Last updated on February 6, 2024
I know Hamburg quite well and like it very much…… “Why are we talking about Hamburg now?”
If you already know Hamburg and then get to know Dublin, you’ll know what I mean. Both cities have a lot in common…
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They are both harbour cities where the water contributes a great deal to the character of the city. Both have beautiful historical sights on the one hand, but also a young, dynamic life on the other.
Lots of culture, classic and modern, and a lively nightlife for the night owls among us. Both cities are large cities with an international flair, but their city centres are basically manageable in size and can easily be explored on foot.
You can spend a nice day, a nice weekend or even a week in both cities without getting bored.
However, there is one difference: On my visits to Dublin, the weather was on average better than in Hamburg, often much better. Of course, this is a purely subjective observation from several visits to both cities…
Incidentally, I come from Germany and have lived with my family in Ireland for several years (second home). In the summer, we run our motorbike rental business here south of Dublin (https://www.easycruiser.tours) and also offer nice guest rooms for travellers (https://www.the-view-accommodation.ie).
We know Dublin well ourselves. You can easily explore the city centre on foot and it makes perfect sense to look for accommodation in the city centre, even if overnight stays in Dublin are often expensive. But the traffic in this very large city is no fun at all and it takes longer to find a parking space than to walk a bit.
Where is the city centre? I would describe the Temple Bar neighbourhood and its immediate surroundings as the old town. There is also a lot of old housing stock and historical sights outside of Temple Bar, but if you take Temple Bar (pub) as your centre point and then walk about 20 minutes in each direction, you’ve already seen a lot of Dublin City.
This area is also where you’ll find the main Dublin sights to see in a long day or weekend – or at least some of them.
Let’s get started:
The Docklands with the Jeanie Johnston and the EPIC Museum
The River Liffey flows through the centre of Dublin, forming the Docklands and widening towards the harbour, where it flows into the sea. A beautiful wooden sailing ship, the Jeanie Johnston, is moored at the pier in the Docklands.
It is a replica of one of the ships in which hundreds of thousands of Irish people left Ireland during the Great Famine of 1850 to seek a new future in North America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or other countries.
Today the ship is a museum ship that you can visit on a guided tour – highly recommended! See: https://jeaniejohnston.ie/.
The EPIC Museum on the same bank provides information about the great Irish emigration and is also well worth a visit. See: https://epicchq.com/.
Incidentally, I have also written my own article on Dublin museums, which I will link to at the bottom of the text.
Trinity College, the Old Library and the Book of Kells
Trinity College is just a few minutes’ walk from the Docklands. Dublin’s oldest university is open to everyone. Through a small gate you enter the huge inner courtyard, the campus.
The walk between the classical buildings alone is a wonderful experience. In the centre of the campus you will find the old library, which has two attractions:
The beautiful Long Room and the Book of Kells exhibition. The Long Room is a high hall with a vaulted ceiling, beautifully finished in wood with metre-high bookshelves.
The Book of Kells is a fantastically illustrated book from the early Middle Ages and is now a World Heritage Site. The small exhibition is well worth a visit. See: https://www.visittrinity.ie/book-of-kells/.
Over the Ha`Penny Bridge to Temple Bar
The Ha`Penny Bridge crosses the River Liffey. No matter which bank of the river you are on, walk across the bridge once or twice and back again. Ha’Penny stands for Half Penny, as in the past you used to have to pay a half penny toll to use the footbridge.
This is no longer the case, so you can enjoy the river and the beautiful bridge without any worries. On the south bank of the river is the Temple Bar neighbourhood with the famous Temple Bar pub.
I would describe this neighbourhood as Dublin’s old town, even though the term is not really used in Dublin. The neighbourhood is touristy, but also beautiful, with a pedestrian zone, lots of small shops, pubs and nightlife. See: https://thetemplebarpub.com/.
Probably the best street for strolling and shopping is Grafton Street, just outside Temple Bar. Here you will find lots of nice little shops, galleries and cafés.
Dublin Castle is located not far from Temple Bar. It dates back to a medieval fortress. The old round tower is still from that time. The other buildings are from the 18th and 19th centuries.
You can visit the castle inside and out, there are guided tours and various seasonal exhibitions.
The castle also once served as the seat of government and these rooms can be visited as permanent exhibitions, as can the chapel and the Viking archaeological sites below the castle. See: https://www.dublincastle.ie/.
Christ Church Cathedral
A few minutes’ walk away is the magnificent Christ Church Cathedral. It is the oldest cathedral in Dublin and dates back to the early Middle Ages. You can visit it or listen to a concert. See: https://christchurchcathedral.ie/.
Dublinia is located right next to Christ Church Cathedral and is connected to it by a bridge, as it is housed in the old Synod Hall.
Here you will find a very interesting Viking and medieval museum. Why Vikings? The Vikings ruled Dublin and the east and south-east of Ireland for over 200 years and founded several towns in Ireland.
They are an important part of Irish history and I can personally recommend a visit to Dublinia – I have been there several times. See: https://www.dublinia.ie/.
St Patrick’s Cathedral
St Patrick’s Cathedral is the second oldest medieval cathedral in Dublin and is not far from its older sister, Christ Church Cathedral. St Patrick’s Cathedral is also one of Dublin’s most important sights and looks forward to your visit. See: https://www.stpatrickscathedral.ie/.
The Guinness Storehouse
Ireland’s largest brewery needs no introduction. The Guinness Storehouse and the Guinness Experience in the west city centre are of course a must when visiting Dublin. The Gravity Bar on the top floor offers beautiful views all around Dublin. See: https://www.guinness-storehouse.com/.
You will also find Kilmainham Gaol in the west of the city centre. This remarkable prison from 1796 is now a museum. In addition to common criminals, many Irish freedom fighters who campaigned for independence from Great Britain and an independent Ireland were also imprisoned here. The long road to independence is also an important topic in Irish history. See: https://www.kilmainhamgaolmuseum.ie/.
Dublin is well worth a visit! Ireland’s capital by the sea is lively, culturally interesting and has many beautiful corners to discover.
Even if you’re not a city person, you can add a short stay in Dublin of one or two days to your tour of Ireland and see a bit of the city centre.
I have listed some of the most important sights in the city for you in this article and hopefully I have been able to give you a little help with your holiday planning.
There will be more articles about Dublin in the future. I have listed some of them for you below, maybe you will find something interesting to browse through.
In any case, I wish you a wonderful holiday in Ireland – and lots of fun in Dublin!