Now halfway through my time studying abroad here in Dublin, I have been able to explore most of the major tourist attractions in the city. The following is a list of my five favorite must-see attractions, spanning both historical museums and beautiful sites!
1. Dublin Castle and Chester Beatty Library
An early Viking settlement and the headquarters of the major government administrations throughout the Republic of Ireland’s history, Dublin Castle is one of the most important buildings in Irish history. It is both the remains of the medieval fortress and a current, functioning major government complex open to guided tours for the public. I thoroughly enjoyed the self-guided tour of the State Apartments, along with the intriguing museum exhibits. The Chester Beatty Library, located directly next to the Dublin Castle, is a museum and library with collections promoting the culturally diverse communities in Ireland with displays of manuscripts, rare books, and other treasures.
Another historically based attraction is this recreation museum focusing on Viking and Medieval Dublin located in part of the Christ Church Cathedral. It features historical reenactments with actors playing the roles of Vikings and Medieval Dubliners. My favorite part was the audio-visual experience of the growth of Medieval Dublin on the 3rd floor of the museum. This attraction was a very entertaining way to immerse yourself in the myths, mysteries, and artifacts of Dublin’s rich past.
3. National Museums of Ireland
These free museums include four different buildings, three of which are located in Dublin itself. The Decorative Arts & History Museum encompasses silver, ceramics, glassware, furniture, clothing, jewelry, and coins, along with a military history collection. This building itself is full of history as it was renovated from the original Collins Barracks that played an important role in Irish uprisings over the centuries. The Natural History Museum highlights a zoological collection of more than 10,000 exhibits. Some of the main exhibits to check out include the Giant Irish Deer skeletons, the Wonder cabinet, the long Fin Whale, and the Irish wildlife displays. The Archeology Museum presents archeological artifacts from 7000 BC up to the 20th century, dedicating exhibitions to Prehistoric Ireland and Ancient Egypt.
4. Stephen’s Green Park
In the middle of the bustling city, this historic park and garden is a beautiful display of greenery and a lake for supporting diverse flora and fauna. There are multiple sculptural monuments along the many walkways. This super popular space provides a tranquil space for a walk or a picnic on a nice sunny day with beautifully sculpted trees and flowers. Not too far from Trinity College, this park provides a green space for students to enjoy nature, right in the city centre.
5. Trinity College Dublin!
A college and a tourist attraction?! On any normal day at Trinity College, the expectation is to see tour groups and tourists taking pictures of the campus and lining up for a tour of the famous Book of Kells exhibit. As a visiting student at Ireland’s leading university, I have had to get used to the presence of groups visiting the campus on my walk to class every day, admiring the architecture of the four main squares (Parliament Square, Library Square, Fellows’ Square, and New Square). The university, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, is also home to the Book of Kells, manuscript Gospel book handwritten by monks, and the Long Room, the longest single-chamber library in the world.