There’s really no end to the free fun to be had all over the nation’s capital with museums, visitors centers, scenic attractions and tourists trails all yours for the taking. From birth places of the world famous to the haunts of James Joyce’s Leopold Bloom, the city of Dublin is a living museum in itself.
Here’s a quick list to help get you started and remember there’s many more attractions and activities where these came from.
1. National Museums of Ireland
No less than three National Museums are open free to visitors and they’re all Located centrally in Dublin. Each of them holds some priceless collections to boot. Visit the National Museum in Kildare Street for prehistoric, Celtic, Viking and Medieval History or the National Museum in Collins Barracks for arts, crafts, numismatics and the military history of Ireland. And don’t forget the unique Natural History Museum the “Dead Zoo.”
Although it’s not the Louvre, the National Gallery of Ireland does have its charms and when visiting Dublin art lovers should make some time for a leisurely stroll. Situated at Merrion Square near the home and birthplace of Oscar Wilde and close to the National Museum in Kildare Street it is not too out of the way. And the small but exquisite collection of renowned masterpieces, including an only recently discovered Caravaggio, will make the visit definitely worth your while.
3. Phoenix Park
Exploring the whole of the Phoenix Park could take days, but a few hours walking here are enough for most visitors. You can see stately houses (including the residences of the Irish president Mary McAleese as well as the U.S. ambassador to Ireland), Ashtown Castle, wild deer, the Papal Cross, the Magazine Fort and on and on.
4. Trinity College
Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I on the very grounds of an Augustinian priory that it purloined, Trinity College even today dominates the city center landscape and the oldest buildings (the brick-built “Rubrics”) date from 1700. Most of the impressive buildings were built during the renovation phase of 1759. Trinity College Library is home to more than a million books and priceless manuscripts, the most famous being the indescribably beautiful Book of Kells, which dates from circa 800, so be warned that long queues may form in summer.
If you have a craving for fresh air and a good brisk walk, take Dublin Bus out to the massive Poolbeg Power Station and continue walking eastwards. You will then step out into Dublin Bay on the massive South Wall. Your target is Poolbeg Lighthouse, a red structure clearly visible in the distance. Bring a light snack and enjoy the magnificent view of Dublin Bay, the Wicklow Mountains and the Hill of Howth from here. A clear windy day is a must for this memorable walk.
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