So you’ve got one day to explore Dublin, the capital city of Ireland? Fortunately, Dublin is a compact city so you’ll easily be able to see most of the city in one day.
I (Petra) attended a climate science conference in a little university town near Dublin recently, and I had a spare day before the conference started. Of course I wasn’t going to let the chance to explore a new city slip by!
Check out the map at the end of this post for all the places mentioned.
Start your day off the right way with breakfast at Brother Hubbard on Capel Street on the north side of the River Liffey. This cafe does excellent coffee and the food has a Middle Eastern flair. I highly recommend the smoked salmon sandwich – the amount of delicious smoked salmon they gave me was insane!
On your way from the north side of the river to the south, where most of the main sights are, stop in at The Rolling Donut to have for a mid-morning snack (you don’t want to get hangry do you!). These sweet pillowy donuts are to die for – I had one with banana custard topped with chocolate glaze. YUM.
The Old Library at Trinity College
Beat the crowds by seeing the Old Library and the Book of Kells at Trinity College early in the day – opening time is 9.30 am. The Book of Kells is a gospel book which was created around 800 AD in Ireland, and is regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure. The book itself was a bit disappointing (it’s in a glass case open to one page) but the exhibition surrounding the book is quite interesting with information on how it was made and the symbolism it contains.
The real reason for going, though, is to see the Old Library. This magnificent cavernous room is just beautiful! It feels like something out of Harry Potter. When I went it was pretty busy which dampened the illusion a bit, but it was still a beautiful place to visit.
At €13 it’s a pricey admission but as the top attraction in Dublin I think it’s worth doing.
TIP: Make sure you buy your ticket online before you go – not only do you save a few Euros but you also get to skip the massive line!
After you’ve seen the Old Library and the Book of Kells, wander around the Trinity College campus. It’s a lovely old university (the oldest university in Ireland, actually) and the grounds are beautiful.
Inner city greenery
Grafton Street is the main pedestrian shopping street in Dublin, so if you’re after any of the big label shops this is the place to go. Wander down Grafton Street to St Stephen’s Green, central Dublin’s biggest park. It’s a beautiful space with lots of big trees and ponds and where you can chill out, go for a walk, or read a book. Another lovely inner city park is Merrion Square.
On your way to lunch, wander through Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre. It’s a beautiful old building with a glass ceiling. There’s nothing really worth buying there but seeing the building is worth making the detour!
Dublin’s cute streets
A good area for lunch is around Drury, Wicklow and Exchequer Streets, a lovely area with a bit of a hipster vibe – and of course that means good cafes! One that comes highly recommended is Kaph.
Dublin is a great city for wandering the streets – it’s flat and interesting – there are different styles of architecture within a relatively small area. Georgian architecture is particularly well-represented. If you’re into churches, St Patrick’s Cathedral is supposed to be pretty spectacular – I intended on going but when I got there it had just closed! It was quite impressive from the outside, anyway. Dublin Castle (below) is also a stunning building.
If you need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, Indigo & Cloth makes an excellent coffee. It was pouring with rain when I dashed in, and I ended up chatting to the barista (who had recently visited New Zealand so we had lots to talk about!) over my delicious flat white until the rain ceased.
You have to visit an Irish pub!
For a true Irish experience, head to the Temple Bar area (one block back from the south bank of the River Liffey) where there are loads of Irish pubs. They all sell the ubiquitous Guinness (pretty much like water in Ireland!) and many of them feature live Irish music and dancing at night. The Temple Bar area is pretty touristy but it’s a lot of fun with crowds spilling out onto the cobbled lanes in the afternoon and evening. It’s a must do when you’re in Dublin!
Check out the map below for the places we’ve mentioned in this guide. Enjoy your day in Dublin! If you’ve already visited Dublin, is there anything else you’d suggest doing? Let us know in the comments!