Things To Do
in Dublin

Dublin: A City Steeped in History

The capital city of the Emerald Isle is steeped in cultural significance. Home to some of Ireland’s most prized national treasures, and the stomping ground of the Celts, Vikings and Normans before a long period under British imperialism, its green fields and old stone walls could tell a thousand stories of Ireland’s troubled history. 
The exact date when Dublin was founded is unknown, but there are references of Dublin’s bay throughout history, the earliest dating back to Ptolemy’s document in 140AD. Before the Viking invasion of Ireland, Dublin is said to have been occupied by the Celts in around 700 BC, from where it is said to have derived its Gaelic name, Baile Átha Cliath (The Ford of Hurdles). Dublin’s name in English is said to have been adapted from the Viking settlement in 800 BC, called Dubh Linn (Black Pool).  

Dublin’s prehistoric history is dwarfed by the 800-year long British rule, which marks Ireland’s most poignant and significant historical milestones.

Dublin’s prehistoric history, however, is dwarfed by the 800-year long British rule, which marks Ireland’s most poignant and significant historical milestones, shaping Irish culture to what it is today. Dublin Castle was home to London’s UK Parliament for most of this time, including during the Great Famine between 1845 and 1849, which resulted in the greatest loss of life in 19th Century Europe – further straining relations with the British Crown and breeding Irish republicanism. Having endured a tumultuous period of British rule, Dublin became the centre point for the 1916 Easter Rising which lead to independence over British rule for 26 of Ireland’s 32 counties, establishing the Irish Republic in 1922.  

To this day, one of the most prominent visual references to Dublin’s political history can be seen through the North/South divide which was formulated during the period of King George’s reign, through a stark contrast of living conditions between the impoverished Irish Catholic majority to the North of the Liffey, and the British Protestant elite who occupied mostly the Southern part of the river, still marked by Dublin’s famous Georgian architecture around Grafton Street and Merrion Square.

 

Jump To Dublin’s Best Attractions

 

Cosmopolitan Dublin

Modern Dublin has evolved into a buzzing cosmopolitan centre, home to a rich diversity of cultural influences. Most of this was heavily fueled by the ‘Celtic Tiger’ during the 1990s to the early 2000s – a period of significant economic growth for Ireland.

When we think of modern Dublin, many of us may think of the world-renowned Temple Bar, which has become one of Dublin’s most famous attractions for enjoying  a pint of Guinness while listening to some traditional Irish music, or ceol agus craic as the locals call it. While Temple Bar as an entertainment area is certainly a must-see for many tourists – the area of Temple Bar actually got its name from the raised estuary (barr) which was built to hold back water from the River Liffey, known as “Temple Barr”, named after Sir William Temple. So the next time you go for a pint in Temple Bar, you can officially say you’re experiencing a truly historical part of Dublin’s labyrinthine heritage!

Modern Dublin has evolved into a buzzing cosmopolitan centre, home to a rich diversity of cultural influences. Most of this was heavily fueled by the ‘Celtic Tiger’ during the 1990s to the early 2000s – a period of significant economic growth for Ireland, where the city finally emerged from the shadows of endemic poverty and religious oppression and caught up with some of its more affluent European neighbours. During this time, Dublin became a business hub for many international tech giants including HP, Oracle and Citibank, attracting an influx of people from across the globe to Ireland’s humble capital with ripe job openings, before giving rise to the emergence of  the lavish ‘Silicon Docks’ as Google opened it’s Dublin headquarters in 2002, followed soon after by other tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Accenture, Hubspot and Linkedin

Even throughout the slowing down of the Irish economy fueled by the global recession of 2008, the “Big Smoke” remains a vibrant melting pot of culture and festivity; pulsating with the fruits of a rich love of art, music, and theatre. Dotted with alternative cafes, thrift markets, and music gigs, Dublin’s bustling ‘hipster’ scene around Temple Bar and The Liberties resembles a small scale version of London’s Brick Lane. While the more glamorous cocktail bar areas of Dawson Street and St. Stephen’s Green attract a host of polished Instagram aficionados.

Artistically speaking, modern Dublin has been shaped greatly by its historical theatre scene, which displays some of Ireland’s most talented theatrical talent today. For such a small city, it has bred some of the world’s greatest theatrical minds, from Bram Stoker to Oscar Wilde—to which we still pay homage in Dublin’s huge theatre and literature scene. Dublin has lots of venues where you can enjoy a good play. If you’re looking for something similar to London’s West End, the Gaiety (1871) and Bord Gáis (2010) theatres host some of the best international shows like Riverdance and The Rocky Horror Show—while smaller venues like Smock Alley (1662) and the Abbey Theatre (1904) will bring you a more raw Irish theatre experience, with many plays focusing on Irish history or modern day Ireland. 

