The city tour (Dublin)

“Well we see your priority! This section only comes now! After the parties, pubs, etc.”

… Yep! (no I don’t have any argument)

Dublin is a huuuuuuuge city. But the city centre is quite small. In one day, without using public transportation (which are very expensive but I will explain that later), you can visit the centre and see the main places in one day. Alright, 2 maximum if you don’t wake up too early and go to the pub sometimes.

North and South

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Dublin is cut in half by the Liffey river. People separate the city in 2 main parts. Neighbourhoods north of the river and the ones in the south.
Easy method to get your bearings in this big city: Dublin names its neighbourhoods but also gives them a number (Dublin 1, Dublin 2, Dublin 3, etc.). So, odd numbers are located in the North side, and even number in the South side.

There is a small difference between North and South in the Irish mind-set.
The North is more working-class, and the South is seen as a “luxurious” part. Embassies are based there. Big American companies have their headquarters too.
Prices don’t really vary between North and South. Real estate crisis is way too important to be limited to certain areas.
However, you will find new properties easier, in a good state, in the South. But dream on, they will probablu be out of your budget.

What to visit?

I keep saying it…Dublin is a big city… So if you really want to do the tourist and not just do the city centre, there is many things to see and do. I will only talk about the places I visited. I will also give you a short list of places I didn’t have time to visit but apparently great to see.

City centre

The city centre is not large and you can easily do it by foot. It’s actually a nicer way to observe Irish architecture. The centre is clean and Dubliners bring a special attention to their front door. I can’t explain why but front doors are always clean and often repainted.

Spire

Located on O’Connell street, the Spire is a large metal rod pointing the sky. Useful to find your way in Dublin when you don’t know the streets very well. The simple view of the Spire allows you to find the centre back.
This is not, of course, just a metal structure. It’s the Monument of Light.
Today, it’s mainly a meeting place.

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Trinity College and the Book of Kells

One of the oldest universities in Ireland can be visited today. The historical buildings are located in the centre and are open to the public, no fee. Of course, if you would like a guided tour, you’ll have to pay.
The main attraction is the library. The one in Trinity College is really famous. It’s old and magnificent! Actually, you can find it in a few movies. You’ll also find the Book of Kells, the oldest book in the world. The visit is really short. I’ve done it in 20 minutes! So that makes the ticket price is little bit expensive. However, to be fair, this is something to see in Dublin.

Temple Bar

A very famous neighbourhood in Dublin. Supposedly the best pubs, the best atmosphere. Bla bla bla. Bullshit. A real tourist trap. The area is very small. You’ll find ten pubs or so. And the prices… Just for the tourists… Go there to discover the neighbourhood but don’t go in the pubs, it’s not worth it. The environment and the prices are not worth the other places in town. The same pint of Guinness will be served at 7€ in Temple Bar (or more…) instead of 2.5/3€ in another pub in Dublin…

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Dublin Castle

Well it’s more a little tower than a real fortified castle! Don’t expect a 4-hour visit. But this is a nice place to enrich your culture.

Central post office

The Dublin central post office, located near the Spire, is an old building. Initially a post office, it is now… still a post office! It’s more a curiosity than a museum. Go have a look!

Guinness Storehouse

Dublin is THE town of Guinness! The Guinness family largely contributed to the development (or if I may, the foundation) of the city. The giant brewery is located on the edge of the city centre. You won’t enter the brewery but in a museum next to it. The price to pay could be difficult to accept (18€ for an adult), however it’s worth it. You will stay 3-4 hours and the visit is rhythmed by the discovery of the brewery, the tasting, movies, old adverts, etc. You will learn a lot about Dublin.

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Jameson Distillery

Jameson Whisky Distillery has been transformed and refurnished during a few months. It was freshly reopened. The buildings are brand new and you will discover distillation and will have a tasting and a compare with other types of whisky. The visit lasts approximatively 2 hours and the ticket price is cheaper than the Guinness factory.

Howth

Howth is a small peninsula northeast of Dublin. You can reach it in 30 minutes by train from the centre. You can do a big walk around the peninsula. The main thing to do is the port though. You can buy fish directly to the fishermen. Can’t find a fresher fish! There is also a big market each weekend.
This is a good destination to escape from the city centre for a while and find some calm. I always loved the sea, so it was a good cure when I wanted to relax. Of course, you have several nice restaurants around the port… and some pubs as well!

