When you truly love a city, one of the hardest questions to answer is: what are the must-see sights? My answer often depends on my mood and the person asking. There’s climbing to the top of the Sugar Loaf Mountain, exploring locals-only parks, and finding the last few independent bookstores. But if you’re visiting Dublin for the first time, there are some essentials to see first. These must-see sights form the core of an understanding of Dublin, and will reveal a great deal about the local culture.
Be sure to see our post for hotel suggestions, Where To Stay In Dublin – Editor’s Picks.
For a first-timers weekend in Dublin, here are five of my must-see sights for a weekend in Dublin:
1. Grafton Street
Every first-time visit to Dublin should begin on Grafton Street. This pedestrianized road is not only geographically at the center of Dublin, but is also considered by many locals to be the heart of the city. A stroll along here will introduce you to the local architecture, provide the opportunity to listen to musicians and street performers, and enjoy Irish food and drinks.
Grafton Street is an incredible place for people watching. Start your day at Bewley’s Cafe, preferably on the second floor overlooking Grafton Street. Here you can enjoy pastries and a pot of tea before beginning your first day in Dublin.
Grafton Street is also home to the upscale department store Brown Thomas as well as many other shopping options. If you can’t wait to get your first pint of Guinness, there are many authentic pubs just off Grafton Street including Davy Byrne’s, Kehoe’s, and McDaid’s.
A trip to Dublin should include a visit to one of the city’s fantastic museums. Choosing will depend on your individual preferences. Travelers with a literary interest will want to visit either the National Library of Ireland (with its famous exhibit of the work of W.B. Yeats, complete with touch-screen technology) or the Dublin Writers’ Museum.
If you’re interested in art, check out the Jack B. Yeats exhibit at the National Gallery of Ireland or more contemporary work at IMMA, the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Families might want to check out the Museum of Natural History, with a collection that includes a wide range of animals indigenous to Ireland, such as skeletons of giant Irish deer with surprisingly wide antlers.
3. The Guinness Storehouse
The recipe for Guinness, Dublin’s most famous drink, has gone unchanged for over 250 years. It has been brewed in the same Dublin location, at St. James’s Gate, since the beginning when Arthur Guinness was in charge. Today, the Guinness Storehouse is one of the most fascinating attractions in Dublin, whether or not you even like the beer.
First of all, the museum was designed as an interactive experience. Purchase your tickets online in advance to skip the line, and once inside, you will be smack in the middle of a working brewery. From learning about the ingredients and history to hands-on learning about how to pour the perfect pint, this museum will reveal why Guinness is so beloved in Dublin.
The best part comes last at the Guinness Storehouse. At the top of the brewery is a space called the Gravity Bar, offering 360-degree views all around Dublin. A complimentary pint is included in the price of your ticket, so sit back, relax, and take in the views.
4. The Long Room at Trinity College
Trinity College is a large, architecturally impressive university in the center of Dublin. It is also home to two of the most popular attractions in the city: the Book of Kells and the Long Room Library. While this attraction is definitely worth your time, you MUST arrive early in the morning (or a few minutes before closing) to avoid long lines.
Once inside, you will have the chance to view the ancient Book of Kells, and then it’s on to the Long Room library, a stunning two-story library that is home to countless rare manuscripts and books.
5. The Temple Bar Market
If you’re in Dublin on a Saturday, one activity you must do is attend the Temple Bar market. Other attractions on this list offer the chance to experience local culture while the market offers the chance to taste it. Go straight for all the most authentic Irish offerings, including artisan Irish cheese, freshly shucked oysters, and sandwiches filled with roasted lamb.
You will encounter many locals doing their weekly shopping while digging into these delicious treats. The market also offers a very affordable way to eat for families traveling to Dublin on a budget.
From markets to museums, libraries to look-out points, Dublin is full of appealing attractions. This is a city known for its warm hospitality, so don’t spend all your time packing in the attractions. Instead, pull up a stool and soak in the atmosphere at a local pub while engaging with the friendly people.
Written by by Jessica Colley for EuropeUpClose.com