Ireland. Home of the leprechaun. Birthplace of the world’s favorite (and arguably darkest) beer, Guinness. I bet a lot has been touted about the place. The caubeen and the shillelagh, not to mention the Irish’s love for the bottle. You’ve heard the stories and fell in love. Now, you want to come to Ireland. And there is no better place to visit than Dublin. I’ll tell you a little fact about this place: Dublin is one of the top 30 cities in the world, according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. That means that whatever experience you’ll be getting here, it will definitely be top class.
Nestled on the east coast, Dublin has one of the best climates around, as well as some healthy food represented in their diverse cuisine. No extreme weather here, with an average temperature of 10 degrees Celsius. It gets hot around July with temperatures cooling the most in January, and the North Atlantic Drift will make sure the beaches have equally good weather all year round. What you probably want to know, though, is how to make the most of your time in Dublin. Everyone wants to say they visited the most important sites at a tourist destination and brag about it back home. Well, here are the top five places to see while in Ireland. They’re definitely bound to give you memories!
1. BOOK OF KELLS
If you’re an Ireland buff, then you’ve heard about one of Ireland’s greatest national treasures: The Book of Kells. No, it doesn’t belong to a man named Kells and it doesn’t contain Irish hymns known locally as Kells. It’s called the book of Kells because, for the longest time, Columban monks kept it at the Abbey of Kells. It is now housed at the Trinity College Library in Dublin. Why is it important, you ask? Well, it is one of the most artistic recordings of the four gospels you will ever come across. The illustrations are now iconic; over time, people copied the style onto pottery, different types of embroidery and engravings, and even metal work. Tickets to the viewing at Trinity College are from €9 to €28 and the library is open every day for a set number of hours. You can get all this information on the Trinity college website.
2. THE GUINNESS STOREHOUSE
What better place to visit than a museum dedicated to one of the greatest beers to be brewed on the face of the Earth. Do you love Guinness? Great, then the brewmasters built Guinness Storehouse just for you. It’s located at St. James’s Gate Brewery and, since its opening at the turn of the century, nearly 5 million people visited. It’s a seven-floor building with a glass atrium in the middle shaped like a pint of Guinness. Each floor has something different to offer. The ground floor, for instance, details the ingredients in your pint of Guinness and introduces you to the man that started it all, Arthur Guinness. Please, don’t confuse him with Sir Arthur Guinness, First Baron of Ardilaun, who happened to be Arthur Guinness’s great grandson. Additionally, you’ll find a copy of the 9,000-year lease signed by Arthur Guinness on the 4-acre property. The other floors mainly take you through various aspects of the beer’s history, including advertising, transportation, and cooperage. The famous Gravity Bar is right at the top on the seventh floor with stunning views of the surrounding city and a pint of Guinness offered to every visitor.
3. HOWTH HEAD
Any fans of James Joyce in the house? Great! Then you know that Leopold Bloom proposed to Molly at Howth Head. You know Eveline from the anthology “Dubliners” had a picnic at Howth Head. You also know that HCE in Finnegans Wake is a metaphor for the mountain. But Howth Head isn’t only about all that. The Peninsula, located northeast of Dublin, is home to a great variety of bird species making it a great destination for bird watchers. Kestrels and peregrine falcons will be found alongside others like razorbills, kittiwakes and great cormorants. Howth Head is a great destination for a break away from the hustle and bustle of Dublin and sports several summits that would be an ideal playground for hikers and campers. The view is equally striking as on a clear day one can spot Dublin City at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains, Slieve Donard (90 km away), and the more distant Snowdon all the way in Wales (138 km away). Whether you’re looking for a serene picnic or a more active adventure, Howth Head is bound to get you excited.
4. “GAME OF THRONES” THEMED TOURS
“Game of Thrones” fans will be delighted to learn that a lot of scenes were shot in various locations in Northern Ireland and, while many of these aren’t actually in Dublin, guided tours are available from the capital into the deep countryside to witness the filming locations for one of the greatest television series ever made. Castle Ward in County Down, for example, is the actual site for Winterfell. Others include The Dark Hedges, Downhill Strand, Larrybane Quarry, Cushendun Caves and many more. Head over to www.discovernorthernireland.com to find out about the many different tour packages. You’re bound to find one you like.
5. DUBLIN NIGHTLIFE & FOOD
The nightlife in Dublin is so diverse, and the different outlets so unique in personality, that I would be doing a great disservice to the city by telling you to visit only one. If you can, go to every one of them! Check out James Joyce’s regular haunt, Davy Byrnes, and enjoy a glass of Burgundy. Visit the Old Stand Pub on Exchequer Street and breathe in the 300 years of rich history. After a long day at the shopping arcade on Victorian George’s Street, pop into The Market Bar and go to the rearmost tables where you can enjoy a plate of Tapas for €12–you can thank me later. Want to dine with the movers and the shakers of Irish government? Try the Horseshoe Bar at the Shelbourne Hotel. If you are interested in spoiling yourself after a night out in Dublin, the choice of cuisines available are endless, from Italian to Thai and even have healthy food delivered to your hotel! This great and diverse city caters to every taste, from alternative music clubs to gay bars to sports pubs. With the Irish penchant for a crazy night out on the town reaching epic proportions, you’re bound to have the night of your life. Over and over again.