If you happen to be a New Yorker, you’ll find that Dublin may be your Manhattan away from Manhattan—bustling sidewalks, city and tour buses charging up and down streets, and aesthetic-looking cafes at every turn (yasssss!). If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you probably know that I spent one week in Dublin on a study abroad trip. I know, I know, that was back in January, but I’ve had this post written up and ready to go for a while now. But I’m choosing to publish it now because it was around this time last year that I applied for my life-changing journey abroad.
So back to one of my favorite places in the world…I found that Dublin perfectly combines fast-paced city life with charming town life, which I didn’t even think could be so perfect. Your Celtic adventure won’t be complete without paying a visit to some of these wondrous Dublin sights.
Since some people might start planning their winter trips or applying to go abroad, I decided that now might be as good a time as any to finally post this. I know Ireland isn’t always the first place people think of visiting when planning a trip to Europe, but it’s an under-appreciated gem. The culture is very different from what we’re used to in the United States, and holy mother of sheep, there are so many of those adorable fluffy babies! I can go on and on about the food, jewelry and nightlife, but I’ll probably save those ramblings for a future post. Your Celtic adventure won’t be complete without paying a visit to some of these wondrous Dublin sights.
1. The Ha’Penny Bridge
The Ha’Penny Bridge is a picturesque pedestrian bridge that runs right over the River Liffey. It connects the north and south side of the city and is gorgeous backdrop for profile picture-taking. Many couples come to the bridge to sign their names and add padlocks to the bridge to “lock up” their love. Though it isn’t a good idea to be caught doing this, the idea adds a romantic air to the bridge. Plus, my friend told me that the bridge was mentioned in one of the books she had read in her childhood, so of course we needed to see it for ourselves.
2. The Samuel Beckett Bridge
Think of a giant string harp over a river, connecting two bodies of land. That’s the Samuel Beckett Bridge. At least that’s what I think every time I see it. It’s named after the Irish novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett, and get this: the bridge MOVES. It swings open to allow boats to pass across the River Liffey. If you get the chance to see this bridge in action, you’ll probably be too mesmerized to remember to Snapchat it. I really wanted to snap a shot of the bridge at night (it lights up, too) but unfortunately, my Nikon wasn’t awesome enough to capture an awesome picture. Maybe next time, though.
3. The Dublinia
This is a historical museum that focuses on Viking and Medieval history in Ireland. It’s right next to Christchurch, and admission is free with your Dublin Pass (check out my post on how to save money while studying abroad). The exhibits were interactive and very visual. My favorite exhibit was the one that lets you try out archaeological methods of artifact dating for yourself (by the way, that’s my name spelled out in the Viking language below!).
4. Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle is full of rich history and beautiful architecture. I really love castles and I love that all of them have a different story to tell, so I was really captivated by this. There are about 800 castles in all of Ireland, and this one is certainly a sight for sore eyes.
5. Croke Park & The GAA Museum
If you hear the Irish talking about hurling, they’re not referring to the thing you do when you’ve had too much to drink at a frat party. Hurling is a sport played using handcrafted sticks called hurleys and a tennis ball-sized object called a sliothar. Games are played in Croke Park, a vast stadium where your tour guide might also let you check out the changing rooms for the players! The GAA Museum also gives you great info about Hurling champs and is a great place for sports lovers. My group actually got to learn how to play the game and it was pretty cool. I wasn’t great at first but I ended up picking it up before the end of the session. Super fun!
6. The Chester Beatty Library
This is actually a museum with exhibits that delve into the histories of different regions of the world, as well as the artifacts that were collected by Chester Beatty (aka the King of Copper) himself. Plus, you get a free Chester Beatty Biography with your Dublin Pass!
7. Trinity College
This campus is probably one of the most gorgeous campuses in the world. Their Long Room Library also houses The Book of Kells, a Gospel book written in Latin. The tour guide asked our group if we had any questions. Guess what everyone’s first (and only) question was…
Where can we buy Trinity College gear?
Needless to say, I’m very grateful that the question was shamelessly asked.
8. The National Museum of Ireland — Archaeology
You can literally spend a week in this museum. It’s HUGE. It includes so much history and so many (creepy) cool things to look at. If there’s one thing you look at in this museum it HAS to be the bog bodies! Bogs often preserved parts of trees, artifacts, and even people who lived a long time ago. These bodies probably aren’t something you’d want to see tonight in your dreams but they’re so disgustingly fascinating you can’t look away!
9. The Guinness Storehouse
You can’t come to the land of Guinness and not see Guinness. The storehouse is a great way to learn more about how the beverage is made, learn how to properly taste Guinness, and sip a proper pint for yourself while getting a 360-view of Dublin. I also loved browsing through the gift shop in the storehouse because there were so many cool things to get there, even if they were slightly tourist-y. I got some of my friends chocolate tiny, chocolate pint glasses with Guinness inside and they loved them! By the way, if you ever buy any alcoholic chocolates or candies in Ireland, just know that you WILL taste the alcohol!
10. Grafton Street
You need Grafton Street in your life. It’s a pedestrian street that’s full of shops and eateries on both sides of the road. You’ll be sure to find souvenirs, quick bites, slow bites, and everything to satisfy your Dublin shopping needs. And if you take a walk down a few side streets, you’ll find cute little pubs and cafes for an evening out.
Which of these places will you visit?