10 Of The Best Things To Do In Dublin

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This is a guest post from Adam of Where In Dublin

For some visitors, Dublin is mostly about drinking and partying. Yes, those things are fun, but they should not overshadow the many fascinating sites to see in the city. What about the historic Kilmainham Gaol, an emblem of Ireland’s past? Or one of Europe’s biggest city parks, Phoenix Park? In this post, we’re going to explore some of the best things to do in Dublin.

1. Explore Phoenix Park

Phoenix Park is one of Europe’s largest city parks and sits just outside the main centre of Dublin. It’s one of the best walks in the whole of Dublin, with a mixture of locals and tourists congregating to enjoy the public space.

Phoenix Park has been serving Dubliners since 1747, giving them a recreational area like nowhere else in Ireland. Today, it’s home to a variety of different people, including the President of Ireland, as well as to the animals of Dublin Zoo, which is also on the grounds.

Tall cross on a grassy mound with a tree on either side
Cross in Phoenix Park (photo credit Adam Ryan)

Visitors can enjoy the many acres of parkland. Keep an eye out for the herds of wild deer that have been wandering the grounds for many years. You must keep your distance from these furry creatures as they can sometimes get a little snappy if you’re not careful.

2. Enjoy Some Time Out At The National Gallery of Ireland

In the heart of the city, just by Merrion Square, is one of Dublin’s best free museums, the National Gallery of Ireland. The Gallery houses the national art collection and was opened in 1864. It houses 2500 paintings, followed by a whopping 10,000 other different masterpieces, from drawings to sculptures.

Art enthusiasts can take advantage of free audio tours, and guided tours on selected days of the week. For a more exclusive experience you could opt to pay for one of the museum exhibitions.

3. Take The Walk Out To Poolbeg Lighthouse

Sitting at the end of the Great South Wall is arguably one of Dublin’s most famous landmarks, the Poolbeg Lighthouse. About a 20-minute drive from the city, Poolbeg Lighthouse is one of the finest places around to catch a sunset with some seaside views.

The original lighthouse was built in 1768. The current red-coloured structure dates from 1820. It was painted red to signal to the incoming ships that it was “port side” in relation to the direction they were travelling.

Red painted lighthouse at the end of a paved path jutting into the sea
The Poolbeg Lighthouse (photo credit Adam Ryan)

The Poolbeg Lighthouse 4km looped walk is popular among locals. It begins at the Great South Wall, which was once one of the world’s longest sea walls, and takes you right out onto the Irish Sea, where you will come into contact with the red facade of the lighthouse.

4. Jump Back In Time At Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol is a significant part of Irish history. It opened its gates in 1796 to house average criminals, but ended up as a prison for political prisoners who fought for Irish independence. The prisoners included men, women, and even children.

A tour of Kilmainham Gaol takes you back in time through the struggles that Ireland had to experience. You’ll learn about the stories of the prisoners, their struggles, and how they were treated, and get a real insight into the Irish war of independence and civil war that shaped Ireland as it is today. Some of the prison’s most acclaimed prisoners include Charles Stewart Parnell and Countess Markievicz.

You can only visit Kilmainham Gaol by guided tour. This can be pre-booked on the website.

5. Check Out The Doors At Merrion Square

Merrion Square is one of Dublin City Centre’s more affluent neighbourhoods, and the houses there are stunning, to say the least. Each house has its own unique coloured door. But what’s the story behind the phenomenon?

The houses themselves date from the early 18th century to the beginning of the 19th century (a period that was known as Georgian Dublin). This was an era of substantial architectural development in the Irish capital. Local people decided to paint their doors in distinctive colours because other residents were mistaking their houses for their own. A funny idea, right?

Today, the colourful doors have become popular with Instagrammers!

Exterior of a Georgian house built in red brick with a blue painted door
A colourful door in Merrion Square (photo credit Adam Ryan)

6. Make Your Way Up To The Hellfire Club

The Hellfire Club is the remains of an abandoned house that sits on top of Montpelier Hill, which is rumoured to be haunted. Rumours have been around for decades about the supernatural nature of this building. It was said to have been used by the infamous “Hellfire Club group,” who were known for messing around with black magic.

The story is that one night a stranger was invited to the club by its members to play a game of cards. During the game a card fell to the floor and, as the stranger picked it up, he saw that one of the members had devil’s hooves instead of feet.

There are two trails that walkers can take to get up to the top of Montpelier Hill. The more difficult one for hiking junkies is the 5.5km forest loop trail, and the easier one for an average stroller is 4.5km. Whichever route you decide to take, you’ll be rewarded by a breathtaking panoramic view of the whole of Dublin.

7. Follow The Howth Cliff Walk

Howth is a leafy suburb around 30 minutes from the city centre. It’s become outrageously popular over the past decade since the Cliff Walk has caught the attention of many tourists and people from other parts of Ireland.

The cliff walk brings you along the cliffs of Howth where you’ll be treated to some spectacular coastal views with some surprises along the way, including the secret beach and Baily lighthouse.

There are quite a few different trails, but the most popular is the 6 km Howth Cliff Top Loop. This is a moderate walk, suitable for all levels of fitness.

8. Admire Love Lane

Once named Crampton Court, Love Lane is the most vibrant alleyway in Ireland. It has had a full revamp, turning it into an alluring area with dozens of murals as well as poems. The poems mainly speak about love and relationships – as you can tell, that’s how it got its name.

Narrow alleyway with brick wall on one side and paintings on canvases on the other
The murals of Love Lane (photo credit Adam Ryan)

One of the most intriguing things about Love Lane is that each of the poems is written on an individual tile, giving an added aesthetic appeal.

9. Watch A Movie At The Stella Theatre

The Stella Theatre in Rathmines offers guests an experience like nowhere else in the city. You’ll feel like you’re in a Broadway production the moment you walk in the door. Previously known as the Stella Cinema, the building has been renovated and turned into a theatre from the past, giving today’s cinemagoers a sense of what it was like to see a movie in the 1920s.

A wide range of movies are shown at the Stella Theatre, from classic titles to new box office releases.

10. Fall In Love With St Patrick’s Cathedral

Built between 1220 and 1260, St Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest cathedral in the whole of Ireland. It is also one of the only remaining medieval structures remaining in Dublin, so it’s no wonder it is much admired by visitors. The cathedral is named after St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. It is said that he baptised Christian converts on this site around 1500 years ago.

There is an admission fee for entry to the cathedral. This includes a guided tour which will tell you more about the building’s history.  

Author bio: Adam is the owner and writer of the Where In Dublin travel blog. This focuses on providing visitors with a tool where they can find all the travel information they need before visiting Dublin.

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Karen Warren

WorldWideWriter is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), and I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…

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