Awarded Top 10 city to travel to in 2022About Best In Travel 2022
A small capital with a huge reputation, Dublin has a mix of heritage and hedonism that will not disappoint. All you have to do is show up.
Layers of History
Dublin has been in the news since the 9th century, and while traces of its Viking past have been largely washed away, the city is a living museum of its history since then, with medieval castles and cathedrals on display alongside the architectural splendours of its 18th-century heyday, when Dublin was the most handsome Georgian city of the British Empire and a fine reflection of the aspirations of its most privileged citizens. How power was wrested from their hands is another story, and you'll learn that one in its museums and on its walking tours.
Personality Goes A Long Way
Dubliners will admit theirs isn't the prettiest city, but will remind you that pretty things are as easy to like as they are to forget…before showing you the showstopper Georgian bits to prove that Dublin has a fine line in sophisticated elegance. True love is demonstrated with brutal unsentimentality round here, but they'll go soft at the knees when talking about the character and personality of the 'greatest city in the world, if you ignore all the others'. Garrulous, amiable and witty, Dubliners at their ease are the greatest hosts of all, a charismatic bunch with compelling soul and sociability.
A Few Scoops
Even in these times of green juices and heart-monitoring apps, the pub remains the alpha and omega of social interaction in Dublin. The city's relationship with alcohol is complex and conflicted but, at its very best, a night out in the pub is the perfect social lubricant and one of the highlights of a visit to Dublin. Every Dubliner has their favourite haunt, from the never-changing traditional pub to whatever new opening is bringing in the beautiful people. With more than 1000 of them spread about the city, you'll be spoilt for choice.
All the World is Dublin
For as long as it's been around, Dublin has looked beyond Irish shores for inspiration. Once the second city of the (British) Empire, Dublin has always maintained a pretty cosmopolitan outlook and in the last three decades has conspicuously embraced diversity and multiculturalism. You'll hear languages and eat foods from all four corners of the globe, and while it used to be said that ‘real’ Dubs had to be born within the canals like their parents and grandparents before them, these days you’re just as likely to meet a Dub whose parents were born in Warsaw, Lagos, Cairo or Beijing.
Dublin: Voted Top 10 City as Best in Travel 2022
Best places to eat in Dublin in 2022
11 min read — Published Feb 25, 2022
Patrick Hanlon & Russell AlfordWriter
Dublin has grown into Ireland's favorite foodie paradise. Find shellfish shacks, dim sum haunts and even Michelin-starred gastronomy at these top eateries.
Discover some of the most unique and fulfilling experiences your next destination has to offer.
Tips & Travel trends to help you pick the perfect time to visit this destination.
Add visiting these must-see local hot spots and culture centers to your next travel itinerary.
Deals and tips on ways to save without sacrificing the fun on your next trip.
Check out these fun-filled activities that the entire family can enjoy.
Plan a day trip full of local flavor and get back in time with these same-day options.
Browse the various transportation options to make your trip that much easier when you arrive.
Ways to maximize the fun without spending a dime on your next great adventure.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Dublin.
Why you should go Trinity's greatest treasures are found within the Old Library and the incredible Long Room is one of the most photographed rooms in Dublin, for good reason. The star of the show is the Book of Kells, a breathtaking, illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels of the New Testament. Unfortunately, only a few pages are ever on display at one time and in busy times it can be just a quick look for visitors. You can linger more in the magnificent Long Room, which houses around 200,000 of the library's oldest and rarest volumes. Other displays include a one of the last remaining copies of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, read out by Pádraig Pearse at the beginning of the Easter Rising in 1916, as well as the Trinity College Harp, the oldest medieval harp in Ireland and the model for the Guinness logo and the flag of the Irish president. History The history of the Book of Kells is almost as fascinating as its intricate illuminations. It is thought to have been created around AD 800 by the monks at St Colmcille's Monastery on Iona, a remote island off the coast of Scotland; repeated looting by marauding Vikings forced the monks to flee to Kells, County Meath, along with their masterpiece. It was stolen in 1007, then rediscovered three months later buried underground. The Book of Kells was brought to Trinity College for safekeeping in 1654 and now more than half a million visitors queue up to see it annually. The 680-page (340-folio) book was rebound in four calfskin volumes in 1953. There has been a library at Trinity College since its founding in 1592 and the Old Library dates from 1732. In 1743, the college began collecting the busts that now line the Long Room; notables include Jonathan Swift, Shakespeare, Aristotle and Wolfe Tone. Despite being sometimes described as a ‘Harry Potter library’ online, the Old Library does not appear in the wizarding films but it does bear a striking resemblance to the Jedi Archives in the Star Wars franchise, a resemblance which Lucas Film has denied was intentional. Tickets and other practicalities The Book of Kells and Trinity Old Library are open seven days a week and is wheelchair accessible. Timed entry tickets are available online. An adult ticket is €16 and concessions are available for seniors, students and groups. Your entry ticket also includes admission to temporary exhibitions on display. The visit takes about 40 minutes. The Old Library gets very busy during the summer months and you'll only get a fleeting moment with the Book of Kells, as the constant flow of viewers is hurried past. To linger in front of the masterpiece, you will need to go at a very quiet, off-peak time and be very lucky.
