Dublin

One of Western Europe’s popular urban destination, Dublin is an enormously interesting and entertaining city, be it the old or the new sections of it.

Its vibrant nightlife and interesting tourist attractions have made the city a popular entry point into Ireland for international visitors.

It is not a very huge city and its city centre can be explored easily on foot

Dublin’s population is disproportionately large for the size of Ireland, being over a third of the country’s, at almost 2 million, with a majority of its population living in the suburbs.

A melting pot of the Irish culture and other international influences, Dublin is a very interesting, modern city. Being the largest city in Ireland, and with a swelling immigrant population, foreign cultures are imbibed easily, which results in a diverse culinary scene too.

But yet, the city has held on to some of its traditions. Its literature, folklore, music and dance accompanied by copious amounts of Guinness, have ensured that the Irish culture and the indomitable Irish spirit has flourished. Expect a unique blend of tradition and contemporary when you visit Dublin.

Dublin’s centre has been vigorously redeveloped over the last few decades, offering a unique mix of the historic buildings, its Georgian squares, castles and cathedrals and pubs alongside recently built modern hotels, business districts, wonderful street architecture, shopping centres and a brand new modern tram system.

Dublin’s compact area spread on either side of River Liffey, is divided into North side and Southside and it is within this small area that you will find all of Dublin’s main attraction.

Both sides of the river have distinct characters; the south is gentle and the north is brash and working class, and home of the famous Dublin accent.

WHEN TO VISIT

Summer is a good time to visit Dublin as the climate is warm and the streets vibrant with festivities. The hotel rates and airfare are high but yet, this is the most crowded time of the year.

Spring and fall are good times to visit too with moderate temperatures, crowds and prices.

If you are looking for lesser crowds and cheaper discounts, winter is a better choice, but bring your warmest clothes along with you.

HOW TO REACH DUBLIN

By Air

International and domestic flights are served by the Dublin airport, located 10km north of the city centre. Many European cities are served by Aer Lingus (Ireland’s flag carrier airline) that flies to Dublin.

Europe’s largest economical airline Ryanair, and also Ireland’s second largest airline, has one of its main bases in Dublin, from where it flies to many major European airports like Paris, London, Manchester, Liverpool Madrid and Frankfurt.

From Airport to City

The Air link shuttle service between Dublin airport and the city centre is operated by Dublin Bus. It departs outside the arrivals gateway, the journey taking 30 minutes. A single fare costs Euro 6 and a round trip, Euro 10. Besides the ticket, a one-day bus pass can also be bought for the same price.

If times is not of the essence, a regular bus can take you to the city centre for Euro 3.30.

The comfortable Air coach runs from the airport to the city centre 24 hours a day at Euro 7 one way and Euro 12 round trip, stopping at major hotels.

You can also take a taxis if you are more than two people or have heavy luggage, with the fare at Euro 20 to Euro 23 plus tip. Always confirm the fare with the driver before entering the cab.

By Train

There are two main railway stations in Dublin, the Heuston station and the Connolly station. Heuston station is in the west, which serves most of west and south part of Ireland including an hourly service to Cork and Limerick.

The Connolly station is in the north east of the city, serving the south east and east coast, Belfast, and Sligo in the north west and the suburban commuter services and Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) system.

These main stations are connected by bus and Luas (Dublin’s tram system) routes. Plans to upgrade an already existing direct line between the stations, is on the anvil. The service is scheduled to begin late 2016 and 2017.

By Bus

Behind the Custom House on the North side is Busáras, Dublin’s main station. The main intercity bus company is Bus Éireann that has services throughout the country. Air coaches run direct buses to Cork and Belfast and is an economical option too.

GET AROUND TOWN

Dublin is best explored on foot. Its small size facilitates easy strolls from one place to another and is an excellent way to get rid of the calories from copious amounts of Guinness.

The bus and tram systems that crisscross the city are also an interesting option.
There are also taxis lined up throughout Dublin. Though expensive, they are recommended rather than driving a rental car.