Dublin Attractions

Guinness Storehouse

If you’re a fan of a pint or two of the black stuff, then now is the time to add the Guinness Storehouse Tour to your short city break itinerary. Here’s our full guide to help you plan your visit.

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Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo, at Phoenix Park, is one of Ireland’s top visitor attractions, with over four hundred different species of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and other invertebrates from across the world. Plan your day out at the zoo with our exclusive guide.

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Temple Bar

Temple Bar is one of the oldest areas in Dublin, now renowned for traditional Irish bars and a buzzing atmosphere all week long. Plan a night on the tiles with our guide to this famous entertainment district.

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Trinity College

Founded in 1592, Trinity College Dublin or TCD is one of Ireland’s oldest universities, attracting over two million visitors each year. Learn more about this Dublin icon with our quick guide.

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Bord Gáis Energy Theatre

The Bord Gáis Theatre is Ireland’s largest capacity theatre, hosting world famous productions, there’s always a new show to enjoy at this amazing venue.

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Olympia Theatre Dublin

The Olympia Theatre is a performing arts venue on Dame Street in Dublin’s city centre. It hosts a wide variety of productions throughout the year and is well worth a visit on your trip to Dublin.

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Aviva Stadium

The Aviva Stadium is the official home of the IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union) and where the Irish national soccer team play their home matches. Learn how to get to the stadium with our handy guide.

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Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle is one of Dublin’s top tourist attractions. Learn more about this extraordinary building and its place in Dublin’s history.

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3Arena

The 3Arena is a large music and entertainment venue that has hosted the likes of Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande plus many more international music stars. Check out our guide to this popular venue in Dublin.

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Convention Centre Dublin

The Convention Centre hosts many of Dublin’s premier tech events & is popular for large conferences due to its capacity. Learn more about how to get to the Convention Centre.

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Merrion Square

Merrion Square Park is one of Dublin’s largest public parks, and within a stone’s throw of The Alex, The Davenport and The Mont hotels. Explore everything there is to see in this wonderful park, with our useful guide.

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Grafton Street

Known as Dublin’s premier shopping district, there’s plenty of delights to be found on this famous street for the luxury shopper. The Green hotel is just a short walk away from the top of Grafton Street at St. Stephen’s Green.

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First Time in Dublin

If you’re visiting Dublin for the first time, there are certainly a lot of sights to choose from. If you’ve never been to Ireland or would like to learn about the significant history of this small island, Dublin is a great place to start—there’s a lot more to our fair city than pints of Guinness and Irish Stew!

Kilmainham Gaol is now preserved as a symbol of Ireland’s struggle for national independence and one of the most important monuments of Irish nationalism to this day.

To get your historical fix, Kilmainham Gaol is a must visit. Opened in 1796, Kilmainham Gaol was the place for public hangings and eventually where many of the most well-known revolutionaries in Irish independence, including the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were imprisoned and executed by the British. Closed as a prison in 1924, Kilmainham Gaol is now preserved as a symbol of Ireland’s struggle for national independence and one of the most important monuments of Irish nationalism to this day. 

You can walk to the Guinness Storehouse in around 20 minutes from Kilmainham Gaol. On your way back into the city centre, you could pass by Dublin Castle and pay a visit. As the stronghold of British rule in Ireland for 700 years, it is well worth seeing. Starting as an Anglo-Norman fortress in the 12th century, Dublin Castle and its surrounding area has a very medieval appearance, with nearby attractions like Christchurch Cathedral and Saint Michael’s Hill following suit. In this area you can also learn a bit about Dublin’s Viking history at Dublinia Heritage Centre.

If you’re more of a whiskey person than a Guinness fan, the Jameson and Teeling’s distilleries also offer great tours and are located around the same area. However, if you’ve done enough sightseeing and simply wish to potter around, South William Street, Drury Street and the George’s Street Arcade area offer many intriguing little shops and eateries, with a more local feel than the touristic Temple Bar scene. 

When you’re in the city centre, it’s worth going to Trinity College to admire the grandeur of Trinity College Library, which was an inspiration for the famous Hogwarts library set in the Harry Potter movies.  Founded in the 15th century, it holds some of the world’s most ancient books and manuscripts, like The Book of Kells and some of the last remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. The renowned Molly Malone Statue isn’t far from Trinity College—her famous bosom has been kissed by many a passer by, in the hope it will bring good luck!

