Are you leaving for Ireland? Here is a short guide that will help you select what to see in Dublin in two days
Perhaps it’s not ideal to propose such a fast visit to Dublin, but it is also true that, more often than not, a traveler’s time to visit a city is quite limited. This is particularly true when planning to visit other destinations in Ireland. After all there is an entire island waiting to be discovered.
So I feel compelled to recommend what’s to see in Dublin in two days, which is the amount of time usually spent in this city before leaving for a tour.
Dublin has a fairly concentrated historic center and this makes it quite easy to focus on one area or another on different days, hoping that the whimsical Irish climate will give you some ray of sunlight, or at least save you from the rain.
Always carry in your backpack, or travel bag, a raincoat and a hat (or umbrella) and don’t let the less than royal look of your damp hairdo ruin your day. In the land of Guinness having perfect hair is virtually impossible.
What to see in Dublin: two days between monuments and pubs *
If your time to visit the Irish capital is limited due to a larger travel plan involving multiple destinations in Ireland, it would be wise to plan your stages. So let’s explore together the best steps to take so you don’t miss out on anything during your short stay in Dublin.
1- Trinity College *
I Know, I am everything but original, but my first full day in Dublin started at Trinity College, so also my list of what to see in Dublin in two days has to start from here.
The guides never grow tired of repeating that the visit at Trinity College is absolutely free. In fact you can enter without paying, but only to look at the courtyard, the buildings from the outside, the park … and this is ONLY what you will perceive if you are the type of person who turns to the city monuments only to put a cross on a map and show it to your friends.
Despite the rather limited visit, what really excites me and those who enjoy reading even the finest lines on the city guides’ handbooks, is entirely different. Even a casually contemplative walk through the buildings allows you to feel the prestige and the history of this Irish university (founded in 1592), which formed magnificent academics such as Beckett, Swift, or my legend, Oscar Wilde.
It’s also interesting to know that Trinity College was in the past a university for Protestants only: even when it was opened to Catholics, the church forbade them to attend it. Up to 1970, any catholic student wanting to enroll there could still incur an excommunication.
In the area of Trinity College, the most crowded and demanding part to visit is the Old Library.
In this uninspiring building you can take a look at the celebrated Book of Kells and the beautiful Long Room.
In this case the entrance isn’t free (adults € 14) and, if you don’t book your visit online in advance, the line at the entrance could be challenging.
So my suggestion is to book tickets for the Old Library online: this is the page for the reservation.
If you have not done it from home, however, you have another chance at booking it in loco.
At the complex entrance (not to the Old Library building, but before arriving from the street side underpass) there are terminals where, by credit card, you can reserve the seats by clicking between the available times. The tickets are printed immediately and can be presented at the entrance at the time indicated (looking at the door on the left row).
Book of Kells
I have to be honest, everything that was built around the Book of Kells is quite disappointing.
When you enter the building the first room has a series of designated positions (Stations?) which explain how the book was written. In order to get the full details it’s best to rent an audio guide by paying an additional € 5.
On the middle floor you get to a display case where, out of 680 original pages, you are able to view only 6, if you are lucky, as the pressing crowds of visitors will make it hard for you to stay longer. I felt as discouraged as when I tried to observe the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, I admit it
Better leave the crowds at the display case and head toward the wooden vaults and the marble busts of the fascinating Long Room: a 65 meter hall containing 200,000 of the Old Library oldest volumes (which, by the way, has 5 million books. It’s one of the 5 bookstores that receive a copy of every book published in the United Kingdom).
St Stephens Green, Marrion Square and Oscar Wilde *
In spite of what you think when arriving in Dublin, the pub crawl isn’t the only tour to do. In Dublin art lovers can bask in a multitude of interesting and (above all) free museums. But you can also do something else.
On leaving Trinity College, you can walk along the Georgian heart of the city and immerse yourself in typical Irish architecture.
Stroll through Grafton Street, pass through Marrion Square, and perhaps drop by the National Museum (entrance is free, of course).