THINGS TO DO AND SEE

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

The largest cathedral in Dublin, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, is the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland. It is situated west of Dublin’s centre. The saint, St. Patrick, is said to have baptised converts at the very spot where the church now stands. Erected between 1220 and 1259, the cathedral underwent major restorations beginning the 1860s.

The church is renowned world over and it hosts about 500,000 visitors every year. The towering vaulted ceilings and the detailedGothic style are not to be missed. The author of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, Jonathan Swift, is buried here.
The church is an active place of worship and is open to the public every day. Admission is Euro 6 for adults, with student, family and group rates also available. Hours of visit may vary according to the season.

Trinity College and The Book of Kells

The Trinity College was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I. Jonathan Swift and Oscar Wilde are a few among its illustrious alumni. The verdant campus and the Gothic halls are open for visitors.
But the more reason for visiting the Trinity College would be to see the massive Old Library, which houses a splendid collection of literature, and amongst which is the priceless ‘The Book of Kells’, an illustrated version of the gospels created around 800 A.D. by Celtic monks. The story of Christ and his disciples are depicted beautifully through exquisite illustrations and calligraphic art with Christian motifs and Celtic knots, creating a manuscript of such rare and extravagant elegance, and not surprisingly is Ireland’s premier art treasure.

The manuscript is named after the Abbey of Kells where it was treasured for centuries

The massive library has more than 6 million printed books in its collection.

Located south of the Liffey in central Dublin, the Trinity College bustles with activity when the academic calendar is in progress and can be visited for free.

On the other hand, there is an entrance fee of Euro 10 for adults for admission into the Old Library and is open to the public from Monday to Saturday all through the year, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. Tickets can be booked in advance online.

St. Stephen’s Green

This beautiful park in the centre of Dublin is a great place to relax and remains green all year through, hence the name. During the Middle Ages and until the mid-17th century, the 27 acre park was used as a place for public punishment. Sir Arthur Guinness purchased the park in 1880 and transformed it to a park. The park is now maintained by the Office of Public Works. There is a playground and a garden for the visually impaired. There are 18 monuments of Ireland’s important figures throughout the park.

The park is open from Monday to Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to dusk. On Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to dusk. There is no entrance fee.

Phoenix Park and Dublin Zoo

The Phoenix Park is the largest public park in Europe and it spans three miles sprawling across 1,700 acres, with verdant lawns, shady wooded areas and cool and serene lakes.

Visit the park’s visitor centre and Ashtown castle to know more about the history of the park. Take a tour of the medieval tower dating back from the 17th century. The park also houses the 78 acre Edwardian estate, the Farmleigh house and a Victorian walled kitchen garden. These were owned by Sir Arthur Guinness’s family but were bought by the Govt. of Ireland in 1999.

The Dublin Zoo within the park is a big attraction and dates back to 1831 making it one of the oldest of its kind. The zoo sprawls over a 70 acre area with more than 400 animals in large habitats. The Humboldt penguins and western lowland gorillas are a couple of the popular exhibits.
The animals are taken good care in the large zoo. The meerkat restaurant provides a good view of the meerkat exhibit through the windows, right from your seat. The park is to the west of the city centre and north of Kilmainham Gaol.

The park is open every day and there is no charge to walk through, but admission to the zoo costs Euro 16.80 per adult and Euro 12 per child. There are also special rates for groups.
Guided Segway tours are also available for an extra fee.

Kilmainham Gaol

This gaol (jail) provides a unique perspective to the darker side of Irish history. Operational from 1796 to the 1920s, the prison housed many famous figures who fought for Irish independence like Thomas Francis Meagher and James Connolly. Many executions were also conducted here.

It was also a starting point for transporting almost 4000 prisoners to the convict colony of Australia during early 19th century.

Infamous for its harsh treatment of its inhabitants, the gaol had no gender segregation until 1881, when it became an all-male prison. Excess crowds led to cramming up of up to five inmates in a cell that was designed for just one.

Kilmainham Gaol is now a popular and well preserved museum. You need to get there early to assure entry. The museum exhibit describes the history of the prison and also its preservation. There is also an on-site café.

Located just west of central Dublin near Phoenix Park, the Gaol is open to the public throughout the year. Visiting hours vary depending on the season. It is now undergoing restorations and parts of it will be inaccessible through spring 2016 and hence admission fees are reduced.

