Dublin

Baile Átha Cliath

Dublin

Baile Átha Cliath

Ireland’s capital is absolutely full of stories and there is so much more to explore outside the city. Join us as we discover the best places to visit in Dublin!

When the Vikings chose this place to establish an important base in around 841/842 AD, it is thought that there were already two small Irish settlements here. One was likely to have been around Áth Cliath (meaning the Ford of the Hurdles), an important crossing point of the Liffey, and the other may have been an early monastic foundation at Dubhlinn, the ‘Black Pool’ formed by the River Poddle, and the place from where Dublin takes its name.

Dublin is steeped in the story of the Vikings, and it was they who turned it into Ireland’s first city, a thriving place of trade and commerce that connected Ireland to far flung places like Scandinavia, Russia and Byzantium. Over time, these Scandinavian warriors and traders combined with the Irish to weave a new identity, that archaeologists call Hiberno-Norse. It was their stories that were unearthed during the excavations at places like Wood Quay, and that fill the National Museum on Kildare Street.

The city was changed forever when the Anglo-Normans attacked in 1170, the Hiberno-Norse systems were replaced by English ones. Strong walls were added to protect the growing town from counter-attack, and the city became the key focus of English rule in Ireland. Grand gothic style churches and cathedrals sprang up under the new regime, only to be converted under a new religion in the Tudor Period. As time passed the once unimaginable trading networks of the Vikings were dwarfed by the trading networks of the British Empire, with Dublin often referred to as the ‘second city of empire’. Industries and companies like Guinness, Jacobs and Jameson helped to shape the city. Dublin became the eye of the storm in 1916 during the struggle for Irish freedom, and you can still see traces of that conflict around the city if you know where to look.

But there is far more to Dublin than the city centre. Just outside the capital you can find yourself in the Dublin Mountains, combined with the Wicklow Mountains it forms the longest upland area on the island of Ireland. The land around tells tales of danger, warfare and borderlands. As a number of castles and towers indicate the threat the mountains posed, as a base for Irish families like the O’Tooles and O’Byrnes who long sought to dislodge the English during the medieval period. The mountains are topped by many prehistoric tombs, evidence of far older cultures that once called this region home. To the north of the city, the fertile plains of Fingal hold tales of Vikings, medieval settlement and grand estates. We’ll explore it all with you.

Dublin is a city that is absolutely soaked in history and stories. Together we’ll discover how it developed from a centre of Viking trade to a medieval powerhouse, and from the elegant Georgian City to a setting for rebellion and uprising. We’ll also explore outside of the city to find ancient tombs in the Dublin Mountains and hidden heritage in the fertile fields of Fingal. We’ll go beyond the usual tourist trail to help you discover the best places to visit in Dublin!

Dublin – Visitor Information

Getting Around Dublin

Air Travel: Dublin Airport is located around 15–20km north of the city. There are regular shuttle-buses that take you straight into the city from the airport, and will save you considerable money rather than taking a taxi if you’re looking to make an easy economy. 
Dublin by Bus:
There are a number of hop-on, hop-off buses operating around the city, though if you want to stretch your legs it isn’t an enormous city to walk around. Everything is generally within 5km or so. Alternatively, the light tram Luas can be really convenient too, though it can get crowded at rush hour. If you want to explore the broader county you may be best to take a bus. Dublin Bus can bring you to most places, and if you’d like to go further Bus Éireann is Ireland’s National Bus Service.
Car Rental Companies:  There are a number of rental car companies operating in Ireland, such as: Hertz, Europcar Avis Car Rental, Enterprise or Budget. If you have wheelchair or accessibility requirements, Motability Ireland rent cars and adapted vehicles too. Before you book, I would advise thinking about whether you really need a car for Dublin – traffic and parking can be a giant pain. Perhaps save yourself some money and rent when you’re looking to leave the city to save yourself the stress.
What to wear: The city is a vibrant modern place, so wear whatever you’re comfortable in, bearing in mind Ireland’s weather is notoriously unpredictable, and quite often you can experience all four seasons in one day.  So suncream, raincoats and good walking shoes / boots are often essential!
Accessibility: Outside of the city many of the sites we tend to feature are a good bit off the beaten track, and aren’t traditionally considered as tourist sites. They include ancient tombs on mountain summits, the crumbling ruins of long forgotten castles, and atmospheric but overgrown monastic sites. That wildness often means they can be difficult to access. However, there are a number of sites that are largely accessible to wheelchair users, with paths and ramps and accessible visitor centres. It’s really important to us that Ireland’s heritage should be as accessible as possible, so we are going to include information on what to expect on the information box of each site. However, if you have any updates about accessibility or if we need to make a correction to a post please do get in touch and let us know here.
Dog Friendly Sites: As you can see on our team page, Peig is our chief osteobarkaeologist and an absolute dote, and we would bring her everywhere with us if we could. However, not all sites are suitable for dog walking. A number are situated on private farmland, others might have a strict ‘no dogs allowed’ policy, and others might be challenging for our four legged friends. We’ll include information on each post to let you know whether it is ideal for a good walk.