1) Do a Free Walking Tour (or Two or Three)!
One of the very first things I do when I land in a new city: I google if there are free walking tours. The concept is simple: tours are organised, usually by enthusiastic locals, who teach you about the history, culture etc. of their city in a very funny way, and show you local gems, which you would otherwise never know about, in return for a tip-based fee (it’s optional – but people tend to give anything between 5-20 Euros for their efforts).
While in Dublin, I did three of those tours! Yep. That’s how awesome they are! It’s a great way to meet people from all over the world and make new friends. You may think that most would be young students who cannot afford to do one of the ‘proper’ tours. No. In fact the groups are always extremely mixed of age. Many people simply prefer to book these tours because the hosts are so incredibly passionate about their jobs – plus, they want to do well to get a higher Tip. A Win-Win for everybody!
Meeting Point: The Spire at O’ Connell Street
Time: at 10.30am & 3pm / Beer & Whiskey Tasting at 6pm **please check times on the website in case there are any changes. They also run other tours – info on their website.
2) Have Breakfast & Coffee at Brother Hubbard!
Oh holy Brother Hubbard! This must have been the best coffee & breakfast I have ever had in my life! No kidding! Chances are, it probably was. Brother Hubbard regularly features on Barista reviews and bloggers rave about the foamy perfect cappuccinos and lattes. This place is known to serve one of the best coffees in town!
The breakfasts need to be seen to be believed. The middle eastern influence runs through all of the dishes served. I highly recommend the Semolina Pancakes with rose-infused mascarpone & mint leaves. Out.of.this.World! The place is always full – but be sure to go inside and see if you can spot a free table somewhere – there is a quick turnover and the place is bigger than it looks.
Recommendation: Latte & Semolina Pancakes with Rose-infused Mascarpone…Mmmmh!
Address: 153 Capel St, Dublin 1
3) Visit Kilmainham Gaol!
The sad thing: I didn’t actually manage to visit because the tours were sold out. I was crying. Make sure to be there early morning as tours are limited and if no tour is available, well, they simply won’t let you in (unlucky me). Chances are you’ll recognize the Gaol from some movies (The Italian Job, 1969 / Michael Collins, 1993 / The Escapist, 2008 – and so many more) – but there is so much more to the Gaol.
Historically it has a big significance! Once a prison, now a museum, public hangings used to take place in front of it. There was no segregation and up to 5 people were locked in one cell – 1 candle was shared for light and heat – for two weeks. While many adults were sent off to Australia, young prisoners, as young as 7 years old, remained at the prison. Plus, the prison played a huge role in the Irish Independence movement too.It is literally here where the future of Ireland was shaped – revolutionaries and made history by fighting for freedom. Freedom for Ireland. It’s totally worth visiting!
Address: Inchicore Road, Kilmainham, Dublin 8
Opening Hours: please click on the link below.
4) Don’t go to Jameson – go to Teeling Distillery instead!
Everybody either goes to the Guinness Storehouse or the Jameson Distillery. Unless you are a cool traveler (not a tourist). Then you go to Teeling Distillery instead. Which no one knows about….yet. Plus the Whiskey is so much better too…The Liquid Gold, as they call it, is produced here today – Teeling is a fully operational distillery, not just a museum!
Unlike Scottish Whiskey, Irish Whiskey is distilled thrice – not just twice – giving it a unique taste that many claim to be much better than Scottish Whiskey. Do check out the TripAdvisor reviews for this place. Told you.
Address: 13-17 Newmarket, Dublin 8
Price: €14 – €30
5) Go to the Temple Bar Food Market on Saturday!
If you ask many locals what not to do while in Dublin, probably most would tell you to avoid Temple Bar (a district…not a bar by the way) like the plague. Too touristy, too expensive, too non-authentic…However, it really depends where you go and what you do. In fact, it would be a shame not to venture into Temple Bar as there are so many unbelievably cute restaurants and cafes – Temple Bar is so much more than pubs galore!
One thing to absolutely do here, if you so happen to be in Dublin on a Saturday morning, is to head over to the House Square within Temple Bar and visit the small Farmer’s market held there every Saturday morning. You can buy fresh Fruit & Veg and other yummy seasonal produce but most importantly: there is a variety of freshly prepared meals for you to try. Steak Sandwiches, Curries, Pastry and much much more. Come hungry!
Address: Meeting House Square
Hours: 10h00 -16h30
6) Listen to a Session in a Pub in the North!
Dublin is much more than just the South – side – most tourists won’t even venture over to the North because of rumours that it isn’t very nice. Well…it’s less polished…more raw…making it more authentic…and so…more Irish! In the former working class district you’ll find many old pubs from times gone by, where you can experience the real Irish spirit (unlike over at Temple Bar). You literally feel like you step back in time with many pubs having preserved the original features.
One Pub I particularly liked was McNeill’s Pub in Capel Street where there is live music, also called ‘sessions’, almost daily. Check their Facebook to see what’s on. And please do try a Guinness or Beamish here. The best tasting stout I have ever had! It’s true…Guinness in Dublin is better!
Address: 140 Capel St
7) Have some delicious Cake!
Dublin is famous for its many cake parlours – wouldn’t have thought that, would you? Queen of Tarts is arguably the best in town. However, there are many more alternative little cafes dotted all over Dublin. Peacock Green particularly stood out to me thanks to their adorable shabby chic décor – a small cosy cake haven with yummy coffee served here too.
