European Trip: Things To Do in Dublin

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European trip to London and Dublin: Planning

US Airways Envoy Suites to London

Getting To and From London Airports

Sheraton Heathrow

Aer Lingus to Dublin

Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Dublin

Things To Do in Dublin (this post)

The first couple days of getting to our intended destination of Ireland were met with a lot of motion to get where we wanted/needed to be. However, once we arrived in Ireland we immediately felt “at home”. My husband specifically has strong family ties back to Ireland and he has always wanted to visit. While we were a bit tired of constant motion when we arrived in Dublin, we were ready to hit the ground running with seeing and doing different things. We had received some very good suggestions for activities from readers on this post (so thank you!), and threw in some of our own ideas as well. Here are a few of the things we did, and some thoughts on how enjoyable they were or weren’t. Some of the activities were geared more for adults since our daughter didn’t make the trip with us, but some would be good for families as well.

Guinness Storehouse:

As my husband is a big fan of Guinness, there was no way we could skip the Guinness Storehouse even though I had read mixed reviews on it. If someone in your crew is a huge Guinness fan and has this on their “must do” list, then the easiest thing is to just tag along and enjoy the view (literally). However, this was not at all a tour of the Guinness factory as I would have hoped. This was just a walk around of some displays that Guinness has set-up about the process of making beer, their old advertizing, how to pour Guinness, and things of that nature.

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It was all well done, but don’t go hoping for a factory tour as this is not what you get. You get the chance to buy some Guinness merchandise, see a little Guinness history, and then drink a Guinness in a room with a very good view. Not a horrible way to spend an afternoon, but decide for yourself if it is worth €16.50 per adult. There is a 10% online discount available or you can also get a whole family (two adults and up to four children) for €40.00.  Given my husband’s desire to go there, I’m not unhappy we did it once, but it would not be on my list of places to “re-visit” on a future trip to Dublin.  The Guinness was delicious though – very different than any Guinness I had previously tasted.

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Christ Church:

Christ Church Cathedral (founded c.1028) is described as the “spiritual heart of the city, and one of the top visitor attractions in Dublin.” There was a small fee to enter (€6.00 for adults/€2.00 for children) , but they did accept credit cards. 😉 The church itself was beautiful and impressive, and visiting the crypts was fun in it’s own spooky way. Our visit here wasn’t very lengthy, but it worth the price of admission given the history and beauty of the church.

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Dublinia:

Connected to Christ Church is Dublinia which is an exhibit dedicated to Viking and Medieval Dublin. This is something that would be well suited to school-aged children if you wanted to build some history into your visit. There were some interactive exhibits that children would enjoy. It was a little corny in some spots for adults, but it was overall a good exhibit to visit once. Adults are €7.50, children are €5.00, and a family of two adults and two children is €23.00. There are also discounted tickets if you visit both Christ Church and Dublinia.

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Book of Kells/Trinity College:

The Book of Kells exhibit entitled “Turning Darkness Into Light” was on our must see list. It is located less than a block from the Westin. The exhibit is described as, “Trinity College Dublin will bring visitors back to the 18th century, when the magnificent Old Library building was constructed. Inside is housed the Book of Kells – a 9th-century gospel manuscript famous throughout the world.” The book was beautiful. It was hard for us to wrap our minds around looking at something so beautiful that was made so long ago. Living in Texas, if something is 200 years old it is ancient, so this type of “old” is a whole new ballgame.

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Tickets are usually €9 for adults and €18 for a family of two adults and up to four children. However, we went about 20 minutes before closing time and got a discounted price for going with limited time left. I can’t remember exactly what the discount was off-hand, but it was a decent reduction.

This was a worthwhile exhibit, and older children/teens would be able to appreciate some of what is displayed. This is also an exhibit that doesn’t take very long to complete. Twenty minutes was sufficient for us. Thirty minutes would have been more than enough unless you are the type that really likes to read every word and take in everything at a slower pace.

Kilmainham Gaol Prison:

This absolutely was one of my favorite things we did in Dublin. We did it as a part of a larger private tour that took us outside of Dublin. I will post more on what we did outside of Dublin separately, but this was a real highlight within the city. It is described as one of the largest unoccupied gaols in Europe, covering some of the most heroic and tragic events in Ireland’s emergence as a modern nation from 1780s to the 1920s. Attractions include a major exhibition detailing the political and penal history of the prison and its restoration.

