Sightseeing Dublin, Ireland Pt. 1
Recently, I got married and my new husband and I honeymooned in Dublin. It was an unusual choice, but we wanted to get away from the typical beach scene. I didn’t know how much I would love Ireland, but its natural beauty and friendly people really won me over. There are so many things to do that it can be overwhelming, so I’ve identified a few different types of activities to help you plan your trip. This is part 1 of a 2 part series on Dublin. Next week will focus on the food and drinks of Ireland, so stay tuned.
Cliffs of Moher: Rent a car and strap on your hiking shoes, then take off early in the morning from Dublin for the 3.5 hour drive to the Cliffs of Moher. You can also bike the trails, but considering some of them are 1 person wide and a 702 feet dead drop to the ocean… needless to say, we choose tennis shoes over wheels. There is a 20 kilometer trail around the cliffs, and you can walk some or all of it. It’s a beautiful walk, high above a perfectly blue ocean. If you time it right, there are also puffins on a nearby island you can view with binoculars. The cliffs are stunning, and it’s easy to see why they’ve attracted visitors for generations.
Giant’s Causeway & Carrick a Rede: Located in Northern Ireland about 2 hours from Dublin, you’re far enough north to see Scotland in the distance. Giant’s Causeway is a national park around a dormant volcano that once erupted, leaving geometrical stones all across the ocean so they resemble a bridge. Before modern science identified that the rocks were the result of a volcano, Irish people would tell stories of the Giants who built the bridge. It’s a wonderful place to learn about Irish folklore, as well as hike around the northern coast. About 20 minutes away is the Carrick a Rede bridge. A short walk across the coast line will take you to an Indiana Jones-style rope bridge that will take you to a small island. This is not for people with a fear of heights! Fishermen have used the bridge for centuries, so it’s perfectly safe. However, the wind whipping the bridge around does make your heart beat a little quicker. Game of Thrones nerds (me) will remember this location as the place where they filmed Melisandre’s shadow baby scene. Note that there are a lot of tour buses that will take you to these locations but I do not recommend them. It’s much more fun & flexible to drive yourself. Also note that you’re visiting a different country, so bring your passport just in case.
Hidden Dublin Walks Ghost Tour: We did this tour on Halloween, so it was extra creepy. There are so many fantastic ghost stories around Dublin, so have a Guinness and get ready. Learn about Madame Darkey (and maybe have a beer at her bar afterwards) and the Hellfire Club. It’s only a 45 minute walking tour, but it’s well worth the time.
Trinity College: Founded in 1592, Trinity College has an incredible long library with ancient manuscripts and texts. The Book of Kells, the most famous resident of the Long Library, is one of the oldest and most complex existing manuscripts. Take a tour, too. The tour guides are all students, and it’s worth hearing about their experience in this venerable institution from their own perspective.
Kilmainham Goal: The birthplace of the Irish resistance, Kilmainham Goal is a great place to visit to understand the Irish spirit and history. It’s a somber place, but to even begin to understand the independence of the Irish people, it’s a necessary stop.
James Joyce Centre: There is no one more Irish than James Joyce, and the centre, run by his family, is a wonderful preservation of his life and work. The museum is in a charming house in north Dublin that was home to Prof. Denis J. Maginni, a real person who appeared often in Ulysses. There are other Joyce homes that you can see, and I highly recommend doing a walking tour to learn more about him.
This barely scratches the surface of what Dublin has to offer. It’s an incredible city with so much history, and a fun-loving culture that can’t be beat. If you’re visiting Dublin, try the Morrison, a DoubleTree by Hilton property. It’s centrally located, and you’ll be able to do all these activities and more.