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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.