In this post, I am going to outline all of the sights that we visited on our abbreviated trip. Dublin is a very “walkable” city. In planning ahead of time, the only two attractions that appeared further away were the Guinness Storehouse and Kilmainham Goal. If you prefer to not do as much walking, there are a number of hop on hop off buses to choose from. It would be a great way to see the “lay” of the city. We did all of our exploring on foot with the exception of the Guinness Storehouse.
For the following attractions, it may be beneficial to buy timed entry tickets ahead of time.
1. Trinity College/Book of Kells. I purchased these tickets without issue online about one week prior to our trip. We walked up to the timed entry line, which was empty, and were walked right into the exhibit. There was a line to purchase tickets, so I felt it was of benefit to do this ahead of time. The real prize of this stop was the beautiful library, which is at the end of the exhibit. We were there later in the afternoon, and the library was packed full of visitors. It made getting amazing photos difficult. If you were the first ticket entry of the day, and you made a beeline to the end of the exhibit, you would probably get the best photos. The library is gorgeous, along with the campus of Trinity college itself, don’t miss a stop to see this. When I mention the beautiful library, this is not to discount the book of Kells itself. It is easier to wait your turn here and get great views. No photos are allowed.
2. Guinness Storehouse. This is the most visited tourist attraction in Ireland. It lived up to the reputation with very long lines outside. There is a bit of unstructured madness outside the doors. I would recommend buying timed entry tickets here. We purchased these just a few days prior to our visit. There were plenty of timed entry tickets still available. The line for individuals who had not purchased tickets ahead of time was much longer. That being said, it was moving at a reasonable pace. We did get in within 5 minutes of our timed entry ticket, and we arrived about 20 minutes early. Once you are inside, you receive a brief orientation, and then you are free to walk at your leisure throughout the storehouse. The inside has an assortment of “fun things” to walk around and enjoy. There are some experiences available inside at an additional fee, such as putting your photo on the top of your glass of Guiness. We walked at a leisurely pace through the exhibit and spent about 1.5 hours here. There are 7 levels with the top floor having panoramic views of Dublin. It is a great place to pick up your free pint of Guiness even despite the crowds. Prior to leaving, I couldn’t resist picking up souvenirs in their store on the ground level.
3. Kilmainham Goal. Well, I don’t have much to say about this old prison. There were not any timed entry tickets available online for any of the days we were in Dublin one week prior to the trip. I did email to inquire whether admission would be permitted without a timed entry ticket, and they stated it would not. Their advice was to check online at 9am on the morning of the day you would like to visit for individuals that had cancelled last minute. Due to our schedule, I never checked for any additional availability in the mornings. This site did look rather impressive in photos online. If you are interested in visiting, be sure that you book tickets here well in advance.
There are a number of other sights that I enjoyed visiting in Dublin that did not require timed entry. I will outline these below.
1. Dublin Castle. We easily walked here from The Conrad. There are a number of things to see in this area. We walked on the side of the castle and first over to the Chester Beatte library. There is free admission into the library with a basket for donations. The ground level has a cafe and restrooms. On the subsequent levels, there are exhibits. Be sure to walk all the way to the gardens at the top of the library. When you walk outside, there is a small stool to your left that you can use to peer outside for great views of the greens with the castle in the background. Be sure and check this out! We then walked around the grounds and over to the castle. You can purchase tickets to walk around the castle and tour. Due to time restraints, we did not walk around inside the castle itself. In retrospect, I would have loved to have the time to do this.
2. St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I have visited a number of cathedrals, but this one really is beautiful on the inside. You can spend plenty of time walking around and exploring. There are beautiful stain glass windows in here. There is an admission price, so take your time inside to enjoy. I wish we would have spent longer.
3. St. Stephens Green. This is a beautiful park to walk through. There are many locals in here enjoying the day. It can be a quick stop to look around or linger siting on the lawn and relaxing.
Grafton Street is the best area to do some shopping. They have your standard variety of stores that you see just about everywhere. We did not spend a great deal of time in Dublin shopping, but I will share what I found to be the best.
1. Brown Thomas. This is a high end department store that is well known in Dublin. Without a doubt, this is the shopping bag I saw being carried by the vast majority of people strolling around. I found a great top here. This store is definitely worth a walk through if not a purchase or two.
2. Avoca. This is a store that has more than one location. It is somewhat reminiscent of Anthropologie with more to offer including mens clothes and a cafe. I did not purchase anything here, but they have cute women’s clothing and gifts.
3. Butler’s Chocolate. This place is a great stop. We purchased small bite size treats to eat in Dublin, and we also purchased some boxed chocolates and bars to go home with. I frequently fall victim to buying chocolates and other “treats” in foreign countries and never actually eat them. This was not the case for me here. I purchased a dark chocolate bar with mint chips, boxed chocolates, and a milk chocolate bar with salted caramel. At home, I have continued to enjoy all of these. If nothing else, go in for a couple of small snacks to enjoy while walking around Dublin! They even have a location in the train station cleverly thought out for passengers taking day trips.