).
Go to one of many, many, many museums
All of the National Museums are free, so just decide on what you like best and go. I did the Collins Barracks (Decorative Arts and History), National Gallery, National Museum of Natural History, Natural Museum of Ireland Archaeology. All of them give you insight and deeper understanding of the Irish history, their struggle for independence and freedom and their clashes with the Brits. Lovely way to avoid the rain, wind and cold while at the same time using your brain a little. Ok, yes- I am a nerd, so what?!
See where the President lives!
The amazing thing is that the Official Residence of the Irish President is holding free, guided tours every Saturday (at 10.15AM 11.30AM 12.45PM 2.00PM 3.15PM). All you have to do is to pick up your free addmission tickets at the Phoenix Park Visitor Center (opened from 9.30, tickets issued on a first-come-first-served basis). Then free buses come over to pick you up and the guide takes you on an hourly or so tour of Áras an Uachtaráin (the Presidential Residence). You get to see all the fancy rooms, hear awesome legends as well as true stories, see the actual President’s office where he has his personal belongings and also go through the gardens with trees planted by American presidents and Popes. Then the buses take you back to the Phoenix park, where you can just stroll for the rest fo the day trying to spot wild deer (they live here, allegedly, I haven’t seen any). The park is a public space, but at the same time a nature reserve with wildlife of birds and Fallow deer. First, they were brought here for hunting, so that the rich high class could chase and kill them, now they live here in peace enjoying a huge space of Phoenix park (it’s twice as big as Central Park in NYC and bigger than all of London’s parks put together).
Get some books at the most awesome bookstore ever!
You don’t even have to buy anything, just go there. The Chapters Bookstore is a huge one and you can just dive in for few hours. On the upper floor you can find a mix of used and new books, but all of them are on sale, old as well as the new. I think donwstairs it’s mostly new books. This is a paradise for bookworms, I have bought here a 700pages book of Celtic Myths and Legends for 4 euros (which elsewhere were like above 20euros) and two other books for just 1 euro! It’s open daily from 9.30AM till 6.30PM, except on Thursday it’s open longer till 8PM and on Sunday it opens a bit later at 12AM. Address: 174 Parnell Street, Dublin
Take a beer tour
And no, I’m not talking about a pub crawl (don’t really understand the whole point, but I digress). The Guinness Storehouse is one of the top attraction of Dublin, the ticket of 18.5 euros includes a free pint of Guinness- which already makes the whole experience better! I haven’t done that yet, but I’m sure it is all it’s cracked up to be (if not, you still get drunk, so… it ain’t that bad).
And if you like it a lil creepy- go to the Glasnevin Cemetery
This Cemetery is the place of final rest for all the significant Irish figures of art, politics etc. It has it’s own museum, opened Monday to Sunday: 10:00am – 5:00pm. They do history tours of the Glasnevin Cemetery as well starting at 13 euros for adults. Some like it like that, and who am I to judge those who love some necro- tourism…
If you have more than just a weekend- do a day tour away from Dublin!
Day trips from Dublin can take you to such famous spots as the Giant’s Causeway, Cliffs of Moher (starring in the Harry Potter movie, the scene where he & Dumbledore go to a cave to desrtroy a horcrux) Blarney castle and Cork, Celtic Boyne Valley and more. You can find many options online to book the tours, eg at Irish Day Tours
website, where the prices start at 45 euros. Unless you have a car, then it’s just easy peasy.