Interactive Travel Guide – What to do in Dublin

I recently I started a new series on LandLopers, the Interactive Travel Guide. The idea is to highlight one city or country every week and then get the best recommendations from you all. By the end of the week, we hopefully will have created the best tips not from guide books, but from real people.

To continue this social media experiment, this week I want to highlight Dublin.

St. Patrick’s Day is almost upon us and I wanted to contribute to the Eire conversation by sharing with you all one of my favorite experiences in Dublin, Kilmainham Gaol.

After leaving the obligatory Guinness tour, we decided to walk to Kilmainham. That wouldn’t have been a problem had we known where we were going. We did not. All we had was a ridiculously not-to-scale tourist map to lead the way replete with cartoon images. Not helpful. Add to that the fact it was unseasonably cold and windy and we had a very long and grumpy walk. Luckily we fought our instincts to turn around, otherwise we would have missed what turned out to be our favorite site.

After you pay for your tour ticket, you are led to a museum detailing the average life and conditions of prisoners in the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum is a good one, but certainly not the main focus of the visit. Luckily tours run pretty often, depending on the time of year, so your wait in the museum holding area shouldn’t be too long.

The tour takes you through the Gaol courtyards, hallways and cells, all the time led by an extremely knowledgeable volunteer guide. The history of Kilmainham is a dark and bloody one and yet it holds a great deal of meaning for the people of Ireland.

When Kilmainham opened in 1796, it was lauded as a new style of jail representative of Enlightenment ideals. Unfortunately, throughout its history Kilmainham fell well short of this noble goal. Men, woman and even children were incarcerated here, sometimes up to 5 in a cell. Malnutrition and death were common and the lucky ones were shipped off to Australia.

However, the Gaol is probably best known for the role it played in the political history of Ireland.  Many leaders of the various Irish rebellions were held and executed in Kilmainham, including the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising.

The visit here can be an emotional one, but is vital to learning more about the history of Ireland and understanding the fierce determination of the Irish soul.

NOW it’s your turn. Please comment and tell us your favorite thing to do, see or eat in Dublin. If you haven’t been yet, please let us know what you would most like to do.

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

13 thoughts on “Interactive Travel Guide – What to do in Dublin”

  1. You know, I was supposed to go to Kilmainham, but we were hungry and decided to skip it. Besides seeing the Book of Kells at Trinity (which is the coolest thing EVER), I would say The National Museum of Archaeology and the National Gallery are both excellent museums and are FREE. The National Gallery has several famous works like Rembrandt’s Flight to Egypt. The Archaeology Museum has the Ardagh Chalice and Tara Brooch, two pieces that highlight the Golden Age of Celtic art and design.

    If you’re there around Christmas, St. Patrick’s is where Handel’s Messiah debuted in Ireland. I believe they perform it every year around that time.

    I would also recommend the food and design markets in Temple Bar on Saturdays. I think the design market is every few Saturdays, and the food is every Saturday. Locally made food and clothing and jewelry? Sign me up!

  2. Oh, where do I start?

    Guiness Brewhouse (sounds cheesy and touristy, but I hate Guiness and found it interesting. Plus you get great views of Dublin at the Gravity Bar).

    Christchurch and St. Patrick’s Cathedral (I never get tired of churches)

    Phoenix Park (I think this is the largest public park in Europe, or something like that, I was pretty jet lagged).

    I really recommend buying a “hop on, hop off” bus tour pass. It’s a good way to familiarize yourself with the city and with so many stops, you’re bound to hop off close to your destination.

    Thanks for highlighting a European city I’ve actually been to! I feel like such a globetrotter now :-)

  3. Chester Beatty Library is quite the hidden gem and not enough credit has been given at how good it is. Perhaps its collection is not Irish-centric enough? I highly recommend it, and the Silk Road Cafe within the building does good food too.

