Ireland’s widest and premier street, every visitor has to see O’Connell Street while visiting Dublin- in fact people would be hard pressed to miss the main thoroughfare of Dublin. The street is the centre of Dublin and is a busy shopping district. The pathways are full of retail stores and the middle of the road is lined with statues commemorating many Irish heroes including Daniel O’Connell, Jim Larkin and Charles Stewart Parnell. The street is dominated by the historic GPO and The Spire, which at 133 metres tall is the world’s tallest sculpture. O’Connell Street is the hub of Dublin and a trip of Dublin is incomplete without a visit.
This busy thoroughfare is named after the famous Irish political leader and Catholic Rights Activist Daniel O’Connell. O’Connell Street and the GPO have been witness to some of the most important events in Irish history. They are permanently associated with the 1916 Rising, where an armed contingent of men led by Padraig Pearse and James Connolly, took over the GPO and used it as the headquarters for an uprising against British Rule in Ireland. After a week of fighting the GPO and surrounding area were destroyed following bombardment from the British gunship Helga and the rebels, seeing it was futile to keep fighting, had surrendered. Although the destruction and loss of lives was devastating, the events that unfolded on O’Connell Street were the beginning of a series of events that would eventually lead to Irish Independence.
The GPO still retains the battle scars of the 1916 Easter Rising and you can still see the bullet marks from the fighting on the exterior of the building.
Hop off the CityScape Tour at: Stop 7A or 9 O’Connell Street (see Route Map)
Set in the heart of Dublin, a visit to the Old Jameson Distillery is so much more than just a tour, it is an exciting and engaging experience, guaranteed to enlighten and inspire you. At the distillery, you will relive the story of John Jameson as you drink in the history, the atmosphere and the odd sip of whiskey.
The tour experience occupies a section of the old distillery, which kept Dublin flowing with the ‘water of life’ from 1780 to 1971 until the remaining distillers moved to a new and modern distillery in Midelton Co. Cork. This attraction offers the personal touch through guided tours and whiskey masterclasses, which run every 35 minutes. They start with a short film and then, with the aid of models (not the ones you’re hoping for!) and exhibitions, explain everything you ever wanted to know about Jameson Irish whiskey from grain to glass.
At the end of the tour, all visitors are rewarded with a complimentary dram of whiskey at the Jameson Bar and partake in a comparison whiskey tasting session where you will learn how to tell the differences between Scotch, Irish, and American whiskey. The tour finishes at the exclusive gift store where people may choose to buy a personalised bottle or a memento of their visit. Dublin is a city famous for its whiskey and a visit to the Old Jameson Distillery is essential for any person looking to explore, sightsee or even just enjoy themselves and have a drink.
Address: Old Jameson Distillery, Bow Street, Smithfield Village, Dublin 7
Tel: +353 (1) 807 2355
Opening Times: Open 7 days a week, 9am- 6pm ( Sundays from 10.00am )
Pembroke Estate had been in the hands of the Norman Fitzwilliam family since the middle ages, when it was known as the Fitzwilliam Estate. It extended from modern Merrion Square to the foothills of the Dublin Mountains. After the construction of Leinster House in the 1740s it began to be developed, and Merrion and Fitzwilliam Squares were laid out by 1800. It continued to grow after the 1800 Act of Union that abolished the Irish parliament. By the 1820s the estate had sprawled beyond the Grand Canal, and by 1837 had acquired the longest classical terrace in the city, on the northern side of Pembroke Road. Eventually it extended out as far as Ailesbury and Shrewsbury Roads, but the Pembroke Estate is easily the largest and best-preserved district of Georgian Dublin. Its most unique feature, apart from the squares, is the distinctive dome of St Stephen’s Church on Mount Street Crescent, completed in 1824 and better known by its nickname: the Peppercanister. The Church occasionally hosts classical concerts, but there are no tours available. It is only open during services, usually held at 11am Sunday and 11.30am Wednesday, with an extra one at 11am on Friday in July and August.
During the late 1800s the southern townships of Dublin became notable strongholds for rugby union as it grew in popularity at the end of Victorian era: the location of the modern AVIVA Stadium on Lansdowne Road, the traditional home of Irish rugby, is a testament to that.
Hop off the CityScape Tour at: Stop 14 Pembroke Road (see Route Map)
Phoenix Park covers over 700 hectares and is now one of the largest city-centre parks in Europe. It was formed initially as a royal hunting Park in the 1660s but was opened to the public in 1747. With such a vast space, there are several things to do as you explore the Park.