If you have any desire to understand Irish history – especially the long-running resistance to British colonial rule – then a visit to this former prison is an absolute must. Why you should go An imposing grey building, built in 1796, it's played a role in virtually every act of Ireland's painful path to independence, and even today, it still has the power to chill. Sometimes referred to as "The Bastille of Ireland", Kilmainham Gaol was decommissioned in 1924 and is now a museum with an enthralling exhibit on the history of Irish nationalism. Browsing the museum will give you excellent context and access to some of the former prisoners' personal belongings and letters. The enthusiastic guides provide a thought-provoking tour of the eerie prison, the largest unoccupied building of its kind in Europe. The highly memorable tour takes about 90 minutes and finishes in the yard where the leaders of the failed 1916 Easter Rising were executed. History Ireland’s struggle for independence was a bloody and tempestuous journey, and this forbidding prison on the western edge of the city, which opened in 1796, played a role in it for nearly 150 years, as the forced temporary home of many a rebel and revolutionary. The uprisings of 1798, 1803, 1848, 1867 and 1916 ended with the leaders' confinement in Kilmainham Gaol. Robert Emmet, Thomas Francis Meagher, Charles Stewart Parnell and the 1916 Easter Rising leaders were all visitors, but it was the executions in 1916 that most deeply etched the jail's name into the Irish consciousness. Of the 15 executions that took place between 3 May and 12 May after the revolt, 14 were conducted here. As a finale, prisoners from the Civil War were held here from 1922. The last prisoner, Éamon de Valera, was released in July 1924. He went on to serve as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland on three separate occasions, and eventually became President. But it’s not just political prisoners whose stories are shared here. Kilmainham Gaol offers a great, and at times uncomfortable, insight into the conditions in Ireland in the 18th, 19th and early 20th-centuries, and the lives and struggles of its people. Registers show just how easy it was to get on the wrong side of the law back then, particularly during the Great Famine (1845–49) when starvation forced people to steal and beg for food, or deliberately break the law in order to have a roof over their heads. Many of those who did leave the prison ended up being deported to the other side of the world, never to return home. Some 4000 convicts, many petty thieves, were held in Kilmainham Gaol before being shipped to the British colonies in Australia. The Kilmainham Gaol Restoration Society was established in 1958 to restore the former prison, transforming it into the most important historical monuments in the country with the help of voluntary labor, free materials and donations - such was the desire to preserve the site. Ahead of the centenary of the 1916 Rising, the Office of Public Works invested €5 million in refurbishing the site. Tickets and other practicalities Entrance is by guided tour and is managed through timed tickets. Online booking is required. Book as far in advance as possible to get your preferred visiting time. If you're planning a trip on short notice, cancellation tickets for the day are released online between 9:15am and 9:30am. Group bookings (10 or more people) can be arranged by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Wheelchair users, visitors with additional needs and carers are advised to email the museum in advance to arrange a visit. Kilmainham Gaol is located 3.5km from Dublin city center; a number of bus routes have stops nearby and the nearest Luas stop (red line) is Suir Road. Entrance is via the Kilmainham Courthouse next door. What's nearby? While in this part of the city you can visit the fine collection at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (don’t forget to visit the gardens too), which is about a 15-minute walk from Kilmainham Gaol. If the weather is good, enjoy a stroll in War Memorial Gardens. Slightly further afield is the Phoenix Park. For lunch, try Storyboard, LimeTree Cafe or the Kilmainham Gaol Cafe.
