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An Irish hello: The Best Things To Do In Dublin

New memories await in the enchanted capital of the Emerald Isle | By Paul Oswell | February 11, 2022

Warm welcomes are often promised, but the Irish capital really delivers when it comes to sincerely friendly hospitality. It’s unlikely that you’ll have a drink or meal out where you don’t make a new best friend, and Dublin’s attractions are equally easy to get acquainted with. You can learn about the city’s history in its castle and cathedrals, or on a literary tour to see where famous authors lived. There’s a joyous, open-hearted social and cultural life to engage with, and you shouldn’t head home without experiencing it.

Raise a toast to the good times with our tips for a memorable Dublin vacation:

  • Time travel: Wander among centuries of living history at age-old institutions such as Trinity College and Dublin Castle

  • The write stuff: Dive into the city’s charms through its literary greats, with Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett leading the way

  • Craic team: Enjoy Dublin’s world-famous merrymaking by joining the locals in a cozy pub

Castles and literary tours

Dublin is rightly famous for its love of revelry, or what’s known locally as “the craic.” Its legendary old pubs and lively music scene are what draw many visitors. However, you’ll likely want to explore beyond the next round of Guinness, and there’s much to appreciate in the town’s gorgeous Georgian architecture, world-class museums and fascinating cultural history.

Wander the hallowed grounds of Trinity College — a school since the 16th century where — literary greats such as Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker and Samuel Beckett once strolled the lawns and squares. If it’s not too crowded, you should brave the lines waiting to see the 1,200 year-old Book of Kells and the baroque interior of the Old Library.

If historical sightseeing is high on your list, then Dublin has an exciting list of must-sees. You should make time for the two great cathedrals, St. Patrick’s and Christ Church, the former with its 14th-century architecture and the latter with a crypt that dates back to the 12th century. Dublin Castle dates back to the 13th century; join a guided tour here to learn more about the city’s history.

Dublin has been celebrated by the written word for centuries, and you can join any number of literary tours that explore beyond Wilde, Stoker and Beckett to include dozens of important novelists, poets and artists. Many of these renowned talents sought out a drink to aid their creativity, so you may find these tours are lively, wordy pub crawls. Speaking of liquid inspiration, the River Liffey — which may inspire you as it has many an artwork — runs through the center of the city, and you can join one of the river tours that glide along its scenic waters.

Museums and parks

To learn more about Irish heritage, the National Museum of Ireland and the National Gallery of Ireland are worth checking out. You’ll find the former spread out across three facilities, dedicated to Archaeology, Natural History and Decorative Arts and History. Be sure to see the Stokes Tapestry, with its illustrations of famous battle scenes. At the National Gallery, you can view famous works such as Caravaggio’s “The Taking of Christ.”

When you need to take a break, St Stephen’s Green is right there, a gorgeous green park with public art, leafy nooks and a sensory garden for blind visitors. You can stretch your legs more vigorously in Phoenix Park, one of Europe’s largest inner city green spaces, and your stroll will take you past everything from wild deer to hurling matches.

Dublin pubs and fare

The culinary scene here has evolved dramatically in the last couple of decades, and Irish cooking and chefs are now some of the scene’s rising stars. You can enjoy some of the Irish seafood that graces the menus of Michelin-starred eateries and elevated pub menus. Oysters are especially good here, but you’ll find unpretentious and hearty dishes in most restaurants. If you drink alcohol, try the dark, malty flavor of Guinness, and if you’re smitten, the historic Guinness Storehouse is a very fun tour.

You’ll have plenty of opportunities to sample beer in any one of the city’s many pubs, where there’s usually a live Irish folk band playing crowd favorites. For more authentic traditional music, though, think outside the Temple Bar main drag, and join some locals at pubs such as The Celt, The Confession Box or O’Donoghues Bar. An adventurous spirit will usually be rewarded with a more authentic experience.

Even the stores are historic here, and if you spend an afternoon browsing the shops of Grafton Street, make time for the department store Brown Thomas, which has been open since the mid-19th-century. For a caffeine or sugar fix, stop at Bewley’s or Butlers Chocolate Cafe.

Make your Dublin memory

Dublin is one of the most social destinations that you can imagine. Join the locals for a few pints in a noisy Temple Bar pub, sing along to rousing folk songs and feel the spirits of great authors as your walk among architecture that’s almost a thousand years old. This is one trip where you’re guaranteed to head home with friendships and memories that will last you a lifetime.

Start Your Irish AdventureList of Hilton Hotels in Dublin

Paul Oswell is an award-winning travel writer, and has been reporting from all seven continents for over twenty years. He is based in New Orleans and is the author of “The Bucket List North America: 1,000 Adventures Big and Small.”

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