The Dublin City park still contains a herd of fallow deer and is the site of Dublin Zoo, the Peoples Gardens, a Fort and Áras an Uachtaráin, the residence of the President of Ireland. In addition, there are several recreational facilities throughout the Park, including football, GAA and cricket pitches, and polo grounds. There is also the Cross, erected for the visit of Pope John Paul II, and the Wellington monument, which are both top-rated attractions with locals and tourists alike.
Bike hire is located at the Parkgate entrance of Phoenix Park for anyone interested in taking a relaxing cycle through the Park.
Phoenix Park is open and has a herd of deer still roaming freely around the Park. The deer are possibly dependents of those that were kept on Phoenix Park in the 1660s as part of a then hunting park in Dublin City.
The Phoenix Park is open 24 hrs a day, seven days a week, all year round. The main gates of the Park at Parkgate Street and Castleknock Gate are open 24 hours. The side gates to the Park are open from 7 am until 11 pm.
Address: Phoenix Park, Dublin 8
Tel: +353 (0)1 677 0095 (Visitor Centre)
Hop off the CityScape Tour at Stop 3 Phoenix Park (see Route Map)
Phoenix Park Papal Cross
The Phoenix Park Papal Cross was erected as a backdrop for Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ireland in 1979. The white Latin cross is 35 metres high and was built using steel girders. Pope Francis celebrated this appearance on the last day of his visit to Northern Ireland in 2018. After several attempts to install it at the edge of the Fifteen Acres in Dail, Ireland, the Cross was erected before it was laid upon by Pope Francis in October 2018. When John Paul died in 2005, devotees gathered at the Phoenix Park cross, praying and leaving flowers and other tokens of remembrance.
Áras an Uachtaráin
Aras an Uachtaráin, built-in 1754, is located in Phoenix Park. It is the residence of the Irish President in Dublin. It was the Viceregal Lodge of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland until the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922.
Áras an Uachtaráin is opened to the public on Saturdays only. Free admission tickets are issued at The Phoenix Park Visitor Centre on the day on a first-come, first-served basis. Tour times are: 10.30, 11.30, 12.30, 13.30, 14.30 and 15.30.
Phoenix Park & Magazine Fort
The Magazine Fort
The Fort was initially built as Phoenix Lodge in 1611, as a home for by Sir Edward Fisher. The government knocked the house down in 1734 to make way for the fortifications, and an additional wing was added to the Fort in 1801 for troops. In 1734 the Duke of Dorset directed that a powder magazine be provided for Dublin. The structure is currently abandoned and not open to the public. However, a conservation plan has been put into place by the Office of Public Works to partially restored the Fort. The Magazine Fort is located in the southeast of Phoenix Park, overlooking the Liffey.
Ashton Castle and Gardens
Ashtown Castle and Demesne
Ashtown Castle is a medieval tower house and may date from the fifteenth century. It was hidden in the walls of a Georgian mansion occupied by the Under Secretary for Ireland. The Castle and garden have since been restored and is now open year-round to the public. In addition, the Office of Public Works has installed a new free bottle filling station at the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre in the courtyard.
Phoenix Park Monument
The Phoenix Monument, or The Wellington Testimonial, is a 62m 203 ft tall Obelisk at the Southern end of Phoenix Park. It was built to commemorate the career of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. Wellington, a British Army General and politician, also known as the ‘Iron Duke’, was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1769
The obelisk was designed by the architect Sir Robert Smirke, and building work started in 1817. However, it remained unfinished until 18 June 1861 due to funding issues.
At its base sit four bronze plaques; these were cast from cannons captured at the Battle of Waterloo – three have pictorial representations of his career while the fourth has an inscription.
Dublin Zoo opened to the Dublin in 1833 and occupies around 28 hectares (69 acres) of Phoenix Park, it is divided into a number of areas on the site named Asian Forests, Orangutan Forest, The Kaziranga Forest Trail, Fringes of the Arctic, Sea Lion Cove, African Plains, Roberts House, House of Reptiles, City Farm and South American House.
The Zoo is open 7 days a week to visitors from April to October.
Towering over Dublin on its hilltop location with its Romanesque style and magnificent flying buttresses, Christ Church is undoubtedly the most photogenic of Dublin’s three Cathedrals. Christ Church Cathedral is Dublin’s oldest building, a leading visitor attraction and a place of pilgrimage for almost 1000 years. Initially founded in 1030 on the southern edge of Dublin’s Viking settlement, the grandiose Cathedral we see today was initially a wooden Church until the Normans, under the impetus of Anglo-Norman invader Richard De Clare or Strongbow as he is known, decided to rebuild it in stone in 1170.