Why you should go Trinity College Dublin is Ireland 's most prestigious university, a collection of elegant Georgian and Victorian buildings, cobbled squares and nature-friendly wildflower meadows that make for a delightful place to wander. Located next to Grafton Street in the heart of the city, Trinity College is one of Ireland’s most visited sites, attracting more than two million visitors per year. Its biggest draws are the barrel-vaulted Long Room in Old Library, one of the most photographed rooms in Dublin, and the Book of Kells, the beautifully illuminated Gospel manuscript that dates back to the 9th-century and is one of Ireland's greatest cultural treasures. The campus is a masterpiece of architecture. Notable buildings include the 1798 Chapel, with its painted windows, and the red-brick Rubrics Building which dates from around 1690, making it the oldest building in the college. There’s also the neo-Gothic Museum Building, home to the Zoological Museum (a bit of a hidden gem that's great for kids) with a collection that includes examples of extinct creatures such as Ireland’s Last Great Auk and the Tasmanian Wolf. Not to be outdone is the brutalist, brilliant Berkeley Library, designed by Paul Koralek in 1967, and the Arts & Social Science Building, which is home to the Douglas Hyde Gallery of Modern Art - one of the country's leading contemporary galleries. Towards the eastern end of the complex, College Park is a lovely place to lounge around on a sunny day and occasionally you'll catch a game of cricket. On sunny days, people flock to the campus bar, The Pavillion (or 'The Pav' as it's known to students) and lounge on the cricket grounds with a cold can of beer. Slightly further afield on Pearse Street is the Science Gallery, a family-friendly attraction that offers a lively and informative exploration of the relationship between science, art and the world we live in. History The college was established by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592 when Ireland was under British colonial rule. It was built on land confiscated from an Augustinian priory to the south east of the city walls, and modelled on England 's University of Oxford and University of Cambridge. The goal of the college was to stop the brain drain of young Protestant Dubliners, who were skipping across to continental Europe for an education, choosing universities in France and Italy – and so risking conversion to Roman Catholicism. It remained completely Protestant until 1793, but even when the university relented and began to admit Catholics, the Catholic Church held firm; until 1970, any Catholic who enrolled here could consider themselves excommunicated. It also remained a gentlemen-only university until 1904 when the first women were allowed to study there. Trinity is regarded as one of Europe's most outstanding universities, producing a host of notable graduates – including the writers Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker and Samuel Beckett, as well as Oscar-nominated actress Ruth Negga and novelist Sally Rooney, whose novels Conversations with Friends and Normal People were set in Trinity College. Opening hours and other practicalities Trinity College campus grounds, the Long Room and the Book of Kells exhibition are open seven days a week. Entry for the exhibition is timed and tickets must be purchased online. The Science Gallery is open seven days a week, while the Zoological Museum is only open to the public in summer. A great way to see the grounds is on a student-led walking tour, departing from the Regent House entrance on College Green. There are also guided tours of the Old Library. The college is located right in the heart of the city and is easily accessible by public transport; the Green Line of the Luas stops outside the College Green entrance, and most city center buses have a stop nearby. Hotels near Trinity College If you want to stay near Trinity College, prepare to pay for the privilege. Most of the hotels nearby are of the top-end luxury variety. Westin The Davenport The Westbury The Merrion Trinity Townhouse Hotel The Shelbourne Cliff Townhouse
A magnificent Caravaggio and a breathtaking collection of works by Jack B Yeats – William Butler Yeats' younger brother – are the main reasons to visit the National Gallery, but certainly not the only ones. Its excellent collection is strong in Irish art, and there are also high-quality collections of every major European school of painting. What's inside Spread about its four wings you'll find: works by Rembrandt and his circle; a Spanish collection with paintings by El Greco, Goya and Picasso; and a well-represented display of Italian works dating from the early Renaissance to the 18th century. Fra Angelico, Titian and Tintoretto are among the artists represented, but the highlight is undoubtedly Caravaggio's The Taking of Christ (1602), which lay for over 60 years in a Jesuit house on Leeson Street and was accidentally discovered by chief curator Sergio Benedetti. The ground floor displays the gallery's