Guinness Storehouse retained the top spot for a second year running in the listing of Ireland's top visitor attractions. The iconic Dublin attraction was closely followed by Dublin Zoo, while The National Gallery of Ireland continues its dominance of the free attractions in the capital. Dublin has a myriad of visitor attractions to suit all interests and we've compiled the list below of the top visited attractions in 2012. Have fun!
1. Guinness Storehouse
Located in the heart of the St James’s Gate Brewery, which has been home to the black stuff since 1759, this massive seven-storey building, a former Guinness® fermentation plant, has been remodeled into the shape of a giant pint of Guinness®. A visit will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about this world famous beer. The highlight for many visitors is the Gravity Bar® where you receive a complimentary pint of Guinness® and can relax and enjoy the breathtaking 360-degree views across Dublin City.
2. Dublin Zoo
See many rare and exotic animals living and roaming in a wide variety of natural habitats. Wander through the African Savanna and gaze at the giraffes, zebras, scimitar oryx and ostrich, then head to the Kaziranga Forest to see the magnificent herd of Asian elephants that call this beautiful place home. Dublin Zoo, located in the Phoenix Park in the heart of Dublin city, allows you to discover amazing animals to including tigers, hippos, bats, rare monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees, red pandas and reptiles to name but a few!
3. National Aquatic Centre
AquaZone, at the National Aquatic Centre, is one of the most innovative water parks in Europe. A whole host of exciting features ensures that there is lots of family fun, thrills – and something for everyone. If you crave extreme thrills, raging water adventures, flying through the air, or just an enjoyable day with your family, AquaZone at the National Aquatic Centre has Europe's biggest and best water rides and attractions waiting for you!
4. The National Gallery of Ireland
Today the collection includes over 2,500 paintings and some 10,000 other works in different media including watercolours, drawings, prints and sculpture. Every major European School of painting is extensively represented. It also houses a renowned collection of Irish paintings. The gallery's highlights include works by Vermeer, Caravaggio, Picasso, Van Gogh and Monet.
5. Book of Kells
The Book of Kells was written around the year 800 AD and is one of the most beautifully illuminated manuscripts in the world. Its 680 pages of vellum contain the Latin texts of the Four Gospels. It was written around 800AD by Irish monks and later buried in the ground for fear of the Vikings and after being eventually rediscovered it was deposited for safe keeping in Trinity in 1653.
6. National Botanic Gardens
The Gardens, 19.5 hectares on the south bank of the Tolka contain many attractive features including an arboretum, sensory garden, rock garden and burren area, large pond, extensive herbaceous borders, and annual display of decorative plants including a rare example of Victorian carpet bedding.
7. National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology
Walk into the National Museum of Ireland on Kildare Street and be magically transported back in time. Take time at The Treasury and see examples of Celtic and Medieval art, such as the famous Ardagh Chalice, the Tara Brooch and the Derrynaflan Hoard. Gaze in wonder at the finest collection of prehistoric gold artefacts in Europe, which is to be found in Or - Ireland's Gold. Ramble through prehistoric Ireland and experience life at the same time of the Vikings in Viking Age Ireland.
8. St. Patrick's Cathedral
Built between 1220 and 1260 the Cathedral is one of the few buildings left from the medieval city of Dublin. Today St Patricks is the National Cathedral for the Church of Ireland and is still the largest cathedral in Ireland. Visitors can learn about the buildings fascinating history including its most famous Dean (head) Jonathan Swift who is one of around 700 burials on site.
9. Farmleigh House
Built in the late 18th century, Farmleigh was purchased by Edward Cecil Guinness, a great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, in 1873. The house ontains many beautiful features including the Main House, which is a fine example of Georgian-Victorian architecture, the Sunken Garden, the Walled Garden, the famous Clock Tower and the Lake and The Benjamin Iveagh Library. The library holds some of the finest examples of Irish bookbinding from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The collection was donated to Marsh’s Library by the Guinness family.
10. Kilmainham Gaol (Jail)
This historic site gives the visitor a dramatic and realistic insight into what it was like to have been confined in one of these forbidding bastions of punishment and correction between 1796 when it opened and 1924 when it closed and offers a panoramic insight into some of the most profound, disturbing and inspirational themes of modern Irish history.
11. Science Gallery at Trinity College ; 12. National Museum of Ireland - Natural History ; 13. National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History 14. Chester Beatty Library ; 15. Old Jameson Distillery ; 16. The National Library of Ireland ; 17. Christ Church Cathedral 18. Dublin Castle ; 19. Phoenix Park Visitor Centre ; 20. Dublinia
For further information on all visitor attractions in Dublin click here
Note: The information compiled is taken from the Fáilte Ireland Visitor Attractions Survey 2012