8 Totally Awesome Unique Things to do in Dublin the UNESCO City of Literature

There is no better way to tour Dublin than through a local. They know the ins and the outs of where to eat, shop, hang out and how to spend time exploring. I feel like Dublin is a second home after visiting twice a year for the past three years. Still, I look to my local friends for advice on what to do while I’m there, and they’ve never let me down. Over the years I’ve been able to explore some really unique things to do in Dublin. I’ve discovered it’s a very unique city, lined with Georgian architecture, steeped in legend and teeming with fantastic literature. Perhaps that’s why UNESCO named it the UNESCO City of Literature.

 

8 Awesome things to do in Dublin

My Favorite Unique Things to do in Dublin

 

If you’ve followed me for any length of time then you know I love this city. The locals are charming, welcoming and always friendly. There are good bites and fine dining around every turn and it’s dripping with stories and beautiful sights.

 

#1 Take a Walking Tour

 

St. Patrick's Cathedral Dublin, unique things to do in dublin

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

 

I love walking around Dublin. You get so much more of the city absorbed when on foot. Plus, taxis can be costly. Walk around this city and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take pics of places like Christ Church, St Patrick’s Cathedral, and Trinity College (to name a few).

 

#2 Take a Library Tour

 

The Long Library, unique things to do in dublin

The Long Library at Trinity College

 

Trinity College – Dublin has three incredible libraries, two of which are widely known and one which is less heard of by tourists (more on this in the Go Dark section). Trinity’s Long Library is probably the most popular as it’s home to the permanent Book of Kells exhibit as well as traveling exhibits. I’ve seen many exhibits in there, however, one of my favorites was the Children’s Fairytale Exhibit.

 

The Chester Beatty Library – This library is a marvelous sight and is just across the Dublin Castle (one of the places on the Bram Stoker Trail). Home to one man’s ( Sir Alfred Chester Beatty) collection of manuscripts, miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and decorative arts, it’s been described by Lonely Planet as not just the best museum in Ireland, but one of the best in Europe.

 

#3 Get Up Close to Heritage, Magic, and Myth

 

Loughcrew, The Fairytale Traveler, Christa Thompson, unique things to do in dublin

At Loughcrew

 

The Boyne Valley – Home to six plus ancient passage tombs, also home to labyrinths and beautiful rolling hills, the Boyne Valley holds some of Ireland’s most ancient and mystic legends. With megalithic cairns older than the pyramids of Egypt and steeped in mystery.

 

The Monastic Settlement of Glendalough – One of the jewels of the Ancient East in Ireland, this settlement is where the earliest known Irish legends were transcribed as Christians converted pagan beliefs into myths.

 

Glendalough

Monastic Settlement at Glendalough

 

Dublinia – Learn all about Dublin’s medieval heritage and its period of Vikings at this kid-friendly center. Located at Christ Church, the crossroads of Dublin’s medieval city.

 

Malahide Castle – Explore heritage, walled gardens and a fairytale-like castle

 

Malahide Castle

Malahide Castle photo Wikimedia

 

National Folklore Collection – Explore books, periodicals and off-prints on Irish and comparative folklore, ethnology and related fields contributed by any of the many thousands of storytellers, collectors, and correspondents over the years.

 

#4 Be a Bookworm

 

The Writers Museum, unique things to do in dublin

The Writers Museum Photo by Ingmar Zahorsky under the Creative Commons License

 

There are loads of places tied to famous authors and books. Writers like W.B. Yeats, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Patrick Kavanagh, Seán O’Casey, Bram Stoker and Brendan Behan have all staked claim in the city of Literature.

 

The Dublin Writer’s Museum – This is essential on any bookworm’s list of things to do. Featuring the lives and works of some of Dublin’s most notable literary names over the span of the past three hundred years. Names like Swift, Sheridan, Shaw and Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, and Beckett are preserved here through letters pictures and personal effects all in a pristine Georgian house.

 

Trinity College – The educator of many famous Dublin writers.

 

Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College

 

James Joyce House of the Dead – The Setting of Joyce’s famous story “The Dead” can be visited for dinner! This is not a restaurant but more of an experience, a “Dead Dinner” to be exact!

 

A Walk Around the City – You’ll spot placards and statues all over the city! Here is a good guide to a walking tour.  

 

The Bram Stoker Trail – Self-made and in desperate need of getting some real tourism funding, this trail takes you to the places historically tied to the famous Gothic novelist and where his legacy lives.

 

 

The James Joyce Museum – An entire museum dedicated to the world-famous author. The collection here includes letters, photographs, first and rare editions and personal possessions of Joyce, as well as items associated with the Dublin of Ulysses.

 

#5 Get Political

 

Daniel O'connell Tomb

The tomb of Daniel O’Connell at Glasnevin Cemetery

 

Like many big cities, Dublin has its share of statues. Many of these are political figures and many of which you can see on O’Connell Street. Here’s a complete list. But what may be the most important of all these political sights to see is that of Daniel O’Connell’s tomb in Glasnevin Cemetery.

 

#6 Get a Sip or Two or Four

 

The Whiskey Museum

The Whiskey Museum

 

It wouldn’t be Dublin without its pubs but moreover, it wouldn’t be Dublin without its whiskey and Guinness! There are so many pubs to choose from, it’s best to take the advice of a local. And, before you go out, why not take in a little history on your favorite adult beverages so you can be on the up.