Across the river, the Irish Emigration museum is one of the more underrated yet impressive museums for those who want to soak up as much Irish history as possible. This museum tells interesting stories about the Irish diaspora and the impact that mass Irish emigration had on the world, from sports to music and politics. Based in the Dublin Docklands, the starting point for millions of Irish people as they left the Emerald Isle, this museum is particularly poignant, especially for those who have Irish ancestry. Located right beside the Famine Memorial Sculptures, and the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship Famine Museum, you have all you need for a full day of history. After this, enjoy some amazing food at one of the many restaurants around Grand Canal Dock, just a short walk across the famous Samuel Beckett Bridge, where you can take some beautiful snaps of the city.

If you’re eager to hit the shops, walking across O’Connell Bridge towards O’Connell Street is a great way to fit in a bit of sightseeing before hunting for some high street bargains on Henry Street. From there you can take a short walk to the Ha’Penny Bridge and then head over to Grafton Street, where you’ll enjoy a more upmarket shopping experience, perhaps stopping by Brown Thomas to pick up some of your favourite designer brands. 

 

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Getting Out of the City

If you have a bit more time to spend in Dublin and would like to get out of the city, Dublin’s surrounding seaside towns boast some of Ireland’s most beautiful scenic landscapes.

Starting off closer to the city, Sandymount Strand is a local favourite. Stretching for miles, this walk along the south side of Dublin Bay is a peaceful retreat with a clear view of the Poolbeg Chimneys, a famous backdrop in many Dublin landscape artworks. If you’d like to get a closer look at the chimneys, the walk to Poolbeg lighthouse is incredibly popular with local Dubliners and is a great place to take some quaint pictures while breathing in the fresh sea air. 

Moving a little bit further north, a trip to the seaside village of Howth is sure to clear your head after worming through the bustling city. While the Howth Cliff walk is a very popular hiking route, the village itself boasts some top rated seafood restaurants and cute cafes where you can relax with a book if you’re not the hiking type—one of Howth’s best cafes, The Dog House, is a hidden haven beside the DART station, twinkling with outdoor fairy lights and an open outdoor fire! Only a 20 minute DART ride from the city centre, a day trip to Howth never fails to please. 

If you’re not the hiking type—one of Howth’s best cafes, The Dog House, is a hidden haven,twinkling with outdoor fairy lights and an open outdoor fire!”

The other well known seaside village of Malahide is also worth a trip, and is a similar distance by DART from the city centre. While there is no official hiking trail in Malahide, a stroll around the 12th century Malahide Castle and surrounding gardens is a great day out. If the weather is good, take a peaceful walk around the adjacent butterfly house and walled garden, before finishing off your afternoon with a coffee and delicious cake or lunch from the famous Avoca cafe inside the tourist centre. 

If you’re based on the south side of the city, the town of Dun Laoghaire is another one of Dublin’s beautiful seaside towns. Slightly bigger than Malahide and Howth, Dun Laoghaire offers plenty of bars and restaurants, as well as a majestic walk along Dun Laoghaire Pier.

 

Our Selection of Hidden Gems in Dublin

If you’re keen to experience Dublin like a local, we’ve pulled together a list of some of Dublin’s top hidden gems, hand picked by our very own staff here at O’Callaghan Collection. 

For nature lovers:

The National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin – like walking into a peaceful oasis, the botanic gardens are one of Dublin’s more underrated experiences. Inside the beautiful historic white greenhouses, you will find a collection of over 300 endangered plant species from all over the world, including some which are already extinct in the wild. With free entry, you can feel free to simply spend an hour, or make a day of it strolling around the pond area and rose gardens.

Bushy Park Food Market, Terenure – who doesn’t love to combine a scenic walk with some delicious food? Known for its beautiful woodland walks and weekly Saturday market serving hot food, cakes, smoothies and more—a day spent in Bushy Park makes for the perfect wholesome weekend. Breathe in the fresh air and enjoy delicious food on the grass, while listening to a selection of live music played all day. 

Iveagh Gardens, Clonmel Street – one of Dublin’s lesser-known public parks, the Iveagh Gardens is a beautiful hidden retreat right in the centre of the city, where you can enjoy a peaceful walk without the crowds that Stephen’s Green can often attract. 