Address: 25 Leeson Street Lower
Hours: check the link below
8) Shop Vintage at Liberty Belle Bazaar!
Another thing Dublin does not lack off: Secondhand Vintage stores. Particularly on the Northside you will find loads of independently run Vintage stores selling, mainly, clothes, but also cutlery, old records, books etc. They’re basically like flea markets but inside. Good! As the weather is known to not be the best on this island – everything inside is generally better as chances are, it’ll be raining almost every day. Bring an umbrella!
If you want to combine a bit of glamourus shopping with an afternoon treat, head over to Liberty Belle Bazaar! It’s like a little museum and if you keep walking to the back, you’ll find a small cafe serving coffee and cake! Supposedly there is also a small cinema in there too. Done deal!
Address: 72 Thomas Street
Hours: Thurs – Sun, 11am-6pm
9) Find & Photograph Street Art!
And you thought Dublin was already the coolest city in the world for all the points mentioned before. And now this! Yes, Dublin has loads of street art too. I found many artistically painted walls in Temple Bar but there are many more all over town. Keep your eyes peeled – as always with street art – it’s not always where you’d expect it to be. For a more comprehensive guide on where to find the coolest street art in town, click on the link below.
10) Have a Hot Chocolate at Brick Alley Cafe!
They serve a mean breakfast here too! But if you just want to come here to watch the world go by, the white hot chocolate is absolutely worth it and I recommend it highly! The atmosphere in there is pretty cool also – a perfect place to just chill, read a book and listen to some Irish banter in the background (if you do actually understand what they are saying…).
Address: 25 Essex St E, Dublin 2
11) Ask a Local how the Spire is called!
If you do the free walking tour, I can guarantee that they will tell you the alternative names for the pointy spire at O’Connell Street. It’ll make you laugh for sure! But pretty much every Dubliner will be able to tell you one of the alternative names this pointy shiny thing is known for. You may even be lucky, like I was, and see it in its full glory on a beautiful day like this.
Address: O’Connell Street (you can’t miss it)
12) Eat a delicious Burger at Bunsen!
Fancy a Burger? – then please, please, please, stay away from Burger King or Mc Donald’s and come to Bunsen! A very simple concept – something that the owners pride themselves on – that works! They only serve four different burgers. Easy Peasy. But every burger is cooked to absolute perfection! It is probably one of the best burgers I have ever had in my life. Please try it! Yum!
Address: 36 Wexford St, Dublin 2
13) Buy & Read Irish Literature!
When was the last time you read a book from Oscar Wilde? I was about 19. Which is way too long ago. But Ireland is known for so many more writers and poems: James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Bram Stoker, CS Lewis – just to name a few. Why not head to this beautiful independent bookstore and buy a good old traditional Irish read – take it with you and have some coffee & cake (of which you will find plenty of in Dublin).
Address: Cow’s Lane, Dublin 8
Opening Hours: check the link below
14) Do a Beer & Whisky Tasting Tour!
I’ve done one Tasting tour on this trip to Dublin and it was awesome! Also organised by the guys over at ‘Dublin free walking tours’, we tried local craft beers and whiskeys, Teeling, of course – not Jameson. We also all had dinner together – needless to say, as the night progressed we had a few more beers and we ended up in a bar dancing the night away! We had a really good time! Don’t worry, the groups are a mix of age – this is not just for 20 – year olds. I spent most of my evening speaking to an old chap in his 50s. Friendship knows no age!
Meeting Point: Spire O’Connell Street
Time: 6pm every day
Price: 12 Euros
15) Go listen to Live Music at the Generator Hostel!
Generator Hostel is one of the coolest hostels I have ever seen in my life. But it’s so much more than a hostel. It’s a breakfast place, restaurant (serving incredible burgers by the way…), a bar and a live music venue. There is always something going on at the Generator. I highly recommend popping by for some live music – usually on Sunday evenings – and for a pint of Guinness. Needless to say, a hostel is also a great place to meet people. Check their activity board by the entrance near the reception where they advertise what happens on which day. Smithfield’s, the district the Generator is in, is a pretty cool place to explore too, by the way.
Address: 28 Smithfield Street, Dublin 7
16) Learn about Irish History!
You can’t come to Dublin and not learn about what hardships Ireland went through – you will understand the people better. In fact you will understand everything about Ireland better. Visit the Little Museum which is an excellent starting point to learn the history of Ireland – the tour is only 30 minutes long. You’ll get a glimpse of life in Ireland between 1900 – 2000. And if you want to delve more deeply into what happened, I recommend the History Walking Tour (12 Euros) where you’ll learn a whole lot more about Ireland’s past.
Address: 15 St Stephen’s Green (Little Museum)
Hours: 9.30am – 5 or 8pm (check on their website) – link above.
17) Go dancing at Bad Bob’s!
I never thought this bar would make it on to the list – expect the unexpected as they say. My couchsurfing host so happened to work here and invited me to come around one day. So I grabbed my newly found friends, which I met at the walking tour, and we came here to let our hair down. The music is mainly pop – but the DJ is really really good! I think we danced for about 4 hours straight and had such a blast! The interior is really quite something different…oh and there is a random violinist playing her tunes alongside the music. Very entertaining!
Address: 35-37 Essex St E, Dublin 2
Hours: 12pm – 2.30 / 3.30pm
Photo from Bad Bob’s Website.
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Have you been to Dublin? If so, what did you like about it? If not, do you want to go? I would appreciate a comment in the section below.
***This is a sponsored post. As always, opinions are my own.