Insider Tips

Free Walking Tour Dublin

By Visit Dublin

16th February 2016

The city of Dublin has had its fair share of visitors down through the years; some welcome, others not so much! Nonetheless, invaders like the Vikings and Normans left their mark, moulding the city into the thriving capital it is today. And now, using the Discovery Trails app, you can take a free walking tour through Dublin’s colourful and storied past...

Interior image of City Hall

The ‘Story of Dublin’ trail brings you around what was once Dublin’s walled, medieval centre, and points out hidden gems – from eclectic architecture to the tower that once held three famous escapees! The trail is broken into 15 short sections, meaning you can move at your own pace or even spread it over a few days if you wish. 

This self-guided Dublin walking trail takes in a whole host of top sites, starting off at City Hall and Dublin Castle, both located on bustling Dame Street. These buildings are positively steeped in history; City Hall was once the Royal Exchange for the city’s merchant class, while the gorgeous gardens at Dublin Castle cover the original ‘black pool’ from which the city gets its name. Dubh in Irish means black, while linn translates as pool, giving us Dubhlinn, or Dublin. Dublin Castle was also the seat of British rule in Ireland for over 800 years, and during this trail you’ll follow in the footsteps of three Irish prisoners who made a bold and daring escape from its gaol (jail) down Ship Street during the icy winter of 1591.

There are some iconic churches along the trail too. Majestic Christ Church Cathedral pretty much spans the city’s entire timeline, having been founded around 1062 by the Viking King Sitric. In the 1180s, the Normans funded a rebuilding of what was then a wooden structure, expanding it into the stunning building it is today. Be sure to visit its atmospheric crypt, the largest cathedral crypt in Ireland and the UK. There you’ll find the famous cat and rat; unfortunate creatures who were mummified mid-chase after becoming trapped in the organ pipes back in the 1850s!

Interior Image of Smock Alley Theatre

Nearby St. Werburgh’s Church meanwhile dates back to the 12th century, and boasts a very famous christening. Gulliver’s Travels author Jonathan Swift was baptised there in 1667. You’ll also see pieces of the original foreboding wall that enclosed the inner core of the early Viking settlement, and as you move down towards the River Liffey, you’ll be shown where, in the 1970s, archaeologists uncovered a large Viking town buried beneath the city. Buildings, quays, fragments of the first wall and thousands of artefacts were found, all dating back to the initial Viking settlement in the ninth century. You can see many of them for yourself in the National Museum of Ireland on Merrion Street.

You’ll also pass through the cobbled streets of Temple Bar during the tour. Today, it’s home to a vibrant selection of trendy boutiques, vintage stores, cafés, restaurants and markets, but you’ll learn the fascinating history of this cultural quarter, which was established in the 17th century, as well as how close it came to being made converted into a bus depot in the 1970s and 1980s!

Now that you’ve enjoyed a taste of the fascinating Story of Dublin, be sure to download the full trail from our free app, Dublin Discovery Trails. It’s packed full of anecdotes, local lore and plenty of hidden Dublin gems from the very earliest days of our vibrant capital. In the app you’ll also find a selection of equally compelling trails, including ‘Rebellion: the story of the 1916 Easter Rising', ‘Echoes of War’ and ‘Empire’.

Visit Dublin

Visit Dublin | Dublin's Official Tourism Site

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