It would be completely wrong to start a ‘best things to do in Dublin’ list without making reference to Guinness, so let’s get going. The Irish dry stout is like no-other and is brewed and consumed around the world nowadays, though the original Guinness factory still exists, now named the ‘Guinness Storehouse’ and it is definitely worth a visit. While the entrance fees are slightly on the expensive side, we had previously purchased a 3 day Dublin pass for around £50 each (around 65 euros) – this gave us access to a variety of the must-see places in Dublin, throw in some food vouchers and the pass was great value for money. It kicks off with a short guided tour around the lower floor of the storehouse – useful for those who have plenty of questions not so for those who are struggling from the effects of to much Guinness the night before!
Moving around the creaking building, you learn more about the production processes as well as the marketing campaigns that still continue to deliver some of the best advertising around. Once the tour finished, you have the chance to pour your own pint, being on a lads jaunt we saw this as a good opportunity to test ourselves against each other – somehow the Guinness guide deemed mine to be the best (it must be my Irish roots), though I am sure the others would still dispute this! Once you have had enough fun posing for photos in the marketing set ups, you head to the top floor of the storehouse where the gravity bar is located. In here you can enjoy a complimentary Guinness, along with some of the best views you’ll find of Dublin’s cityscape – a great photo opportunity.
Bud tip: you can use your Dublin Pass more than once for the same place – make the most of this and revisit the storehouse, head straight to the lift and up to the top floor where you can enjoy a second (third, fourth etc.) complimentary pint! No need to thank us.
Ireland’s recent history is scattered with events of both heroic and tragic nature. Kilmainham Gaol encapsulates both of these into one eerie and emotional tour as you wind around the jail quarters just as prisoners would have done years ago.
The infrastructure of the gaol is impressive and its Victorian wing is like nothing I have ever seen before – you can really sense what it must have been like for the Irish revolutionaries that were held, tried and in the vast majority of cases executed at the prison. The guides have astounding amounts of knowledge on the gaol and all the prisoners that were held there. Walking outside into the courtyard where executions were carried out, we followed the exact same route prisoners would have taken as their final steps – it was a humbling and deeply emotive experience. Regardless of the morbidity, if you have a chance to visit, do.
We walked a long way to find it in the end – I’d suggest getting a cab if you can, it wasn’t the easiest to locate even with Google maps!
We spent an afternoon taking in the tour of Croke Park, a stadium steeped in Irish sporting history. We arrived early so decided to take in the attached Croke Park museum which is open to all. There are a few interactive activities there and we had a good laugh. From seeing how quick your reflexes are, to how high you can jump there was a lot to get involved in. My favorite was probably the area dedicated to putting footballs through holes in a net: trying to beat the top scores in the process – not that I got anywhere near them! While the outside leaves a lot to be desired, the tour was great fun – we were treated to a short movie on the history of the stadium before getting the chance to have a walk on the hallowed turf. For those who are a little more adventurous there is an option to do a roof walk along the top of the stadium, we didn’t have a chance to do this – but it looked like great fun! Heading upstairs you have a chance to see how the business folk watch the game, walking on carpet and peering through tinted glass – I cannot help but feel like the passionate atmosphere of the stadium is lost when you watch a game like this, but what do I know.
We were lucky enough to also visit while some rugby world cup warm up matches were taking place, so took the opportunity to visit the Aviva Stadium and watch the Irish take on the Welsh. It was a fantastic atmosphere, with a rousing rendition of the Irish national anthem and a few Guinness’ thrown in! Being able to drink while watching sport is unusual to me, being a football fan in the UK, no alcohol is allowed to be consumed in the terraces – so it was a nice treat to enjoy a beer with my bum on the seat watching the game!
Once you find it, it took us 20 minutes, this place is great fun. We booked online the day before and arrived a little early – thankfully. Although it hasn’t got loads of glitz and glam, think more the set of the office than oceans eleven, it was engaging and thought prevoking stuff!
Working as a team you are given 60 minutes to work out clues inside the rooms (that you are locked into), to unlock combination locks and find keys that will gain you access to a second room. In here you are then expected to workout the code needed to gain access to the exit and your way out! I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but the clues aren’t overly straightforward and you really have to work as a team to complete this. If you are looking for something different to do on your trip to Dublin then Escape Dublin could be it!
While the other things I have highlighted above you may have not heard or expected, the Irish nightlife is well known to be brilliant and easily makes it onto the best things to do in Dublin list, obviously. The people are extremely welcoming – I wasn’t always sure if this was because of their personality or their soberness, but it seemed to extend to near enough everyone we met. The only thing we grew frustrated by was the bouncers underlying issue with our English accents and IDs – though we were lucky enough to be accompanied most of the time by a few of my Irish cousins who made the entrance into bars and clubs a lot easier! I always say that pints of Guinness don’t taste anywhere near as good when you’re not in Ireland, so starting off the night with a few pints is always a good move – you can gain a Guinness tache too.
All in Dublin is a fantastic city and for me is one of the coolest places I have been too. It has a relaxed cosmopolitan feel to it and everyone is made to feel welcome.