Ireland is an island nation with a lot of history that goes back to 4000 BC, when Neolithic settlers started populating the area. The country shares a border with the United Kingdom on the northeastern part. Eire (as it is called in the local language), is covered by lush vegetation caused by abundant rainfall, earning it the nickname “The Emerald Island.”
Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is a modern city with many attractions and things to do. In this guide, you will find some tips for your visit, including what not to miss, where to stay and how to get around.
In recent years, Dublin has been transformed from a quaint city famed for its local beer and whiskey, to a financial powerhouse. Home to the European offices of Uber, Facebook, Google and Amazon, Dublin is a city that perfectly blends its rich heritage with the pinnacle of modern tech.
In 1988, Dublin celebrated 1000 years of its existence. Traces of its past are visible everywhere, from the medieval castles and imposing cathedrals, to the beautiful Georgian streets and buildings. Of course, pubs are also a big part of the city’s history, with many historical establishments, such as the 500-year old Temple Bar, scattered around the city centre.
What to see and do
- Go on a walking tour around town: If you’ve just arrived in the city, a self-guided tour is the best way to get acquainted. Find a place to store your luggage in the centre and pick up a guide from the Tourist Information Centre on O’Connell Street. Alternatively, you can download one of Lonely Planet’s informational guides that will help you identify the city’s highlights.
- Visit the Temple Bar area at night: While this is not for everyone, this is the main point of interest for many visitors from the US and the UK. Expect to find lots of tourists looking to get a glimpse of Dublin’s nightlife, as well as many dining options. Worth a stroll, even if you are not into that kind of stuff.
- Tour the Guinness Storehouse: No trip to Dublin would ever be complete without learning all about the city’s most famous product! A tour of the Guinness factory will take you through many years of brewing history, during which you’ll learn how the world’s most famous stout beer is made. At the end of the tour, you’ll be able to enjoy a pint at the impressive Gravity Bar, with 360 views of the whole city.
- Stroll along the Howth footpath: If you are tired of the noises of the city you may want to make the short journey to the village of Howth (about 20 minutes from central Dublin). Take the uphill cliffside footpath and enjoy the views of Ireland’s Eye island as you watch the waves crash on the rugged shore. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a delicious chowder on the port on your way back!
- Visit the Trinity library: Located inside the Trinity College campus, the largest library in Ireland and home to the Book of Kells, a 1000-year old manuscript containing the four Gospels. Although you can not actually study in the library, the impressive Long Room section is open for visitors.
Where to stay
Dublin is a busy city with many accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets. Be aware that the area around Temple Bar tends to be significantly more expensive than other options. Here are some nice places to stay during your visit.
- Budget – Sky Backpackers – This legendary hostel at the heart of Dublin is a great combination of quality and affordability. You can find it on the banks of River Liffey, right next to the O’Connell Monument. Book well ahead of time as it is mostly full!
- Mid-range – Beresford Hotel – Located 10 minutes from the Temple Bar area, this hotel offers free breakfast and a fast Wi-Fi connection for travelling professionals. It should be noted that the Beresford Hotel is also close to important commercial hubs, such as the IFSC.
- Luxury – The Marker Hotel – This luxurious hotel is located in the heart of Dublin’s business centre, the Grand Canal Square. Each room comes with a 40-inch TV and the Rooftop Lounge offers great views of the city.
When to go
Although winters are milder than you would expect considering Dublin’s latitude, spring and summer are perhaps the best times to visit the city. The weather is quite unpredictable and you’ll most likely not avoid rainfall. However, that’s part of the Irish experience!
Arriving at the city
You can easily reach Dublin with a plane, as the Dublin Airport is served by all major airlines. Transport to the city is easy either with the MyTaxi app or bus. The bus fare costs about €7 one way.
Dublin is also accessible via ferry services that connect the city with Wales, England, France (Cherbourg) and the Isle of Man. Prices and availability depend on the season.
Within the city
Irish Rail trains are the most efficient method of transportation between the city and the suburbs.
The ideal way to explore Dublin would be by bicycle. However, the city centre is not very big and easily walkable. Bus and tram services are reliable and better for shorter distances within the city area. Tickets start from €3, so it is recommended that you get a Leap Card if you are staying for more than three days.
General tips and info for visiting Dublin
- Dublin is an interesting city, but if you have time at your disposal, you should definitely make a trip to the western side of the island (Galway, Cork, Killarney). The rural part of Ireland will surely captivate you.
- You’ll notice that almost all signage is in Irish Gaelic and English. Use that as an opportunity to learn more about the history and the language of this proud nation.
- Even though Dublin is a famous stag party destination for young Brits, most pubs close at about 00:00 on weekdays.
- Do not try too hard to search for the “authentic Irish experience” in Dublin. If you want to get a real taste of Ireland, head for the countryside or make friends with the locals. This shouldn’t be too hard, especially after a couple of rounds in the pub.
- Speaking of the countryside, if you are comfortable driving on right-hand traffic, renting a car is absolutely worth it. Discovering the island on your own pace is the best way of experiencing everything it has to offer.
Further reading and resources
If you’d like to have all the necessary information for your trip on paper, then you might consider getting a book such as Rick Steves Snapshot Dublin.
Contributed by George Mouratidis who is a digital nomad writer and researcher from Greece. When he is not developing content for awesome companies across the globe, he is probably planning his next creative endeavour or eating.