The capital city of Ireland may be small compared to others but it doesn’t hold back because of that. A trip to Dublin is what every person needs. It shows its vibrant culture, history, art, and literature every day. The meld of the old world and the new modern world is almost seamless as you step from one street to another.
If you are planning on making this place your permanent home for the next few years, there is a lot you need to know for living in Dublin. The charisma of the city and its inhabitants has made this a top destination and when you’re here you better make the most of it. This basic guide for 2 days in Dublin will help you navigate with some must-sees and personal recommendations of what to do or eat around the city.
Things to do in Dublin
Old Jameson Distillery
Jameson Irish Whiskey is one of the most popular whiskey brands not only in Ireland but globally. You will be excited to come and see where the magic happens, or used to happen. Though more a museum now than an actual distillery, any Jameson whiskey lover or general lover of whiskey should take the tour. You can get cocktail lessons with a one-hour class that involves the classic brands along with some of the newer varieties that Jameson has to offer. Or learn about barrel blending and why it’s such a fine art when it comes to whiskey.
Once you finish the tour you can get a certificate as an official Whiskey Taster. It’s a nice fun souvenir you can have to commemorate your time in Dublin.
National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology
As an avid fan of learning about older world cultures and history, this has to be the best museum in Dublin for that purpose. Multiple exhibits include prehistoric to medieval Ireland. Involving displays of Celtic metalwork, Irish-Catholic jewelry, and crosses, even Egyptian artifacts have been included. On the second floor, you will find a very informative and interesting Viking exhibit and a timeline of their history throughout Ireland. It’s a pretty impressive museum with so many permanent exhibits and you may want to plan out your time here. 2-3 hours should be sufficient to see the entire museum and to check out the gift shop.
Enjoy the Irish history here. Located in the middle of the city, Dublin Castle was the original center of British power for 7 centuries until the 1920s. A must-see for any traveler staying in Dublin, it should be of particular interest to history and medieval castle fans that will want to come here and get the full experience. Built in the 13th century, it has maintained its place as a part of the city’s history and culture. The impressive courtyard at its center shows the architectural achievements that Ireland continues to have. A guide will show you the interior and historical quarters that were used by the established Vikings.
Don’t expect a real medieval setting here, it has more of a similar vibe to the Trinity College campus area. It’s now used as a tourist attraction and government building for official events and inaugurations.
Trinity College Dublin is the most prestigious university in the city and one of the top schools in the world, it’s no wonder that even if you aren’t a student you can still enjoy the impressive Parliament Square with its central bell tower, cobbled walkways and buildings of pristine white stone. Coming here is something you can do on your own time or as part of a Dublin city tour. With many notable alumni of literature maybe you will find some inspiration. It also houses the Book of Kells in the Trinity College Library, one of the greatest treasures of Ireland’s culture that they have to offer inside the largest library in Ireland.
The Temple Bar
You can experience the Dublin nightlife here but because of its popularity over the decades, it’s mostly filled with tourists and very few locals. But you can still have a great time here just by strolling through the streets. The cobblestone pavement will help set the way for some vintage shops, and great restaurants. It is home to some great bars on almost every corner and you can hear plenty of live music coming from all over but also remember the drinking age here is 18 years old. So you may want to skip the hassle and find yourself somewhere a little quieter or at least in the same age group as yourself.
Irish Whiskey Museum
Aside from a nice poured pint of Guinness, Ireland is of course also famous for its whiskey. Another fun way to learn about the art of whiskey and its history in Ireland for over 200 hundred years is here at this museum. This mainly caters to tourists both domestically and abroad Right on the popular and ever-busy Grafton street in the heart of Dublin, you can take a very informative one-hour tour. The guides are enthusiastic about their love for whiskey and have a lot of good information.
Learn the customs of Irish drinking and proper whiskey etiquette. The different ways of whiskey distilling are particularly interesting. And at the end have a nice sampling of the different whiskeys. They won’t focus on one specific brand and instead rotate several popular choices every day. Even if you decide that you don’t want to take a tour you can still hang out at the bar and enjoy a few glasses.
Irish House Dance Party
When it comes to Irish music there are 5 subjects all songs are involved with: Lost Love, Death, Drinking, War, and Celebration. Taking in a dinner and a show of traditional Irish music and dance is a Dublin highlight to showcase these classic songs. Enjoy some tasty Guinness Irish stew as part of your three-course meal before the show. After dinner, you’ll be shown downstairs past the pub and into their parlor room for the show. You get a cozy and intimate setting with center stage for several performers. Each performance is unique as the musicians are swapped out on different nights.
Some of the musical instruments include flute, concertina, guitar, and bodhrán. You’ll get a combination of jigs and ballads all along with some backstory on each song and its origins, whether from a specific area of Ireland or the artist. With a solo dancer added to the mix as well you get to feel like you’re at a classic Irish celebration. These are all amazing talents and it’s an entertaining show so book tickets well in advance. You get to clap along and participate in some of the songs so make sure your voice is on pitch.
Christ Church Cathedral
One of Dublin’s top highlights and one of its oldest buildings founded in 1028. A heritage site that welcomes visitors from all over the world. It is the first of two medieval cathedrals in Dublin, with the second being St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It has been extensively renovated during the 19th century with a lot of beautiful architecture. Underneath is the largest medieval crypt in Ireland. Getting a Dublin pass will allow you free entry and plenty of walking tours in the city will take you here.
National Leprechaun Museum
Irish folklore is filled with an assortment of magical fairy-like creatures, none more well-known or universally recognizable as the Leprechaun. You get some background history of the mythical realm known as Otherworld along with various creatures of the other side. At this museum, you get to shrink down to leprechaun size and are told common Irish myths by your tour guide. It will captivate you and make you feel like a kid again with these tales.
Each room as you make your way through the museum represents one of the elements of nature. With special effects and colorful displays, you get that element of Irish mysticism that makes this such a popular place to stop by. If you are looking for something a little scarier, you can take the night tour where the tales of these creatures are a little darker and twisted to teach you some good life lessons.
Other Activities in Dublin
Kilmainham Gaol – Being in a former prison turned museum, here you can learn about historical former residents who helped fight for Irish Independence. Over 100 years old, this bleak part of Dublin was notoriously known. You will hear tales of its operations and day-to-day life from the guided tours or you can explore on your own. You can compare it to visiting Alcatraz Island in the United States if you need a frame of reference. It’s a great place to get some history and worth the time to visit aside from the party side of Dublin.
Little Museum of Dublin – This place may not be as well known as the larger national museums in Dublin but it still has a wealth of knowledge and history for first-timers. It’s also a lot more entertaining. You will find it unique and kind of quirky with its exhibitions filled with random items, artifacts, and visual displays. Tours are recommended as your guides will make this all the more fun.
With some ‘luck of the Irish” you can’t help but have a wonderful time. If you’re in a hurry and can only stay for a short time here, schedule your sightseeing from the highlights of the best things to do in Dublin. Join in the revelry of the city, sing along to the odd Irish ballad, and take in the beauty of this emerald gem. Visiting Ireland will be one of the best decisions you ever made. Sláinte!