If you’re making a quick visit to Dublin, it makes sense to plan your personal sightseeing “tour” in advance. You could start at the Ha’penny Bridge in the picture above. It’s central, for pedestrians only, and has pleasant river views, including the nearby pier for cruise boats. Near the southern end of the bridge are the cobbled streets of Temple Bar, an ancient part of the city now restored as a “cultural quarter”, with pubs and live music drawing lots of visitors.
Dublin Castle is quite close. You can get an impression of this historic government building from the big main courtyard or go for the full guided tour round the complex. Near the castle is the City Hall with a museum giving an overview of the city’s history. A little beyond are two cathedrals: Christ Church and St. Patrick’s.
You could walk to some or all of these, or if you’re going to get a hop-on hop-off all-day bus ticket, you can ride (with sight-seeing commentary) to any of these places. The next main stop for the tourist buses is the Guinness brewery, a great attraction for people whose trip to Ireland would be incomplete without a few pints of the distinctive drink.
If you go in the other direction from Temple Bar, you can see the world-renowned Book of Kells, a rare medieval treasure on show at Trinity College. But if you’re looking for more contemporary pleasures, shop for Irish linen and other crafts in nearby Nassau Street. Grafton Street, also near, is the place to go for real shopping devotees; it leads eventually to St. Stephen’s Green for those needing a break in a pleasant landscaped garden.
As you move on you’ll see more and more of Dublin’s elegant Georgian townhouses, noted for the variety of individual door designs. Bigger buildings include the National Museum with its remarkable collection of prehistoric Irish gold, the National Gallery and its collection of Irish art, or the imposing Leinster House, Ireland’s parliament. All these places are reachable on foot from the Ha’penny Bridge, but are also well-served by the touring buses.
Sooner or later, you should cross the river to Northside Dublin. The key thoroughfare here is O’Connell Street: a wide, impressive boulevard with some imposing buildings. If you’re interested in Ireland’s movement towards independence from Britain, this area has several reminders, including the main post office which served as the nationalists’ HQ in 1916. Look for the bullet marks on the portico columns.
Dublin is famous for its literary heritage, and a little further north is the Writers Museum celebrating a variety of Ireland’s writers, including Swift, Yeats, Shaw, and Joyce. Sign up for a James Joyce tour if you want to retrace the steps of his life and his characters’ lives.
Time for more? Choose from a visit to the Jameson whiskey distillery, the zoo in Phoenix Park, or the historic Kilmainham gaol. But however much energy you have for seeing the sights, leave a bit of time for hanging out soaking up atmosphere. You may like the bars with fiddle music or you may prefer watching the people, and ducks, by the pond on St. Stephen’s Green. It’s all part of a trip to Dublin.
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