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9 Things to Do in Dublin: A Walking Tour

Dublin City Tour 

Most people that take a walking holiday on the Wicklow Way or Dingle Peninsula in Ireland will arrive in Dublin. Even if your time is limited, it is recommended to see the wide array of sites in the Irish capital. There are so many things to do in Dublin.


If you for example have a late afternoon or evening flight and have just a half day to spend in the city, there is plenty to explore. Your Dublin hotel may have baggage storage available so leave your main bag, take your valuables and head off on a walk around the city.


Let us take you on a short walking tour that includes nine things to see on your visit to Dublin. For starters, head up Talbot Street, where at the ‘Spire’ you join O’Connell Street, turn left here for the post office and the River Liffy.


The Spire

things to do in Dublin: check out The Spire


The Spire is the tallest sculpture in the world, built of stainless steel in 2002-3 at the site of the previous Nelson Monument that was blown up by the IRA in 1966. The steel is ‘tuned’ so that it does not sway, it is 121.2m (397.6ft).


General Post Office 

Dublin walking tour: General Post Office

things to do in Dublin: interior of general post office

Walk over to the GPO (General Post Office) with its famous Ionic columned portico. This was the site of the start of the 1916 Rebellion, where Patrick H. Pearse read out the declaration of the Irish Republic. It was largely rebuilt, but much of the façade survived and when there, you could look out for the bullet damage still visible in some of the columns. Go inside to see the huge Lego model of the 1916 shootout (last seen in September'16). The building remains a very elegant functioning post office but there is also a new museum (entry fee) which is about the Easter Rising and its aftermath.  


The Custom House 

Sherpa Expeditions Dublin Walking Tour: The Custom House


Reaching the River Liffy from the post office, turn left to dodge over bridges to visit the elegant Custom House. It was designed by James Gandon (from the 1790s) and was the seat of customs activities; from ships unloading on the River Liffy, to taxation, revenue and Poor Law administration by the British during the Great Famine. It was severely damaged when it was burnt down by the IRA in 1921 during the War of Independence, then restored in the 1920s to fulfil more or less the same functions, with health care rather than poor law!


Famine Statue

Famine Statue - Dublin walking tour - Sherpa Expeditions


Close by, along the River Liffy, are two stark reminders of what the famine meant. The first is a collection of ragged bronze figures and their dog called 'Famine' (1997). The sculpture is a commemorative work dedicated to those Irish people forced to emigrate during the 19th century Irish Famine. The bronze sculptures were designed and crafted by Dublin sculptor Rowan Gillespie. 

This location is a particularly appropriate and historic as one of the first voyages of the Famine period was on the 'Perseverance’, which sailed from Custom House Quay on St Patrick's Day 1846. 


Jeanie Johnston Ship 

Jeanie Johnston Ship - Sherpa Expeditions - Things to do in Dublin

Just downstream from the statues there is an authentic replica famine ship called the Jeanie Johnston built in Tralee. If you have time to spare, it’s worth a visit. The original Jeanie Johnston made 16 emigrant journeys to North America between 1847 and 1855, carrying over 2,500 people with no loss of life.


Ha’penny Bridge

Dublin walking tour: Ha'penny Bridge - Sherpa Expeditions

Walk back along the river and cross over the famous iron ‘Ha’penny Bridge’ built in 1816 in England and shipped over for construction to replace some rather poor ferries. A half penny was originally charged for pedestrians, hence the bridge’s nickname. Officially this is the Liffy Bridge.


Temple Bar Area

Things to do in Dublin: pub visit in Temple Bar area

Once you have walked across the bridge, walk up into Temple Bar, an area full of bars, restaurants and tourists. Pop into one of the traditional Irish pubs for a pint of Guinness or a glass of Baileys Irish Cream or go for one of the other things to do in Dublin’s bar area like having a black - or white pudding, boxty, local stew, or colcannon.


Dublin Castle

Dublin walking tour - Sherpa Expeditions - Dublin Castle

Next it is up to Dublin Castle, the seat of British rule for 700 odd years. The castle is built in different styles from the Normans, through the Tudors and on to the Victorians. The castle was not taken in the 1916 rebellion, although the first fatal casualty of it was the poor policeman who was shot shutting the gates. It was only however defended by about seven soldiers. The Viceroy of Ireland handed the country over to Michael Collins here in 1922.


Christ Church Cathedral

things to do in Dublin: Christ Church Cathedral visit

Further up the road from the castle you can visit the Norman Christ Church Cathedral. The cathedral was founded probably sometime after 1028 when King Sitric Silkenbeard, the Hiberno-Norse king of Dublin made a pilgrimage to Rome. Henry II attended the Christmas service at the cathedral in 1171, the first time Henry received Holy Communion following the murder of Thomas Beckett by his knights in Canterbury. In the 1180s, Strongbow and other Norman magnates helped to fund a complete rebuilding of Christ Church (initially a wooden building) in stone. This rebuilding comprised the construction of a choir, choir aisles and transepts. It was redeveloped during the Tudor reformation and extensively remodelled in Victorian times. If you go in, visit the crypt which is the largest in the British Isles. 

There are many other things to do in Dublin if you have time, some of the more potent attractions would be the infamous Kilmainham Gaol Museum, or a visit to the Guinness Brewery and Jameson Distillery (reopens March 2017). All these attractions of course take a bit more time than just walking past. 


For more information on visiting Dublin, assistance with booking pre- or post-walking tour accommodation, or more information about our walking holidays in Ireland, please contact our team of travel experts in London.