    The Bank on College Green is one of the most ornated and beautiful pub in Dublin. And if you ever wonder what it’s like to eat, drink and be merry in a church, go to The Church Bar next to Jervis St.

    Keogh Cafe on Trinity St sells delicious giant scones and muffins, with extensive lunch menu yet not too expensive. It does cost more to eat in, so if the weather is lovely, buy to go and head to St Stephen’s Green (5 mins walk) or the various green spots in Trinity College (3 mins walk) for a picnic.

  4. Grafton Street, bay-bee! LOL! No really, definitely stay at The Clarence – awesome hotel, awesome service. My favorite things to do in Dublin mainly consisted of walking around seeing everything. St. Stephen’s Green, Trinity College. Take one of the hop-on, hop-off sight-seeing buses one day just to get the lay of the land (and it’s cheaper than a taxi!) and decide what looks cool. My favorite way to see a city is just to explore it on my own without a lot of firm plans. If you plan anything, plan a pub crawl. There are music and literary ones among others. Fun evenings!

    The first time I went, I actually didn’t see a lot of Dublin – I took the day trips on and got to see everything! (Highly recommend, by the way.) The second time, I found out how much I missed in Dublin. I still haven’t made it through Guinness. Haven’t been able to get past the smell.

  5. I literally just got home from Dublin earlier today. What a great city! Being there in the midst of the St. Paddy’s Day celebrations and skipping around accommodation meant that we missed some of the things that we wanted to see; including the Chester Beatty Library and some of the other free galleries.

    We did the New Europe free walking tour. This is the third time we’ve done one and we seriously love them. The guides work off tips and are locals or expats in love with the city. They give you a dose of history and the importance of monuments in the city with some fun and laughs. We loved how much stuff you could do for free in Dublin (esp so you can spend your euros on food and Guinness!).

    We found quite a few 5 euro takeaway lunch options around Temple Bar and a great Thai noodle bar (same concept) near St. Stephen’s Green, which meant picnic in the park! We also hunted down a café called Honest to Goodness (in St. George’s Arcade) but missed breakfast by 30 minutes, I recommend it but be sure get there before noon!

    There are some great pubs around Duke St. as well and it was a great refuge from the massive crowds in Temple Bar on St. Paddy’s.

  6. Wow, what great tips. I love them, thank you! I’m especially impressed at the 5 Euro takeaway. That’s one of the problems we had there, finding reasonably priced meals.

  7. If there’s one good thing re the recession, it’s that there are more places to eat that are cheap and cheerful but still delicious.

    E.g. Keogh which I mentioned earlier do 3 pieces of cajun chicken plus 2 salads for less than 10 euro (and even cheaper if you takeaway, about 8 euro if I recall correctly), Ukiyo Bar on Exchequer St has huuuge bento box (3 dish, change daily, salad, rice and miso soup) from 12pm to 7pm for 10 euro, Gourmet Burger Kitchen has lunch special with burger and drink for 8 euro (special promo though rather than regular fixture), Green 19 on Lower Camden St has all mains at 10 euro even at dinner time, etc. Menupages also has a listing of current meal offers:

    Unfortunately recession also means some of the regular favourites have closed down, such as Gruel on Dame St which used to serve, say, quiche and 2 side salads for less than 7 euro.

    Cheap eats can be found in Dublin. It just may not be easy for visitors to seek them out sometimes.

      1. If I remember correctly, there’s a cafe near the museums and Grafton St. where they speak Irish, but the food is fresh and inexpensive. It’s a great experience because the staff are happy to teach you some Irish. Bewley’s is an institution with cheap lunches. But I found as a starving student at UCD that Italian restaurants usually had the best deals. Like a starter, main, and glass of wine for 8 euros.

      2. Hmmm, if you’re talking about a restaurant near Trinity College end of Dawson St, that has closed down a while ago. It’s now replaced by a restaurant called The Farm. (I can’t even remember the name of that old place anymore, drat)

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