Make the Most of 48 Hours in Dublin
Ireland’s capital city of Dublin is by the far the most bustling city in the country, offering a wide variety of activities, historical sights and entertainment for couples, families and friend groups. From exciting modern tours to rich cultural experiences, there is so much to discover in this metropolitan hub. Even if you have visited Dublin before, you are likely to find a few hidden gems each time to keep you coming back for more. Explore the city’s top sights and lesser-known hubs with this 48-hour guide to Dublin.
GPO to O’Connell Street
Kickstart your first day of sightseeing in Dublin with a tour on foot taking in the city centre’s popular tourist sights. Beginning on O’Connell street, explore the General Post Office, known locally as the GPO. The post office is synonymous with the 1916 Easter Rising as it served as the stronghold for the Irish Volunteers during this time. Understand more about the GPO’s historical significance through the interactive ‘Witness History’ exhibition where visitors can learn from eyewitness perspectives from both sides and bystanders. Interestingly, the GPO still fulfils its purpose as the headquarters of the Irish Post Office.
From here, head south across O’Connell Bridge towards Trinity College and on your journey, you will pass the iconic Daniel O’Connell Monument, which still displays bullet holes from the Easter Rising. Looking back up O’Connell Street you will see The Spire of Dublin standing at 150 metres tall, commissioned in 2003 as a celebratory symbol of Dublin entering the new millennium.
Trinity College to Grafton Street
Trinity College is Ireland’s oldest university. The historic building educated some of the greatest literary legends, including Samuel Beckett, Jonathan Swift and Oscar Wilde, to name a few. Trinity houses the ancient Book of Kells. The book attracts around 500,000 visitors per year and it is possible to see a manuscript dating back to 800 AD of the book when taking a guided tour through the university’s Old Library and Long Room. As part of the tour, there are also sites such as the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Oscar Wilde Centre, Parliament Square, Library Square and Fellows’ Square to soak up within the grounds of Trinity College.
Venture further south to reach Grafton Street, Dublin’s premier shopping district. Take a few hours indulging in some retail therapy across international chain stores and chic boutiques. At the top of Grafton Street, at the junction with St Stephen’s Green, you will find Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, where unique art and craft pieces are located on the top floor.
For a welcome lunch break, choose from a wide variety of cuisines in the Creative Quarter just off Grafton Street. The area stretches from Lower Stephen’s Street to Exchequer Street and along South William Street to George’s street. This area is a thriving hub of galleries, artisan craft shops, studios, cafés and restaurants, giving you an opportunity to meander through the cobbled streets and explore Dublin’s creative vibes.
Step away from the hustle and bustle and into nature with a stroll through Dublin’s many city parks. St Stephen’s Green, Iveagh Gardens or Merrion Square are the main gardens in the city. At some of the parks, you will find thriving festivals and fairs on weekends.
Heading into the evening, catch a gig or comedy show at the Vicar Street Theatre. Follow a show by with a visit to some of the lively pubs located in Temple Bar. The area has always been a popular spot in Irish history as this is where the Vikings established themselves back in 795 AD. With an almost carnival-like atmosphere, you can find live music, bars, restaurants and clubs to party away into the wee hours.
Start your second day by exploring the vibrant north side of the city, where brunch spots and the impressive EPIC Museum, a recently built immigration museum, are located. In North Dublin it is also possible to take in the historic home of the Gaelic Athletic Association at Croke Park. Here you can join a tour of the 82,000 capacity stadium, which is home to the GAA All-Ireland Football and Hurling Championship Finals each September. The stadium has a Skyline Tour offering great panoramic views of the stadium and the city.
From Croke Park, head south-west across the Liffey River to explore the 707 hectares of land at Phoenix Park, one of the largest parks in Europe and home to Dublin Zoo. Here you can also explore the lush parklands and walking trails which are popular with runners and cyclists.
Just a few minutes’ walk from Phoenix Park will bring you to the historic prison of Kilmainham Gaol, which dates back to 1769. The Goal once housed many of Ireland’s revolutionaries and became infamous for its harsh treatment on inmates. Within the Gaol, you can explore the old cells, where convicts from right across Ireland were housed before their transportation to Australia. Outside are then the solemn courtyards which saw many executions throughout the years.
Dublin Castle and Dublin City Hall
Travelling back towards the city centre you can find the infamous Dublin Castle which served as the headquarters of British and Irish administration in Ireland and now operates as a government complex. At the same site, you can visit Dublin’s City Hall which was built by the Guild of Merchants and a fantastic example of Dublin’s Georgian architecture. Tours of the City Hall tell of Dublin’s past – from Viking times to modern day. The building also frequently hosts civil ceremonies and corporate events.
Explore Dublin’s Great Distilleries
Your afternoon of exploring may work up a thirst, in which case a tour around the Teeling Whiskey Distillery, the newest distillery to set up Dublin in over 125 years, might be a good option.
Or, should whiskey not be your thing, close to the city hall is the Guinness Storehouse, one of the most visited tourist attractions in the whole country. The Storehouse has panoramic views over Dublin city from its iconic Gravity Bar. A tour of the storehouse will bring you back in time to when Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease for the brewery and up to modern day, taking in the long history of one of Ireland’s most famous brands.
To end your time in Dublin, catch a show at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in the trendy Dublin Docklands Area, which frequently hosts theatre productions and artists from right across the globe. The are also has several trendy and lively bars if you fancy finishing off your city break in style.
Share your tips for Dublin
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