Dublin, Ireland turned out to be a surprise favorite destination. It was such a multicultural melting pot, full of history, and great food choices. I really didn’t plan much in advance so everything was a pleasant surprise. I only had a couple of days to spend on my first visit to Ireland and now I can’t wait to get back.
I’ve always wanted to see the lush green of the Irish you hear so much about but I honestly didn’t know when I would ever travel to Ireland. As it turns out when I planned my Harry Potter pilgrimage to London, it was way cheaper to plan to fly into Dublin and then onto London than flying to London directly during the peak summer months.
If I would be saving a few hundred dollars and able to add on a second country to my itinerary then sign me up! Ireland here I come.
Here are the top 10 things I loved about visiting Dublin in no particular order:
1. Easy to Navigate
I had the lay of the land after just a few hours in the city. By the 2nd day we were walking around like pros. In fact, the only time I took public transportation was the van to and from the airport and a taxi from the Guinness Storehouse because we were tipsy.
Dublin is a very walkable city with lots of signs and landmarks to help you get your bearings. If you can visualize where you are in relation to the river then you’ll never get lost. There are also buses and above ground trains. During our visit construction was heavy with the expansion of the train lines throughout.
Dublin is a super metropolitan and surprisingly multicultural melting pot. I admit that I had very preconceived notions of what Dublin would be like. I expected people with red hair, fair skin, and a distinctly Irish accent — you know the stereotypical Irishman.
Dublin is not that. It’s not that at all. Of course there were the typical Irelanders but I heard more foreign languages than I did the Irish dialect. There are literally all types of people from Thai to Japanese to Korean to Australian to African to Middle Eastern.
What made it so beautiful is that it was a seemless integration of shared cultured. When we visited an ethnic restaurant there were all types of people eating there. All types of people were interacting with one another. In fact the owners of my Air BnB were a Chinese/Irish guy and his Malaysian girlfriend. I was told by a tour guide that if you want the classic more traditional Irish experience, you’ll find that in the countryside.
3. Abundance of Food Choices
You name it, we saw it! I saw Lebanese,Noodle bars,Vegan,barbeque, Thai, Sushi, traditional Irish pub fare, McDonald’s (of course) and other American based fast food chains.
I think my favorite meal was actually at Umi Falafel, a middle eastern modern cafe. My friend and I shared a plat with fresh falafel, a Lebanese salad, and stuffed spinach rolls, stuffed grape leaves, pita bread and humus. We got our entire lives in that meal!
I wish I had been able to have traditional Irish food but I was being frugal and just picked up groceries from a corner market to have food in my flat. My next visit to Ireland I will make it a point to find a food tour.
4. Guinness Storehouse Tour
Initially the Guinness Storehouse Tour was not high up on my list of things to do, but a reader recommended it because of the amazing panoramic views of the city from the Guinness Gravity Bar.
My friend and I decided we would walk and leisurely explore the city while we made our way up to the storehouse. This turned out to be a great idea because we stumbled upon some really amazing historical sites.
I’m not a beer drinker. Occasionally on a really hot day I may partake but for the most part beer just isn’t my thing. I’ll sample a flight here and there and the beers I typically do like are very light.
Guinness is not light. I had it once before here in the states and let’s just say it wasn’t a favorable impression. Yet EVERYONE stressed that what we get here in the U.S. is actually pretty crappy and nothing like the Guinness in Ireland.
They made me a believer! I drank an entire pint of Guinness which comes with the purchase of your ticket. It didn’t have that bitter bite that it has here in the U.S. During the tour I learned the secret is the pure mountain water from the Wicklow Mountains and something about the bottling and transporting process changes the taste.
The tour is very informative and at your own pace which is great because you can stop and look at the things that interest you and bypass the things that are a bit boring.
The recommendation for the Gravity Bar was spot on. The views are awesome. You get your pint, your view, and a relaxing place to take it all in.
I also purchased Guinness chocolate truffles with a Guinness cream inside. Yummy!!!!!! You didn’t taste beer at all but there was a rich flavor from the Guinness that worked really well with the dark chocolate.
Tip: Purchase your ticket online. It’s slightly cheaper and you have a dedicated line for online ticket purchasers so you won’t wait as long.
5. Historical Sites
If you’re the least bit interested in history, Dublin is crawling with historical sites, some dating back to medieval times.
Book of Kells at Trinity College and the Trinity College Library are 2 attractions worth checking out.
