The Irish Say – “Visit Dublin!”
With such a large international European City …. what are the top 10 things to do in Dublin? First tip …. Don’t try driving a car.
I asked ten Irish natives (who live in Ireland) to name the top three “must see” sites in Ireland. All ten mentioned Dublin. Seven of the ten said Dublin first. Then I asked twenty-two non-Irish (Americans and Canadians) who had visited Ireland to name their top three, and Dublin didn’t even rank in the top five of their combined responses.
The top five of the non-Irish surveyed? The Burren (#1), Connemara (#2), Galway (#3), Kilarney (#4) and the Ring of Kerry (#5). Sites in Wicklow, Donegal, and Cork were heavily mentioned by this group, but the West always claims the North American favor when I take a poll.
I was listening to Rick Steve’s Ireland travel podcasts a while ago and he interviewed three Irish tour guides (including Steven McPhillamy whom I LOVE). Rick asked the same question, only he limited it to one place. What is the one place you’d recommend that everyone should visit when they come to Ireland? All three said … you guessed it … Dublin.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Dublin-hater. Dublin is a fabulous city, a walkable city with so much to see. The history and shopping and public spaces – as well as the sites within a short driving distance like the Boyne Valley and the Wicklow mountains make Dublin a worthy destination. <– Just PLEASE don’t try to drive in the City Centre (another post for another day).
But if I had to choose only three sites in this enchanting country- Dublin wouldn’t make the cut. I find it interesting that the Irish see it differently. Perhaps it’s because they’ve grown accustomed to their own mystical landscape. What stuns the outsider – the misty fields and hills, the rural hospitality, the ruins and megaliths, and the slow-paced traditional way of life – is too close to the Irish.
Maybe they think visitors want to see Dublin because it is something different and set apart. it’s where everything is… the center.. the hub…the nightlife … the heartbeat. That’s understandable.
So here’s to the Irish and their magnificent capital city. I love Dublin too and I give you my TOP TEN list.
TRAVEL HAG’S TOP TEN THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN DUBLIN
- Enjoy a cuppa at Bewleys Cafe, but sit on the balcony and people watch. The shoppers, the buskers, the dog walkers on Grafton Street are interesting eye candy.
- Spend at least an hour in St. Stephen’s Green. See the west side, the waterfall, the playground, maybe a lunchtime concert. I love this park in the rain.
- Visit Sweny’s on Lincoln St. It’s a renovated 1847 drugstore. James Joyce visited there as did Leopold Bloom (to buy his soap) in Joyce’s novel, Ulysses. Now it’s a used book / antique shop. Stop in when the local reading group is scheduled to read aloud from Ulysses.
- See the Book of Kells. No matter what anyone says, this is WORTH SEEING at least once. Then take a walk around Trinity College.
- Shop on Grafton Street. Take time to listen to (and tip) the buskers.
- Visit the General Post Office. Go inside and go through the museum there. Take note of the damage to building from the Easter Uprising. Carefully view the details of the statue of Cuchulain in the window and read the declaration of Pádraig Pearse beside it.
- Take the tour of the Kilmainham Gaol (Jail)
- Visit the National Museum (don’t miss the Bog Man) and the National Gallery (Portrait collection is my fav – has Seamus Heaney and Maeve Binchy).
- Go to an Irish House Party – I almost never recommend things that are kitschy and touristy, but this is a great event for visitors. It’s a fun way to enjoy an meal, listen to Irish music, and get treated with hospitality. I’m a big fan.
- Walk. You can really feel the pulse of the City and make memories when you walk through Dublin. Look for a surprise, a discovery. Look for the unexpected. A place you didn’t expect to see. Ar person you didn’t expect to meet. Pick a part of town and enjoy the public art, public spaces, architecture, shops and most of all – the people.
BONUS TIP – Meet someone “under the clock at Cleary’s.” Meeting there is an old tradition. Cleary’s is a large department store that was once a place where people met as a starting point for clandestine rendezvous.