fine Irish collection, plus a smaller British collection, with works by Reynolds, Hogarth, Gainsborough, Landseer and Turner. Absolutely unmissable is the Yeats Collection at the back of the gallery, displaying more than 30 works by Irish impressionist Jack B Yeats (1871–1957), Ireland's most important 20th-century painter. Entrance is via the light-filled modern Millennium Wing on Clare Street or the refurbished entrance on Merrion Square West. Here you'll also find a small collection of 20th-century Irish art, high-profile visiting collections (for which there are admission charges), an art reference library, a lecture theatre, a good bookshop and Fitzer's Café. Insider tips In order to protect FW Burton's gorgeous watercolor, Hellelil and Hildebrand, the Meeting on the Turret Stairs (1864) from too much light exposure, it is only displayed twice a week in Room 20, for an hour at a time on Thursdays at 5.30pm and Sundays at 2pm. The best time to visit the gallery is Thursday evening, when it's open late and there are fewer visitors. There are family workshops for kids to try their hand at art throughout the year, usually on Saturdays; check the gallery website for details. Tours, tickets and accessibility There are free tours at 6.30pm Thursday, 12.30pm Saturday and at 11.30am, 12.30pm and 1.30pm on Sunday. The gallery also has a free Masterpieces app (available for both Android and iPhone) featuring 80% of its collection. Wheelchairs and stools are available free of charge at the cloakrooms. Entrances on Merrion Square West and Clare Street are accessible for buggies and wheelchair users and people with reduced mobility. Lifts provide access to all levels of the gallery. Visitors who are deaf or are hard of hearing can avail of hearing induction loops. The National Gallery also hosts tours with listening devices and Irish Sign Language tours. Visitors with assistance dogs are welcome to the gallery, dog bowls with water are available from the Information desks. Free audio guides, magnifying glasses and large text booklets are available for adults and children. How to get there Dublin Bus numbers 4, 7, 8, 39A and 46A will lead you there from the city centre. What's nearby? Drop into Doheny & Nesbitt's for a post-gallery pint. For food, try Tiller & Grain or Allta (book ahead). Both Trinity College and Merrion Square park are a two-minute walk away, and you're just a stone's throw from the Natural Museum of Ireland.
The most popular attraction in Dublin is this multimedia homage to Guinness. An old fermentation plant in the St James's Gate Brewery has been converted into a seven-storey museum devoted to the beer, the company’s history, how the beer is made and how it became the brand it is today. The top floor Gravity Bar is an atrium bar, where you can test your pouring power and drink a pint; just below it is an excellent restaurant for lunch. History Since Arthur Guinness (1725–1803) founded the brewery in 1759, the operation has expanded down to the Liffey and across both sides of the street; at one point, it had its own railway and there was a giant gate stretching across St James's St, hence the brewery's proper name, St James’s Gate Brewery. At its apogee in the 1930s, it employed over 5000 workers, making it the largest employer in the city. Increased automation has reduced the workforce to around 600, but it still produces 2.5 million pints of stout every day. Tours and tickets The tour is spread across 1.6 hectares, involving an array of audiovisual and interactive displays that cover pretty much all aspects of the brewery's history and the brewing process. You'll even learn how to perfect the famous two-part pour in the vertiginous heights of the Gravity Bar. The tour takes about 90 minutes and tickets cost from €18.50 per adult. Die-hards can opt for the upgraded Connoisseur Experience, where a designated barkeeper goes through the histories of the four variants of Guinness – Draught, Original, Foreign Extra Stout and Black Lager – and provides delicious samples of each. Tickets cost €55. In 2020, the Storehouse launched a Behind-the-Gate tour, bringing visitors to parts of St James's Gate that were previously off limits to the public. Tickets cost €95. Other add-ons include the STOUTie, the stout equivalent of latte art, where a pretty good likeness of yourself is drawn in the creamy head of the pint. Strictly for photographs, of course. What's nearby? The experimental Open Gate Brewery is just around the corner, where you can test a sample board of Guinness or enjoy a selection of craft beers and food. There's also a choice of distillery experiences nearby, including Teeling and Roe & Co. For lunch try Groundstate, or head to Container Coffee for a takeaway hot drink - both are within walking distance. The Storehouse is in the Liberties district so you're surrounded by a great selection of restaurants and traditional pubs. How to get there The 123 bus will take you from the city center to the Guinness Storehouse; it has stops on O'Connell Street and Dame Street.
