- Phoenix Park – This is a wonderful place to escape from the city, take a long walk and see some of the wild deer that roam the park. (Note: It’s important not to touch or feed the deer. They could become aggressive, especially when protecting their young. They could also become quite ill from being fed the wrong kind of food). Currently there are over 400 fallow deer that reside in the park. It is also home to a variety of bird species, bats and many different kinds of flora. Entry is free and there is lots to see and do. Phoenix Park is also home to the Dublin Zoo which is the largest of its kind in Ireland.
2. Dublin Castle – Dublin Castle was erected in the Thirteenth Century and is now a major tourist attraction in Dublin. It’s easy to see why. Not only is it aesthetically stunning, it also contains a beautiful collection of artwork from as early as the Seventeenth Century. A variety of exhibitions and events are held at the castle which are worth keeping an eye out for on their website http://www.dublincastle.ie/exhibitions/. You can do guided or self-guided tours of the castle.
Make sure to check out the Chester Beatty Library while you’re there. It has a rich collection of manuscripts, rare books and other fascinating artefacts from around the world. Lonely Planet has deemed it to be one of the best museums in Europe, it won “Best Museum of the Year” and it’s free of charge – what more can you ask for?
3. St. Patrick’s Cathedral – St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest and tallest cathedral in Ireland; founded in 1191. It is a place of worship for the Church of Ireland. You can enter the church for a small fee and take a tour of the interior of this stunning Gothic style landmark.
4. St. Stephen’s Green – Great place to escape the busy city and get some fresh air. Here you can spot ducks, swans, herons and other types of bird species. Take a book along with you or bring a picnic and be prepared to spend hours here taking in the scenery.
5. Trinity College – Located amongst the bustling city, Trinity College campus is one of the most beautiful and tranquil I have seen. The famous Book of Kells (the world’s oldest book, completed in the 9th century) is located at the Trinity College Library and attracts visitors from all over the world. The library is also home to many other rare and early volumes and is the largest research library in Ireland.
Additionally, make sure to check out the Science Gallery as it is fascinating and best of all, entry is free of charge. The exhibits are constantly changing and the staff is very knowledgeable and more than willing to answer any questions that you might have.
6. Merrion Square – For a literary lover like myself, this place is magical. Oscar Wilde’s childhood home is located just outside the square and inside, you will see his statue and various quotes written by the Dublin-born poet and writer.
There are several other statues that line the Square, each one unique and worth a look. Don’t forget to check out the colourful Georgian Doors that line the Square. Dating back to the 18th Century, these Georgian homes were built with very strict architectural guidelines. Consequently, many of Dublin’s residents began to add colour and other unique features to their doors in order to differentiate themselves from their neighbours. The result is stunning.
7. National Botanic Gardens – What a peaceful place. I had the most enjoyable day strolling through the various greenhouses, taking in all the beautiful flora on display. Entry into the Gardens is free of charge which is a bonus. In addition, lectures, tours & other events are often held on site. You can take a look at the schedule featured on their website http://www.botanicgardens.ie/news/events.htm for more details.
If you’re looking for a nice meal or just a sweet treat & a coffee while you’re there, try their restaurant Garden Tearooms. I had the cod and chips and it was delicious. This is definitely a place that I would visit time and time again.
8. IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) – One of my favourite spots to stroll around, especially on a Sunday. The grounds are beautiful and entry into the museum is free (excluding some exhibitions). The Collection Freud Project featuring the works of Lucian Freud is currently running and is well worth checking out.
9. National Gallery of Ireland – Great place to spend a few hours, especially if the weather isn’t cooperating (it is Ireland after all!) I recently saw the exhibit Beyond Caravaggio and it was phenomenal. Take a look on their website for current and future exhibitions https://www.nationalgallery.ie/.
10. The Little Museum of Dublin – Located on St. Stephen’s Green, The Little Museum of Dublin is a wonderful place to learn about Irish history. Their collection is made up entirely of items donated by Dubliners which allows for a more intimate look into the history of the city. The U2: Made in Dublin exhibit on the second floor is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of Dublin’s most famous band. The exhibit features photography, signed albums, sculptures and other items donated by fans.
11. National Museum of Ireland (Archaeology) – I can’t believe this museum is free! It’s so well laid out and contains many fascinating objects including Viking artifacts, bog bodies and ceramics. It’s a great way to spend a few hours and learn something in the process.
12. Natural History Museum (AKA “Dead Zoo”) – This museum is quite unusual as it’s nickname suggests. Learn about animals in all different shapes and sizes from Ireland and beyond through taxidermy, geological samples and activity areas. I have an affinity for both taxidermy and animals, making this museum one of my favourites.
13. Hugh Lane Gallery – The beautiful Hugh Lane Gallery contains works by various Irish & International artists such as Édouard Manet, Pierre-August Renoir & Antonio Mancini. Well worth a visit (it’s also free!). See what’s on here http://www.hughlane.ie/.
14. Glasnevin Cemetery – Taking a guided tour is an excellent way to learn about the cemetery and it’s fascinating history. Visit the final resting place of some of Ireland’s most well known individuals such as Michael Collins, Daniel O’Connell and Charles Stewart Parnell.
Make sure to follow up your tour with a drink at John Kavanagh’s aka Gravediggers Pub (said to be haunted by an elderly man in a tweed suit).
15. Irish National War Memorial Gardens – Not far from where I live, the War Memorial Gardens is one of my sanctuaries. It’s a great place for an evening stroll while taking in one of Dublin’s incredible sunsets. Pack a picnic and get away from the busy city in this lovely green space just outside the city.
16. Marsh’s Library – If you’re a book lover like myself, this is a must-see. Marsh’s Library has a collection of books and manuscripts dating back to the Fifteenth Century. It was the first public library to open in Ireland and houses over 10,000 books in two separate galleries. Bram Stoker and James Joyce were some of its famous visitors.
There are so many incredible places to see in Ireland. Here are some great day trips from Dublin.