Scroll To Top


Ireland is best known as a land of quaint villages, friendly people and wild natural beauty but there is another side to this emerald isle -- the urban charms of Dublin. 

Also, watch the Temple Bar video.

There is a certain irony in focusing on the big city when you visit Ireland because the true beauty of this land is undeniably its countryside:  the lush, green landscapes that are found everywhere outside of Dublin.  We've shown all that in the other movies in our Ireland collection, but now we’re focusing on the urban excitement of Dublin.

This convivial capital is truly a fascinating place with warm, sociable people, lovely architecture, excellent museums, great pubs, varied restaurants, endless entertainment and the most popular attraction, Guinness, in the pubs and at their storehouse display.

We'll start out with three main areas south of the river Liffey: Trinity College, St. Stephen's Green and Temple bar. And then up to pedestrian shopping street, and of course out to the Guinness Storehouse.

Trinity College is one of the world’s great schools and a leading attraction, with more than half a million visitors each year.  People come to see the graceful campus with its wonderful collection of historic buildings and gardens arranged in a harmonious setting spanning 35 acres. 

The impressive Campanile bell tower dating to 1853, stands in the center of campus and is the symbol of the school. Behind it is Trinity's oldest building a red brick structure called the Rubrics from 1690.

There is one very special item on campus everyone flocks to see -- the illuminated manuscript known as the Book of Kells, dating back to the 8th century. 

This is Ireland’s most popular single tourist attraction, so it pays to get here early because the lines to see it can get very long during the busy summer months especially. The Book of Kells hearkens back to the Middle Ages when Irish monks were keepers of the flame of civilization in an otherwise dismal European cultural scene of the Dark Ages.

The Book of Kells is on display in the Old Library, which in itself is a notable site lined with dark wood shelves containing 200,000 of the school’s oldest books and some fascinating artifacts. 

12,000 students keep the Trinity campus and this part of town quite lively during the school year, but during the summer holidays, rooms in the dormitories can be rented for a reasonable fee if you would like nice quiet, centrally-located accommodations with private facilities in buildings of historic character. 

You're welcome to freely stroll through five pleasant quadrangles on the campus. It's like a small city in town.

And when you're finished exit back out the front gate and take a left on Grafton Street, which in a block becomes a pedestrian shopping mall.

You'll see the Bank of Ireland, a large classical building with the curved façade accented by many huge pillars, built from 1729.

Dublin’s main pedestrian promenade is Grafton Street, which extends for six glorious blocks and is lined with shops and restaurants all the way.  This is truly the heart of town, filled with mobs of locals out for a stroll.

Grafton Street is the center of a fine shopping neighborhood that extends out on both sides for several blocks.

St. Stephen’s Green is a real charmer, with all the elements you would hope for in the perfect urban oasis:  abundant green lawns, two small ponds, scattered benches, flowerbeds, a fountain, ducks, geese, soaring trees, a bandstand, snack stand, locals enjoying themselves, (music plays)

You might get lucky and catch some music and dance.

These 22 acres of St Stephens Green had been a swampy marsh until it first became a private park in 1678, with homes for the affluent built around it. A wall was built to keep out ordinary citizens. 

The park was opened to the public by Parliament in 1877, and rejuvenated by a wealthy benefactor, Sir Arthur Guinness. All new landscaping was done in the Victorian style with the perimeter of tree and shrub planting, and there’s spectacular spring and summer flowerbeds.

You can see in this interesting aerial photograph the overall layout of the park. There's 3 1/2 kilometers of walkways accessible to all users.

It's an easy one kilometer walk from the park over to Temple Bar, Dublin's most popular gathering spot. Temple Bar is the nightlife center of town, a great place for a stroll, perhaps have a pint and catch some traditional music. It is the city's busiest tourist district.

Most of the action is centered on the main lane, called Temple Bar and then Fleet Street. And it's only about 400 meters from the Millennium Bridge down to the O'Connell Bridge which are the effective boundaries of Temple Bar. It's a small area, but packed with people.

What’s going on? Hen do. Aha.

One of the wild Irish traditions is the party for a bride-to-be with her girlfriends, carrying on in the streets, acting a bit silly and doing a little drinking.  See if you can pick out the bride-to-be. They call it a “hen do” or hen party, having boisterous fun, acting up wild on a big final fling.

You'll surely find Irish music every day in several of these lively pubs.

At night, Temple bar becomes action central for the young travelers, catering mostly to tourists who want to party into the wee hours.

The party atmosphere puts people in a happy mood.

