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Compact, cosmopolitan and convivial, Dublin is a small capital with great heart. Its rich heritage is visible all over the city from Viking remains to Georgian grandeur, historic churches to august colleges, and in leafy parks and along meandering canals.

Known for its traditional pubs, diverse literary connections and witty banter, it's a place to wander museums and galleries, brush up on Irish political history and enjoy a pint of the black stuff. Set between the Irish Sea and the Wicklow Mountains, Dublin also offers easy access to the great outdoors.

Youthful energy, a vibrant music scene, green spaces, a tumultuous yet proud history, burgeoning craft beers and dishes that break with Ireland’s ‘meat and potatoes’ stereotype: this is what makes me particularly fond of Dublin.

UK & Ireland specialist Marissa

Things to see and do in Dublin

St Patrick's Cathedral

St Patrick's CathedralSupposedly built on the site of a well used by Saint Patrick, this Anglican cathedral is the largest in Ireland. Although a church has stood on this spot since the 5th century, construction on the current building began in 1220. Over the next 700 years it suffered from fire, collapse and neglect at various times and has been remodeled on numerous occasions.

The structure remains largely Gothic, with a soaring nave, ornate decoration and a lavish Lady Chapel. Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels, was dean here in the 18th century. The cathedral also has a distinguished choir, who perform here every day during the school term.

Ireland's oldest university was established in 1592 by Elizabeth I and sits right in the heart of the city. An assembly of stately Georgian buildings surrounds a series of tranquil squares and greens that have played a central role in Irish history. Many of the country's most famous politicians, entrepreneurs and writers, such as Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett, studied here.

Today, Trinity has more than 16,000 students and you can wander with them around the grounds, admiring the buildings and soaking up the atmosphere. It's also worth visiting the Long Room in the Old Library. A magnificent 65 m (213 ft) hall lined with towering bookshelves, it’s one of the city's most enchanting spaces and home to the university's oldest books, documents and instruments, including the Book of Kells.

Book of Kells

Trinity's greatest treasure, the wondrous Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript depicting the four gospels of the New Testament. It dates from about 800 AD, making it one of the oldest books in the world.

The incredibly intricate and vivid illustrations, on which many Irish souvenirs are based, were probably created by Irish monks at Saint Colmcille's Monastery on the remote island of Iona in Scotland. Fleeing attacks by marauding Vikings, they brought the book to Ireland in about 806 AD.

Although only two pages of the manuscript are on show at any one time, its setting in the Long Room and its near incomprehensible age make it a fascinating relic to seek out.

Guinness Storehouse

Guinness storehouseOne of Ireland's biggest global brands is crafted at the St James's Gate Brewery by the banks of the River Liffey in central Dublin. A whopping 2.5 million pints of stout are produced here every day, and you can get an insight into the process at the Guinness Storehouse, a visitor attraction that has sophisticated interactive displays on the brewery's history and the processes involved in making the perfect pint.

The Guinness Storehouse is set over seven floors in a former fermentation plant and is topped by the lively Gravity Bar, where you can sip a pint of the black stuff while admiring the panoramic views down over the brewery and the city.

St Stephen's Green

Set in the heart of south central Dublin, St Stephen's Green is a large, leafy square surrounded by grand Georgian townhouses. In summer, its lawns, benches and playground are packed with lunching office workers and families, while dog walkers make the rounds of the fountains and ponds.

The main entrance is through the Fusiliers' Arch, which commemorates the 212 Royal Dublin Fusiliers who died in the Boer War. Around the green are some of Dublin's finest properties, including the imposing Shelbourne Hotel, the Royal College of Surgeons, Newman House where you can see an example of Georgian style in the city, and the secluded neo-Byzantine Newman Chapel.

Georgian Dublin

In the 18th century, Dublin was still a very poor city, laid out on a medieval plan, full of slums and severely lacking in infrastructure. The wealthy Protestant professionals and clergy who were sent from Britain wanted to transform the city and set about widening roads, creating leafy squares and building stately, Palladian-style buildings. By the time they were finished, central Dublin was the finest outpost of the British Empire.

