When coming to Dublin as a tourist, pretty much everybody has the same itinerary in mind: drinking their most expensive beer ever in Temple Bar, queuing in the rain to see one page of the Book of Kells...
In this post, I want to show you some alternative visits in Dublin that tend to be disregarded by many visitors, but that I always enjoy much more than the typical tourist attractions.
A couple of kilometres west of the city centre, Kilmainham Gaol is a must for many visitors but ignored by many others due to its somewhat far location. It's actually not that hard to get there; it will only take you about 20 minutes by bus (routes 40 and 13 leave every few minutes from College Green, across Trinity College).
This former prison, now a museum, can only be visited following a local guide that will walk you through the most important historical events that took place in Ireland, from the Great Famine that killed one fourth of the population, to the rebels that were imprisoned and executed here in the wake of Ireland's struggle for independence. You can still visit the cells of the 1916 Easter Rising rebels and the courtyard where they were killed by firing squad. A visit that you shouldn't miss if you're spending at least a couple of days in Dublin.
The museum has been reformed very recently for the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. The guides are incredibly knowledgeable and for only €7 per adult for a 1h guided tour plus time on your own at the museum, this is one of the best alternatives for a half day visit outside the city centre.
St. Audoen's Church
During your visit in Dublin, you can't miss out the only remaining medieval church of the city. Dedicated to St. Ouen, patron saint of Normandy, this church is located just next to Christchurch Cathedral and in the middle of High Street, the principal street of medieval Dublin.
Inside, you can visit parts of the original building, dating to the 12th century and still used nowadays by the Church of Ireland. You can also touch the 9th century "lucky stone", as well as find multiple funerary monuments beheaded by Cromwell's purists.
The visitor centre offers free 30-minute guided tours departing every half an hour.
WHAT: St. Audoen's Church
WHERE: High St, Dublin 8
National Museum of Ireland - Archeology
This free museum is one of the best you can find in Dublin. It holds a display of prehistoric Ireland, including early work in gold, Viking artefacts and exhibitions of the medieval times. There's also very interesting displays of international items from the Roman empire, Ancient Egypt and Cyprus.
However, my favourite part of the collection is the bog bodies. These four bodies date back to the ancient Celtic times and are believed to have been ritualistically sacrificed and buried in the Irish bogs (areas of wet muddy ground). The bogs have protected and preserved these bodies for centuries and are still today in an excellent state. You can even see the skin and hair on the bodies; absolutely striking.
Dublin Ghost Tour
This one is rather unusual, but I'd highly recommend it if you're looking to do something a bit different and fun. I did this tour around Halloween with some colleagues, and I can honestly say this was the funniest night I've had in years.
Even though it's a ghost tour, you'll be scared and amused at the same time. The guides and drivers, all professional actors, are just exceptional and I can guarantee you'll have a great evening.
The tour lasts approximately 2h in total and it will take you to some of the most haunted sights of Dublin in a great theatrical experience.
Chester Beatty Library
This is my absolute favourite place in Dublin. Located right in the middle of Dublin Castle, this library houses the collection of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, ranging from books and paintings to prints and decorative art from Islamic countries, East Asia and Western Europe.
In my opinion, any of the books that you can see here have nothing to envy the Book of Kells. The visit is totally free of charge and I couldn't recommend it enough.
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