Image courtesy of Giuseppe Milo.
I have always been curious about Ireland, a country known for its struggles to separate from Great Britain, potatoes, and of course Leprechauns. Fortunately, I was able to spend a week in Ireland and got to experience first hand the country’s beauty and the hospitality of the Irish.
The first stop was Dublin and I really didn’t know what to expect. I quickly realized that Ireland is a magical island and Dublin is the epicenter. Here are 10 things to do in Dublin Ireland:
1)St. Patrick’s Day: The Irish never really need an excuse to party, but St. Patrick’s Day is their special day. It is amazing how everyone around the world becomes Irish on March 17th. The good St. made his name by driving all the snakes off of the emerald isle.
In Dublin, there is a massive parade which includes floats, music and of course, beer no matter what time of day. The parade route varies from year to year but whatever the travel route, it’s generally standing room only along the entire stretch.
A great way to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day (weather permitting) is to go to Phoenix park, which is Dublin’s largest park and accessible by the Dart. It’s the ideal place to have a picnic, and like the parade, there’s plenty of music and other forms of entertainment (theater, poetry, magicians, etc…). Going to the park is the preferred option for hundreds of people, so expect a lively atmosphere and a sea of green.
As you can imagine, this is a major date for the tourist heading to Ireland, so book your accommodations early if your plan is to enjoy this wonderful event.
2) Pubs: pubs are a large part of the social fabric of Ireland and Dublin has more than its fair share. Instead of watching television, most Dubliners go to the “local” (pub in their neighborhood), have a pint and converse with their fellow neighbors or anyone else that is sitting next to them. Drop into a pub and enjoy. Keep in mind that there is often live music playing at the pub, whether it is a solo fiddler or an 8-piece band belting out traditional Irish music. It can get loud, so if that’s not your thing, move on to the next pub.
3) Beer: what more to there to say except that Dublin is home to the Guinness factory and it is well worth taking a tour even if you don’t drink beer. The Irish have a saying that Guinness doesn’t travel well, so if you do like beer enjoy some straight from the well! Don’t fill up on too much Guinness though since there are many other great beers that you will find in Dublin.
4) Sports: the Irish are very passionate about their sports. Dublin has Aviva Stadium, which hosts all of the big events. Soccer, rugby and hurling (a sport like Lacrosse where they wack each other with sticks, except with no padding) are very popular. If you can catch anyone of these games live it will be memorable! If you can’t get tickets, there is always the local pub which can get just as rowdy (in a good way) as the live event.
5) Food: if you are a foody, lower the expectations down just a notch or two. Dublin is not known as a culinary destination of choice. However, the pub grub is fantastic! Irish stew and fish and chips are always a safe bet.
6) Transit: Dublin has an exceptional transit system that include trolleys, buses, and a light rail transit system called “The Dart”. Hop on the Dart and explore some of the outlying areas. Like any big city, there are many things to see besides the city centre. The Dart follows the coastline and offers fantastic views.
7) Killiney: if you feel like heading to the beach then hop onto the Dart and take it to Killiney. Bear in mind that Irish beaches are not like what you would find in Kailua or Waikiki. They’re a little rough around the edges, much like the Irish themselves! However, many people swim from this location, so if you are not adverse to unpredictable weather and a cold ocean, then this is the spot to do it.
8) Dalkey: One place you may want to consider going to is a community called Dalkey. It is a beautiful little township (which is what the Irish call suburbs). There is a popular pub called “The Queens”, which has won Pub of the Year and this is no easy feat considering the volume of pubs in Dublin. It also happens to be Bono’s “local”. Chances of seeing him, either alone or even with the Boss, are best when U2 is not on tour.
9) Grafton Street: if you are looking to shop in Dublin, there is no better place than on Grafton Street. Running from St. Stephen’s Green to College Green, this pedestrian friendly street is lined with high-end shops, cafes, and restaurants and is bustling with people. Don’t forget to explore the side streets, which houses some uniquely Irish stores where you may find an unexpected gem. If shopping is not your thing, Grafton Street is a great place to people watch and take in the energy.
A short distance from Grafton Street is the world famous Trinity College, definitely a place worth visiting and stopping in to view the Book of Kells.
10) Weather: Not so much a “to do” as it is a notable characteristic of Dublin. Ireland has two seasons – rain or no rain. That should in no way discourage you from going to Dublin! In fact, it seems to have been a major reason for the pub culture where people can dash into a nearby pub for some warm soup and conversation. Rain gear (or even an Irish sweater) is a good idea since it can start pouring at any time and from any location, but don’t fret too much as there can also be glorious sunny days too.
11) Accents: The Irish lilt is almost musical, but since Dublin attracts people from all the counties the accents can vary in a significant way. Sometimes you may wonder if the person you are conversing with is speaking English, but everyone gets the hang of it quickly. An important Gaelic word to know is Sláinte, which means CHEERS!
So there’s my list of the top 10 things to do in Dublin Ireland.
What are some things you would add to this list? Sláinte and enjoy Dublin!
These stories and adventures give me something to smile about everyday, I hope that it brings you a little something too.