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10 things to do on Dublin’s Northside
There’s plenty to discover on the Northside of the city, from world class museums to historic landmarks.
With a story to be found around every corner, the Northside is the perfect place to explore when you’re in Dublin. Whether you’re interested in the literary heritage of the city or the sporting legends of Ireland, you won’t be short of things to do north of the Liffey.
With one of the coolest locations in the city and a redbrick tower overlooking the cobbled streets of Smithfield, the Jameson Distillery Bow St. is one of Dublin’s greatest attractions. It’s also been voted the world’s best distillery tour three years in a row at the World Travel Awards. The views may have changed since it opened in 1780, but the whiskey matured on site is as popular as ever. You can take a tour of the maturation warehouse, learn all about the intricacies of whiskey in a tasting workshop and wrap things up with a longer drink. Want to take it to the next level? You can take a blending class or even bottle your own black barrel whiskey.
More than 1.5 million souls are laid to rest in the Glasnevin Cemetery, including some of Dublin’s most famous characters, from writer Brendan Behan to revolutionary leader Michael Collins. While you’re free to wander around the cemetery alone, the guided tours are excellent and lead you through some fascinating tales from Ireland’s history. You can also climb the O’Connell Tower (the tallest round tower in Ireland) for a great view of the city. The cemetery leads right into the neighbouring National Botanic Gardens through a shared wall. Wander through to admire over 15,000 plant species from the four corners of the globe, stroll peaceful wooded walks and check out the beautifully restored glasshouses.
The story of the Irish diaspora is fascinating and this state of the art museum unravels what it means to be Irish in an engaging and interactive way. You’ll learn all about the different periods of emigration through Irish history and why 10 million people left Ireland. Afterwards, continue the historical theme onboard the Jeanie Johnston, the replica famine ship that’s docked just a few feet away. This moving tour will give you a glimpse of what emigration was like for so many.
If you’re a GAA fan, a visit to Croke Park is more like a pilgrimage. But if you visit on a non-match day you’ll get to experience it in much more depth. Take a tour of the stadium and you’ll get to see the sights that are usually off limits, from the dressing rooms to the players’ tunnel. In the GAA Museum you’ll find the original Sam Maguire and Liam MacCarthy cups as well as great interactive displays. Feeling brave? Take the Kellogg's Skyline tour of the top of the stadium for incredible views from 17 storeys high.
Dublin’s Georgian architecture is a joy to behold, and the city’s townhouse lined squares make for a scenic stroll. Mountjoy Square is one of the finest and the only one in the city that’s perfectly symmetrical. Wander around the buildings that surround the park and you’ll be walking past the front doors of famous former residents including James Joyce, Séan O'Casey and W.B. Yeats.
A must for Joyce fans is the beautifully restored Georgian house that now houses the James Joyce Centre. A range of exhibits and memorabilia (furniture from the writer’s Parisian apartment, the original door of 7 Eccles St, Leopold and Molly’s address in Ulysses) are a great insight into the writer’s life. An Interactive version of Ulysses lets you explore Joyce’s masterpiece chapter by chapter, breaking down the language and themes into wonderfully accessible sections.
Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane
This beautiful gallery is one of the Northside’s most important attractions. You’ll find contemporary artworks from Ireland and around the world displayed in the beautiful light-filled gallery, as well as temporary exhibitions that change regularly. A highlight is the studio of Sir Francis Bacon, which was painstakingly transferred from London and recreated piece by piece in the gallery. This ramshackle space is filled with empty champagne bottles and open tubes of paint, giving a unique insight into the mind of the famous artist. Don’t miss the beautiful stained glass room by the entrance with pieces from Harry Clarke.
The original Georgian townhouse at 14 Henrietta Street has been meticulously restored and transformed into a museum telling an important story around Dublin’s history. You’ll learn all about this 18th-century building, from its beginnings as the luxurious home of Lord Viscount Molesworth to the later years when more than 100 people were crammed into 19 flats.
On the go since 1831, Dublin Zoo is one of the oldest in the world. With a setting in the beautiful Phoenix Park you’ll find over 400 animals including Asian elephants, Sumatran tigers and gorillas. Time your visit right and you might just get to see a new addition to the family, as the zoo’s strong conservation efforts mean you can often spot a newborn giraffe or sea lion. In the winter months the zoo comes to life with Wild Lights, where you can stroll around after dark and catch a glimpse of the nocturnal animals and art installations.
During the 1916 Rising the GPO (General Post Office) was the headquarters for the leaders of the rebellion. Now this historic building includes an immersive museum that tells those stories through interactive and stirring exhibits. You’ll experience the events from both sides of the conflict, as seen through the eyes of bystanders caught in the crossfire.
Explore the city
Gotten a taste of the best sights in the Northside? See what the rest of Dublin has to offer with our guide to 10 great spots to visit in the city.