There are many pubs that provide an authentic local experience with live music in a variety of styles, mostly Irish. And you can find lots of Irish beer and food here. This is not a typical Irish scene. It's a bit noisier, with drinks a bit more expensive, but it's a great showplace for people watching and partying.

Music can fill the air, thanks to regular performances by street buskers who always appreciate any coins you might toss their way. Perhaps not everyone's cup of tea, but you take a look here and decide for yourself. You can see it's quite civilized and polite.

In fair weather you will see thousands of people out on the streets every night, standing or sitting on the pavement, with a pint in hand, having a grand time.  The sidewalks are mobbed and the pubs are packed.  This big variety offers something for most everyone, so be sure to visit, whether it's for a quick peek or to spend a couple of nights.

It's easy to leave Temple Bar via the Ha’penny Bridge crossing the river Liffey up to O'Connell Street, where many hotels are located. It was a fine spot for our group. We stayed at Wynns Hotel on Lower Abbey Street. It's a very traditional, established hotel with great breakfasts, typical Irish-style: fried egg, sausage, ham, blood pudding, potatoes, baked tomatoes, mmhhh.

Out for a brief morning stroll in this downtown area. Dublin has been expanding their tram system recently. We had a look at the operation and at some of the construction in the roadbed. You can see how they build the tracks. They don't have an underground or elevated metro, but the street-level tram is very effective.

You might find a bus tour is a good way to get around and there are several different companies that offer double-decker and open-top bus. In our case we had a private driver for our group and took a drive through town.

Oscar Wilde grew up in this house on Merrion Square where he lived with his parents until he was 24, and across the street is a statue of the great writer himself. He's lounging on a large quartz boulder with a complicated expression on his face that depicts two aspects of his life – his witty charm on one side and his depression on the other.

He's staring out at a nude male statue of the god Dionisius, connoting his gay life, and flanked on the other side by a small statue of his wife. Elegantly attired in a green jacket made of jade with a pink thulite color and pants of Norwegian granite. He is looking sophisticated, suave and witty. One of the greatest writers in the English language.

Continuing along on our bus ride with our guide, Martin, on a tour arranged for us by a company called My Ireland Tour, a great outfit to work with.

Passing through Phoenix Park. It's the largest enclosed public park in any capital city in Europe. It's open every day.

Then entering a legal part of town, passing the new criminal courthouse and on the left, The Four Courts housing, the supreme, appeal, high and circuit courts.

Dublin City Hall kind of looks like neoclassical version of the Pantheon in Rome with a triangular pediment and columns and dome up top.

Dublin Castle is another government building of interest to visitors. It was the seat of English rule for nearly 800 years, open now as a museum. Originally built as a fort and castle evolved into a royal palace.

Four blocks away, we get to St. Patrick's Cathedral where we get out of the bus and go inside for a visit. It's the largest and tallest church in Ireland with the spire reaching 43 meters high. Not Catholic, it's the national headquarters for the Church of Ireland.

Dublin, of course, is very Catholic city, but does not have a Catholic cathedral. Instead, it has two Protestant cathedrals. We will show you the other one coming up next.

Built on an early Christian site where St. Patrick reputedly baptized his flock in the 5th century, the tower dates from 1370 and most of the rest was rebuilt during the 19th century in the gothic style.  Its most celebrated Dean was Jonathan Swift, who presided here from 1713 to 1745 while writing Gulliver’s Travels and other satirical classics that mocked the English and promoted Irish freedom. 

It is located beyond the medieval walls in a section known as the “Liberties” because here residents had more freedom from civic control.

Next we’re visiting the other Protestant Cathedral, Christchurch, and reminding you where we've already been. This entire mapped areas, only 1 mile wide. You can see that Dublin is quite compact.

Christ Church Cathedral is Dublin’s oldest surviving building, originally constructed about the year 1030 by Vikings, who had already become Christianized, and are considered the founders of Dublin.  The Vikings established a major trading port on the nearby riverbank at Wood Quay, making this the only surviving cathedral in Ireland or Britain with a Norse foundation. 

A great deal of care is been taken in recent years to maintain the structure as both of visitor attraction, with fascinating historical displays in the best example of Gothic style in the country, and as the center of an active Cathedral congregation. It's evolution of architectural styles over a thousand years summarizes a large chunk of the city's history.

Unusual for a city to have two cathedrals. This is the Cathedral of Dublin, and St. Patrick's is the Cathedral of the nation.

Christchurch extends across the street in the building that contains, a medieval museum, with a dramatic multimedia exhibit focusing on the early Viking settlement and medieval Dublin.

This is Dublinia, where the history is vividly brought to life by guides in costume, several multi-screen shows, genuine artifacts of the period and classes for young students.  A walk through sections of reproduced historic streets enables you to experience medieval life firsthand.