The Book of Kells contains the 4 Gospels of the New Testament of the Bible created in 800 AD. The text is illustrated all by hand with various primitive methods from creating colored dye. The detail of the illustrations was outstanding.
You can view the Book of Kells in a glass container in a special dark room. After that room you can pass into the library. No photography allowed through this part of the exhibit.
The Trinity College Library is the library of libraries. The Old Library Long Room, was built between 1712 and 1732 and houses 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books.
When you walk in you can smell the old book/parchment smell and see the thousands of books on shelves from eye level up to a towering ceiling. I felt like Belle in Beauty and the Beast when she walks into the castle library for the first time. It’s a sight to behold, especially if you’re a bookworm like me.
My friend and I happened upon the old city gates of Dublin dating back to 1240 AD. Our curiosity led us through the gets and into the grounds of the oldest church in Dublin, St. Audoen’s Church, built between 1190.
The church is also the home of the famous Lucky Stone, dating back to the 9th century. It’s been moved, stolen, missing, but they have always managed to recover it. I rubbed it and had a no issues during the entire trip so I think it works.
Touring the church is free and they are more than happy to share about the history of this historic landmark. We learned that the church is actually built on top of over 25,000 bodies.
Of course there is also the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I saw it from the outside but didn’t take a tour.
Tip: As all things during high season, Trinity College Library gets crowded and congested. Purchase your tickets online and you can bypass the long line that wraps around the courtyard and walk right up to the door!
6. St. Stephen’s Green
St. Stephen’s Green park is 22 acres of lush peaceful green oasis near the shopping district of Dublin. It’s such a scenic place to take a break or even a nap in the cool grass.
I loved watching the swans glide across the pond and exploring the trails of the park. It’s a really relaxing place to spend some time.
7. Artsy and Colorful
One thing that I didn’t know about Dublin was how artsy fartsy it is. We saw so much interesting street art, colorful buildings, and your can’t forget the rainbow of painted doors.
One of my favorite pieces of street art was a canopy of colorful umbrellas.
Near the Dublin Castle we happened upon a Shakespeare troupe performing in the park.
8. National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology
The National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology has so many really interesting exhibits to see. My favorite exhibit is the famous bog bodies. These are well preserved ancient bodies discovered in the bogs dating back to the BC era.
I completely geeked out over this exhibit. You can see the vibrant red hair, nails, teeth; it’s crazy but awesome! I also thought the narrative of what they think happened to the victims was also very interesting.
The museum also has a Viking skeleton and all kinds of Viking artifacts and weaponry on display. I loved it.
9. Ha’Penny Bridge
The Ha’Penny Bridge is one of the famous pedestrian bridges that crosses of the River Liffey. It’s one of those obligatory photos you just have to take when you visit Dublin.
Listen, Dublin is a city and that means there are homeless and beggars as in every major city around the world. I’ve seen some very negative comments from some tourists on these interwebs complaining about the presence of homeless around and on the bridge messing up their photo.
Really yall? Come on…do better. Be better. They are human beings and in the grand scheme of things you get to go back to your hostel, your hotel room, your rented flat or wherever you are staying while they are sleeping outside. So don’t be the sadity tourist lacking compassion or empathy please. Not okay.
10. Night Life
Temple Bar is the famous district for partying and bar hopping. We actually took a stroll through this area early in the morning and had the streets to ourselves. If you are into the party scene you won’t find party in the Irish pubs. I had cider and enjoyed traditional Irish folk music and of course enjoyed watching the Irish jig. I didn’t spend too much time down there though because it was super crowded and bit too touristy for my liking.
However you will find so many other little dives throughout the city where you can get your sip and your dance on a bit more low key with locals. I was so surprised by the eclectic music scene.
Just around the corner from my flat there was a little club where I heard jazz one evening and “Poison” by BVD the next night LOL. They were jamming.
When I shared my plans to visit Dublin, I heard many people make comments like, “Why would you want to visit Ireland?”or “There’s no reason for me to visit Dublin because I’m black.” I’m so glad I don’t subscribe to the mindset of living in a bubble.
This visit to Dublin is the first time I felt so comfortable in a city that I thought, hmmm I could see myself living here. Of course when I was there it was during the only 3 perfect days of summer weather so I know I didn’t get a the true feel of what it woud really big like.
Dublin is definitely a city worth adding to your list. I also would really like to spend some time in the country side of Ireland.
Have you been to Dublin? What did you think? Would you consider visiting Dublin after reading this post?
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