At first glance, Dublin, the capital of Ireland is cold and aloof. While it is more British than Irish, it still has its own inherent charm that makes the city distinct. It is still cosmopolitan with a “but” because it is not a place like Berlin or Vienna or Paris or London. For a long time it was overshadowed by Britain.
What is the most attractive about Dublin is it rich culture and history and its unique personality. While the pubs are good, there are other things to consider. There’s the contrast between old and modern. It is a multicultural city with plenty of young people from other countries. Then there’s the city’s icons, such as the Long Room at the Old Library in Trinity College that houses the Book of Kells, the ancient Ha’penny Bridge, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is the largest medieval church in Ireland and the O’Connell Bridge, which is as wide as its long.
Dublin is renowned for its celebrated literary geniuses, such as George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker. It is home to world-class musicians such as Sinead O’Connor, Thin Lizzy, Dubliners and U2 as well as Hollywood actors such as Colin Farrell, Brenda Gleeson, Maureen O’Hara and Gabriel Byrne.
From admiring the gorgeous Georgian buildings in the city centre you will find the surrounding open and very green, flanked by small colourful villages and fantastic beaches. You’ll be able to breathe pure, fresh air and be energized by the mesmerizing natural beauty right before you.
Best Time to Go to Dublin
Just like many other places, summertime (June to August) is the best time to visit Dublin, when the temperature, which could still be cooler for some, is already considered warm. On the average, the temperature is still in the mid-60s F (around 18 °C), so you still need to pack layers. There will be plenty of festivals, but this period is also the most expensive time to visit the city.
September to November is also a good time to visit, when the temperatures are considered milder (by the locals), and the rates are cheaper and the city is less crowded. Again, pack layers – scarves, sweaters, thick shirts and jackets.
In any case, you should not go out in Dublin without a thick sweater, a warm coat and a strong umbrella, because the temperatures could be chilly and the city gets its fair share of rain and strong winds.
History behind the Culture
Flights to Dublin
Dublin’s first documented history started with the eighth and ninth century raids of the Vikings that established two proto-towns, Dubh Linn and Áth Cliath. Both of these settlements were formed in the area where the River Poddle meets the River Liffey, which is close to today’s Capel Street Bridge.It became prosperous in 1700 with the arrival of the Protestant elites, some of them coming from Holland, France and England. Dublin saw increased political and economic growth, resulting from the expansion of the Dublin Port as a transit point for merchandise, the emergence of skilled trades, financial services, its legal system and availability of higher education.
In the mid-18th century, the Royal and the Grand canals were built, the streets reshaped and many of the city’s landmarks like the Parliament House, Leinster House, the Four Courts and the Custom House were constructed. The Royal Exchange, which became the City Hall, Merrion Square and other notable landmarks were added. In 1759, the Guinness Stout had its first brew. Kilmainham Gaol and O’Connell Bridge were also constructed during this period. The city remained as an important cultural, commercial and political city in the early part of the 20th century, it became more popular as a city where underlying restlessness and tension was ever present as religion, class and wealth divided the city. Still, Dublin enjoyed the economic boom in the middle of the 20th century, which brought in ethnic groups, which created an international feel and making the city more vibrant.
Top Things to See and Do in Dublin
Guinness storehouse, Dublin
Guinness Beer, without a doubt is a world-famous brew. And everything you need to know about the beer and its process, including the crafting of its beer barrel, can be learned when you visit the Guinness Storehouse at the St. James’ Gate Brewery, the former fermentation plant of Guinness, which had been there since 1759. The seven-storey building was remodelled into the shape of a huge pint of Guinness. The highlight of every visit is the Gravity Bar where you can receive a complimentary pint of the world-famous beer and have a wonderful 360-degree view of Dublin. There are actually three bars at the Guinness Storehouse – the Brewery, the Source and Gravity. A coffee shop and a restaurant are also available as well as facilities for events and meetings.
Dublin has a great eclectic mix of markets and shops located at the city’s back streets. There are pop-ups, designer outlets and flea markets as well. If you are into Victorian items, the Georges Street Arcade is the best place to find these types of items. For world-class shopping experience, then head off to the main shopping areas at Henry Street and Grafton Street. At Grafton Street you will find exclusive stores and designer boutiques. You should explore the malls as well, try to check out The Westbury Mall, Powerscourt Centre and Hibernian Way as well as the Stephen’s Green Centre, Jervis Centre and the ILAC Centre. Dublin also has several souvenir shops selling high quality items. Look out for Kilkenny Design on Nassau Street. There are some nice, high quality woolen goods at the House of Ireland and at The Sweater Shop.
Dublin Zoo, Dublin
Dublin Zoo is one of the oldest in the world and continues to attract millions of visitors each year. It provides natural habitats for its 600 exotic and rare animals. Located in Phoenix Park in the heart of Dublin, it is place where you can see a replica of the Kaziranga Forest where Asian elephants freely roam. The African Savanna has a collection of zebras, rhinos, giraffes and other African animals. There is also the newest addition, the Gorilla Rainforest, which is now the home of several lowland silverbacks. The zoo has also created the Asian Forests that houses Sulawesi crested macaques, Sumatran tigers and lion cubs from Asia. Dublin Zoo supports conservation and had great success in having some animals born in captivity. Other interesting animals at the zoo include chimpanzees, tigers, bats, red pandas, several reptile species, rare monkeys, orangutans and meerkats. It is open all-year round and is accessible by car and public transport.
Fly me to Dublin
With its beautiful surroundings and the number of iconic places to visit, one of the best things to do in Dublin is to go hiking. While there are many hiking options, one of the best is to hike in Howth Head. Board a DART from the Tara Street Station on the Liffey to Howth. From there walk along the water front until you reach the end of the harbour then continue following the coast up to Howth Head. The hike will provide you with great views of the sea, guaranteed to cure your doldrums. You can double back after reaching Howth Head and plan to have a great meal at King Sitric Fish Restaurant, located in Howth and known to serve the best seafood in all of Dublin.
Mind you, these are just some of the many things to you can see and do in Dublin. The best thing to do it to plan your trip and find recommendations to come up with a great itinerary.