And for an added bonus you can climb up the tower and get a beautiful view looking out over this old part of Dublin. There is no elevator. It's ninety-six steps to the top of St. Michael's tower, but it's worth it for the view.

Beer-lovers must visit the Guinness Storehouse where you can learn all about the brewing of that wonderful dark stout and enjoy some fresh samples.  It is the country's most popular tourist attraction with 1.5 million annual visitors. The actual brewery is one block over, and is off-limits to visitors, but this impressive showcase presents very entertaining, high-tech multimedia displays that tell the whole story in a fun way.

It was named Europe's leading tourist attraction for 2015 at the World Travel Awards, winning more votes than the likes of the Eiffel Tower and the Coliseum.

As part of your admission price you'll get a lesson in how to properly taste the brew, which you might apply to all of your eating and drinking. The tip is,  breathe out through your nose with your mouth closed to get the full taste of whatever's in your mouth, as a guide tells us.

It's called retronasal tasting, and it's basically just taking a deep breath in, holding it, then pour a mouthful of beer and drink that down, and then breathe out from your nose afterwards. So here you can have rotation of the air and circulation of the air around your pallate, you're going to taste all the different flavors. 

Everybody pick up your glasses, all together, nice deep breath in, hold it, pour a mouthful of beer,  and then what you're doing is a long, gentle breath on nose and tongue. So, you should taste immediately that roasted barley flavor. It's definitely strongest in the beer.

Alright, glad you enjoyed it. You get your pint on the fourth floor.

The admission includes tasting a pint, which you can learn how to pour for yourself if you go to the fourth floor, or ride to the top floor, high up in the Gravity Bar, with a rooftop view of the city spread out all around you.  It’s a fun social scene up here.

Everybody is loose and happy with a pint in their hands. You’ve got visitors from all over the world, half of them from the US and half from Great Britain, and the rest from everywhere. It's an ideal place to strike up a conversation and make a new friend.

If you would like some more, there are four different restaurants and a couple of bars right here with in the Storehouse.

Guinness brews over 500 million liters each year, which includes 50% of all beer sipped in Ireland -- four million pints daily for three million people -- and ships the rest out to 150 countries.

It is said the best Guinness must be consumed within a mile of the factory, so here is your chance for the fountainhead, the world’s freshest Guinness. 

The company converted their original old warehouse structure to resemble some kind of futuristic, industrial factory. It has a very stark interior with all exposed metal beams and escalators that take you up from one open floor to the next.

When finished exit through the gift shop where you can find a hundred items with the Guinness brand splashed all over them.

From the Guinness Museum we’re jumping to the art museum.

The National Gallery of Ireland has a small but excellent selection from the major periods of European art history, and a large collection of Irish art tastefully presented in a beautiful building. Start with the great masters before your senses get overloaded.

It's nice to see the young students getting a firsthand education in fine arts with gallery talks that will hopefully give them appreciation for arts that will stay with them for their lives.

Vermeer, Jan Steen, Frans Hals and Ruisdael highlight the Dutch masters, while the Spanish painters include El Greco, Murillo, Zurburan, Velasquez and Goya.  This is a world-class collection and yet small enough that you can appreciated in one or two hours.

As we have seen most of the interesting parts of Dublin are south of the river, but there are also many fine sites left to see in the north end of town.

O'Connell Street is like the Broadway or Fifth Avenue of Dublin. It had been the main street for many, many years. And it is still a wonderful place to walk around, especially now, the tram service is coming down O'Connell Street and rejuvenating this entire neighborhood. It's a grand old boulevard with wide sidewalks and lined with important historic monuments.

The most famous building that you'll see on O'Connell Street is the grand neoclassical façade of the General Post Office.  This landmark structure played a role in the Irish rebellion against the British during the Easter Rising of 1916, when a small band of Irish freedom-fighters made it their headquarters and fortress. 

You'll want to take a stroll on Henry Street, the city's busiest shopping strip for residents. Along with the more upscale Grafton Street, this is one of Dublin's two main pedestrian lanes and is packed with excellent shops and the huge department store, Debenhams. This promenade is always thronged with locals. At the far end it becomes Mary Street with other little shopping lanes branching off from it.

You might find yourself going full-circle, ending up back at Ha’penny Bridge across the River Liffey. And even if you’re not going back over to the south side of the city, it might be fun just to cross over the bridge anyway, and then turn around and cross back again, where you started from.

We have longer movies about each of these destinations in our collection, so be sure to take a look.

As you can tell from the many wonderful sights that we’ve seen, this is a trip that you would really enjoy.