There is much to do in the Irish capital, aside from pub-crawls of course.
Is there life beyond the pubs of Dublin, the Irish capital known for its hedonistic partying? After you have seen the usual attractions like the Book of Kells and St Patrick’s Cathedral, go beyond the surface and you will find a wealth of attractions.
Search for a pot of gold If you like quirk, then you must visit the Leprechaun Museum. This museum works like a storybook, taking you through 12 chapters of tales full of these mythical, mischievous characters from Celtic legend and myth as well as a recreation of the Giant’s Causeway. From stories in folklore to their representation in movies and books, as well as an experience of how it is to live in a leprechaun-sized world, and even walking through a rainbow, this museum is a delight. (www.leprechaunmuseum.ie)
Visit a jail-turned-museum Kilmainham Gaol, built in 1789, has housed generations of criminals but is now a tourist attraction. Stories of firing squads and rebellious leaders, heroic and tragic tales whisper from every corner of this historic building. It was restored in the 60s and today is a museum with an audio-visual show.
Drink in a former church One of the interesting aspects of Dublin is how the old morphs into the new. Visit the dramatic Church Bar, a swish bar and restaurant housed in the galleried ancient St Mary’s Church with four levels of party spaces. With beautiful stained glass windows, an original Renatus Harris-built organ (once played by Handel) and burial crypts in the cellar, it’s a pretty unique place to have a drink. The building has been voted the best old building and Dublin’s most beautiful pub. The church closed down in 1964 and lay derelict for many years till it was converted into a bar.
Play some quirky Gaelic sports For a taste of Gaelic culture and sports, take a tour with Experience Gaelic Games. You can try your hand at hurling—a historic game of Gaelic origin. It is a mix of lacrosse and hockey and involves hitting a ball called the sliotar with a curved wooden stick called a hurley. You can also learn some lively Irish Ceili dancing or learn how to beat an Irish drum. (www.experiencegaelicgames.com)
Have lunch in the crypt Christchurch Cathedral has been a place of pilgrimage for more than a thousand years. For an atmospheric experience, follow the steps down to the medieval crypt, which has an exhibition of ancient treasures like historic texts and clothing, as well as a cafe where you can enjoy scones and sandwiches.
Spend time in the creative quarter If you want to see a different side of Dublin, head to the Creative quarter, which also encompasses the fashion district around South William Street. Visit Project 51, an unusual design collective. This entire area is full of independent boutiques and quirky establishments. Spend some time at the Powerscourt Centre, a Victorian mansion converted into a fashionable shopping mall and have coffee at their buzzing courtyard cafe as you people-watch.
Explore the city’s architecture Take a tour to see typical Georgian town houses with the famous Dublin doors in bright colours and embellishments like fan lights and door-knockers. Have coffee at the majestic Shelbourne Hotel, a Georgian masterpiece with mahogany staircases and historic meeting rooms. Visit the Casino at Marino, which was inspired by Roman temples and built as a folly—a place built with architectural tricks that will keep you engaged—an entrance door creates an illusion of a small space, but inside, you are confronted by a maze of 16 twisting rooms with ornate fireplaces, urns that are actually chimneys, pillars that are hollow and are actually drainpipes.
Enjoy the pleasures of reading Head to the Chester Beatty Library, inside the Dublin Castle grounds, for a peek into ancient manuscripts and texts and a stunning collection of Korans. Enjoy exhibits showcasing rich binding techniques over the ages, Islamic calligraphy, even Babylonian clay tablets and experience the power of the written word. From Japanese scrolls to Burmese picture-books, Chester Beatty Library is a bibliophile’s dream come true. (www.cbl.ie)
Go on a Viking Splash Tour There are bus tours and river tours of Dublin, but if you want to do a really cheesy tour, on land and water, then do the Viking Splash Tour, which uses a big yellow bus which used to transport soldiers during World War II. Wear a Viking helmet as this amphibious vehicle trawls through the main streets, passing by landmarks like Trinity College and Merion Square, before splashing down into the Grand Canal Dock.
Take a walk in the park Experience the green lungs of this city found in its gardens and parks. Visit the rambling Phoenix Park with picnic areas, nature trails, children’s playgrounds and the residence of the President of Ireland. The other building here is Deerfield which is now home to the American ambassador. Spend some time at Stephen’s Green, a Victorian-style park with a duck pond and lawns, filled with locals and tourists. Follow this up with a walk inside the grounds of the Dublin Castle. Dublin Gardens is the hidden landscaped garden where the city began and derives its name from ‘Dubhlinn’, meaning a black pool. Laze on the stone benches and enjoy the Celtic pattern on the lawns, which is even used as a helicopter landing site for visiting dignitaries.