Its vibrant nightlife and interesting tourist attractions have made the city a popular entry point into Ireland for international visitors.
It is not a very huge city and its city centre can be explored easily on foot
Dublin’s population is disproportionately large for the size of Ireland, being over a third of the country’s, at almost 2 million, with a majority of its population living in the suburbs.
But yet, the city has held on to some of its traditions. Its literature, folklore, music and dance accompanied by copious amounts of Guinness, have ensured that the Irish culture and the indomitable Irish spirit has flourished. Expect a unique blend of tradition and contemporary when you visit Dublin.
Both sides of the river have distinct characters; the south is gentle and the north is brash and working class, and home of the famous Dublin accent.
Spring and fall are good times to visit too with moderate temperatures, crowds and prices.
If you are looking for lesser crowds and cheaper discounts, winter is a better choice, but bring your warmest clothes along with you.
International and domestic flights are served by the Dublin airport, located 10km north of the city centre. Many European cities are served by Aer Lingus (Ireland’s flag carrier airline) that flies to Dublin.
Europe’s largest economical airline Ryanair, and also Ireland’s second largest airline, has one of its main bases in Dublin, from where it flies to many major European airports like Paris, London, Manchester, Liverpool Madrid and Frankfurt.
From Airport to City
The Air link shuttle service between Dublin airport and the city centre is operated by Dublin Bus. It departs outside the arrivals gateway, the journey taking 30 minutes. A single fare costs Euro 6 and a round trip, Euro 10. Besides the ticket, a one-day bus pass can also be bought for the same price.
If times is not of the essence, a regular bus can take you to the city centre for Euro 3.30.
The comfortable Air coach runs from the airport to the city centre 24 hours a day at Euro 7 one way and Euro 12 round trip, stopping at major hotels.
You can also take a taxis if you are more than two people or have heavy luggage, with the fare at Euro 20 to Euro 23 plus tip. Always confirm the fare with the driver before entering the cab.
There are two main railway stations in Dublin, the Heuston station and the Connolly station. Heuston station is in the west, which serves most of west and south part of Ireland including an hourly service to Cork and Limerick.
The Connolly station is in the north east of the city, serving the south east and east coast, Belfast, and Sligo in the north west and the suburban commuter services and Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) system.
These main stations are connected by bus and Luas (Dublin’s tram system) routes. Plans to upgrade an already existing direct line between the stations, is on the anvil. The service is scheduled to begin late 2016 and 2017.
Behind the Custom House on the North side is Busáras, Dublin’s main station. The main intercity bus company is Bus Éireann that has services throughout the country. Air coaches run direct buses to Cork and Belfast and is an economical option too.
Dublin is best explored on foot. Its small size facilitates easy strolls from one place to another and is an excellent way to get rid of the calories from copious amounts of Guinness.
The bus and tram systems that crisscross the city are also an interesting option.
There are also taxis lined up throughout Dublin. Though expensive, they are recommended rather than driving a rental car.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
The manuscript is named after the Abbey of Kells where it was treasured for centuries
The massive library has more than 6 million printed books in its collection.
On the other hand, there is an entrance fee of Euro 10 for adults for admission into the Old Library and is open to the public from Monday to Saturday all through the year, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. Tickets can be booked in advance online.
The park is open from Monday to Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to dusk. On Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to dusk. There is no entrance fee.
Phoenix Park and Dublin Zoo
The Phoenix Park is the largest public park in Europe and it spans three miles sprawling across 1,700 acres, with verdant lawns, shady wooded areas and cool and serene lakes.
The Dublin Zoo within the park is a big attraction and dates back to 1831 making it one of the oldest of its kind. The zoo sprawls over a 70 acre area with more than 400 animals in large habitats. The Humboldt penguins and western lowland gorillas are a couple of the popular exhibits.
The animals are taken good care in the large zoo. The meerkat restaurant provides a good view of the meerkat exhibit through the windows, right from your seat. The park is to the west of the city centre and north of Kilmainham Gaol.
The park is open every day and there is no charge to walk through, but admission to the zoo costs Euro 16.80 per adult and Euro 12 per child. There are also special rates for groups.
Guided Segway tours are also available for an extra fee.
It was also a starting point for transporting almost 4000 prisoners to the convict colony of Australia during early 19th century.
Infamous for its harsh treatment of its inhabitants, the gaol had no gender segregation until 1881, when it became an all-male prison. Excess crowds led to cramming up of up to five inmates in a cell that was designed for just one.
Kilmainham Gaol is now a popular and well preserved museum. You need to get there early to assure entry. The museum exhibit describes the history of the prison and also its preservation. There is also an on-site café.
Located just west of central Dublin near Phoenix Park, the Gaol is open to the public throughout the year. Visiting hours vary depending on the season. It is now undergoing restorations and parts of it will be inaccessible through spring 2016 and hence admission fees are reduced.
The castle is in the heart of the city and has a played a vital part in Ireland’s history. The land was used by Vikings to build a fortress in the 930s. A castle was built up in parts and then torn down depending on the regimes through which ruled Ireland in the following ages. The Record tower is the oldest remaining structure that date backs to the 13th century.
The castle and its grounds have also been home to a prison, an office for records, a water station, a seat of Parliament, a royal court for entertainment and a military residence, besides being a stronghold against foreign attacks – all before 1850. This is where the Easter Rebellion of 1916 began and after five years of fighting, the treaty granting Irish independence was also signed here.
The Dublin Castle, located a few blocks west of Trinity College, is open to the public from Monday to Saturday, from 9:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and opens at noon on Sundays. There is no fees to explore the grounds but admission inside the building would cost Euro 6.50 per adult and Euro 3 per child.
The library is named after the American mining millionaire and collector, Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, who donated his extensive collection to Ireland before he passed away in 1969. The collections housed here include Babylonian clay tablets, the Biblical Papyri and 260 different manuscripts of the Koran. Admission to the library is free. There are guided tours offered on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons. Located on the grounds of the Dublin Castle, the library also houses a gift shop, restaurant and a garden.
John Jameson was the founder of the most famous Irish whisky but he was a Scotsman. What is it about the Scots that they make such good whisky?
The distillery is open daily. The tour costs Euro 15 per adult and Euro 8 per child and anyone younger than 18. It is located north of the Liffey on Bow Street.
The Guinness breweries was founded by Arthur Guinness in 1759 and spans 60 acres spreading to west of Christ church cathedral. Guinness stout is the national drink of Ireland. It is a dark coloured brew made with roasted malt. The brewery is off limits for the public, but the Guinness storehouse allows visitors. It is a cast-iron and brick warehouse from 1904. The display spans six floors, built around a massive central glass atrium shaped like a giant pint glass. Below the glass floor of the lobby is framed Arthur Guinness’ original lease on the site for 9000 years. You can know the brewing process and Guinness’s history from the exhibition. It also exhibits antique presses and vats, a time line sketch of the look and can design through the ages, the history of the Guinness family, an archive of Guinness advertisements and an opportunity to sip your favourite pint. The Gravity bar on the top floor with a 360 degree floor to ceiling glass walls, offering a spectacular view of the city at sunset is undoubtedly the star attraction. William Jefferson Clinton was one of the bar’s first clients.
Located south of the Liffey, the Guinness Storehouse on the western edge of central Dublin and is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The entrance fee is Euro 20 per adult and Euro 6.50 per child.