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Wicklow

Mountains South Dublin are easy to reach by car or bus. There is actually several companies offering a return trip by bus within the day, and it’s quite cheap. Like Howth, it’s a good way to evacuate your stress allowing yourself a nice walk in the mountains.
If you go there by car, you will roam the paths away from all buses. You will also have more freedom and won’t be subject to the strict bus schedules.
I advise you to go to the Powerscourt Property. The park is a nice thing to do.

Parcs

St Stephen’s Green

This park is located in the centre. A lot of Dubliners come at noon to have their lunch and during the weekend to walk and relax. The park is not very large and could be crowded with people when the sun is out (which is really rare in Ireland!).

Phoenix Park

This park is absolutely huge! Much bigger than Central Park! You’ll find the zoo, sports areas, stadiums, cycle paths, etc.
Perfect for your weekly race, or daily one! Long walks to do. During summer time, the park organises many concerts (Coldplay, U2, etc.).

Small feature, animals are free. No worries, not the animals from the zoo 😉 However, it is perfectly normal, as you walk, to meet squirrels or a flock of deer. Despite the signs forbidding to feed the animals, you’ll find many tourist looking for herds to give them anything to eat. All of this just that the deer approaches enough to take a picture with them… It’s cool, I have to admit, to have a deer eating in your hand and can take a cool photo with it. But the fact to give them food make them more confident… more aggressive too. They won’t hesitate to come further and give you a head-butt or come and have a look in your bag. They are wild animals. Keep your distance and play with the zoom on your camera instead.

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Last feature… It’s a monument. When you use the South entrance, you’ll walk less than 5 minutes and you’ll see a huge obelisk. Nice info to say during at an afterwork: this is the largest obelisk in Europe. The Wellington Monument was built to commemorate the 1st Duke of Wellington. I let you do the research work if you’re interested by this story.

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Malahide

Another community, North Dublin, that will allow you to leave the centre. Like Bray, I didn’t really like it. However, you can visit Malahide Castle that have a certain charm.

Bray

Small town South Dublin. Irish people go there to have some fresh air on the weekend. Or go to the beach (do not expect a 25-degree water).
Few shops around, you can take a coffee. But I have to admit I found the place…empty.

Kilmainham Goal

I didn’t have time to visit it but this jail is apparently very interesting and full of history about the city of Dublin and Irish people. The place is crowed with people, so it’s advised to take the tickets online and to book a visit time.

Saint-Patrick Cathedral

Well, if you did a minimum of research on Dublin and Ireland, I shouldn’t have to tell you that Saint-Patrick is a very important patron in the Irish culture, because he is the primary patron saint of Ireland.
Saint-Patrick cathedral is located in Dublin, on the edge of the city centre, in the southern districts. It is perfectly possible to visit it and to attend the mass. The place is open to the public.

Saint Patrick's Day / Saint Paddy's Day

If I talk about the cathedral and the patron saint of Ireland, I have to talk about Saint-Patrick’s Day (Also called Saint Paddy’s Day). Each 17th of March, Irish people, around the world, party on this Christian’s celebration, that is a public holiday in Ireland. This celebration is so famous that you can have parties everywhere in the world, if you’re Irish or not. Nowadays, it’s more famous to be a drinking day than a celebration day, and the religious nature is not in everybody’s mind, for sure. Irish notoriety I guess…
So today, attendees dress up in green clothes, wear a Leprechaun hat, draw a golden harp on their cheek and drink Guinness beer while they tap dance. So… All the clichés of Ireland. Ah, and, you get drunk of course.

But what it’s really like in Ireland? And especially in Dublin, it’s capital, where everyone can deduct the party would be legen…wait for it….dary! Legendary!
Well… Actually… It is disappointing. Not the answer you were expecting, huh?!
Basically, all Irish guys I knew told me they were leaving the city when I asked for their plans for the 17th of March. Just because the city is invaded by tourists who want to accomplish the perfect cliché and so to celebrate Saint Paddy’s Day in the Irish capital. Actually, airlines companies raise their prices around that specific day.
Irish people explained to me that this celebration was warm and friendly. But the tourists just transform it to a huge drinking party, turning the city into a human dump, leaving the drunkest in the streets.
The morning parade is nice. However, from the afternoon, you can the Irish people leaving the city to come back the next day or few days later.
If you are going on an adventure around the streets (but don’t even try Temple Bar!), you’ll notice the atmosphere is just about drinking in groups… Anyway, the party in Dublin is left to the tourists and we don’t find the warm Irish environment on this day.

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