 

Glasnevin Cemetery tours Dublin

 

For history buffs:

Glasnevin Cemetery, Finglas Road – located just north of the city centre, Glasnevin Cemetery was founded in 1823 and holds the graves of some of the country’s most notable figures like Michael Collins and Éamon de Valera. The cemetery also has a museum and hosts daily tours for those interested in the long history of the cemetery and its influence on the city.

The Little Museum of Dublin, St. Stephen’s Green – if you want to learn about Dublin but don’t enjoy long tours, the Little Museum gives you a concise history of Dublin in under 30 minutes. Small and charming, visiting this museum alone will give you all the history you need under one roof, so you can go and enjoy a pint without feeling like you’ve missed out on a bit of culture!

Shrine of Saint Valentine, Aungier Street – gifted to an Irish Carmelite by Pope Gregory XVI in the 1800s, the relics of Saint Valentine were finally venerated in the Whitefriar Street Church in the 1950s. Said to contain the remains of St. Valentine, this shrine is popular with couples who come to pray for St. Valentine’s blessing.

Traditional Irish Music Instrument, The Bodhran

For music enthusiasts:

The Cobblestone Trad Pub, Smithfield – nestled in one of Dublin’s oldest neighbourhoods, an evening in The Cobblestone, Tom Mulligan’s, will have you tapping your feet until the wee hours. With trad sessions almost every evening, this is a must for those seeking an authentic old Dublin experience.

The Big Romance Bar, Parnell Street – a quirky dive bar, set up to play vinyl records, with an incredible audiophile custom built Hatchett sound system. The atmosphere is much like a retro ‘listening lounge’, with a cool craft beer menu and delicious food. 

Vinyl & Wine, Temple Bar – this regular event is held in the popular vintage cocktail bar, The Liquor Rooms. Once per month, they pick a classic album, have a discussion about it and then listen to the record on an amazing sound system, provided by Cloney Audio—while drinking wine, of course. If you miss the event, The Liquor Rooms is an amazing bar in itself—definitely worth a visit if you fancy stepping into what feels like an old Hollywood cocktail scene!

For foodies:

The Blind Pig Speakeasy, Suffolk Street – a hidden Prohibition bar and restaurant tucked away in Dublin City Centre. Enjoy a delicious meal or simply sip on a few of their signature cocktails in a snug, underground candlelight atmosphere. Complete vegan and vegetarian menus are also offered.

Bastible, South Circular Road – a modern neighbourhood bistro, serving a range of contemporary menus, with a presentation that looks too good to eat! If John Dory in saffron mussel butter, followed by rhubarb cheesecake with stem ginger ice cream tickles your fancy, you’ll love the menu in this hidden gem. 

Lucky Tortoise, Aungier Street – a delicious modern dim sum restaurant, with an affordable taster menu for €20. The whole restaurant follows a paperless rule, which will please the eco-conscious, and they also offer full vegan and vegetarian options. 

Pints of Guinness

For barflies or cosmo lovers

La Cave, South Anne Street, – A small set of stairs opposite the busy Keogh’s bar near Grafton Street, takes you down to this dimly lit Parisian boudoir themed wine bar. Perfect for a romantic wine and cheese evening!

The Sitting Room, Camden Street – located above the Delahunt restaurant, you’ll find this beautifully decorated mid-century style cocktail bar. Formerly the sitting room of the family residing at 39 Camden Street, this is the perfect spot for a few quiet cocktails before a delicious meal, either at the Delahunt restaurant or at one of Camden Street’s many eateries.

Bart’s, South William Street – new to Dublin’s buzzing South William Street, Bart’s is a contemporary oriental style bar, embellished with large hanging plants, quirky artwork and mismatched furniture. With a unique food and drinks menu, this is the perfect spot for a quiet mid-week drink or a weekend night out, where they play a mix of funk, hip-hop and soul music.

For coffee lovers:

Industry, Drury Street – Browse a range of quirky decor after a leisurely bite to eat in this contemporary homeware store and cafe. A seat along the window, with a scone and homemade raspberry jam, is our idea of happiness!

Two Pups Coffee, Francis Street – tucked away from the hustle and bustle, just a minute walk from the famous Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Two Pups coffee is one of our favourite hidden gems. Behind a humble exterior, you’ll enjoy a range of delicious cakes, scones and vegan treats, washed down with a perfect cup of coffee or herbal tea. Decorated with whitewashed walls, minimal furniture and even a vintage clothing store at the back, this is a great spot to spend a couple of hours daydreaming.

