Ireland is a country rich with history, culture and beautiful green scenery. If you have a few days to spend in the country’s capital, there are a few things you must do:
1. Immerse yourself in Irish history
Kilmainham Gaol is one of the most significant historical buildings in Dublin and serves as a symbol for Irish nationalism. Significant leaders of rebellions from 1798 to as recent as 1921 were held, and some even executed, here. The guided tour through the jail is one of the best ways to learn about Irish history, especially the 1916 Easter Rising and its impact on Ireland today. Leave yourself some time at the end of the tour to wander through the jail’s museum, which includes letters from the leaders of the Easter Rising to their loved ones. Make sure to book the tour in advance as it does fill fast.
Craving more history? Check out Glasnevin Cemetery where you’ll find the graves of many famous individuals, including Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, Éamon de Valera, Michael Collins and Luke Kelly.
2. Get out of the city
While people tend to think of the city when they think of Dublin, the city is actually part of the greater county of Dublin. With a quick 30-minute train ride outside of the city center you’ll find yourself in Howth, surrounded by the gorgeous green that the Emerald Isle is known for. This peninsula in north Dublin has some fairly easy trails that will bring you around the stunning cliffside with panoramic ocean views. After getting your workout in, quench your thirst with a pint of Bulmer’s and indulge in some fresh fish n’ chips from one of the many local pubs you’ll find in Howth village.
3. Take a brewery or distillery tour
Irish pubs are known for pouring the perfect pints. Consider taking a trip to some of the places where they’re made. Whether you want a classic stout that’s been brewed in the city for decades, or an IPA that’s been spun by some of the new kids on the block, there will be a tour for you. Whiskey more your taste? You can find a few good distillery tours in Dublin as well.
4. Experience an authentic trad session
You can’t walk through Dublin without hearing the traditional music, either through the mouths of buskers on the street or through the doors and windows of pubs. Music and poetry run through the blood of the Irish and are ingrained in the spirit of the country. While there are trad sessions on most days and nights in pubs in and around Temple Bar and the Quays, there are a few authentic ones in less crowded areas of the city that you’ll want to return to again and again. A quick search online will show you some of the good ones in the area you’re staying in.
5. Go on a free walking tour
Nothing beats a walking tour guided by someone with knowledge of the history and local spots when it comes to seeing the best Dublin has to offer. You may have gathered by now that Dublin is rich in history; from being the home of Oscar Wilde to having strong academic roots in Trinity College.
Online trip planning sites will give you a list of the best tours for every agenda, whether you’re focused on boozing, culture or even Dublin’s haunted history.
There is so much to do and see in Ireland. If you have more time, head out west to Galway or Mayo, up north to Belfast, or down south to Cork or Kerry. If you’re looking to add another country onto your trip, check out this itinerary for how to spend a few days in Rome, Venice, Barcelona, Paris or London.
Ciara Rafferty is an American expat working for a tech company in Dublin. Follow her through her photos on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ctr416/ and through her words on her blog: https://ciararaff.wordpress.com/