A trip to the Irish capital is always a fresh idea! Cool breezes, hearty meals, walks on seaside beaches, not to mention the lure of the nearby Wicklow Mountain range, all make for a wonderful vacation. Here are a few highlights to begin your planning a Dublin vacation:
On the west side of Dublin is Phoenix Park, the largest enclosed urban park in Europe. The park has old growth "veteran" trees, a resident herd of deer, and is home to the Dublin Zoo, the residences of the President of Ireland and the US Ambassador, as well as the site where in 1979 Pope John Paul II said mass to 1.25 million people - itself now marked by the towering Papal Cross.
In the center of Dublin see elegant Merrion Square, which is surrounded by classic Georgian facades, and St. Stephen's Green with its paths and water elements. Behind the National Concert Hall is another respite from walking in the form of the lovely Iveagh Gardens.
There is a large group of museums located in central Dublin. Here you can trace history at the Museum of Natural History; see the story of Irish emigration (one of the largest in the world) at the EPIC; and admire the finest works of art at the National Gallery, including Vermeer, Caravaggio, and Irish masters Roderic O'Conor and Paul Henry among others.
Afterwards take a walk through the 400+ year old campus of Trinity College to see with its library' most famous possession, the 9th century "Book of Kells".
Something newer for your tastes? On the west side of town is the Irish Museum of Modern Art, housed in a former hospital.
After seeing all that art, stop by for a tour and ale at the venerable and sprawling breweries of Guinness and Old Jameson.
Outside of Dublin:
CASTLES & ESTATES
Outside the city are a number of castles and country properties. Of note is Trim Castle, the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland, and where the movie Braveheart was filmed.
Located to the south of Dublin are Powerscourt Estate, Killruddy Estate and Russborough House. Each offers you the ability to stroll the gardens, see the house and enjoy an afternoon outdoors. Powerscourt has the tallest waterfall in Ireland. Killruddy is a working farm and estate, and Russborough House has a beautiful collection of decorative and fine art.
WICKLOW MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
There are organized tours of this mountain range, which has some of the highest peaks in Ireland, and some of the prettiest deep gorges and valleys. Nearby or within the park are Powerscourt Waterfall and Golden Falls, as well as the Valley of Glendalough with its namesake monastery that was founded by St. Kevin, and where the story of the early Church of Ireland begins.
There's much more. See The Red Map Dublin
Credits. Photos at top of the article are from the websites of: Wicklow Mtns National Park, Russborough House, Powerscourt Estate, the National Gallery of Ireland, and Phoenix Park.