The birthplace of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and Guinness beer, Ireland’s fair capital has countless claims to fame. Dublin is located on Ireland’s east coast on the mouth of the River Liffey and despite being relatively small in size, the city boasts many cultural sites of interest, along with world-class restaurants, bars, museums and theatres. Imposing historic buildings including the iconic St Patrick’s Cathedral sit amidst lush green parks, including Phoenix Park and St Stephen’s Green. Literary fans will feel right at home in the city, having been the backdrop for James Joyce’s famous novel, Ulysses, and Dubliners, a collection of short stories, as well as being the home of Oscar Wilde.
Why cruise Dublin
The bustling port city is perhaps unsurprisingly the busiest in Ireland, with more than 150 cruise ships docking in one of the three quays near the mouth of the River Liffey, situated to the east of the city centre. A 10-minute shuttle bus or taxi ride takes you into the heart of the city and what is great about Dublin is that it’s not too large, so cruise passengers arriving for the day or staying overnight will get to enjoy the majority of what the city has to offer, from world-class museums to top-notch restaurants and nightlife.
What to see and do
Trinity College Dublin
Trinity College saw record numbers of applications following the success of TV show Normal People, the adaptation of Sally Rooney’s acclaimed romance, as viewers fell in love with the beauty of Ireland’s prestigious university. Located in the heart of the city, visitors can wander through the grounds and peruse the many tomes in Trinity’s beautiful Old Library. A bibliophile’s dream, it is the largest library in Ireland and is the home to The Book of Kells. Considered to be one of Ireland’s greatest treasures, this illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin contains the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables, and is more than 1,000 years old.
Dublin features several lush green spaces to escape the bustling city centre, including Phoenix Park. Situated two miles from downtown Dublin, the vast walled park spans 1,700 acres and along with long stretches of greenery, houses a sports field, the Wellington Monument, and both the Presidential and US Ambassador’s residences. A great family day out would include a visit to Dublin Zoo, also located within the park and home to an impressive variety of animals.
The city is home to a wealth of great museums and galleries. Hugh Lane gallery houses the foremost public collection of contemporary art in Ireland, along with dynamic temporary exhibitions and programmes. Artists and historians the world over are also drawn to the gallery to see the Francis Bacon Studio, which was acquired in 1998 and features the the first computerised archive of the entire contents of a world ranking artist's studio. Fans of contemporary art should also pay a visit to the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Other notable museums in the city include the Royal Hibernian Academy and The Little Museum of Dublin, which tells the story of 20th-century Dublin through a compilation of donated collectables and even has a room dedicated to legendary rock band U2.
You cannot visit Dublin without paying a visit to the birthplace of Ireland’s iconic national drink. The Guinness Storehouse, located at the famous St James’s Gateway Brewery, is Ireland’s number one tourist attraction. Visitors will learn about the history of Guinness, before enjoying a chilled pint while taking in the views of the capital at the Gravity Bar. After your tour, enjoy a drink with the locals and some traditional Irish music at O’Donoghue’s, where Irish folk band The Dubliners often played gigs.
Kilmainham Gaol today stands as a symbol of the fight for Irish independence. The prison, now a museum, held some of the famous military and political figures who fought for freedom, from Robert Emmet to Anne Devlin. Tours typically last roughly 45 minutes and provide a history of the jail, including the extremely poor treatment of inmates, along with facts about the politics and restoration of the prison.
Considered one of the most important buildings in Irish history, Dublin Castle was built in the early 13th century on the site of a Viking settlement and for centuries served as the headquarters of English, and later British, administration in Ireland.
The narrow Liffey River has an impressive 23 bridges across it in total. Must-sees include the Venetian-style Ha’penny bridge, and Grattan Bridge, which features characteristic seahorse lamps, both of which are found in the heart of town. The modern Samuel Beckett Bridge, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, is also worth seeing, along with the James Joyce bridge, further west.
Need to know when travelling to Dublin
Getting around in Dublin
The Luas tram system has two lines traversing the town, or you can hop on one of the many buses which travel round the city. Bikes are also for hire, or you can buy a ticket for the Dublin hop-on hop-off city bus tour.
When to go to Dublin
The best times to visit Dublin is during the spring, summer and autumn months, from April through to October. The city comes alive in the summer with festivals but if you prefer to avoid the crowds, the ideal months are from April to June, and September to October.
Northern Ireland’s capital uses the euro. You will find ATMs and currency exchange shops scattered across the city. The British pound is not generally accepted in Dublin or the rest of the Republic of Ireland.
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