In mid-January I had the chance to join my Mom in Dublin for a few days while she was in town for a work event. We had a whirlwind 5 days sightseeing, taking a food tour, and going on day trips to Northern Ireland and western Ireland. Some sights we saw on our walking tours and others we sought out ourselves after reading great reviews. Here, I’ve put together a summary of the top sights we visited in the city that I can definitely recommend to you.
Dublin Castle is one of the top landmarks in the city and is the heart of historic Dublin; the city even gets its name from the former Black Pool (‘Dubh Linn’) that was located where the current castle garden stands. Until 1922, Dublin Castle was the seat of the United Kingdom government’s administration in Ireland. Today, the castle grounds are a major Irish government complex open to the public (except during state functions). The castle is quite hodgepodge in appearance given to the fact that many parts have been destroyed and rebuilt over the years in several different architectural styles.
Chester Beatty Library
The Chester Beatty Library, named after the successful mining engineer Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, is located on the Dublin Castle grounds. The present library was opened in 2000 and was named European Museum of the Year in 2002. Its two collections, “Sacred Traditions” and “Artistic Traditions”, display manuscripts, prints, drawings, and rare books from the Islamic, East Asian and Western Collections. The library is the pre-eminent Irish institution promoting the appreciation and understanding of world cultures but it is often an overlooked attraction. Pop in for a visit during your time in Dublin; admission is free but donations are welcome.
Temple Bar is a cobblestone area on the south bank of the River Liffey known for its lively bars, restaurants, and nightlife. Tourists flock here while in Dublin, which of course drives up the price of food, drink, and accommodation in this neighbourhood. Stop by for a pint, take some photos, but save your money for other things while in the city.
Trinity College, the Book of Kells, and the Long Room Library
Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest and most prestigious university, was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I. It is one of seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland. Originally a protestant and male-only institution, Trinity College has a diverse student body today.
While at Trinity College, make sure to visit the Book of Kells, an original illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels of the New Testament created around 800 AD by monks on the Scottish island of Iona. Your entry ticket includes admission to the Old Library’s 65m Long Room, which houses approximately 200,000 of the library’s oldest volumes. The Long Room also contains one of the oldest harps in Ireland, the model for the emblem of Ireland. Bookworms will fall in love with this library.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Dublin, the Guinness Storehouse is a must-see for beer lovers and non-beer lovers alike. In this seven-floor storehouse, you can discover everything you ever wanted to know about Guinness, while also sampling it in the Tasting Room and mastering the art of pouring the perfect pint; I’m now certified! You can enjoy your complimentary pint in the top-floor Gravity Bar, which offers panoramic views of Dublin. Tip: Make sure to pre-book your tickets online to save money and jump the queues.
Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre
Though we didn’t actually shop here, it’s worth taking a peek inside this beautiful building. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre is a large indoor shopping centre located at the top of Grafton Street directly opposite St. Stephen’s Green Park. The architecture is stunning – the glass dome, orange brickwork, and glass and iron structure reminds you of older, historical buildings.
Merrion Square is a Georgian garden square on the southside of Dublin city centre. It is surrounded by townhouses with gorgeous, colourful Georgian doors. I went a little snap happy here – I think you can see why!
National Gallery of Ireland
After walking around Merrion Square, I stumbled upon the National Gallery of Ireland. With some time to kill before my flight back to Germany, I decided to check it out, remembering that one of our tour guides recommended it. I’m so glad I decided to go. Despite undergoing heavy renovation in two of the gallery’s wings, the museum still had several works on display, including their permanent collections. See paintings by Caravaggio, Monet, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Vermeer, Rembrandt, and more in this museum. Bonus – Admission is free.
Of course there’s still lots more to see in Dublin, including the Kilmainham Gaol, St. Stephen’s Green, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral, the Irish Whiskey Museum, and more. Just another reason to return to Dublin!
I’ve included a map below of my recommended sights to help you plan your own sightseeing in Dublin.
What are your favourite sights in Dublin? Which sights should I make sure to see during my next visit?