Planning a vacation in Ireland? It's now possible to have your own bespoke Ireland Tour designed to suit your specific taste. Visit the Wild Atlantic Way or tour the world class golf courses or taste the spectacular Irish cuisine on a food tour of the Emerald Isle.
Any Ireland vacation itinerary, however, is incomplete without a visit to the country’s capital city and can easily be incorporated into a wider tour of the Ancient East. Dublin is one of the most vibrant cities in Europe with an almost palpable energy that must be experienced to be fathomed. At night the characterful pubs are alive with traditional music and dance and by day there is an abundance of museums, parks and cafés to visit. The unique attractions in the city include whiskey tasting tours, the Guinness Store House and even a leprechaun museum!.
A quick Google search will present you with many of the ‘Top things to do in Dublin’ and I can assure you if you follow anyone of these lists you will not be let down; while living in Dublin in my twenties and now, as a regular visitor, I have experienced much of what the city has to offer – here is what I would recommend you do if you have 48 hours in Dublin:
Have a ‘Full Irish’ breakfast
Start the day with a ‘Full Irish’ breakfast – rashers, fried egg, sausage, black and white pudding, beans and some fried mushrooms with toasted Irish soda bread and a cup of Ireland’s favourite, Lyons tea. You will find good breakfasts throughout the city but I would recommend Café Kylmore on the famous O’Connell Street - you can visit the Spire monument on the same street after you’ve eaten.
Visit the ‘Kingship and Sacrifice’ exhibition in the National Museum of Ireland, Kildare Street
The National Museum of Ireland is quite spectacular in its own right and will excite even the least avid museum visitor. It is the ‘Kingship and Sacrifice’ exhibition, however, that is sure to leave the most profound impression. Not for the faint hearted, the exhibition displays a number of bodies, or parts thereof, that have been preserved in bogs in Ireland and beyond. The haunting display gives a fascinating insight into sacrificial practices and enables the visitor to, literally, come face to face with Ireland's Iron Age ancestors. This exhibition is an absolute must see but get there early in the day while the museum is quiet.
Visit Trinity College
Not far from the National Museum of Ireland is Trinity College and another must see for any visitor to the city. The prestigious university was established in 1592 and houses the famous medieval texts known as the Book of Kells, Book of Durrow and Book of Howth. To get the most from this visit it’s worth getting a guided tour. The ancient manuscripts are an extremely popular attraction so it’s worth planning in advance and pre-booking your entry ticket online.
Experience Traditional Irish Music
After taking in the historic sites of Dublin a well-deserved pint of Guinness is essential and tastes all the better while listening to traditional Irish music. There is a wide variety of pubs to choose from in Dublin, many of which have amazing food and regular as well as impromptu music sessions. My favourite, however, is Whelan’s on Wexford Street. A cosy pub in the front with a larger music venue in the rear of the building, Whelan’s is known as a hub of Irish talent. If you are feeling particularly energetic afterwards you can venture to the busy Temple Bar area of the city that is popular with Hen and Stag Parties and consists of bars and eateries linked by a warren of cobbled streets.
Visit Dublin's Urban Parks
Dublin has a range of urban outstanding urban parks to choose from. Phoenix Park, to the west of the city is one of the largest walled parks in Europe and is home to the President of Ireland, Dublin Zoo and roaming wild deer. In the city centre, not far from the iconic shopping area, Grafton Street, is the 22 acre St Stephen’s Green; a beautiful park designed by William Sheppard and opened to the public in 1880. Both are definitely worth a visit, however, it's the Iveagh Gardens that is favored by many Dublin residents. The hidden gem is located between Clonmel Street and Upper Hatch Street and on sunny days is often busy with office workers on their lunch breaks.
Visit Epic Ireland Exhibition
One of the newest of Dublin's historical exhibitions is Epic Ireland; an immersive experience, in state of the art galleries showcases what has been described as the unique "global story" of the 10 million Irish people who left Ireland and the impact this diaspora had on the rest of the world. This is a fantastic exhibition for those keen to retrace the steps of their ancestors.
You could easily spend a week in Dublin Ireland and still not have enough time to see everything, but with so much else to see in Ireland's unspoiled countryside and rugged coast it's worth keeping to a schedule ad experiencing the best of the city. After the hustle and bustle of Dublin you'll be ready for the salty air of the Wild Atlantic Way or maybe a romantic tour of Ireland's country castles .
Erica McCarthy PhD, Archaeology & Art History, Ireland Luxury Travel guest blogger