Admission to the Cathedral includes entry to the crypt and the ‘Treasures of Christ Church’ exhibition, where many of the Cathedral’s artefacts and manuscripts are on display, including the embalmed heart of St. Laurence O’Toole, the magnificent silver plate presented to the Cathedral by William III after the Battle of Boyne as well as the famous tomb of the legendary Strongbow. One of the most popular tours is the Belfry Tour, where visitors are brought up to the top of the Bell tower for a spectacular view of Dublin City and even get the chance to fulfil their wildest dreams and ring the famous church bells under expert supervision.
The crypt includes a glass display case housing a mummified cat chasing a mummified rat (known as Tom and Jerry), trapped inside an organ pipe in the 1860s!
Address: Christ Church Cathedral, Christchurch Place, Dublin 8
Tel: +353 (0)1 677 8099
Hop off the CityScape Tour at: Stop 25 Christ Church Place (see Route Map)
The Custom house is a colossal 18th Century neo-classical building which houses the Departments of the Environment, Community and Local Government. Located on the North Bank of the River Liffey, no view of Dublin’s skyline is complete without a view of one of Dublin’s architectural jewels, which can be best appreciated from the south side of the river.
The lavish Custom house was designed by the English architect James Gandon. Construction of the building went on for 10 years from 1781-91. The construction of the building was met with much opposition from the Dublin Corporation and the city’s merchants and dock workers, who saw its construction as an attempt to move the axis of the city eastwards, which it almost certainly was.
The building underwent significant reconstruction work during the 20th century following a fire that destroyed the interior of the building. The Custom House was seized by the Dublin Brigade of the IRA on 25th May 1921 during the War of Independence. They saw the Custom House as a manifestation of British power in Ireland and set the structure ablaze. The fire burned for 5 days, destroying the interiors & many paper records housed there.
Tours of the building can be taken through the Custom-house Visitor Centre, where you will be led on a guided tour through most of the building, where knowledgeable guides will describe the history and significance of one of the must-see attractions in Dublin city.
Opposition to the Custom-house by the city’s merchants was so strong that reputedly James Gandon had to be snuck into Dublin and took to carrying a broadsword to work. Who would have believed being an architect could be so dangerous?
One of the most exciting and informative things to do in Dublin, the National Museum of Ireland is a must-see. Originally the oldest army barracks in Europe, the buildings were re-opened in 1997 with a new purpose as the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts and History.
The barracks and central square are named after Michael Collins, the first Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Free State Army, who was killed at Béal na Bláth, Co. Cork, four months before the barracks were surrendered to the Free State Army. General Richard Mulcahy formally accepted the handover and immediately named the site after Collins.
At Collins Barracks, there is so many things to see and do. Irish haute couture garments, furniture, silver, jewellery, ceramics, and detailed exhibitions exploring Irish military history from 1550 to the 21st century, including an exciting and informative exhibition detailing the events leading up to, during and after the 1916 Easter Rising. In the museum, you will also find one of the largest collections of silver in the world (unfortunately, you can’t take any) as well as exhibitions showing the development of fashion in Ireland from the 1700s onward and Dublin’s very own Asian Art collection.
Ireland’s most significant and premier theatre, the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, is a 2,111-capacity auditorium which opened on 18 March 2010. A combination of modernity and old-school glitz, since opening, the Bord Gais Energy Theatre has entertained half a million theatregoers every year, presenting something for everyone via a very diverse programme of theatrical experiences designed to meet everyone’s passion and interests, including ballets, musicals, family shows, drama, concerts, comedy, orchestral and opera.
Daniel Libeskind of New York and RHWL Architects of London designed the spectacular theatre in the redeveloped Grand Canal Dock area. The concept of the building was created by Mike Adamson of Live Nation and the Docklands Development Authority as a touring theatre for Ballet, Opera, Musicals and Concerts in response to the increasing demand to present theatrical productions that were previously unable to visit Ireland. The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre is a fantastic night out for anyone who wants to be at the forefront of the Dublin cultural scene and is one of the major attractions not to be missed by anyone visiting Dublin.
Eight activities in Dublin that are free in the winter
You may still have to top up your Leap Card and tap on and off, but there are tons of activities to do in Dublin without breaking the bank, which is ideal because January is a long and penniless month for most of us!
The National Gallery of Ireland
The National Gallery of Ireland, located on Merrion Square, is a free gallery for their permanent collection, which is extensive. You must book a free ticket in advance, so make sure you do so on their website. This same rule also applies to other galleries in Dublin, so check some of them out here.
Dublin has a large number of fantastic Christmas markets. From Ha’penny bridge at grand social, Dun Laoghaire Christmas Market in South County Dublin to Smithfield Christmas market. It’s an excellent afternoon and evening walking around, taking in Christmas sights, sounds and smells.
