1. Embrace Irish Sporting Culture
The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), plays a significant role in everyday Irish life. Hurling and Gaelic Football are two incredibly exciting and unique sports that any Dublin visitor simply must experience. Be it on television in a pub, or from within the roaring crowds of Croke Park, the raw passion from these amateur sportspeople is nothing short of exceptional. Do yourself a favour and make sure you witness a football or hurling match during your stay in the city!
2. Experience Traditional Irish Music
Every Dublin travel guide will tell you to experience a “trad sesh” at an Irish pub while in Dublin. For the real flavour, try to avoid the regular tourist hub of Temple Bar and opt for a more genuine (and cheap) experience elsewhere in the city. Pubs such as the Hairy Lemon on Stephen Street Lower offer amazing traditional music sessions every Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Grab a Guinness if you want to really fit the Irish bill and get lost in the music.
3. Take a Dip at the Forty-Foot
Following a night of music and Guinness, you may want to head to Sandy cove for an icy-cold wake up. Here, you will find “The Forty Foot”, a promontory in the south of Dublin Bay, which is a frequent spot for the city’s hardiest residents. Start your day in Dublin with a dip in the Irish Sea at this local swimming destination that has been extremely popular for over 200 years, despite the biting cold. Be careful though: The Irish Coast Guard has warned swimmers to exercise caution and not to swim in rough seas.
4. Sample the Local Food
Ireland is often overlooked when it comes to international food scenes. And yet, the country, and Dublin specifically, is home to a booming culinary scene. If you are looking for an authentic Irish meal, traditional Irish Stew is a perfect way to warm yourself after a day in the usually chilly Irish streets. For this be sure to add O’Sheas Hotel Restaurant on Talbott Street to your travel itinerary, but if you are looking for classic Irish pub grub, head to L. Mulligan Grocer in Stoneybatter. This fantastic spot celebrates local produce by using only Irish ingredients to create local recipes.
5. Offbeat Festivals
Everyone knows about St. Patrick’s Day. Although this is a fun time to be in Dublin, it massively overshadows the many other festivals that take place annually in the city. A particular favourite amongst literature-enthusiasts is the annual “Bloomsday Festival”, where readings and performances relating to Dublin local James Joyce’s novel Ulysses take place throughout the city. Bloomsday falls on the 4th of June. Another highly recommended festival is the “Dublin Fringe Festival”, which celebrates everything from music to comedy to visual art. This typically takes place in September.
6. Ghost-Hunting at The Hellfire Club
The Hellfire Club, also known as Montpelier Hill, is one of the more unusual things to do in Dublin. Atop a hill to the southwest of the city lies an old hunting lodge. According to local stories, this lodge was built on an ancient passage grave. The building then supposedly became the meeting place of Satanists and Devil-worshippers, endowing it with a very eerie reputation. Be it to take in the lovely views, or to do some amateur ghost-hunting, a guided tour to this unique location is not to be missed.
7. Embrace Irish Theatre
Ireland is home to an impressive history of world-renowned playwrights. Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, J.M. Synge, and George Bernard Shaw have all called this little inspiring island home in the past. Embrace Ireland’s literary culture at the Gaiety Theatre; built in 1871 it holds a significant spot in Irish literature’s history ever since. Today, tickets to plays can be bought for as little as €10.
8. Escape the City
If you want to temporarily escape the buzz of the city, there are plenty of nearby options. Glendalough is a particular favourite with tourists and locals alike. Less than an hours’ drive from Dublin, this stunning glacial valley is steeped in history. The area surrounding Glendalough was home to a 6th Century monastic settlement. Buildings from this settlement are still visible today, making it a must-visit for nature or history-lovers.
9. Relax in the Park
If you do not have time to leave the city but wish to escape the bustle, head to one of the many parks and greens. St. Stephen’s Green is an ideal spot to relax, feed the ducks, and watch daily Dublin life unfold all around you. If you would prefer a walk through open green fields, move on to Phoenix Park. This 707-hectare park lies within the city centre and is ideal for evening strolls. Additionally, the park is home to herds of wild deer, the President of Ireland’s residence, and Dublin Zoo. There is plenty to do here to keep you occupied all day long!
10. Killiney Hill
A trip up Killiney Hill is the perfect way to round off your time in Dublin. From the top of this hill, soak in staggering views of the city to the north, the Irish Sea (and occasionally Wales) to the east, and the Wicklow Mountains to the south. Pack yourself a picnic and a coat; it can get a bit chilly up there!
With so much to do in Dublin, the city’s stereotype as a drinking capital of Europe does not do it adequate justice. Although Irish pubs can be great fun, make sure you do not overlook so much else the city has to offer; food, history, outdoor activities, and cultural insights into its historic splendour!
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