Dublin’s Discovery Trails

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy much of what Dublin has to offer. You can take in the sights and experience the history of this iconic city on the many walking trails scattered about the area. We are going to show you some of the amazing things you can come across and how you can get around for free as you experience Dublin in a unique way.

Do It For Free
The walking trails are all free, and while there are guided tours, you can simply take yourself along whichever trail you like. You don’t have to wander aimlessly though, just keep an eye out for signposts at every turn. Instead, you can download the free app Dublin Discovery Trails to find out where you can start, and which trail might be right for you. The app will walk you through the trail in detail and show you what you can look out for to make your walks more rewarding.

Pick Your Passion
What kind of walk would you like? Are you looking to soak up the ancient history of Dublin by walking beside castles, towers and gaols? Or would you rather go from pub to pub and try out each one’s signature drink? Maybe you prefer to go for an entertainment stroll, hitting up the places where musicians hang out and where public performances are common. There is a walking path for each of these interests, and the app can find that for you. You might be surprised at the kinds of things that Dublin has to offer once you get going on one of these paths
for a while.

There are walking paths through the parks as well, for those who want a more natural setting. Phoenix Park is massive, and its walking paths can take you by the zoo, through the gardens and along the lakes.

Plan Ahead
If you are going to be walking all day, you’ll want to decide ahead of time where you are going to eat, how much you are going to spend on food, shopping and such and where you will store all the stuff you plan to carry. You may want to circle back to your vehicle after a few hours, just in case you get overly tired or if you need to drop off some shopping.

You may also want to plan a secondary path that takes you into a few shopping centres or off the streets, if the weather takes a turn for the worst. You can always check the forecast ahead of time to avoid this problem, though.

There is tons of Dublin to explore, and you can see a lot of it just by walking, but you’ll likely see more and have more fun if you plan ahead and figure out your trip before you set off on it. It’s also a good idea to have some extra cash on you just in case you change your mind about the notion of walking for the entire time.

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dublin skyline

A Family Vacation in Dublin

Dublin may be known for its pubs and partying atmosphere, but it is also a great family destination. If you are looking for somewhere to take the little ones to experience some culture, history, entertainment and discovery, then Dublin is the perfect place. We’re going to walk you through a few of the highlights of Dublin city and county that make it a great destination to take the entire family for a European getaway.

city bikes dublin bicycles

See The Animals
Dublin’s zoo is one of the largest in the world and a great way to start off your family trip. It’s located inside Phoenix Park, which is a great family attraction all on its own, even if you aren’t planning to visit the zoo. Dublin Zoo is not the only place to see some wildlife, though. The deer in Phoenix Park are friendly enough that you may be able to go up and pet some of them or feed them as they gather around you and your family. They are used to seeing people regularly, so they won’t scamper away like most deer.

Ride The Waves
You can take a tour of Dublin on the land and water in the same vehicle, thanks to the Viking Splash Tours. These tours make use of a refitted World War II amphibious vehicle that takes groups on an hour and fifteen minutes ride through Dublin. Along the way, you’ll get to see St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College and Christ Church. These are important historical buildings that define the Dublin aesthetic. You’ll see a lot of sights from an angle that many people don’t get to experience, making for an unforgettable tour of the city.

Taste The Chocolate
For any chocolate lovers among you, there is the Chocolate Warehouse in Walkinstown. There, you can tour the warehouse and see how chocolate is made.

A 30-minute video presentation is part of the tour, and you can even decorate some chocolate yourself. Of course, there is also plenty of chocolate to buy and enjoy when the tour is over.

Take a Trip Back in Time
Dublin is known for its history, and in no place is that more apparent than in Dublinia. This is a museum and heritage centre that focus on medieval history in the area. You can visit a spooky crypt, see knights in full armour, look at the weapons and tools of the period and even visit the oldest cathedral in the area.

The museum is a recreational one, which means that there is plenty to do there, and you could easily spend an entire day there experiencing some of the activities and seeing all the relics of the past that are showcased in this museum.

Enter the Ark
The Ark is a recreational centre built with kids in mind. It has all sorts of interactive displays, and every day brings new entertainment, including music and games. Kids can spend hours trying out each of the games and seeing all the centre has to offer. You’ll find this family treasure at Temple Bar, considered to be Dublin’s tourist hotspot.

Why You Should Visit Dublin’s Leprechaun Museum

There are plenty of museums in Dublin, but none quite as unique as the National Leprechaun Museum. It’s emphasis on fun and folklore over fact and history makes it a special experience that visitors rave about after taking a tour.

It’s Like Nothing Else
Instead of fine art and detailed descriptions of historical events, at this museum you’ll find oversized furniture and depictions of fairy-tale creatures of all kinds.

Leprechauns take centre stage, for sure, but there are displays dedicated to banshees, fairies, púca and more.

There is tons of leprechaun folklore to learn about here, and it is covered in a series of rooms, each one with its own stories to tell. Each of the rooms is a set piece, and the tour guide will regale the visitors with stories as they go through each one, bringing the world of leprechauns to life.

Even the pop culture history of leprechauns is covered in the museum. It’s not just centred on Irish folklore. Film and book adaptations of the tales are detailed, and the entire affair ends in a gift and souvenir shop for visitors to take home a token of their experience.

