It's not just the drink talking when St. Patrick's Day shenanigans around the world trigger misty-eyed thoughts of Emerald Isle vacations. But there's much more to the country's Liffey River-hugging capital than supping stout in creaky-floored old pubs.
On my latest visit, I started with a transit bus hop from Parnell Street to Glasnevin Cemetery, Ireland's most storied resting place. Immaculately maintained and with its own fascinating museum, guided tours visit the graves of Irish icons from poet Brendan Behan to revolutionary Michael Collins.
A century from the Easter Rising that led to independence from Britain – Collins played a key role – the cemetery is one of many sites with 1916 commemorations this year, including a new permanent exhibition at the grand General Post Office, which had a major part in the blood-soaked rebellion. The official centenary website lists events in Dublin and beyond.
But recalling the past isn't always a sombre affair. Alongside Dublin's popular National Museum of Ireland sites, must-see smaller attractions include the No. 29 Georgian House Museum and the Little Museum of Dublin, which explores social history via eclectic donated artifacts.
Little Museum entry (around $10) is free with Dublin Bus's approximately $32 hop-on-hop-off 48-hour service. But while it handily links city attractions, it's not the only tour worth considering here.
Lazy Bike Tours provides guided ways to explore on two wheels; Irish Food Trail tours help you stuff your belly while meeting the locals; the new Teeling Whiskey Distillery hosts great tours and tastings; and the Dublin Literary Walking Tour – plus its bar-hopping evil twin, the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl – cracks the spine on the city's rich writerly heritage.
Bookworms should additionally hit Parnell Square's Dublin Writers Museum and also the Chester Beatty Library with its displays of jaw-dropping old tomes. If you also want to see Trinity College's famed ninth-century The Book of Kells – plus the university's breathtaking historic library – avoid queuing with a book-ahead fast-track ticket. Or join a campus tour that includes both attractions.
You can also pretend you've read James Joyce's Ulysses during June's uber-eccentric Bloomsday, when Dublin transforms into a day-long dress-up party recalling the novel's hapless hero Leopold Bloom. It's one of several festivals worth co-ordinating your Dublin dates for: consider June's Taste of Dublin and July's Festival of Curiosity.
If you miss these, hang with the locals at a hurling game instead. A super-fast Gaelic sport with sticks, a small ball and thousands of rabid fans, Dublin's Croke Park is its national home. Check the website for upcoming fixtures, book a stadium tour or visit the on-site museum to explore the game's cool backstory.
But if shopping is your sport, face-plant into Saturday's Temple Bar Food Market; pick up vintage souvenirs at the last-Sunday-of-the-month Dublin Flea Market; or buy cheap fruit and veg among the locals at Moore Street Market from Monday to Saturday.
You could also escape. Hop a local DART train to Howth – about 25 minutes away – for a taste of scenic fishing village life (and great fish and chips). Or take a 30-minute DART trip to historic Malahide Castle with its lovely landscaped gardens. But if you're lured by the hills – and you don't mind a pub or two – Rural Tours' countryside minibus jaunt visits some excellent rustic bars.
There are ways other than drink to make a night of it, though. Back in the city, catch a play at the landmark Abbey Theatre or peruse the lineup at the delightful Smock Alley Theatre. But if it's toe-tapping time, head to the old Cobblestone pub to commune with the twinkle-eyed trad musicians – no Guinness required.
