What are the things to do in Dublin if you, like us, aren’t interested in the alcohol part of the city, or travelling with those who can’t (such as children – in which case, my friend Jamie has a post on Dublin with kids). Worry not, because apart from the distillery and beer warehouse, there’s plenty of things to do in Dublin still. After a quick trip to see the Cliff of Mohers and Galway with Railtour Ireland, we return to the capital for 2 days. Dublin is rich in culture, and it’s a great place to learn about the Irish history and legacy. Below we have put together our top 5 sights in Dublin:
1. Trinity College
In modern day, Trinity College is a renowned as one of the world’s top tertiary educational facility and Ireland’s number one university. Many people mistake Trinity College as Ireland’s first university: this is not correct, and the first university to be built in Ireland is the Medieval University of Dublin in the 14th Century. However, the Medieval University of Dublin disappeared in the 16th Century, hence, established in 1592, Trinity College is the oldest surviving university in Ireland.
Trinity College was modelled on Cambridge and Oxford University, except that it only has one college– hence the name Trinity College. It was established as a Protestant University, and it wasn’t until the 19th Century that membership restrictions on the basis of staffs’ religion was finally removed. The campus itself was built on the monastic foundation of Priory of All Hallows, which used to be outside Dublin, but with the city’s expansion, the campus is now in the heart of the city.
Trinity College Library
One cannot visit Trinity College without paying a visit to the Old Library, famous for housing the Book of Kells (a beautifully decorated manuscript Gospel in Latin). The building itself is also stunning inside and out, and in particular I am very much in love with the Long Room.
The Long Room is so called because, well, it’s rather long. Spanning 65m (or 213 feet) in length, it housed the oldest books in the Library. The room used to be ‘shorter’, but the roof was raised to accommodate the growing collections in 1860, as the library was given permission to hold a free copy of every book published in Britain and Ireland.
Address: College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
Opening times: June – Sept: Mon – Sat 8:30 – 17:00, Sun 9:30 – 17:00 ; Oct – Dec: Mon – Sat: 9:30 – 17:00, Sun: 12:00 – 16:30
Admission: grounds are free to enter, the library: Adult 11 Euros, Concession 9 Euros, family 22 Euros (On average 4 euros more expensive if you book online, but you will avoid the queue)
One can hardly visit Dublin without making a trip to the Dublin Castle. Originally built in the 13th Century to defend against Norman, the only surviving structure from the medieval period is the Record Tower (dating back to 1228). Nowadays, Dublin Castle referred to the area the castle used to sit, which include 2 museums, gardens, Government Building and the State Apartments.
The grounds are free to explore; the 2 museums: the Chester Beatty Library (which is in fact a private collection by Chester Beatty) and Revenue Museum required tickets, and the State Apartments can only be accessed through guided tour (tickets can be purchased from the Apartments in the Upper Castle Yard).
Above you can see the Record Tower and Chapel Royal. Now don’t get fooled: The Chapel Royal, attached to the Record Tower, is a later addition and not built from the same period. It was constructed in 1810s as the official Church of Ireland chapel of the Household of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, with beautiful Gothic revival interior. One interesting thing about the Chapel: it was built in wood because the site of the chapel used to be the castle’s moat, and using stone would have caused structural problem on the soft ground. Looking at the chapel though, you really couldn’t tell!
The guided tour through the State Apartments was very informative and interesting, including stories from the Reformation, the World Wars etc. The decoration inside is also amazing, and well worth spending the time and money.
I recommend purchasing the guided tour at the site, they have quite a lot of tours per day and while you wait for your tour to start, you can wonder round the ground and take some photographs!
Address: Dame St, Dublin 2, Ireland
Opening times: Mon – Sat: 9:45 – 16:45, Sun: 12:00 – 16:45
Admission: A Guided tour taking in the State Apartments, Undercroft and Chapel Royal costs €4.50 for Adults and €2.00 for Children under 12.
The Glasnevin Cemetery is right next to the National Botanical Garden and away from Dublin City Center, and to get there you can easily take the bus from the city center (Bus 140 or 40 departs from O’Connel Street).
If you are interested in recent Irish history (1850 to 1950) and wants to visit, then I recommend you joining their tour. Official time can be checked on their website .
Many key figures in Irish history is buried there, most notably is Daniel O’Connell.
Now note: my sister and mother found it quite boring, this is a place to go for those interested in the Irish history! If you are not keen, then give this one a miss.
Address: Finglas Rd, Dublin 11, Ireland
Opening times: Mon – Sun 9:00 – 18:00
Admission: grounds are free to enter, but museum is not.
4. Christ Church Cathedral
This magnificent Gothic church dates back to the medieval period; it used to be surrounded by residential buildings, but due to rebuilding of the city and new roads cutting in, it now sits alone and out of time with the modern buildings around.
There’s an information board outside the entrance to the church, which gives a nice summary background on the church history.
The church also has one of the largest Medieval Crypt in Britain and Ireland, and housed the tomb of Strongbow, who was a Norman leader that got captured in Dublin in 1170. For family with children, it’s definitely a good place to go to get them more interested in Medieval history.
Address: Christchurch Pl, Dublin 8, Ireland
Opening times: Mon – Sat 9:00 – 19:00, Sun 12:30 – 14:30, 16:30 – 19:00
5. National Botanic Garden
The National Botanic Garden is right next to Glasnevin Cemetery, so we recommend doing them together (if you have to take the bus, might as well see two sights!). The garden is beautiful in the Sun, with flowers and glasshouses dotted throughout the ground. Even if you are not familiar with Botany, there are no knowledge required to admire the beauty of nature. And most importantly, admission is free! It’s hard to describe the Botanic Garden, so we will let the photos do it justice:
Address: Glasnevin, Dublin 9, Ireland
Opening times: Mon – Fri 9:00 – 17:00; Sat – Sun 10:00 – 18:00