Why you should go Explore behind the facade of one of Dublin's famous Georgian townhouses, carefully restored to gently peel back layers of complex social history over 250 years. Part museum, part community archive, it covers the magnificent elegance of upper-class life in the 1740s to the destitution of the early 20th century, when the house was occupied by 100 tenants living in near squalor. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘tenement museum’ although it covers a lot more history than that. Tickets and other practicalities Access is by 75-minute guided tour only, which means visitors get the benefit of lots of interesting detail. Adult tickets are €9 with concessions available. It is fully wheelchair accessible but it is advised to contact them beforehand if you have mobility requirements. They also regularly host history talks about the local area (currently held online).
Ireland 's largest church and the final resting place of Jonathan Swift, St Patrick's stands on the spot where St Patrick himself reputedly baptised the local Celtic chieftains in the 5th century. Fiction or not, it's a sacred bit of turf upon which this cathedral was built between 1191 and 1270. Why you should go Located in the historic Liberties district, St Patrick's is one of the most visited sites in Ireland and one of the few buildings left from medieval Dublin. The cathedral is famous for its choir, which is Ireland's oldest - dating all the way back to 1432, who perform here daily, Monday to Friday, during school term. Its Christmas service is not to be missed. The cathedral is filled with artefacts, most notably the baptistry; the oldest part of the cathedral, which was probably the entrance to the original building. It contains the original 12th-century floor tiles and medieval stone font, which is still in use. Inside the cathedral proper, you come almost immediately to the tombs of Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver's Travels) and Esther Johnson, his long-term companion, better known as Stella. The Latin epitaphs are both written by Swift, and assorted Swift memorabilia lies all over the cathedral, including a pulpit and a death mask. On your way around the church, you'll see a cross on a stone slab that once marked the position of St Patrick's original well, where, according to legend, the patron saint of Ireland rolled up his sleeves and got to baptising the natives. You'll also take in the four sections of the permanent exhibition, Living Stones, which explores the cathedral's history and the contribution it has made to the culture of Dublin. History Although a church has stood here since the 5th century, this building dates from the turn of the 12th century and has been altered several times, most notably in 1864 when it was saved from ruin and, some might say, over-enthusiastically restored. The interior is as calm and soothing as the exterior is sombre. The picturesque St Patrick's Park, adjoining, was a crowded slum until it was cleared in the early 20th century. It's likely that St Patrick's was intended to replace Christ Church as the city's cathedral, but the older church's stubborn refusal to be usurped resulted in the two cathedrals being virtually a stone's throw from one another. Separated only by the city walls (with St Patrick's outside), each possessed the rights of cathedral of the diocese. While St Pat's isn't as photogenic as its neighbour, it probably surpasses its more attractive rival in historical terms. Like Christ Church Cathedral, the building has suffered a rather dramatic history of storm and fire damage and has been altered several times (most questionably in 1864 when the flying buttresses were added, thanks to the neo-Gothic craze that swept the nation). Oliver Cromwell, during his 1649 visit to Ireland, converted St Patrick's to a stable for his army's horses, an indignity to which he also subjected numerous other Irish churches. In 1666 the Lady Chapel was given to the newly arrived Huguenots and became known as the French Church of St Patrick. It remained in Huguenot hands until 1816. The northern transept was known as the parish church of St Nicholas Without (meaning outside the city), essentially dividing the cathedral into two distinct churches. Such confusion led to the building falling into disrepair as the influence of the deanery and chapter waned. Although the church's most famous dean, Jonathan Swift, (who served here from 1713 to 1745), did his utmost to preserve the integrity of the building, by the end of the 18th century it was close to collapse. It was just standing when the benevolent Guinness family stepped in to begin a massive restoration in 1864. Fun Fact: 'chance your arm' Towards the north transept is a door that has become a symbol of peace and reconciliation since it helped resolve a scrap between the Earls of Kildare and Ormond in 1492. After a feud, supporters of the squabbling nobles ended up in a pitched battle inside the cathedral, during which Ormond's nephew – one Black James – barricaded himself in the chapterhouse. Kildare, having calmed down, cut a hole in the door between them and stuck his arm through it to either shake his opponent's hand, or lose a limb in his attempt to smooth things over. James chose