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The tour was led by a man who was very informed and very invested in sharing the history of the gaol with us. The tour was not corny at all. There were no dressed up manikins or fake displays. This was the gaol the way it was. Cold, dark, damp, and full of tragic history. On the tour we learned a lot not just about the history of the gaol, but of Dublin itself. There are some things on the tour that involve stories of torture, execution, and death, so keep that in mind if bringing young children. The costs were €6.00 for adults and €14.00 for a family.

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20130323-151720.jpgPapal Cross in Phoenix Park:

Pope John Paul II visited Dublin in 1979 and delivered an open air mass to over a million people in Phoenix Park right outside the city of Dublin.  A very large cross was erected at the site to commemorate the event.  The Papal Cross may or may not interest you, but the park itself is over 1,700 acres and is home to a large herd of wild deer that we saw grazing nearby on the far side of the cross.

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If you bring your kiddos to Dublin then I especially recommend bringing them to Phoenix Park, if for no other reason than it will be a beautiful place for them to burn off some energy!  Most kids would probably like spying on the herd of deer as well.

In addition to the things mentioned in this post, we also spent an amazing day exploring outside of Dublin and ate at some pretty yummy restaurants within Dublin.  Up next are reviews including that type of info!  If you have also visited any of these spots in Dublin (or others I missed on this trip), feel free to post your thoughts as well.

Comments

  1. 20+ brewery and distillery tours worldwide. Guinness is by far the most overpriced for a self guided tour that doesn’t include an actual working facility. €16 for a free pint, essentially. I didn’t go until my 4th visit, and I refused to accompany my friend on my most recent visit knowing it’d be a waste for me.

    To walk to the storehouse you pass The Brazen Head, well worth going there instead of Guinness. It’s the oldest pub in Dublin, at least, but it’s NOT the oldest pub in Ireland. That’s in Athlone and is trying to confirm itself as being the oldest in the world.

    Eat at O’Neill’s on Suffolk St. No one is ever disappointed.

    The National Museum of Ireland is most definitely worth a visit.

    Plenty of day trips from Dublin – Hill of Tara, Glendalough and Wicklow mountains, one even goes as far as Kilkenny. You can do Belfast yourself in a day via train. There are tours that do it but I prefer self directed to maximize my time.

  2. If you go to Dublin you must go to Glasnevin cemetery. It was the highlight of my trip. Take the guided tour you won’t be disappointed. There are over 1.1 million people buried there. But in the 2 acres of the tour you will learn all about the last 100 years of Irish history. From the Easter uprising that found so many placed in Kilmainham Goal. The 1920 civil war to the troubles up north in the 60’s and 70’s. Any one who was anyone in the past 100 years is buried there. I would suggest that anyone who knows little of Irish history watch The movie “Michael Collins” before you go. Then go to the gaol and Glasnevin and you will know everything there is about recent Irish history.

  3. I would agree that the best place to get a sense of the history of Dublin and Ireland is at Kilmainham Gaol Prison. It was the highlight of our time in Dublin. Well than and having the Boxty at the restaurant in Temple Bar.

    The Jameson Distillery was a better tour than Guinness but still not a working plant. More a history of the company. I wasn’t overly thrilled with either but if you are a fan of the beverages a trip would be warranted, IMHO.

    I’m looking forward to hearing about your time at the Westin Dublin as we also stayed there, except we were in a regular room as part of a tour package. At the time, it would have been a place out of our price range.

  4. I took two mileage run trips to Dublin earlier this year as I began my journey to 1K status with United which I am blogging about. I really enjoyed the Book of Kells with all the history around it, and the history tour and tasting at the Jameson Distillery. I agree with you that the Guinness in Dublin is so much smoother and better than the Guinness we drink in the US! I stayed at the Westin and really enjoyed the hotel and its location at Trinity College. The highlight for me was also the tour at the Kilmainham Gaol Prison…so much history, so much sacrifice.

  5. A nice post. Thanks for the sightseeing info – we have travelled all over Europe since our daughter was young but we have never been to Ireland. I’m still not sure there is enough to do with kids so I am anxious to read about your outside of Dublin activities. Perhaps we will have to do an adults only trip to Ireland too!

  6. St. Stephen’s Green is nice for the kiddo’s plus there are a couple pedestrian streets with street performers that my kids were fascinated by.

  7. Cool to see recent feedback on Dublin. I’m headed over in April using 40k Alaskan miles to land in LHR and return via DUB (to dodge high LHR taxes). A stash of Avios covers some side trip flights. A trusty Delta debit card covers payments to Flybe for other side trips (to avoid Flybe’s credit card usage fees).

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