Dublin See And Do
26 Lower Abbey Street
Tel: 353 1 878 7222
Opened by W. B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory in 1904, the Abbey—Ireland's national theater—was created to showcase Irish culture. Rebuilt in 1966, the 628-seat Abbey presents the plays of Ireland's most-famed and emerging playwrights, while the Peacock, a 157-seat venue downstairs, features newer, more experimental productions.
St. Michael's Hill
Tel: 353 1 679 4611
Do it for the kids, but don't be surprised if you enjoy Dublinia, too. This permanent exhibition depicts ancient Dublin with street reconstructions, artifacts like primitive tools and a female skeleton, and fascinating audio descriptions. Visitors can explore a merchant's shop, step aboard a medieval ship, and—in the interactive Viking World display—even try on Viking garb while learning about the lifestyle and influence of these seafaring warriors who settled in early Dublin.
The Duke Pub
9 Duke Street
Tel: 353 1 670 5602
Don't write this off as corny. It's actually a blast—even Sir Ian McKellen has done it. Led by professional actors, you'll visit the favorite watering holes of Ireland's most famous writers, including James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, and W. B. Yeats, while the performers play out a few scenes from their work. The 2.5-hour tour visits eight pubs, with a 20-minute stop at each. A good way to learn something about the city's literary history while enjoying a few drinks with a sociable group (7:30 p.m.nightly, April through November; Thursday to Sunday, December through March).
St. James's Gate
Tel: 353 1 408 4800
Tour the laboratory to taste and smell the raw ingredients, and learn from the professional tasters. But everyone knows the real draw here: the complimentary pint of Guinness served with 360-degree views of Dublin from the 130-foot-high glassed-in Gravity Bar.
From Samuel Beckett to Oscar Wilde, the Emerald Isle has made a hefty contribution to the world of literature. Dublin Writers Museum is a necessary stop for anyone interested in the country's big hitters (18 Parnell Sq., 353-1-872-2077, www.writersmuseum.com). James Joyce fans will also find plenty of places of interest. The James Joyce Centre contains many manuscripts and a library with early editions (35 N. Great George's St., 353-1-878-8547, www.jamesjoyce.ie), but it's the James Joyce Museum that's often said to be the best tribute to him. Joyce briefly lived here and the tower is mentioned in the opening chapters of Ulysses (Joyce Tower, Sandycove, 353-1-280-9265).
Tel: 353 1 677 2255
There's almost always something happening in this Temple Bar square: live theater during lunchtime on weekdays, outdoor movies, and Irish music. Most events are free but require a ticket (limit of four). The website provides the current schedule and instructions on how to apply for tickets beforehand. Alternatively, arrive early and stand in the non-ticket-holder's line, to pick up any leftover spots after ticket-holders are seated. The square also has a great food market on Saturdays, with organic foods from small Irish growers and ready-to-eat treats including Atlantic oysters, burritos, and sushi.
Merrion Square West
Tel: 353 1 661 5133
A fine seven-century-wide collection of European art and an extension that opened in 2002 for temporary exhibitions is augmented by what will be many viewers' introduction to Irish painting—a landscape-heavy school that got going in the 18th century.