I love traveling. In Europe, I enjoy historic cities and nature walks. I've visited Scotland, Ireland, and France, among other countries.
If you’re an art or history lover, you’ll find more than enough to do in Dublin. The Irish city has a large variety of museums, ranging from large national museums to small independent ones. Many of them are reasonably priced or even free.
It’s hard to pick just three, but the following museums are some of the best in Ireland and are representative of the different kinds of museums you’ll find in Dublin. If you can only fit in a few museums during your trip, these should be at the top of your list. I'm including a few extra museum suggestions as well, in case three just isn’t enough for you.
- National Gallery of Ireland
- Chester Beatty Library
- Dublin Writers Museum
National Gallery of Ireland
If you enjoy art, you don’t want to miss the National Gallery. This museum has an impressive collection of works from Irish artists such as Yeats, O’Connor, and Leech. You’ll also find masterpieces from international artists like Van Gogh, Caravaggio, Rubens, Goya, Monet, Picasso, Rembrandt, and more.
In particular, the museum is known for paintings by Italian Baroque and Dutch masters. The building itself, which has been open since 1854, is very impressive. You can find it in the middle of Dublin off of Merrion Square. Admission is free, which is lucky considering the size of the museum’s collection. You can pop in and out on multiple days in order to see as much as you want.
If you need more art: The Irish Museum of Modern Art is a bus or Luas ride away. Situated in the stunning 17th-century Royal Hospital Building, this museum offers a great selection of rotating collections and permanent exhibitions.
Chester Beatty Library
The Chester Beatty Library is so much more than a simple library. This library is known as one of the best museums in Europe, and it’s home to impressive collections of rare books, manuscripts, prints, drawings, miniature paintings, and other decorative arts.
Rare books that you won’t want to miss include Egyptian papyri, medieval manuscripts, and illuminated editions of the Bible and the Qur’an. The museum’s manuscripts date all the way back to 2,700 BC, presenting a wide swath of human history. The museum has particular strengths in historical religious texts and artifacts from Islamic and Far Eastern cultures.
You’ll find things at the Chester Beatty Library that you’ll struggle to see anywhere else. Where else will you find a large selection of Ancient Egyptian love songs? Admission to the library is free. You’ll find it on the grounds of Dublin castle, making it easy to fit into your site-seeing itinerary. Keep in mind that between November and February, it’s closed on Mondays.
If you need more history: Trinity College is famous for its Book of Kells exhibit. You can visit the Trinity College campus to see the Old Library and the Book of Kells, a stunningly beautiful illustrated copy of the gospels from the early 9th century.
Dublin Writers Museum
Dublin has a rich literary tradition, and the Dublin Writers Museum is a great place to dive into it. It’s housed in a beautiful 18th-century mansion that sets the scene for a trip back into Ireland’s literary past.
This small museum features works and artifacts from the lives of famous Irish authors such as William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Beckett, George Bernard Shaw, and Patrick Swift. You’ll find portraits, letters, rare books, and personal items in the museum’s exhibits. Depending on when you visit, you may also catch a literature reading or lunchtime theater. The museum is a great place to get a sense of Irish literature and the movements that shaped it throughout the past.
If you need more literature: The James Joyce Centre provides an interactive tour of Ulysses plus interesting artifacts from Joyce’s life and works. If you’re a James Joyce fan, this is the place for you.
In Dublin, you’ll never run out of things to do. While I’ve highlighted some of the city’s great museums, there are other highly worthwhile ones that you may wish to visit. If you’re itching for more history and culture, try visiting the Natural Museum of Ireland, the Old Jameson Distillery, or the Irish Jewish Museum for example. Or, if you’ve reached your capacity of museums, stop into one of Dublin’s many great pubs to recover with a pint.
© 2019 Sam Shepards
Sam Shepards (author) from Europe on August 24, 2019:
The countryside and following certain routes is the best. I love seeing green, cliffs and water. When the weather is bad and you are in Dublin you can opt for a couple of museums interspersed with some eating and having a great coffee or tea etc.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 23, 2019:
I'd love to visit Ireland in order to explore the countryside. I would certainly spend some time in Dublin, though. I think that visiting the museums that you describe would be a very interesting activity. I'll keep the information that you've shared in mind in case I ever have a chance to visit the country.