Hansel and Gretel Bakery, Clare Street – if you’ve got a sweet tooth, this incredibly cute coffee shop beside the National Gallery of Ireland can’t be missed! Almost hidden from the outside, the only thing that catches your eye is the amazing selection of cakes displayed in the window. You can’t sit in, but Merrion Square is just across the road, where you can sit on a bench with your sweet treats and enjoy some people watching.

Shopping at Grafton Street Dublin

For shopaholics:

Om Diva Boutique, Drury Street – a gorgeous women’s clothing boutique selling unique garments with a section promoting independent Irish clothes and jewellery designers. They also recently added a funky second hand and retro homeware selection.

Tamp and Stitch, Temple Bar – an indie clothes shop for women with a mini coffee shop selling amazing coffee and delicious homemade cakes. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s a lovely atmosphere to escape the crowds, while watching the world go by.

Jewels and Gems, St. Andrew’s Street – specialising in a huge range of handpicked jewellery made from authentic gemstones, from rose quartz to black obsidian. All made from sterling silver and at very affordable prices, this is a hidden treasure chest, right in the city centre.

For comic book fans and comedy buffs

Dublin City Comics, Bolton Street – not far from O’Connell Street, Dublin City Comics is every comic lover’s dream. The best hidden gems are usually found slightly off the beaten track, and this one is no exception—selling a huge range of comics, action figures and collectables, at great value!

The International Comedy Club, Wicklow Street – The International Bar, just off Grafton Street hosts open mic comedy events almost every night of the week. One of Ireland’s longest running comedy events for over 25 years, this is a great place to see top class comedy acts for only €10 per ticket.

The Laughter Lounge, Eden Quay – slightly more expensive than The International bar, but well worth it. The Laughter Lounge is located just off O’Connell Street and hosts some of the finest Irish and International comedy talent.

Art Galleries Dublin

For art appreciators

Hang Tough Gallery, Lennox Street – a small contemporary fine art gallery on Lennox Street in Dublin 8 running really interesting art exhibitions often by Irish artists, and specialising in printing and framing.

Hen’s Teeth, Fade Street – an independent arts and lifestyle store that commissions and curates art from Irish artists, as well as selling cool art and products from around the world. They also organise regular art events, so it’s worth popping in for a chat to see what’s on. 

Gallery 29, Molesworth Street – close to St. Stephen’s Green, Gallery 29 is known as Ireland’s only vintage poster gallery, featuring a selection of completely original posters from the 1800s to 1990s—advertising various products from cars to cigarettes. A trip to this quirky gallery is great for those interested in history and unique art.

The Oriel Gallery, Clare Street – is one of Ireland’s oldest independent art galleries, specialising in Irish paintings, drawings and watercolours from the 18th to 21st century. It’s located very close to Merrion Square and other fantastic attractions, such as; The National Gallery and Museum of Ireland.

Whether you are visiting Dublin for a short city break or enjoying a longer stay with us, we think you’ll agree there are lots to explore in the bustling and historical capital city of Ireland. Book your break today at one of our four modern hotels near Dublin city centre including The Mont, The Davenport, The Alex and The Green.

The Orient - The Alex Event Spacesmusical folk events in IrelandThe Alex Hotel Dublin Event Space

meetings & events

Planning a meeting or event in Dublin or attending a conference at one of our hotels? Check out our full meetings and events facilities at each of our hotels.

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Dublin’s top dinner spotsThe Mont Hotel Dublin Restaurant SeatingThe Green Hotel Dublin Restaurant

eat & drink

Looking for somewhere to eat during your stay in Dublin? Each of our hotels offers a wide range of bars, restaurants and cafes to suit any occasion.

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Dublin Hotels

The Alex Suite Living Area

The Alex

The Alex Hotel is a boutique hotel in the heart of Dublin city centre & located just a 5-minute walk from Trinity College, Grafton St. & many key locations.

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The Davenport Hotel Dublin Restaurant

The Davenport

Located in the heart of Georgian Dublin, The Davenport is one of Dublin’s most iconic hotels, and has recently undergone a stunning refurbishment to meet the modern needs of today’s hotel guest.

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The Mont Hotel Dublin suite

The Mont

Opening in Summer 2019, The Mont is Dublin’s newest destination hotel, packed full of features to help you get the most of your stay in one of Europe’s most exciting cities.

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The Green

Located in the heart of Dublin with St. Stephen’s Green park on its doorstep, this hotel is a short stroll from everything the city has to offer. Add an element of elegance, and you’ve got a city break like no other.

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