Last Updated on January 1, 2016
Only have a short time in the Irish capital? There’s a lot here to see and do, even if you’ve only got a few hours to enjoy it. When planning vacations, it’s tempting to skip over certain cities because of a lack of time. However, if you’re flying all the way from North America to Europe and you’ve got at least 24 hours in Dublin, there’s a fair amount you can do to get a feel for the city and what it has to offer. And, since many tours of Ireland brush by Dublin, it’s worth looking at what to do in the Irish capital.
The Guinness Storehouse
The No.1 attraction in Dublin is, of course, the Guinness Storehouse. Once used to ferment the dry stout that is, according to marketing, “good for you,” now the building is a first-class visitor centre, offering tourists — and locals pretending to be tourists — an introduction to the preparation and history of this iconic beverage. First of all, you’ll learn about the ingredients and the brewing process. Then you’ll learn how to taste the beer and find out how it was transported and bottled over the years. As Guinness’ whimsical and eye-catching logo has become popular with people who don’t even drink beer, it’s also interesting to see how the creative side of the business works. And, of course, you’ll get a chance to sample Guinness in the several bars in the building. The Gravity Bar on the seventh floor offers fantastic panoramas of Dublin while you enjoy the city’s favorite tipple. And, if you’re not in a hurry, you can also eat some famous Irish dishes here — many of them prepared with Guinness. Try the Guinness Irish stew, a dark and hearty beef stew with potatoes, parsnips, and — of course — Guinness.
Sandwich your trip to the Storehouse between visits to the Dublin Writer’s Museum and the James Joyce Centre or the James Joyce Centre and the National Gallery of Ireland.
The James Joyce Centre
The James Joyce Centre is a museum dedicated to Dublin’s most famous writer. James Joyce (1882-1941) was born in Dublin and wrote about his home city, but lived abroad for most of his life after his early 20s. At the centre, you’ll gain understanding of the man and his literature, and perhaps unravel some of the plot of books you misunderstood while in school. The centre also has a walking tour to take visitors in the footsteps of one of Joyce’s most famous characters, Leopold Bloom.
After visiting the centre you’ll probably be thirsty. You might take inspiration from Joyce, a notorious drinker who was fond of white wine. But, since that’s not very Irish, a cup of tea might be in order. While not as famous overseas as English teas, Irish tea is something you must try while in the city. Take it with some biscuits and dense Irish fruit brack, a kind of bread, for a true Dublin experience.
Dublin Writer’s Museum
The Dublin Writer’s Museum is a small museum dedicated to Irish literati and might not be on everyone’s list. However, anyone interested in the cultural history of Ireland or any of the great Irish writers in particular should give it a look. The museum hosts occasional performances of selected literary works by professional actors. It is located in an 18th-century building on Parnell Square.
The National Gallery of Ireland
In addition to its wide selection of paintings and other work by Irish artists, the National Gallery of Ireland is also noted for its paintings from the Italian Baroque period and Dutch masters. Located in Merrion Square in the city centre, it’s easy to work into your itinerary even if you spent more time admiring the Guinness company’s handiwork than you thought you would. Admission is free.
By this time, Guinness, writers and fine art will have made you hungry, so it’s a good idea to search out a café or restaurant. Direct your feet to Grafton Street, a pedestrianized shopping street in the centre. After lunch you’ll find plenty of shopping opportunities for your souvenirs or other necessities for the rest of your trip. When ordering your meal, consider getting Irish Shepherd’s Pie for a filling repast. Made from ground lamb and vegetables covered with mashed potatoes, this is sure to warm you up in colder weather.
By nightfall, Grafton Street becomes an important hub for nightlife. If you’ve got time before leaving Dublin, stop by a pub for a glass of whiskey and a chance to meet some locals.