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Ireland’s capital city is relatively small but it offers a ton of things to see and do. While you can’t do it all in 48 hours, you can experience many of its highlights. In between, you’ll be spoiled for options when it comes to food and drink. Just be sure to save some energy for enjoying Dublin’s legendary nightlife.
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Tour the Guinness Storehouse
The Guinness Storehouse is Ireland’s top attraction. There are ten million pints made here every day, and you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the story of this drink that began more than 250 years ago while learning about its founding and discovering the process it takes to brew it via floor-by-floor exhibition walks. The highlight is the opportunity to enjoy a complimentary pint while taking in the amazing 360-degree view of the city from atop the Gravity Bar.
Take a walk in Phoenix Park
Phoenix Park is an ideal place for a walk, and although it’s so big and hosts so many attractions, if you’re short on time you may want to rent a bike at its entrance and explore it on two wheels. Europe’s largest city park, watch for the herd of wild red deer, check out the President’s residence and the window where you can see the candle that continues to burn as a reminder that those who have left the country are welcome home. When you’re ready for a break, stop at the world-famous Victorian Tea Rooms which serves specialty organic tea and coffee as well as a variety of lunch items and fresh-baked desserts.
Browse the National Museum of Ireland: Archaeology
The National Museum of Ireland includes multiple museums, but if you only have time for one, head to the archaeology museum which is in the city center. It showcases the finest collection of prehistoric gold artifacts in Europe, while The Treasury features remarkable examples of Celtic and medieval art, like the Ardagh Chalice and the Tara Brooch. One of the most fascinating collections are the bog bodies, which were mummified and preserved in peat bogs. Around 100 of them have been found in Irish bogs to date, including some that are thousands of years old, naturally mummified by the acidic conditions of the peat bogs in which their remains were deposited, their skin basically was turned into leather, so you can see their fingernails, fingerprints, eyelashes, and even the hair in their noses.
Explore Trinity College
Trinity College is home to some of the country’s greatest cultural treasures, including the Book of Kells, the world’s most famous medieval manuscript. A must-see, it dates all the way back to the early 9th century, taking its name from the Abbey of Kells. The abbey was its home for centuries before it was brought to Dublin for safekeeping, kept at Trinity College since at least 1661. The book contains a magnificently detailed decorated copy of the four gospels in a Latin text with two volumes typically on display, one opened at a major decorated page, the other at a text opening.
Dublin has become renowned as one of the hottest cities for shopping in Europe, so if you like to shop, be sure to squeeze in at least a little time to indulge, and bring an empty duffel bag with you to take those finds back home. Grafton Street, running south from College Green, is the most fashionable shopping area, while the Temple Bar area is home to some great quirky boutiques and the thoroughfares that run west from O’Connell Street, like Mary Street and Henry Street, are ideal for bargain hunters. Grafton Street features the chic Brown Thomas department store, and just behind it, Powerscourt Townhouse is lined with outlets from top Irish and international designers.
Join a walking tour
Driving in Dublin unless you’re a local is usually best avoided. Taking a walking tour is a great way to experience many of its highlights without the stress. The city offers free walking tours that depart every morning at 11 and again at 3 p.m. from The Spire on O’Connell Street. Highlights typically include the General Post Office and the 1916 Rebellion, Trinity College, Dublin Castle, Hoggen Green, Old Parliament, Christ Church Cathedral and Old City Walls as well as Dublin’s medieval and Viking heritage.
Visit St. Patrick's Cathedral
One of Dublin’s top visitor attractions, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral has been a part of Ireland’s history for more than 800 years. It was built in honor of the country’s patron saint between 1220 and 1260 and offers an especially compelling cultural experience as one of the few buildings left from Dublin’s medieval days. Author of Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift, was its Dean in the 18thcentury, and he was buried on site. The cathedral is also internationally renowned for its choir, which still performs daily during the school year. Both guided and self-guided tours are available, offering the chance to hear the incredible tales of Ireland’s patron saint and other famous historical figures that shaped the course of Ireland’s history and culture. Some of its must-see relics include the statues, the beautiful stained glass and its gorgeous interior décor.
Experience the nightlife
While the Temple Bar area is the most famous for nightlife, if you want to enjoy it in what claims to be the oldest pub in Dublin, head to the Brazen Head. Pouring pints since 1198, though the building dates from the mid-18th century, it was originally a coach house, with its walls are lined with old pictures, papers and ads from the past. Its seen multiple illustrious alumni such as Daniel O’Connell, Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet, who planned the Dublin rising of 1803 underneath its low timbers. Emmet reportedly lived here for a time and is said to still visit on occasion, though he was executed more than two centuries ago. Today, it’s a great place to go with live music hosted every night of the week. You can also enjoy a tasty bowl of Guinness stew with that pint.