Grafton Street & Christmas Lights
There are few things endearing in a city than seeing them lit up by the Christmas lights. Dublin’s principal shopping streets spring to life with millions of colourful bulbs. They bring the warmth of the season on the coldest December days. The Christmas lights in Dublin illuminate the city from the end of November through to the new year.
Three hundred thousand bulbs light Grafton Street. At its top and bottom is the lit message that has long welcomed people to the street. The “Nollaig Shona Duit” Christmas light means Happy Christmas in the Irish language.
Parks & Gardens
Dublin has no shortage of parks, no matter which side of the city you’re on. On a beautiful Irish day, a walk in the park can be just what the doctor ordered. If you’re on the Southside, Phoenix Park is always worth a visit to see the deer, Marlay Park. Bushy Park and Herbert Park are great spots for a shorter walk.
Go To The Beach
Pack your towel, bikini, swim trunks, and phone to get an incredible time-lapse, and head to the Vico Baths in Killiney or Seapoint in Monkstown. It’s freezing, so make sure you have a hot water bottle or tons of layers to wrap up in case you’re braving the sea. If a swim isn’t your thing, a day walking the Dollymount Strand is satisfying. Get your fish and chips at Fishbone or Fish Shack after.
Self-Guided Street Art Tour
Dublin boasts some beautiful artwork, either in graffiti or sculptures, and they’re worth checking out. Whether it’s “The Children of Lir” sculpture by Oisin Kelly in the Garden of Remembrance or some wall art in Portobello or Love Lane, there’s a plethora of creativity that’s fantastic to see and doesn’t cost a thing. Dublin’s street art is ever-changing, so this is an activity you can do again and again. Try to find some hidden gems out there.
National Botanic Gardens
All you need is yourself and a phone to take some Instagram-worthy content. Free daily tours are available if you want to learn more about plant life. Check out their website for details on their tours and opening hours.
Dublin Free Walking Tour
If you’d instead a guided tour, there are plenty of free options. This company does specific walking tours throughout Dublin, with accessible routes exploring historical landmarks such as Trinity College, Temple Bar, Christ Church, the GPO, and The Customs House. They hold other tours also that you can check out here.
You have to book to gain admission into Kilmainham Gaol, but it is free to do so. Kilmainham Gaol is the spot for you if you want to spend a morning or afternoon absorbing knowledge. Perhaps most notably, Kilmainham housed many of the rebels from the 1916 Easter Rising and was the site where the British Government executed them. You can check out more information on booking here.
Chester Beatty Library
Located at Dublin Castle, entry into the Chester Beatty Library is free, and that’s just one of a few reasons you might want to check it out. There are always plenty of exhibitions to see; currently, they have a stunning one on Japanese Art called “Edo in Colour”. Lonely Planet also described this museum as one of the best in Ireland and Europe. If that’s not a good enough endorsement, I don’t know what is. You can check out all their exhibitions here.
The National Museum of Ireland is dedicated to showcasing of Irish Art, Culture and Natural History. The Archaeology Museum is the most impressive of the three branches of the museum and holds the best-known and most exciting exhibits featuring Ireland’s archaeological treasures. The exhibits contain a mix of Europe’s finest collection of Bronze- and Iron-Age gold artefacts, the most complete collection of medieval Celtic metalwork in the world and vital and exciting items from Ireland’s fight for independence.
The Treasury is perhaps the most famous part of the collection, and its centrepieces are Ireland’s two most famous crafted artefacts, the Ardagh Chalice and the Tara Brooch. The 12th-century Ardagh Chalice is the finest example of Celtic art ever found, while the Tara Brooch is equally revered, having been crafted as a white bronze clasp around AD 700. Elsewhere in the treasury is the exhibition Ór-Ireland’s Gold, which features stunning jewellery and decorative objects created by Celtic artisans in the Bronze and Iron Ages alongside a 15m log boat, which was abandoned and then pulled out almost perfectly preserved 4000 years later, from a peat bog.
On the same level is the fascinating Road to Independence exhibition, which features the army coat worn by Michael Collins on the day he was assassinated, as well as the cap purportedly worn by Collins on that fateful day, complete with a bullet hole in its side although the authenticity of the cap is contested.
If you can handle even more history upstairs, you will find Medieval Ireland 1150 – 1550 and Viking Age Ireland exhibits alongside the aptly named Clothes from Bogs in Ireland exhibit.
The Ardagh Chalice was not discovered by archaeologists but by a farmer digging for spuds in his field. Once again, deepening the inherent love for potatoes in Ireland!
Hop off the CityScape Tour at: Stop 22 Dawson Street (see Route Map)
Remember that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced in order to help you make the best choice for you.