The Irish capital is full of history, a lovely landscape, Irish charm and, yes, pubs! With great museums (some of which are free!) and a bonafide castle in the town, it’s not difficult to fill up a long weekend in Dublin. In fact, the difficult part might be limiting yourself to only a weekend in the Emerald Isle!
But worry not – we got you!
We’ve strung together a 3 day plan overflowing with culture, beautiful sights and authentic local pubs for a very merry Irish time.
Getting to Downtown Dublin from the Airport
The Dublin airport is located approximately 10 km of Dublin city center, near a large suburban area called Swords. Since there is no train or subway service into the center, you can either book a taxi, rent a car or use the bus.
Once you are downtown Dublin, you can start checking off all the fun things you’ve planned to do over the weekend.
VISIT DUBLIN CASTLE
Dublin Castle is one of the major landmarks in Dublin. It’s hard to miss that medieval tower jutting up into the sky. Today, Dublin Castle is still a working office of Irish government that attracts visitors from around the world.
And while there’s plenty to see by just walking around the castle and gardens, it’s absolutely worth going inside and buying a ticket for a tour. Visitors can opt for a self-guided tour or a guided tour. Take into consideration the following: the castle’s elaborate staterooms can be explored on a self-guided tour and entry costs 7 EUR. You can also do a guided tour for 10 EUR, which allows you to see the Viking Excavation and the Chapel Royal as well as the staterooms.
WALK THROUGH THE TRINITY COLLEGE LIBRARY
Trinity College Dublin is a historic university located in central Dublin. The campus is picturesque. The college was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I. The list of alumni is lengthy and impressive: Samuel Beckett, Bram Stoker, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, as well as current Taoiseach (or Irish Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar.
The buildings on the campus are historic and impressive. At the heart is the Campanile, a bell tower from 1853 designed by Sir Charles Lanyon and sculpted by Thomas Kirk, on Library Square. Also notable is the Museum Building, a Palazzo style building from 1857 that is covered in detailed carvings. Tourists flock to Trinity College, largely, to see the Book of Kells, a highly ornate book from 384 AD containing the four Gospels of the Bible and its legendary library. To get access to the library, you have to purchase a 13 EUR entrance ticket here.
DRINK IN AN IRISH PUB
Dublin literally seems to have an Irish Pub on every corner. Looking for a fun time in Dublin? Look no further than Temple Bar, the oldest bar in the world. You’ll find a lot of pubs in Temple Bar, but the area is extremely touristy so if you prefer a more peaceful atmosphere, head southeast to the area between Temple Bar and St Stephen’s Green. The narrow streets have plenty of historic bars and restaurants that don’t charge a tourist tax.
The Brazen Head dates all the way back to 1198, and it has left a lasting impression on Irish popular culture. James Joyce made reference to it in Ulysses. When you enter this pub you are truly stepping back in time, as you become engulfed in the smells and sounds that have echoed through those imposing walls for over eight centuries, which is an experience unmatched by any other pub in the land.
Another place to check out is the The Stag’s Head. It is especially notable because of its long association with films and television; with classic movies such as Educating Rita and more modern shows such as Penny Dreadful being filmed there. Additionally, as you might expect, there is a stuffed stag’s head positioned above the bar.
TOUR KILMAINHAM GAOL
This activity is not in the city center, but it’s absolutely worth the short journey out of the city. If you’re interested in learning a little about Ireland’s history from the late 1700s to early 1900s, this is the perfect place to find out about it.
Kilmainham Gaol has housed political prisoners from Ireland’s uprising and civil war, and the guides will happily tell stories of the gaol’s inhabitants. To get inside, you must do a guided tour which you can book online. The tour lasts 1 hour and costs 8.50 EUR.
EAT CARB-HEAVY IRISH FOOD
Clanbrassil House is new on the scene, but is already a strong favourite among Dubliners. Opt for the family style menu and the chef will choose your dinner; A side order of the hash brown chips? Mandatory.
Mr. Fox is serving the finest food in town. The menu is pared back and short, focusing on impeccable ingredients served simply—think seared trout with horseradish yoghurt and cucumber or juicy lamb with wild garlic. Be sure to leave room for dessert, as their adaptations of classic Irish ‘ice pops’ are heavenly.
Dublin Pizza Company is a place where you get the DPC, with mozzarella from Cork, whiskey-cured salami and fresh basil, and make sure you get a pot of the black garlic and truffle aioli—it’s a game changer.
Relax in the Parks
There is no shortage of parks and squares in Dublin. The most prominent parks are St. Stephen’s Green, in the heart of the city, and Phoenix Park, just outside of downtown.
Just across the street from the Grafton Street pedestrian area, St. Stephen’s Green is a Georgian garden square with more than one lake, a bandstand, a fountain, and many monuments and memorials. Among the memorials, is the large Fusiliers’ Arch at the Grafton Street entrance.
Phoenix Park, meanwhile, is a more green park. A herd of deer roam the park, passing sites like the Papal Cross, erected for Pope John Paul II’s 1979 visit. You’ll also find the Dublin Zoo on the grounds as well as Magazine Fort. Phoenix Park is more than 1700 acres so there’s no shortage of spots to explore.
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