August 18, 2014

Dublin: Things to do

Despite only spending a few days in Ireland's capital city, we still managed to see a fair bit of the city. We had also spent a fair bit of time checking out tour books and websites in advance so we had a good sense for what we wanted to see. After spending time mulling through these resources and having the chance to see much of it first hand, we figured it would be helpful to give you a rundown of what we saw and our thoughts. 

Description: This is the old jail that was closed in 1924 and housed many famous prisoners during the Irish revolution in 1915-1918. It was a fascinating place and we really enjoyed seeing the different stages of the prison as it became more modernized. 
Location: On the left bank of the river and in the western part of the city and relatively close to the Guinness Brewery and Guinness Storehouse
Visiting: You can only visit the jail by taking a tour and these can fill up quickly. The tours are about 75-90 minutes. 
Tips: Arrive earlier in the day as the lines get long in the mid to late afternoon. 
Pam and Christine's take: Add the jail to your list

Description: I'm not sure this even needs a description other than the fact that the storehouse is essentially a visitation facility to learn about Dublin's most famous liquid substance. Each floor has detailed information on various aspects of Guinness- the brewing process, advertising history, proper tasting techniques, and proper pouring techniques. There are two different places that you can get your free pint - the gravity bar or the perfect pouring experience. We opted to hit up the gravity bar for stunning 360 degree views of the city.
Location: On the north bank of the river near the St. James Hospital Luas stop. Note it's a bit of a walk from the Luas but along the way you'll see Arthur Guinness's home.
Visiting: There are no formal guided tours. Audio guides are available in other languages.
Tips: Arrive early in the day and consider starting at the gravity bar before you tour the facility. We noticed many people only went to the bar so it was quite crowded by the tip we got up there.
Pam and Christine's take: Even though it's a pricey attraction, it's a must do!

Description: Again, this one is probably pretty self-explanatory. It's a gorgeous stone cathedral with both Norman and Roman architectural inspiration. 
Location: Very centrally located in the city on the south bank of the river. It's a short walk from the Temple Bar area.
Visiting: There are formal guided tours so check ahead for the times that these are offered. The cathedral wasn't overly crowded so this is an attraction where you have a little flexibility for your arrival time. Make sure you spend some time in the crypt, seeing some of the beautiful relics. 
Tips: Definitely do the tour! It costs a bit extra but it includes a trip to the bell tower where you'll get fabulous views of the city and learn to ring the bells. Plus you get a nice color book to take home. 
Pam and Christine's take: Pay the extra and do the guided tour.

Description: The only castle in central Dublin.  I was surprised to find this is more like a large government building or palace rather than a traditional castle.  Today it's simply used as a conference and dining facility.  When we visited, there were sand sculptures in the courtyard area.
Location: Just around the corner from Christ Church Cathedral on the south bank of the river.
Visiting: Entry into the castle requires admission and once inside, there are several exhibits and museums to see.
Pam and Christine's take: Skip this one! There are many other castles outside the city that are worth the time and expense of a visit. 

Description: Dublin's major university was established in the 16th century and now houses 25 different academic schools.  To give you an idea, my mind was buzzing just looking at all of the different academic studies buildings on the map - engineering, nursing, archaeology, science, etc.  Its library houses several historical documents including the Book of Kells.
Location: Centrally located on the south bank of the river just east of the Temple Bar area. 
Visiting: There are student-led tours throughout the day. Because we were there early in the day, tours weren't available.
Pam and Christine's take: A beautiful university campus for a stroll.  

Description: Enjoy authentic, local Irish music at several family-owned pubs. Prepare to laugh and partake in some fun music during this three hour event during which you'll see three pubs. We saw St. John Gogerty's in Temple Bar, The Ha'Penny Bridge Inn along the river, and Brannigan's Bar across the river. We loved doing this and the price is quite reasonable (12 Euros per person). 
Location: The group meets in Temple Bar at St. John Gogerty's on the second floor bar, which was conveniently located just down the street from our hotel. 
Tips: Wear comfortable shoes because you'll spend a fair bit of time walking down cobblestone streets between pubs. Also, try to get to each pub at the front end of your group so you can easily get a pint when you arrive. 
Pam and Christine's take: A must do!

Do you have anything that is a must see in Dublin to add to our list?


  1. When my sister and I visited years ago on a school trip there were so many great things we missed. Loved to go back now that I'm an adult and do a pub crawl.-L

    1. Being an adult definitely has its benefits in Ireland! :)

  2. That pub crawl sounds like a blast!

    1. I wish we had taken more photos that night - it was SO fun!

  3. That pub crawl looks so fun! I love seeing old architecture. It's so different from Arizona. Glad you guys had a good trip!

  4. I am not a beer drinker but the Guinness Storehouse was one of my favorites in Dublin. I also loved the Book of Kells at Trinity.