The heart of the Emerald Isle and one of the richest cultural centers of Ireland, Dublin warmly welcomes visitors looking for art, culture, noisy nightlife, fantastic shopping and endless variety of tourist attractions. With a thousand years of turbulent history behind it ever since the Vikings came to town, Dublin comes alive with beautifully preserved mansions and cathedrals that rub shoulders with adorable modern hotels and top-class restaurants. The once ‘tired’ city along the banks of the River Liffey, Dublin has morphed into one of Europe’s trendiest cities sure to delight.
Chatty, amiable and witty, Dubliners at their ease are the greatest hosts of all, providing a life-affirming experience that will restore your faith in human nature.
There are several ways to explore this vibrant city and here are a few ideas to get you started…
Christ Church Cathedral
The spiritual heart and one of the top tourist attractions in Dublin city center, the 11th century Christ Church Cathedral is an absolute must for every traveler to this fascinating getaway. A major pilgrimage site in the medieval period, the cathedral dazzles visitors with its wonderful floor mosaics and the elegant stained-glass windows, fine choir, Chapel of St. Laurence O’Toole on the east side of the south transept, which centers on a heart-shaped box enclosed by iron bars, containing the saint’s embalmed heart, as well as its Café in the atmospheric 12th century crypt.
Follow the steps that bring you beneath the cathedral, and explore the originally preserved medieval crypt, whose massive stone pillar holds the complete weight of the cathedral and the main tower. Visitors will find an important collection of relics, as well as stocks dating back to 1670. However, what will surprise you most in the crypt is a mummified cat and rat displayed behind glass, permanently captured in a chase. Mentioned by James Joyce in ‘Finnegan’s wake,’ they are known locally as ‘Tom & Jerry.’
Also known as the ‘Home of Guinness,’ this is another highlight in Dublin that since opening in November 2000 has attracted over 4 million visitors from every corner of the globe. Founded by Arthur Guinness in 1759, Guinness brewery has been part of Irish culture for hundreds of years and today it’s a popular museum, showcasing old brewing equipment, as well as ingredients, brewing practices, advertising techniques and storage instruments, which are exhibited over 7 different levels, collectively helping shape a 14 million pint glass of Guinness. On the final floor is the Gravity Bar, the highest bar in Ireland, offering mesmerizing views of the city.
Take advantage of the walking tour through the brewing process at St. James’s Gate, where illustrations of brewing techniques from past to present can be experienced.
Ireland’s Center of Art, Literature & Learning Dublin houses the Trinity College or the University of Dublin, which was founded by Queen Elizabeth I on the grounds of an Augustinian priory that was a victim of dissolution. On today’s corpus, state-of-the-art libraries, laboratories and IT facilities stand alongside historical buildings. Of special importance is the Trinity College Library, boasting over one million books and precious manuscripts with the most remarkable being the ‘Book of Kells,’ a 9th century illuminated manuscript. Some of the University’s famous graduates are Jonathan Swift, who wrote ‘Gulliver’s Travels,’ Oscar Wilde, Physicist Ernest Walton, Mathematician William Rowan Hamilton, the Nobel laureate Samuel Beckett and others.
The fourth oldest zoo in Europe, Dublin Zoo is found in leafy Phoenix Park (covering more than 1,700 acres) and is considered a popular attraction both for children and adults. Development is on-going at Dublin Zoo so that you can always find something new to see and experience. The most recent addition is the Kaziranga Forest Trail, a wonderful new habitat for the zoo’s breeding herd of Asian elephants. From lions to chimpanzees to arctic fox, the Zoo offers an extensive selection of wild animals in carefully landscaped surroundings.
From roaming the city and floating on the river with a Viking Splash Tour to taking teens to the trendy Temple Bar neighborhood – the hub of Dublin’s nightlife, teeming with shops, traditional bars, theaters and cinemas, you will enjoy a memorable stay, returning home with the lure to come back again and again!