mediation over amputation and took his hand. The term 'to chance your arm' entered the English lexicon and everyone lived happily ever after – except Black James, who was murdered by Kildare's son-in-law four years later. Visiting and other practicalities Attend a sung Mass for the best atmosphere – at 11.15am on Sundays throughout the year, or at 9am Monday to Friday during school term only. Advance tickets are not valid on Sundays between 10.45am and 12.30pm and between 2.45pm and 4.30pm. Last admission is 30 minutes before closing time. General admission is €7.50 for adults and €6.50 for children, with discounts available for group tours. Tickets can be purchased online. St Patrick's is about a 15-minute walk from Grafton Street. What's nearby? Cross Clanbrassil Street and head for Fumbally for a sandwich or a hot bite or wander up to the corner of St Francis Street for a lunch in Two Pups Coffee. If you need something to fortify your spirits before or after your visit, Fallon's is one of Dublin's best pubs… and is conveniently only a short walk away.
The hugely impressive 709 hectares that comprise Dublin's Phoenix Park are not just a magnificent playground for all kinds of sport—from running to polo—but are also home to the president of Ireland, the American ambassador and a large herd of fallow deer. It's also where you'll find Europe's oldest zoo. How's that for a place to stretch your legs? Do as Dubliners do on a fine day and run, cycle, play, walk, take in a game of cricket, watch a polo match, see the deer (don't feed them), or just lie down, depending on your fancy. There's always something going on in the Phoenix Park, but in summer you'll find it keeps a jam-packed schedule with cultural events, live music, festivals, and games. What to see The main thoroughfare is Chesterfield Avenue, which runs northwest through the length of the park from the Parkgate Street entrance to the Castleknock Gate. Many landmarks can be found strolling along here. Near the entrance is the 63m-high Wellington Monument obelisk, which was completed in 1861. Close by is the People's Garden, dating from 1864, and the bandstand in the Hollow, a lovely picnic spot. Dublin Zoo is located at this end of the park, as is the quaint and lovely Victorian tearooms. Also on Chesterfield Avenue is Áras an Uachtaráin - residence of the president of Ireland - which is open to the public through guided tours on Saturdays. Across the road, and easily visible from it, is the massive Papal Cross, which marks the site where Pope John Paul II preached to 1.25 million people in 1979. In the centre of the park the Phoenix Monument, erected by Lord Chesterfield in 1747, looks so unlike a phoenix that it's often referred to as the Eagle Monument. Next door to Áras an Uachtaráin is the restored four-storey Ashtown Castle, a 17th-century tower house, which you can visit on a guided tour. The southern part of the park has many football and hurling pitches; although they actually occupy about 80 hectares (200 acres), the area is known as the Fifteen Acres. At weekends the football pitches are used by local league teams that can be fun to watch. To the west, the rural-looking Glen Pond corner of the park is extremely attractive. At the northwestern end of the park is the opulent Farmleigh House, which can only be visited by joining one of the 30-minute house tours. However, the real highlight of the 32-hectare estate is the garden, where regular shows are held, and where you'll find a restaurant and cafe. There is also an extensive program of cultural events in summer, ranging from food fairs to classical concerts. The 37m clock tower once housed an 8000L water tank that serviced the estate; views from the top are sensational. Back towards the Parkgate St entrance is the Magazine Fort on Thomas’s Hill. History The deer came first, introduced by Lord Ormond in 1662 when lands once owned by the Knights of Jerusalem were turned into a royal hunting ground. In 1745 the viceroy Lord Chesterfield threw it open to the public and it has remained that way ever since. (The name 'Phoenix' has nothing to do with the mythical bird; it is a corruption of the Irish fionn uisce, meaning 'clear water'.) In 1882 the park played a crucial role in Irish history, when Lord Cavendish, the British chief secretary for Ireland, and his assistant were murdered outside what is now the Irish president's residence by an obscure nationalist group called the Invincibles. Lord Cavendish's home is now called Deerfield and is used as the official residence of the US ambassador. Opening hours, tours and other practicalities Phoenix Park Visitor Centre has a self-guided exhibition on the history and wildlife of the park; you can also arrange and collect tickets for the Saturday tours of Áras an Uachtaráin, and tours of Ashtown Castle. One of the best ways to see the park is by bicycle. If you don't have wheels of your own, you can rent a bike from Phoenix Park Bikes at the Parkgate Street entrance. Bring valid photo ID. Rental fees are €6 for up to one hour; €10 for up to three hours; and €15 for a full day. The company also offers guided bike tours. Phoenix Park is open 24 hrs a day, seven days a week, all year round, but it is not advised to hang around after dark.
