Photographs by Camille Seaman and Tala Parker
I love Dublin. It's a vibrant, diverse city. Strands of flags prettily crisscross above the alleyways and murals adorn many buildings. It's also both historic and modern. Among Georgian era townhouses, you'll find hip gourmet donut shops.
Transportation: One of the best things about Dublin is how walkable it is. I stayed in a hotel in the city center and everything was less than a fifteen-minute walk away. Having a car would just add to your troubles and expenses as parking is both difficult and pricey in the city. There are public streetcars and multiple bus lines but I never needed to take one.
Food: There are a lot of great places to eat in Dublin for a decent price. The food is very fresh and there are many cuisines to choose from. There are even some vegetarian and vegan restaurants. Dublin was a nice break from the rest of Ireland which primarily serves traditional pub food (you'll usually get a bit more to choose from in larger towns).
What To Do: I recommend walking around and checking out the old architecture and fun shops. You'll get a good feel for the city that way. Many of the streets are uneven and/or paved with cobblestones, so I recommend wearing sneakers or boots.
Tip: If you're a student bring your ID! You can get cheaper tickets for tours.
Trinity Library and Book of Kells (€ book in advance) -
The Old Library was constructed in the 18th-century and houses 200,000 of the library's oldest books in oak bookshelves. The architecture inside the building is stunning. There was also an exhibition on the Book of Kells, a 9th-century gospel manuscript. The book is beautifully inscribed with elaborate illustrations. I would highly recommend visiting. My only complaint was that the library and Book of Kells exhibit were crowded (and apparently are year-round).
St. Stephen's Green Shopping Centre (free) -
On the way to St. Stephen's Green I stopped in at the shopping centre and was surprised by the architecture which is vaguely victorian. In truth, the building was constructed in 1988. It was interesting to see the architecture but the shops inside are not noteworthy.
St. Stephen's Green (Free) -
St. Stephen's Green is a sizable park in the heart of Dublin. Inside, there are trees, gardens, and a children's play structure. Though I visited in a time of drought, St. Stephen's was still stunning. It's a beautiful place to stroll around and take a break from the city.
River Liffey (free) and General Post Office (€) -
The River Liffey flows through the center of Dublin and has many bridges crossing it. Though it was nice to see, there was nothing too special about it. Nearby is the famous General Post office where the failed 1916 Easter Rising took place. The Roman-inspired facade is riddled with bullet holes. Inside the post office, there is a museum which was unfortunately closed when I visited.
Dublin Castle (€) -
The Dublin Castle is probably the most famous castle in Ireland. It was Nearby a Viking settlement and was expanded throughout the ages. For seven centuries it was the seat of England in Ireland, and today it is where Ireland's presidents are inaugurated.
I took the guided tour but arrived early and visited the State Apartments on my own first. This allowed me to look around and to take photos. The rooms are beautiful and there are a few small exhibitions on display. Only a few of the rooms were discussed in the guided tour so it wasn't repetitive. I highly recommend taking the guided tour. I was able to see two parts of the castle I otherwise wouldn't have been able to. I also learned much more about the fascinating history of the site and the city. Many people were on the same tour but the guide was great and the crowd didn't bother me at all. Tip: make sure you look up at the ceilings!
Christ Church Cathedral (€) -
Christ Church Cathedral is incredibly old and has a fascinating history. I would highly recommend the guided tour because it highlighted the most interesting and important historical events. In addition, I was able to climb to the top of the cathedral to visit the belfry, something I wouldn't have been able to do without the guide. I even got to try my hand at ringing one of the nineteen bells. If you visit the cathedral, try to spot the original gothic architecture and the then the more recently repaired section. You'll be able to recognize the original walls because they slant.
Powerscourt Townhouse Centre (free) -
The Powerscourt Townhouse Centre is a Georgian house converted into a small shopping center filled with boutiques. The townhouse was home to Richard Wingfield 3rd Viscount Powerscourt (1730-1788) and his wife Lady Amelia and used for entertaining during parliament season. The detail of the house is beautiful (be sure to look up at the ceilings). I also love how it was converted into something modern without compromising the historical value of the original building.
Aran Sweater Market and Murphy's Ice Cream -
Aran Sweater Market sells some of the softest wool goods I found in all of Ireland. Their products are made on Aran Island, Ireland. They're a great place to stop if you want some proper Irish wool for your home or wardrobe.
Murphy's sells the best ice cream I have ever had. That's saying something because I have sampled ice cream from many different countries, including Italy, and I love some good gelato. They're based in Dingle but also have a shop in Dublin. They have fun flavors, including some special Irish inspired tastes such as "Brown Bread" or the fennel infused "Irish Garden".
Guinness Storehouse (€) -
One thing I didn't do in Dublin was the Guinness Storehouse tour. I wanted to mention it though because I've heard great things about it from others.