There’s more than just a robust literary underpinning to Dublin, Ireland, although the city’s history of letters is unavoidable. The erstwhile hometown to James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, J.M. Synge, W.B. Yeats, and many other major writers brims with a youthful vim (an estimated 50% or more of the city’s denizens are less than 25 years of age) that belies the solid architectural appearance. Neatly bisected by the River Liffey, Dublin offers ample sightseeing opportunity via foot. For the traveler on a tight budget, Dublin’s many free attractions leave extra funds for a pint or five after a long day of tourism, but for those with a little extra gravy, the Dublin Pass widens the range of attractions while keeping funds in check.
What is there to do in Dublin? What isn’t there to do in Dublin?
- Tour Malahide Castle. This 824-year-old castle, the home of the Talbot family for almost eight centuries, is technically is the seaside town of Malahide. But just a short jaunt from Dublin, Malahide, with its 260 verdant acres, specters of former inhabitants, one of the world’s most magnificent dollhouses, and collection of handmade models of Irish trains, is worth a visit.
- Relive 18th-century incarceration at Kilmainham Gaol, a prison-turned-museum that for more than 140 years housed Irish rebellion leaders, women, and children in cold, dark conditions.
- Think reverent thoughts at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the largest church in Ireland (of which Swift was dean between 1713 and 1745), which houses one of the country’s largest organs with more than 4,000 pipes.
- Slake your thirst at the Old Jameson Distillery. A tour of the facility wends through the evolution of Jameson Irish Whiskey and finishes with a complimentary Jameson signature drink.
- Steep in Irish history at Dublin Castle. Built in the 13th century on a former Viking settlement, the castle is now a location for state receptions, presidential inaugurations, and more.
- Uniquely Irish sports like hurling and Gaelic football are brought to life at Croke Park and the Gaelic Athletic Association Museum.
- Half an hour south of Dublin, Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre brings Irish medieval life into the present day through live performances, guided tours, and annual Ulysses-themed Bloomsday celebrations.
- Swing a club at one of the city’s many golf courses. Although golf actually originated in Scotland, Ireland offers many world-class courses; Elmgreen Golf Centre is a favorite of Dubliners.
- Revel in the Irish literary tradition at the Dublin Writers Museum, which features books, letters, portraits, and personal items from Dublin’s literary celebs.
- Writers may be at the forefront of Irish culture, but the visual arts are alive and well at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the country’s top national institution for modern and contemporary art from Irish artists, as well as world-renowned artists from all over.
- The James Joyce Centre bills itself as an institution “dedicated to promoting an understanding of the life and works of James Joyce.” Don’t worry: nobody else got Finnegan’s Wake, either.
- After you’ve had your fill of Joycean epiphanies, fall in love all over again with Dublin’s native beverage, Guinness, at the Guinness Storehouse.
- Sample Georgian Dublin at Number Twenty Nine, the city’s Georgian house museum, and see what life was like in Dublin between 1790 and 1820.
- Face your fear of the dark at The Bram Stoker Dracula Experience, “a uniquely different, most interesting, brilliantly, entertaining, interactive, educational and very scary adventure based on the life of Bram Stoker his great vampire creation (Dracula) and horror in general.”
- View an immaculate example of Neo-Classical architecture at the Casino at Marino, built in 1775. This small building was designed by Scottish architect Sir William Chambers for the 1st Earl of Charlemont, James Caulfield.
- Catch up on the seminal works of your favorite Irish writers at the National Library of Ireland.
- Visit Trinity College, home of the Old Library and the Book of Kells, a centuries-old manuscript written on vellum that contains illuminated Latin text of the Gospels.
- Lip a pint at the Brazen Head, Dublin’s oldest pub and purportedly Robin Hood’s establishment of choice.
- Nothing complements a frothy mug of beer like fried fish. Get your fish-and-chips fix at Leo Burdocks, where the prices are light but the lines are deep.
For more information about Dublin, including information on accommodations and getting around the city, visit the official website of Dublin Tourism. <-->