Across the city their legacy remains in the palatial townhouses of St Stephen's Green, and Merrion and Fitzwilliam Squares, as well as in the monumental public buildings such as the Four Courts and the Custom House, both of which overlook the Liffey.

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Audley Travel specialist Aislyn

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Suggested itineraries featuring Dublin

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Dublin, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Dublin

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    Places near Dublin

    Our expert guides to exploring Dublin

    Written by our specialists from their own experiences of visiting Dublin, these guides will help you make the most of your time there. We share both our practical recommendations and the best ways to appreciate Dublin at its best.

    • What to do in Dublin: a first-hand guide
      Grafton Street, Dublin

      What to do in Dublin: a first-hand guide

      What to do in Dublin: a first-hand guide

      Unpretentious and lively, Dublin is a compact capital city with lots to offer says Audley specialist Max. You can spend the day exploring Ireland’s history at Trinity College or Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and spend the evening drinking Guinness in a Temple Bar pub.

      8 min read

      Read this guide
    • How to see traditional Ireland
      The Dingle Peninsula

      How to see traditional Ireland

      How to see traditional Ireland

      Packed pubs, traditional music, bucolic sheep, farmhouse whiskey and Guinness stout — Ireland specialist Jackie talks about classic Irish sights and why you might want to visit Blarney Castle, even if you already have the gift of gab.

      7 min read

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    • Luxury vacations in Ireland
      Adare Manor

      Luxury vacations in Ireland

      Luxury vacations in Ireland

      Ireland can show its indulgent side in various ways, says our expert Jackie, from stately castle hotels where you can take falconry lessons to a private cruise along the Cliffs of Moher, far from the crowds that clog the roads.

      7 min read

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    Accommodation choices for Dublin

    We've selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Dublin. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    Ideas for experiencing Dublin

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Dublin, and which use the best local guides.

    • Hiking in Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains

      Hiking in Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains

      Hiking in Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains

      Explore the highly impressive monastic ruins of Glendalough and the glorious Wicklow mountains in which they are set on this full-day tour from Dublin which also includes a stop at the James Joyce Museum in Sandycove tower.

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    • Literary pub crawl around Dublin
      Temple Bar in Dublin

      Literary pub crawl around Dublin

      Literary pub crawl around Dublin

      Explore Dublin's rich literary heritage on this highly entertaining and informative tour. Your guides are a team of enthusiastic actors who introduce you to the city's most famous writers and the pubs they gathered in to discuss their work.

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    • Rebellion walking trail
      Lady Justice, Dublin

      Rebellion walking trail

      Rebellion walking trail

      Learn about the history of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland and the eventual formation of the Free State on this highly engaging and informative tour that brings the political, economic and social situation of the time to vivid life.

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    • Behind-the-scenes tour of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
      St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin

      Behind-the-scenes tour of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

      Behind-the-scenes tour of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

      Explore behind the scenes at Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin's most celebrated church. Learn about the history and legends of this monumental structure, see where Jonathon Swift once preached and walk along the roof for sweeping views over the city.

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    • Fabulous food trail
      Dublin bakery

      Fabulous food trail

      Fabulous food trail

      A chance to enjoy incredible food and a lively cultural experience, this food trail through Dublin's streets takes you off the beaten track to meet artisan bakers, cheesemongers and chocolatiers on a quest to learn about the contemporary Irish food scene.

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    • Explore Newgrange & the Boyne Valley

      Explore Newgrange & the Boyne Valley

      Explore Newgrange & the Boyne Valley

      Join a full-day guided tour to explore the ancient history and rich heritage of the Boyne Valley, just north of Dublin. Visit the Neolithic passage grave at Newgrange, an early Christian church at Monasterboice, and the mythical Hill of Slane.

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