Like any other capital city, Dublin has loads of beautiful, interesting, and magical places to visit. If you are visiting and want some general knowledge about the most famous and favourite attractions in Dublin, it's best to visit any information centre and get a free Dublin guide. This booklet provides a lot of useful information about interesting places to visit, tours and trips, cultural or sporting events, and more.
In this article, I will present you with the places I visited in Dublin, and what I consider to be the most appealing and the most beautiful. Of course these are my personal preferences, and you are free to make your own list of places you would like to visit.
1. Chester Beatty Library
Chester Beatty Library has always been number one for me—I completely fell in love with it when I visited it for the first time. Although it's called a library, it's more like a gallery with a lot of exhibits from Asia, especially Japan and China. There is also the exhibition about religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism), which is really interesting. And it's free of charge.
Chester Beatty Library also has two creative corners where you can draw a colouring picture with Asian motives. The most beautiful pictures are regularly displayed on the library's Facebook page. Chester Beatty Library also organizes a lot of diverse events and there is a really lovely café on the ground floor.
2. Trinity College Old Library
Trinity College Library is the largest library in Ireland. The library holds a permanent exhibition about the famous Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is a really old, illuminated Gospel book written in Latin, supposedly created around 800 AD. In the exhibition, you can see enlarged pictures from the book along with details about the process of how it was made. You can also see examples of the materials, tools, and paints used in the making of the Book of Kells. Unfortunately, taking pictures of the exhibit is not allowed.
On the bright side, you will be rewarded with permission to take pictures in the Long Room. The Long Room looks like something out of the Harry Potter movies, and if you like Harry Potter, you will feel completely charmed in there. The room is full of old books, ladders, and statues. It's definitely something you wouldn't want to miss, even if the entrance fee is €11.
3. Kilmainham Gaol
Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison in Dublin with a rich history. It's famous because during the 1916 Rising (a very significant rebellion in Ireland), leaders of the rebellion were executed there. There are some very sad stories connected to those executed leaders. For example, one of the leaders got married and was executed immediately after. Another leader, James Connolly, was so badly injured that he had to be bound to a chair before he could be executed. After witnessing all these stories, Ireland rebelled against Great Britain and became independent.
Part of the prison is renovated, but a guide will take you through parts which are not repaired at all and you can imagine what it looked like one hundred years or so ago. There is also a museum of Irish history in Killmainham Gaol and the entrance fee of €8 is definitely worth it. Just remember that there are guided tours in Killmainham Gaol, so plan your visit carefully.
4. Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral is a very stunning Victorian cathedral, not so far from the city centre. It has two main buildings and a bridge over a road connecting them. Mass is held in the bigger building and it is open to the public. In that building, you can also enter the largest cathedral crypt in Ireland. You can watch interesting short movies about the history of the Cathedral and take a look at an exhibition of costumes from The Tudors series. The entrance fee is €6.50.
If you're lucky, you can also visit a small market in front of the Cathedral and buy some delicious food.
5. Glasnevin Cemetery
If you're not afraid of visiting cemeteries, you definitely shouldn't miss Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. It's quite far from the city centre, so you have to take a bus to get there. But you don't have to be worried about going there—if you're not sure where to get off the bus, just ask a driver. They're willing to tell you where to disembark.
Glasnevin Cemetery is just beside the Botanic garden, so you can plan to visit both attractions (which are free) in one day. If you want to know more about Glasnevin Cemetery, you can pay for a guided tour in a visitor's centre and a guide will tell you more about people buried there. If you don't want to take a tour, you just can walk around. It's a very large cemetery and a very magical and mystical place.
6. Zoo and Botanic Garden
Whether you're a fan of animals or plants, you will find a perfect place to go in Dublin.
The zoo in Dublin is beautiful. You can see monkeys climbing and seals playing in the water, visit an African plain with giraffes, zebras, and rhinos (we were lucky to see a baby rhino when we visited), enter a reptile pavilion with crocodiles and snakes, or watch elephants eat leaves from a tree. The entrance fee is quite expensive, it's €17, but if you decide to go there you won't regret it.
The Botanic garden is the biggest botanic garden in Europe, with two gigantic greenhouses (in one of them there is a rainforest) and other interesting attractions. You can visit a Japanese garden, a small lake with ducks, take a walk amongst roses, or take a look at a replica of a Viking house. After you're done visiting the garden, you can finish out the day with a nice cup of tea or coffee in a café.
7. St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral is another beautiful, Victorian cathedral that is approximately a five minute walk from Christ Church Cathedral. It's amazing how many beautiful churches and cathedrals there are in Dublin.
You can find a lot of interesting things in St. Patrick's Cathedral. There is a Door of Reconciliation, a hole through which Earls of Kildare and Ormond shook hands after a lot of fighting. Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels, has a grave beside the Cathedral. There is a tree made of steel and paper leaves that serves as a memorial to those who died during the First World War. Finally, in one part of the Cathedral there is an interactive corner where you can listen to choir music with headphones or put a model of the Cathedral together. The entrance fee of €6 is definitely worth it.
There are even more interesting, beautiful, and stunning places around Dublin. The ones above are the ones that I visited and found the most amazing. Of course, you can also visit Dublin Castle, which is magnificent. If you like museums and galleries, I recommend you visit the National Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art (close to Kilmainham Gaol), the Museum of Archeology, or the Dublin Writers Museum. There is also a large park—St. Stephen's Green Park—near the city centre, or you can take a bus and visit Phoenix Park, which is the largest city park in Europe and contains the zoo.
I know I didn't manage to visit all of the intriguing places in Dublin, but I hope this list has helped if you are planning a trip. And if you're looking for additional attractions I didn't cover, take a look in the Dublin guide—you will definitely find something you would like to visit.
Interesting Dublin Info for Travelers
Dublin lies on the eastern coast of Ireland, at the mouth of the River Liffey. It's a very large city, and its population is approximately one million people. If you counted the Greater Dublin Area, such as Dún Laoghaire, South Dublin, Fingal, Meath, Kildare, and Wicklow as a part of Dublin city, it would be almost two million people living there. This means that almost one third of the approximately six million people that live in Ireland live in Dublin.
Dublin was founded as a Viking settlement and you can find traces of their history everywhere. There are exhibitions in museums and galleries about the Vikings, and there is a special Viking bus you can ride where you wear a Viking helmet.
As I mentioned before Dublin is a really large city, and yet compared to other European capitals, it doesn't feel as much like a metropolis. It's flat with no high buildings, except the office buildings near the port, and there are a lot of family houses and parks (the Phoenix park in Dublin is the largest city park in Europe). It's really a beautiful and lovely city, with many historical buildings and monuments. This mix of beauty and history makes Dublin a must-see for anyone visiting Ireland.
Lucie Matějíčková (author) from Czech Republic on February 11, 2017:
Thank you. :-) I had a lot of time to explore Dublin, but I still missed some beautiful places. It's just not possible to visit everything. :-)
Debbie Pinkston from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas on February 11, 2017:
Excellent article! I wish I had visited these places when I was in Dublin.