While the museum is typically kid friendly, kids under 6 will not be allowed. For special tours on Friday and Saturday nights, admittance is limited to those 18 years and up. The experience takes on a decidedly more adult tone then, and visitors need to know what kind experience they are in for before they just go to the museum for a visit.

What to Know before Visiting the Museum
The museum is located near the corner of Jervis St. and Abby Street Upper, across from Ulster Bank. The typical tour only takes 45 minutes and is only in English. It costs anywhere from €10-16, and the museum is open every day from 10 am to 6:30 pm.

The Friday and Saturday evening tour takes about 60 minutes and costs €18. Large groups may need to book in advance to ensure they are accommodated. The museum is closed on all public holidays and visitors should always call in advance to make sure the museum is open when they want to visit before planning their trip.

This is definitely a light-hearted and completely not a serious experience, and visitors should adjust their expectations accordingly. There is no serious history here, and the guides tend to joke a lot, making for a very different tour than what most people expect from a museum.

Visitors are encouraged to bring their kids, so long as they can handle some slightly scary anecdotes here and there.

The unique setting and oversized furniture makes for some great photo opportunities, and visitors are encouraged to stop and make the most of the colourful surroundings to create memories that will stick with them for a lifetime.

There really is nothing else quite like the National Leprechaun Museum, and it should be a stop on any eclectic tour of Dublin.

Visiting Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin

dublin sightseeingThe Kilmainham Gaol is a prison that has been in existence for hundreds of years, dating back to 1796.

The tour guides and anyone who talks about it usually talks about all the rebellions, military actions and other tragic events that the site was a part of. It played a role in the fight for Irish independence and in other important events throughout the country’s history. Today, it is museum and a testament to what the country and its people have endured through the ages.

What to Do
A guided tour of Kilmainham Gaol will take you through the restored halls of this ancient structure. You’ll receive an oral history of the place and see where some of the more important events took place. The guide will talk about all the prisoners who were held there, including women and children, some of whom were held on very minor offences and kept in awful conditions.

You’ll be able to visit some of the prison cells and see how prisoners were restrained and what their day to day life consisted of.

You’ll also be able to visit the chapel and the residential areas of the grounds which played important roles in the prison and in the lives of its occupants and caretakers. There were more than just prisoners who lived there, and you’ll get to experience some of what life was like for them as well.

It feels like stepping back in time when you enter the gaol’s walls, but the entire facility has been lovingly restored for the past 50 years, as it was in shambles before then. Now it is open to the public and a major tourist site all year round.

The upper floor contains an art gallery showcasing paintings, jewellery and sculptures that relate to the gaol and its occupants.

The Kilmainham Gaol is an incredibly large prison and one of the largest of its kind in all of Europe that is no longer occupied, making it a must-visit site for the historically inclined.

What to Know before You Visit
You’ll want to make sure that you can get in when you visit the museum, and that means coming at the right time. It’s a very busy tourist site, so you may run into delays when you visit, especially if you come during the busy season, which tends to be around the summertime.

You have to go by guided tour, if you want to see the gaol, and if you have a group of ten or more, then you need to book in advance. Your group can’t exceed 35 people, though, so be aware of the restrictions.

To get to the museum, you will probably need to park at a nearby building or take public transport. There is no parking at the gaol itself. If you travel by Luas then take the Red Line and get off at Suir Road. There are several bus routes that take you next to the gaol, if you would rather travel that way.

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Things to Do in Phoenix Park

ulster bank building dublinIf you are planning to visit Dublin City, then you should make some time for Phoenix Park. It’s the kind of place that’s large enough and filled with enough things to do and sights to see that you could spend your entire holiday there.

We want to show you some of the amazing experiences you can have there, but you should know that there are tons more that we don’t have time to cover here.

It’s a good idea to research the park thoroughly before you go so that you don’t get too distracted by all there is to see and do and actually manage to get to everything you planned on visiting.

Dublin Zoo
Of course, we have to mention the Dublin Zoo, which is one of the largest in the region and is home to more than 700 animals. That’s birds, mammals, reptiles and everything else all living together in one amazing place. New species and additions to the species that are already there are always being added, so even if you visited before, you are sure to find something new with each visit. It’s actually the third oldest zoo in the world, making it a historical treasure that everyone should take time to visit.

People’s Gardens
The gardens open at 8:00 am every day and feature a wide range of horticultural marvels. There are a few lakes there, some playgrounds for the children, walking paths, monuments and much more to discover. The gardens are spread out across 9 acres, and it’s not uncommon for people to spend an entire day just in the gardens, taking in nature and enjoying the various activities it has to offer.

Magazine Fort
For those who like military history and ancient structures, the Magazine Fort fits both bills. It is a structure that was erected back in the 1600s and has been used in a few military struggles during its time. Now it is preserved for future generations to enjoy, though it is currently only open for limited tours, so you may need to call ahead to get a peek inside.

Ashtown Castle
There are more historic structures in Phoenix Park, including the oldest of them all, Ashtown Castle. This is a tower that was constructed hundreds of years ago and that sits beside the park’s visitor centre. For many people, it is the first stop as they make their way through the park.

Other Things to See and Do
These are just some of the highlights, and there is tons more to talk about to give a comprehensives view of the park. Phoenix Park is home to hundreds of species of plants, for example. It also houses a few estates, some of which are open to the public throughput most of the year.

Motor races, concerts, cricket clubs and other events take place periodically in the park, and you can look up a schedule of events to see what’s coming up during your time in Dublin City.