Dublin Castle

The castle is in the heart of the city and has a played a vital part in Ireland’s history. The land was used by Vikings to build a fortress in the 930s. A castle was built up in parts and then torn down depending on the regimes through which ruled Ireland in the following ages. The Record tower is the oldest remaining structure that date backs to the 13th century.

The castle and its grounds have also been home to a prison, an office for records, a water station, a seat of Parliament, a royal court for entertainment and a military residence, besides being a stronghold against foreign attacks – all before 1850. This is where the Easter Rebellion of 1916 began and after five years of fighting, the treaty granting Irish independence was also signed here.

The Dublin Castle today is a blend of old and new, serving many functions. It hosts foreign dignitaries and state dinners and houses some of Ireland’s government officers. It also offers commercial space for private events. The State Apartments that were home to the Viceregal court from 1680 to 1830, are preserved here. The grounds are also home to the renowned Chester Beatty Library.

The Dublin Castle, located a few blocks west of Trinity College, is open to the public from Monday to Saturday, from 9:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and opens at noon on Sundays. There is no fees to explore the grounds but admission inside the building would cost Euro 6.50 per adult and Euro 3 per child.

Chester Beatty Library

One of the famous museums in Europe, the Chester Beatty Library, is home to an extensive collection of rare manuscripts, drawings, and books dating back to 2700 B.C., and is a haven for bibliophiles. The collections include artistic works from Asia, Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

The library is named after the American mining millionaire and collector, Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, who donated his extensive collection to Ireland before he passed away in 1969. The collections housed here include Babylonian clay tablets, the Biblical Papyri and 260 different manuscripts of the Koran. Admission to the library is free. There are guided tours offered on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons. Located on the grounds of the Dublin Castle, the library also houses a gift shop, restaurant and a garden.

Old Jameson Distillery

UisceBeatha is the Irish name for whisky, which in turn means ‘the water of life’. The Old Jameson Distillery once made this ‘water’, but now, it is made elsewhere. The distillery now offers tours, shedding light on how to it was done earlier. Whisky lovers will not only appreciate the informative tours that are fun too, but also the free tastings.

John Jameson was the founder of the most famous Irish whisky but he was a Scotsman. What is it about the Scots that they make such good whisky?

The distillery is open daily. The tour costs Euro 15 per adult and Euro 8 per child and anyone younger than 18. It is located north of the Liffey on Bow Street.

Guinness Storehouse

The Guinness breweries was founded by Arthur Guinness in 1759 and spans 60 acres spreading to west of Christ church cathedral. Guinness stout is the national drink of Ireland. It is a dark coloured brew made with roasted malt. The brewery is off limits for the public, but the Guinness storehouse allows visitors. It is a cast-iron and brick warehouse from 1904. The display spans six floors, built around a massive central glass atrium shaped like a giant pint glass. Below the glass floor of the lobby is framed Arthur Guinness’ original lease on the site for 9000 years. You can know the brewing process and Guinness’s history from the exhibition. It also exhibits antique presses and vats, a time line sketch of the look and can design through the ages, the history of the Guinness family, an archive of Guinness advertisements and an opportunity to sip your favourite pint. The Gravity bar on the top floor with a 360 degree floor to ceiling glass walls, offering a spectacular view of the city at sunset is undoubtedly the star attraction. William Jefferson Clinton was one of the bar’s first clients.

Located south of the Liffey, the Guinness Storehouse on the western edge of central Dublin and is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The entrance fee is Euro 20 per adult and Euro 6.50 per child.

Grafton Street

Grafton is a pedestrian street that runs from Trinity College to St. Stephen’s Green. Dozens of street performers and musicians add to the street’s exuberant ambience. There are also a few pubs and restaurants.

Temple Bar

Dublin’s very own party hub, this neighbourhood has a dual personality of being the cultural quarter at day time that transforms into the epicentre of hedonistic nightlife after dark. There are many independent galleries and performance art venues. Many restaurants are open by night to offer a pint of Guinness with Irish music. It is the ideal place to let your hair down after taking in the sights and smells of Dublin.

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