Tips for Making the Most of Your Visit to the Irish Capital
Life in Dublin is complex. Layer upon layer, century upon century of traditions both serious and sacred and raucous and irreverent have shaped the Irish capital’s culture making the city an adventure unto itself. Dublin is home to some of the world’s greatest treasures of all kinds – literary greats James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde; the esteemed Trinity College, built in 1592 whose library is a wonder itself, where the Book of Kells is housed; the Brazen Head pub, built in 1198 and the oldest pub the country; both the Jameson Whiskey distillery, opened in 1780 and the Guinness Storehouse, opened in 1759.
Here, you’ll find rolling green countryside, posh boutiques and restaurants, ancient castles and surrounding mountains. Shop for fine, locally produced wool scarves and sweaters, wander the grounds of 800-year-old Dublin Castle, explore Phoenix Park and its 1,700 acres of pristine beauty and wet your whistle at one of the 666 pubs in the city. Of all the things to do in Dublin, there are a few things not to do, as well. We’re sharing some tips to keep you on the right track and in the best spirits during your visit.
DON’T take things too seriously or personally. In Dublin, good-natured teasing is part of the welcome. Chat with the locals and you’ll learn a great deal about the place, but also about the back-and-forth rhythm of ribbing that typically means you’ve made a friend. Another common trait of Irish communication is copious amounts of swear words, which are rarely meant with any offense and generally used simply to add color and effect.
DO buy a round. It’s customary here to buy a round of drinks in the pub when gathering with a group, with everyone in the group taking a turn. Depending on the size of one’s group, this may add up to a long night, so it’s important to note that most pubs in Dublin close before midnight.
DON’T limit yourself to the city limits. Just outside of Dublin’s city center is a countryside that leads to lovely places like the county of Wicklow, dubbed “the Garden of Ireland,” where you can visit 6th century monastic sites and ride horseback through forest trails. Malahide on the coast offers a look back at medieval times via the castle of Lord Talbot de Malahide, while a scenic road back to the city offers views of the North Coast.
DO tee off. For scratch golfers with a penchant for historic charm, the opportunity to play 18 challenging holes at the Arnold Palmer-designed Kildare Hotel & Country Club is a real treat. If you can tear your eyes from the spectacular setting, you’ll have a glimpse into the genius of the legendary golfer’s approach to the game as you navigate each hole.
DON’T make jokes about leprechauns. About a third of Irish people is said to believe in the tiny fairy legends and take their existence very seriously, while the rest of the population finds the topic trite and condescending.
DO bring an appetite for the local specialties. Yes, this includes Guinness and Jameson Irish whiskey, both of which have been staples in Dublin for well over 200 years and for good reason. Beyond visits to these original sites, sampling local cuisine is a must. Thanks to the expansive countryside and farming culture surrounding Dublin, some of the world’s finest dairy products top this list, from fine chocolates (which rival their Belgian and Swiss counterparts) to creamy cheeses that melt in your mouth. This is not the place to count calories.
Crystal invites travelers to plan a voyage to Ireland with added flexibility as we look ahead to sailing together again.