A Memorable 2 Days in Lively Dublin
Dublin is the current capital of Ireland and its largest city. It is home to the economic, political and religious of the country. It is also by far the busiest city on the emerald island.
I wasn't sure what to expect when we got to Dublin. It doesn't have the iconic landmarks of other European cities like the Colosseum in Rome, The Louve in Paris or Big Ben in London. There isn't a spot where everyone gets that perfect Instagram photo. There isn't that one thing that everyone must do or see. Add onto this that we brought our 4-year-old daughter with us and that made determining what to do and see more complex. However, that doesn't mean we didn't find a myriad of things to keep us busy in Dublin.
We arrived in Dublin in the afternoon after spending a couple of days in Kilkenny, which should be on any Ireland itinerary. Like many European cities, the sidewalks were constantly filled with people and the roads were always full of cars. We never felt alone while walking through any of the streets. The afternoon, when we arrived, was especially busy.
One of the first things we did was make a quick stop at the park so my daughter could get some energy out after being in the car for a few hours. St Stephens Green, the largest park in Dublin, was located only a few blocks from our hotel and had a good-sized playground that my daughter could enjoy. The park itself is a wonderful reprieve from the city. It is filled with ponds, birds, flowers, trees and plenty of benches for relaxing.
After a little time at the park, it was time for us to move on to the Guinness Storehouse. We had pre-purchased our tickets here so as to guarantee our spot. It was a Wednesday afternoon and the Guinness Storehouse was busy but I wouldn't say it was over-crowded by any means. People were still able to get tickets at the door. The tour starts as many brewery tours with the process of how beer is brewed along with what makes the Guinness process special. The first few parts of the tour were easy to follow along but then as we climbed the floors of the building there weren't clear directions on where to go next. We did eventually make it to the Gravity Bar at the top of the building to get our freshly brewed Guinness or soda in the case of my daughter and got a great rooftop view of the city of Dublin below. We could see the entire Guinness Brewery that extended for blocks in several directions from this vantage point. The rooftop bar was my favorite part of the entire tour. My daughter found some of the parts of the tour fun. While the tour is kid friendly I wouldn't say it was the most exciting experience for a 4-year-old.
The next day started with breakfast and a walk along Grafton Street, one of Dublin's popular shopping streets. There was every sort of shopping store along this street from the Lego store, to upscale clothing, to souvenirs. It was morning when we walked through this pedestrian street so not all the shops were open yet but we did spend some time looking through some of them, of course my daughter loved the Lego store.
After wandering the streets for a while it was time for us to go on our city tour. But we didn't just pick any city tour, we picked the Viking Splash tour on a military-style duck (yes the same ones they use in the Wisconsin Dells). This tour took us through many of the neighborhoods of Dublin as well as a short trip on the Grand Canal, all while wearing Viking helmets. This experience was one of the more interesting city tours we'd ever taken. The tour guide make the experience as he was full of energy, knowledgable and entertaining. This was a tour I'd recommend for anyone going to Dublin. My daughter had fun on this tour and it is a great experience for kids.
The tour dropped us off where we had started in the middle of Dublin near St Stephen's Green park. From there we made our way to Trinity College for a tour of its famous library. This was one of the more disappointing experiences we had in Dublin. The tour of the library includes a tour of the Book of Kells, which is a famous book made in Scotland and Ireland that illustrates the 4 gospels. My daughter had no interest in this at all so we ended up going through this part of the tour, which we needed to do before we got to the library, pretty quickly. The library itself was filled with very old books and many other tourists. It has been used in movies but it seemed smaller and less impressive in person. For almost 19 Euros to get in, it didn't seem worth that price.
The next stop for us in Dublin took us to Dublinia, a museum that went through the history of Dublin. It was an interesting museum and had a lot of lifelike displays, including some that we could touch and play with. As we went through each room we were taken back in time to the beginnings of Dublin and worked our way up to the 16th century to see how people lived and how the city grew and changed throughout the years. The self-guided tour ended with a climb of 96 steps to the top of St Michaels tower which was built in the 17th century. We got some very nice views of Dublin from here as well.
By the time we were done with Dublinia, it was getting into the evening. The city was bustling with rush hour traffic both on foot and by car. We decided to make our way to another shopping district on Henry Street. This street had more high-end stores than Grafton street and had more of an outdoor mall feel to it. There were no Lego or Disney stores here and few, if any souvenir shops. We did come across some street performers that we stood and watched for a while before we found somewhere to eat dinner.
We ended our night by stopping by one of the many gelato shops we found in Ireland. I was surprised to see as many gelato stores in Ireland as we did but they were pretty easy to find and they were always busy. The gelato tasted better than it does in the US but still not as good as we've had in Italy.
Our time in Dublin was only a couple of days but it was enough time to hit some of the city's highlights and get a feel of all it has to offer.