Insider Tips

Surprising Experiences in Dublin

By Visit Dublin

18th May 2021

There’s lots more to Dublin than its main attractions. Follow this guide to explore the lesser-known corners of our fair capital.

So, you think you know what the Big Smoke has to offer visitors on a mini break... but do you really? You’re surely familiar with its most iconic spots – the likes of Phoenix Park and the Spire – but it’s got plenty more marvels that you’ve probably never even heard of. Read on to discover that Dublin still has experiences with the power to surprise... 

Surfdock

If you see people in wetsuits in the centre of the city, you’ve probably just discovered Grand Canal Dock. The river basin is a hive of activity with the Surfdock Centre running lessons in stand-up paddle boarding and windsurfing. Rent your own board and wetsuit and see Dublin in a whole new light.
 

Paddle boarders at Grand Canal Dock

The Grand Canal Way Cycle Route  

If you’re traversing Dublin’s compact city centre by bike, be sure to take a leisurely spin along the Grand Canal Way Cycle Route. Linking the old-timey Portobello to the modern hub of the Docklands, this 3.6km stretch is an easy cycle and anything but boring. And if all that pedalling leaves you peckish, you’re luckily in the right part of town for a takeaway bite at a number of tempting spots.  

Trinity College

The historic Trinity College is a must-visit for its incredible Long Room library, with seven million volumes housed across endless wooden shelves. And, of course you’ll want to see the Book of Kells and the Brian Boru Harp. But one of Trinity’s real undiscovered treasures is its Zoological Museum with a 200-year-old collection of over 25,000 species; including the skeleton of Prince Tom, an Indian elephant.

Book stacks in the Long Room at Trinity College

Marsh’s Library

Ireland’s first public library opened in 1707 – and you can still walk through its front doors. Giants of Irish literature all came to read at Marsh’s Library once, like Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker and James Joyce. With its collection of over 25,000 rare books and the original oak bookcases still in place, it feels like a moment in Irish history has been perfectly preserved within these walls.

18th century interior of Marsh's Library

Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI)

For a more modern cultural experience, saunter over to the Museum of Literature Ireland. With its installations immersing you in historical Irish storytelling, precious artefacts such as ‘Copy No.1’ of Ulysses, and rotating literary exhibitions, MoLI is a must-see. Housed in an historic building built by the architect of Powerscourt House, it has exquisite baroque plasterwork. The location, overlooking Stephen’s Green and close to the hidden Iveagh Gardens, is reason alone to visit.  

City Kayaking

Everybody’s seen the Ha’penny Bridge, but here’s your chance to have a look under the landmark. Over the course of two hours, you’ll paddle with City Kayaking through the waterways at the heart of Dublin and take in the city’s most well-known sights from a new angle.  

Kayaks on the River Liffey

Mummies at St Michan's Church

After your spell on the Liffey, jump on the Luas (an experience in itself) and you’ll be at St Michan’s Church in a jiffy. Descend into its open crypt to see where Dublin’s elite were laid to rest centuries ago… and where they’ve since become mummified by the conditions caused by the limestone walls. That’s right – Dublin even has its own mummies.  

James Joyce Tower & Museum

Rise early and take a scenic journey to some nearby coastal towns. Make your first stop Dún Laoghaire to visit the museum dedicated to Ireland’s most celebrated writer. Have a nose around this squat Martello tower and discover a hoard of James Joyce memorabilia.  

Martello Tower in Dun Laoghaire

Druid’s Judgement Seat, Killiney

Next stop, Killiney — where you can roam through the nearby hills in search of a true oddity: the Druid’s Judgement Seat. While the name suggests that this monument once belonged to an ancient Irish mystic, it’s far more likely that this chair was actually a folly created during Victorian times, albeit constructed from slabs taken from Bronze Age cairns.  

Which of these hidden gems are you going to unearth? Share with a pal and get planning – the city awaits!

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