 

Teeling Whiskey Distillery – Here you can get a close look and taste of the Teeling brand Whiskey.

 

The Whiskey Museum – Learn every single thing there is to know about Irish Whiskey and its history. With a rare collection of bottles, you will love this tour. And you’ll especially love the taste! Even if you’re not a whiskey drinker, you may be surprised and how different they are.

 

The Whiskey Museum, The Fairytale Traveler, Christa Thompson

Tasting some Irish Whiskey at the Whiskey Museum

 

The Guinness Storehouse – A must do on everyone’s list when visiting. It’s like going to Orlando and not going to Disney. The Guinness truly does taste better from the Storehouse!

 

Take Your Pick of Pubs – I’ve been over this a hundred million, trillion times. I’ve been toured by the best local there is and there’s no getting around it, these are the best, least douchey pubs in Dublin; The Long Hall, the Cobblestone, Frank Ryans, the Bernard Shaw, the Headline Bar, the Hairy Lemon and the Stag’s Head (I squeezed that in there for those of you who insist on hanging around Temple Bar like a total tourist). If you’re on the edge for a hipster bar packed to the brim with tattooed bearded men try a personal favorite the East Side Tavern, Foley’s, 37 Dawson or O’Donohues (also great spots to eat).

 

East Side Tavern

East Side Tavern

 

#7 Go Dark with Tombstones and Ghost Tales

 

There’s a definite dark side to Dublin. Like any city with years of history, it has its tales. Here are a few which have stuck out to me over the years.

 

The Hellfire Club – Much less creepy by day I assure you. The Hellfire Club is one of the world’s most notorious haunts. Visited by multiple ghost hunting shows, this place has a history so dark, it will make your hair stand on end.

 

The Hellfire Club, Dublin

photo by Christa Thompson

 

St. Michan’s Church – Did you know there are mummies in Dublin? Not something you hear on a daily is it? You can take a tour of the St. Michan’s Cathedral crypt and learn all about the infamous dead. Matter of fact, they may have even inspired Bram Stoker.

 

St.-Michans-Church-Crypt2

Mummies in the crypts at St. Michan’s Church in Dublin are believed to have inspired Bram Stoker. By Chirsta Thompson 2013

 

Glasnevin Cemetery – Also known as “The City of the Dead” will lead you through what appears to be an endless sea of high crosses peppered with ravens. Despite the death here, it is quite peaceful and simply stunning to explore. There is a fantastic museum below the guest center I recommend you take a look. It’s done to perfection. I especially like the wall of death rituals from around the world.

 

High Cross, Tombstones, Glasnevin Cemetery

High cross tombstones at Glasnevin Cemetery

 

Marsh’s Library – A smaller yet incredibly preserved historic library is Marsh’s Library behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This little spot will make you go “whoa” not just because of its Harry Potter-like books but because it’s haunted!

 

Marsh's Library Dublin 2

The stone entrance into Marsh’s Library photo taken by me.

 

The Bram Stoker Festival –  Experience Gothic Romanticism like you never have before at the Bram Stoker Festival. This festival, held annually around Halloween brings together a weekend of theater, parades, lectures, exhibits, parties and street performances all to the tune of vampirism to celebrate the works and life of Bram Stoker.

 

Bram Stoker festival, Dublin, Bram Stoker, Vampire

The Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin

 

#8 St. Patrick’s Day Festival

 

Visiting Dublin is the most epic way to do St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish are some of the most artistic and creative people I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Every year I am thoroughly surprised at the bells and whistles they pull for their parade. The whole day is a complete experience and not to be missed. It should be on your list of things to do in life!

 

St. Patrick's Day Parade Dublin

The crowd waits for the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin.

 

Dublin will always be near and dear to my heart. With a variety of unique things to do in Dublin, its beautiful architecture, history and amazing people, this city (and the whole of Ireland) is one of my favorite destinations on earth.

 


About Christa Thompson

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Christa Thompson is the Founder and Senior Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. Christa has been traveling the world since 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

10 Comments on this post

  1. I am determined to embrace Dublin, and much more of Ireland, in a year not far from now. Yes, the traveler experiences far more, on a deeper level, than those who eat, shoot, and leave.

    righteousbruin9 / Reply
  2. Hopefully by next year, crossing my fingers. Its my dream city ❤ to explore with the locals. Looking forward to exprience everything this city has to offer.

    Catherine Arana / Reply
  3. […] both. They both offer different experiences. Dublin is clearly a much larger city, bustling with shops, restaurants, pubs and history, while Kilkenny offers a quieter much smaller city but also with a great variety of options for […]

  4. […] cliffs, breathtaking mountains and of course, fairy tales. Not only are there loads of super cool, mythical and magical things to do in Dublin, but the whole island is full of […]

  5. […] deeper look into the nooks and crannies of Ireland in search of its best kept secrets. Flying into Dublin and hitting the road is always my favorite way to explore Ireland. So while you’re at it, […]

  6. […] The UNESCO City of Literature is probably the foremost relevant city in the world for any writer. With must-see places like Trinity College, the Writer’s Museum and the infamous City of the Dead otherwise known as Glasnevin Cemetery where many of the world’s most famous writers are buried. See the homes of famed authors like Bram Stoker and Jonathan Swift, or take a cheeky selfie with the statues of Oscar Wilde and James Joyce in St. Stephen’s Green. There’s plenty more where these come from in one of my favorite cities on the planet! Check out my huge list on things to do in Dublin here. […]

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