Why you should go As the stronghold of British power in Ireland for more than 700 years, Dublin Castle has played a central - and often adversarial - role in the history of the nation. A mix of buildings from different centuries, the castle complex is now used by the Irish government for meetings and functions, and the best bits are only visible as part of a guided tour. Highlights include the State Apartments and St Patrick's Hall, where Irish presidents are inaugurated and foreign dignitaries toasted. Another highlight is a visit to the medieval undercroft of the old castle, which includes foundations built by the Vikings. As you walk into the grounds from the main Dame Street entrance, there's a good example of the evolution of Irish architecture. On your left is the Victorian Chapel Royal and beside this is the Norman Record Tower from 1258. On your right is the Georgian Treasury Building, the oldest office block in Dublin, and behind you is the uglier-than-sin Revenue Commissioners Building of 1960. Heading away from that eyesore, you ascend to the Upper Yard. On your right is a figure of Justice with her back turned to the city, an appropriate symbol for British justice, many Dubliners have reckoned. Next to it is the 18th-century Bedford Tower. History Originally the site of an elevated Viking settlement, Dublin Castle was built as a medieval fortress in 1204 and was the residence for the British crown’s representative in Ireland - later called the Lord Lieutenant - until Ireland became independent in the 2oth century. It was designed in typical Norman fashion with strong, tall defensive walls and a circular tower at every corner. Fires in 1673 and 1684 caused the demolition of much of the original buildings; today the Record Tower is the sole surviving medieval structure. Rebuilt in the subsequent decades in Georgian style, the castle was the setting for state balls, banquets and other occasions hosted by the Lord Lieutenant during the social season. By the mid-19th century, the castle was only an official residence for part of the year and instead was the place of work for many civil servants. Most famously, Dracula author Bram Stoker worked here for twelve years before moving to London in 1878. The Irish Crown Jewels were stolen from the Bedford Tower in 1907. Fingers were pointed at everyone from Francis Shackleton (brother to explorer Ernest), a disgruntled mistress, and the Irish Republican Brotherhood, but the jewels have never been recovered and the mystery never solved. The Castle was part of an unsuccessful assault during the 1916 Easter Rising; a force of just twenty-five men and women seized the guard-room but were quickly forced to retreat when reinforcements were called. The subsequent Irish War of Independence was often centered against ‘the Castle’ and its administration; in 1920, three republicans were tortured and killed there in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday. The castle was officially handed over to Irish republican leader Michael Collins, representing the Irish Free State, in 1922, when the Lord Lieutenant is reported to have rebuked Collins on being seven minutes late. Collins replied, “We've been waiting 700 years, you can have the seven minutes.” Since 1938, all Irish presidents have been inaugurated here and the state has welcomed foreign dignitaries such as Nelson Mandela, Princess Grace of Monaco, John F. Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth II. It was the epicentre of celebrations when the results were announced for the historic referendums on same-sex marriage and abortion rights in 2015 and 2018 respectively. Tickets and other practicalities Open 7 days a week. The grounds and gardens in the complex are open and free to explore. There's a self-guided tour option, but that only includes the State Apartments. The best bits are only visible as part of a 70-minute guided tour. The castle has brochures in 17 languages, but the handiest guide is the free Dublin Castle app, available for all devices.