OUR READERS WRITE
Chester Beatty Library. Really astonishing exhibits of various religions' holy works. I'm not especially 'churchy church' but I was still mesmerised. David Scollnik
A hurling match. @ADenonville
Head to the Parnell Square neighbourhood in North Dublin. Here you'll find the Garden of Remembrance for the 1916 Rebellion, and across the road in a beautiful old city mansion, the Dublin City Gallery with the magnificent Hugh Lane collection, free. Avoid Temple Bar. The rip-off Guinness Brewery. And the George on George Street is the LGBT really Irish pub, in case anyone is interested. It's got great Guinness, and I'm straight. Angela Mairead McWhirter
The Long Room of the Old Library in Trinity College is definitely worth a visit @TheBnBClub
Saint Michans's church. It has a tour of the crypt with mummies. Weird but really interesting. The Grave diggers pub near Glasnevin cemetery. They should venture off away from the Temple bar area to visit local pubs rather than overpriced tourist pubs. This one needs a taxi or bus as it is about a 40 minute walk from downtown. Mostly locals there in the evening. Nancy Martin
I loved Kilmainham Gaol. It was so interesting and was a highlight of my trip. The history and stories the guides told included political prisoners, riots, murders, overcrowding, hangings and hauntings. @yycteawagon
How about all of Grafton Street, from beginning to end? And the charming St. Stephen's Green park. And don't forget the plethora of museums. @AdelaDavEstel
Trinity College was worth a visit between pints @MichaelV81512
Kilmainham Gaol is one of the most interesting places in town @mikementz
Chester Beatty Library – a real a gem of a museum. Also, the Book of Kells exhibit at Trinity College Library; the DART train to Howth and Newgrange. I would also add Kilmainham Gaol – chilling history, very well presented @margymaclibrary
Howth and Malahide are both charming seaside villages easily accessible by DART – with views, walks, castles and good pubs, of course. Kilmainham Gaol and Glasnevin Cemetary are also must-sees for history buffs @CathyCurrie
I did the Dublin Tasting Trail and, of course, the top of the Guinness Storehouse @JaneMundy
Glasnevin Cemetery – there are so many stories buried there. Also, Moore Street Market for a slice of old Dublin, with heavy working-class accents and a host of characters – many of whom are 4th-generation traders. Also Avoca: originally a textile store, mill and cafe, they now have several cafes around the country. The one in Dublin is great with amazing food and coffee – the rest of the space (several floors) is crammed with Irish linens, pottery and clothes. Also, the Dublin Literary Walking Tour and, for dinner, try Rosary Cut Steak @TheIrishHeather
Where to begin? The Museum of Ireland and also Croke Park to watch a game. Also, sunrise from the Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park; Collins Barracks – a great museum with huge historical significance; and you've got to take in some hurling. If you're a soccer fan, there's also a great Irish domestic league and some nice old stadiums, including Dalymount Park, just outside the city centre. Its home team is called Bohemian FC and they mostly play on Friday nights or Sunday afternoons @AidanBuckley
1. Dublin Castle. This includes St. Patrick's Hall, where Irish presidents are inaugurated and the Throne Room, which features a throne used by George III. ProTip: Some tours don't include the Royal Chapel, but it's well-worth popping in to see this church. 2. Chester Beatty Library and the Dubh Linn Gardens. The Library displays one of the world's largest collections of religious texts and offers a chance to see something even older than the Book of Kells – ancient Egyptian papyri. 3. Christ Church Cathedral and Crypt. A printed guide makes it easy to do a self-guided tour. ProTip: The market held in the courtyard on Thursdays in warmer months offers delicious and affordable lunch options @AnneLipton
The Little Museum of Dublin. A cheeky, political and often hilarious look at the city's social history. Only takes an hour. Totally unstuffy. When we went, they had a whole exhibit on the embarrassingly ugly sweaters Colin Farrell wore on screen. @mawwelch
Skip the long lineups to see the Book of Kells and visit the amazing Chester Beatty Collection instead. Ancient illustrated Bibles, Islamic documents, Hindu manuscripts, and Asian artwork. One of the best collections in Europe, and entry is free. Anthony Kaduck
You want to be able to understand the history and culture and one of the best jumping off places is Glasnevin Cemetary. I know this may sound weird. They do a wonderful tour which will be a 2 hour synopsis of the birth of the Irish nation. Janet O'Brien
Definitely hit Merrion Square with its Georgian grandeur and walk past the Parliament and the An Taoiseach office. Around there the National Gallery of Art is a real must see, with a lovely art collection and a beautiful café cum restaurant where the food is good and affordable too. Arianna Clark
"We have friends visiting from Germany this year and they want to experience aboriginal culture. Any suggestions?" Send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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