Shopping in Dublin
Grafton Street is the commercial heart of the city. A huge winding avenue, closed to traffic, that will probably appeal to the Shopping Addicts who will get happily lost in clothing stores, jewelry and souvenirs shops.
These major shopping arteries, (every city has one), have never been my favorite part of a city, especially since globalization has allowed the same big brands to swallow the more traditional town boutiques and family shops. In other words you can buy the same things near your house that you would buy in any other part of the world.
However it’s a street that you can go over to get to Stepheen Green for a lunch break: a beautiful garden that, if the weather allows, could give you the opportunity to enjoy a nice Irish picnic.
I wasn’t that lucky because of the rain, so I decided to take a break in Marrion Square for a selfie with Oscar Wilde.
Temple Bar *
In the afternoon, go to the legendary, celebrated, renowned Temple Bar.
Surprise! The Temple Bar is a district and not a Dublin pub … even if someone thinks this because of online photographs have always the same theme: the same pub with the same name.
It is the most loved city district by tourists. I recommend you take a walk here in the afternoon to enjoy the atmosphere, the pubs and then a dinner in the evening.
It won’t certainly require more than half a day, unless you opt for a long typical Irish style pub crawl.
Although it is mostly known for the evening, Temple Bar has a nice atmosphere even during the day when you can find various little vintage shops. Its streets are certainly more interesting for shopping than the big shopping boulevard.
As you continue your walk, take a moment to stop at the Ha penny Bridge, one of the most photographed corners of Dublin. It takes its name from the half penny that was needed to cross it.
St. Patrick Cathedral *
St Patrick is the largest cathedral in Ireland. Legend narrates that it was built where St. Patrick baptized the leaders of the Celts Clans. The well that should have been used for rituals is located inside the park of St Patrick’s Cathedral.
North of Liffey *
Although all the major monuments are to the south, Dublin northern part has to be discovered and included in your list of what to see in Dublin in two days.
This area is around O’Connel Street: a long avenue that looks like the Paris Grand Boulevard. On the sides of the road there are numerous statues representing the protagonists of Irish history.
Among them you will find the “liberator” Daniel O’Connell statue, but also those of the union leader Jim Larkin and James Joyce.
At the center of the area there is the General Post Office, mentioned in the study of Irish history because the 1916 Easter insurrection started here. At the end of O’Connel Street, Parnell Square is one of the most important examples of Georgian architecture in Dublin.
This area is full of museums (one dedicated to James Joyce), but I recommend you avoiding the one dedicated to the Leprechaun (National Leprechaun Museum): they are part of Irish culture … but there is more to see in the city.
Choose a restaurant in advance and don’t be late: Ireland’s dining hours are very special and often from 8 pm it is impossible to sit down. In others, the kitchen is open until 9:00 pm , although you can continue to order drinks freely.
Public transport in Dublin *
Besides my humble suggestions about what to see in Dublin in two days, here are additional pieces of information which could be useful during your stay.
At first you have to consider the public transport and their cost.
At arrival in Dublin the first ticket to buy is for the bus for the city center.
The single journey Apt / city center costs € 7 and the ticket can be purchased directly on board (you need coins).
So I advise buying a card that also includes the outward and return to the airport.
Many buy the Dublin Pass which is the tourist card that includes round-trip from the airport plus entrances to various tourist attractions (such as the Guinness Storehouse) and museums.
Since many museums are still free, unless you have interest in the expensive Guinness museum, I find it much cheaper to buy a Leap Card. It is a magnetic card / season ticket for public transport.
By purchasing a Leap Card at the airport the city’s public transport, including the airport buses will be included. There will be no discounts to attractions and museums, but if this does not interest you, the savings are considerable.
The cost of the Leap Card is 10 € for 24 hours, € 19.50 for 3 days. Buying it is simple: leaving the Arrival Gate you will find a supermarket immediately on the right behind the various Ncc with signs waiting for their customers. Ask in cash directly and pay with a card! Once this is done, you can go straight to the bus and stamp (the card is immediately active).
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