Day 1 - Familiarising yourself…
Upon arriving in Dublin, just like when arriving in any other city, once you check into your accommodation go exploring straight away. The centre is compact and very easy to get around, so familiarising yourself with the city is not a problem. North of the River Liffey, the city's two busiest streets are Henry Street and O’Connell Street. The latter is where you find one of Europe’s tallest monuments, known as The Spire which stands proudly in the middle of O'Connell St at 123 metres high.
Apart from a shops and fast food outlets, the northside’s main attractions for tourists are two museums dedicated to the writers and playwrights Dublin is so synonymous with. The first of these is the Dublin Writers Museum (18 Parnell Square, Dublin 1; admission €6.25) which celebrates the works of Dublin’s best known playwrights and poets such as Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett and the other is the James Joyce Centre. Located on North Great Georges Street, it is to the life and times of the world-famous Dublin writer.
Crossing the River Liffey to Dublin’s southside, look for a small, humpback footbridge called the Halfpenny Bridge rather than crossing at O’Connell Bridge located at the bottom of the city’s main thoroughfare. This way you will enter an area called Temple Bar, a part of Dublin very popular with tourists. Full of bars and restaurants, it gets particularly busy at night. From Temple Bar go up to Grafton Street and the surrounding streets to watch Dublin life go by.
One of the best places to do so is in St Stephen’s Green at the top of Grafton Street. Full with all walks of life, ‘the Green’ has ponds if you wish to feed the ducks and large open grass areas if you feel like lazing around for a number of hours.
Just 5 minutes west from Stephens Green is Merrion Square. This green isn’t as big as its city centre counterpart, but the grounds are just as impressive and it doesn’t get the crowds meaning you can get more peace and quiet here.
If this is your first time in Dublin, chances are the first place you shall visit once darkness falls is Temple Bar. Totally pedestrianised, wherever you see cobbled streets you know you are in Temple Bar. In Dublin, this is where you will find the typical ‘Oirish’ bars, complete with traditional music, Guinness flowing and maybe even some locals doing a bit of Irish dancing if you are lucky.
Day 2 - Getting out of town
Dublin’s northern suburbs provide the traveller with loads too see and do. There are walks to wander on, castles to explore and history to absorb. The famous Malahide Castle is one of the first ports of call. Audio tours run approximately every 15 minutes, and lasting just over half an hour, they run through the castle’s history. While you are there you get to tour the entire castle, visiting many of its outlandish rooms. Further north of Malahide is Howth which has some spectacular walks over Dublin Bay, commanding some breathtaking views.
South of the city centre, there is a selection of suburbs which are within walking distance from the or a very short taxi ride. Rathmines doesn’t offer the visitor too much in the day time, but once darkness falls there is a good selection of pubs which promise a good night. While Rathmines is on the southside, Phibsboro on the northside is only ten minutes from O’Connell Street and also has a good selection of watering holes.
Day 3 - Phoenix Park - bigger than Central Park!
It would be a shame to go to Dublin and not visit the Phoenix Park which is just 10-minute bus journey from the city centre. Covering 1730 acres, it is one of the world’s largest city centre parks, even bigger than New York’s Central Park and London’s Hyde Park. Apart from strolling around the grounds, you can also visit the Dublin Zoo or have a look at Áras an Uachtaráin, home to the Irish President.
If the weather is not on your side and you need to remain indoors, there is a host of them located very close to each other. Arguably, the best of a good bunch is the National History Museum on the southside, near Merrion Square. The National Gallery is also nearby where there are countless paintings by old European masters and French Impressionists.
Around Dublin the typical ‘Irish Pub’ is harder and harder to come by than in previous years. Instead, Dublin has a new breed of pubs and bars which are more like ‘drinking houses’. Adorned by huge couches and glass tables, these haunts are frequented by Dublin’s ‘beautiful people’. While some of them tend to be slightly pretentious, the door policy in Dublin has relaxed over the last number of years and once you don’t wear your scraggy white runners, you should get in. They don’t have the atmosphere of a typical Irish pub, but you will still have an enjoyable night if you decide to spend the night in one.
Day 4 - Delving into the past
Situated just 45 kilometres north of Dublin city centre is an ancient burial site which is older than the pyramids. Built sometime around 3,200 BC, Newgrange is a Megalithic Passage Tomb which lights up every winter solstice (December 21st) when the sun shines through the passage. The prehistoric monument is surrounded by 97 kerbstones, many of which decorated by megalithic art. The Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre situated at the site where you can learn all about Newgrange, and the other nearby ancient sites Knowth and Dowth.
There are many historical sites around this area, known as the Boyne Valley. Other places of interest include the Hill of Tara and the Round Tower at Monasterboice. Tours leave from Dublin and take a full day, visiting all the area’s main attractions.
Dublin has a good selection of theatres showcasing the work of some of Ireland’s most celebrated playwrights and actors. The Abbey Theatre on Middle Abbey Street has staged work by some of Ireland’s best known playwrights, while the Gate Theatre at the top of O’Connell Street, and the Gaeity Theatre on King Street, just round the corner from the top of Grafton Street are also good places to find some of the city’s best plays.
Day 5 - Final Day
After a few days in Dublin, chances are you will have sampled a pint of Ireland’s national brew Guinness, sometimes known as ‘the Black Stuff’. If not, maybe you have tried some authentic Irish whiskey. You can go to distilleries and breweries where you learn all about how these national drinks are made, and even sample them.
The Guinness Brewery covers 64 acres on either side of James' Stand and can be found a mile west of Christchurch. Founded in 1759, Guinness is the world's largest single beer-exporting company. The former Guinness Hop Store on Crane St houses an exhibition centre where you can taste the best Guinness in Dublin. Also, the top story of the Guinness Hop Store has been transformed into one of Dublin's most innovative bars, known as Gravity. Enjoy 360 degree views over the city from here while sipping on your pint of the black stuff.
Just across the road, the Old Jameson Distillery Tour based in the distillery which was built in 1780, has for years been recognised as one of the best distilleries in the world and the whiskey it produces justifies this.
After going on either one of these tours, you should just take some time out to stroll around the city again. All around Georges Street and Wicklow Street are an array of trendy shops selling loads of strange bits and pieces at good prices, while just up Dame Street from these streets is Dublin Castle. Here you can find the state apartments and along with much more.
After seeing the various buskers around Dublin’s streets, particularly Grafton Street, you may have wondered at some stage along the line whether or not Bono and U2 may have busked there in the past. On the Musical Pub Crawl two professional musicians drag you around various spots while telling you different stories of some of Ireland’s most famous musicians.