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6 must-dos while you're in Dublin

a blurred image of me standing looking into the distance as I stand before towering cliffs above the ocean. The sky is white, blending in with the water.

From medieval castles to stunning natural marvels, the Irish capital is an exciting place to explore, learn, and love. Steeped in thousands of years of history, Dublin has a plethora of rich culture, intricate architecture, and tranquil greenery. So when exploring the cobblestone streets of the old city, here are six things you must do on your journey!

1. Visit a Castle

The front of a castle, with green leaves growing on the stone walls. The leaves give way to an arched, wooden door.

Hundreds of thousands of castles, some dating back to the 12th century still lay scattered across Ireland. So visiting one, no matter where you are in the country, should not be a big issue. Just a short drive of Dublin's city center was our castle of choice , Malahide Castle, a Medieval fortress with roots dating back to 1185.

Unfortunately, we got there after 4:30, which is the latest they do guided tours, so we were not allowed to do inside. However, the view from the outside did not make us feel like we were missing out. Shrouded in green foliage and sitting upon acres of land, staring at this architectural treasure from the outside was still a magical experience.

Malahide Castle also offers a butterfly garden experience, a fun-filled fairy trail, and a spooky tour of the ghost known to haunt the building. Please let me live vicariously through you and book one of these experiences!

the front of Malahide castle as a group of people walk inside the main entrace
courtesy: Wikipedia

2. Take a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher

When I exclaimed to my father that I needed him to drive three hours from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher, he let out a sigh of exasperation. The trip was spontaneous and unplanned, but I knew that it would be unlike anything we've ever seen before. And boy was I right.

The little pathway along the cliffs was aligned with breathtaking views of the vast ocean. The dramatic landscapes, the fresh sea breeze, and the sound of crashing waves made this journey an unforgettable adventure.

The drive was also quite spectacular too, offering fresh views of the countryside. Along the way, we saw castles, beautiful feats of architecture, and probably hundreds of cows. The three-hour journey to get there was an adventure on its own and was totally worth the destination.

3. Indulge in Guiness and Baileys

While in the birthplace of Guinness and Baileys, it is essential make yourself cozy at a little pub and revel in the authenticity of the iconic Irish stout and liquor. When you sit in a traditional pub, surrounded by friendly locals and live music, sipping on a pint of Guinness becomes a whole experience. You can also visit the Guinness Storehouse for an in depth tour of the brewing process and learn the art of pouring the perfect pint.

I might have gotten too carried away with the "Irish Spirit" and celebrated with a routine Baileys Irish Cream in my coffee each morning.

4. Go on the hunt for an Aran sweater

an man wearing a white sweater standing in front of cliffs that are hovering over the ocean.

Ireland is known for its intricately knitted Aran sweaters. The traditional of Aran sweater knitting was thought to have started in the late 1800's or early 1900's, and has been passed down for generations as an iconic staple of Irish style. The sweater is named after the set of islands off of the country's West coast where it was first created. Over the years, it has become a symbol of Irish culture and heritage and has become the epitome of Irish artistry.

We got this sweater after a day of exploring little, bright colored shops at the foot of the Cliffs of Moher. Each of the sweaters are a testament to the skill of the locals artisans. Spending the day seeking out these cozy sweaters in the local markets of Dublin would also be a fun little daytime activity.

5. Explore the Old Jail

Kilmainkiham Gaol, located in the heart of Dublin, is a historic prison that was essential for Ireland's fight for independence. Opening in 1796, the prison held thousands of men, women, and children for over a century. We took a guided tour, enabling us to explore the walls that held prisoners ages ago and see some of it's architectural highlights. We walked along the remarkable yet horrifying cells that kept and executed a vast array of common criminals and political prisoners alike. Taking a tour and learning about the dark history of Ireland and the prison itself was a consuming and insightful way to discover more about the origins of the country.

Graves resting on green grass. There is a broken stone church in the background.

6. Just soak in Dublin and all of its glorious architecture

Every inch of the city is a climax of thousands of years of history. From Trinity College to the multitude of gothic churches within the city, you can see centuries of stories and life in these buildings. Even the streets themselves, many lined with cobblestone, gave a home-towny and cozy atmosphere to the city.

I also took note of the vibrant colored houses and pops of color outside of the city. All in all, Dublin is a city to breathe in, sit down, and really appreciate all of it's little beauties.


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