On a blustery, typical Irish weather day I headed into Dublin city centre to do one of my favourite things: be a tourist in my own city. There aren’t many Dubliners who would avail of our excellent tourist attractions and services unless showing friends and family around, or when in charge of foreign exchange students, but it really is a must-do for the native Irish and especially those of us who were born and raised as Dubliners. So the big question here is, how well do you know your city?
As the dark clouds loomed and the wind blew strong on this Saturday afternoon, it seemed uncanny to hop on a double-decker tour bus, but it felt as though the weather added to an authentic Irish experience.
DoDublin runs a tourist attraction that’s in great competition, showcasing Dublin’s many attractions and sublime sights. Aboard their fleet of green Hop On Hop Off buses, tourists and locals can immerse themselves in the capital’s history, taking photos along the way, as well as stopping and hopping off at any of the 33 stops the tour offers.
Atypically I began my adventure at Stop 16, College Green, greeted by a friendly bus driver with a big smile, and found myself a good window seat on the top deck, thankfully sheltered from the spitting rain. Already full of visitors from countries far and wide, I recognised accents from Australia, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, who were of all ages too.
The bus headed on up Dame Street, passing by famous Dublin sights including the Olympia Theatre, Dublin City Hall and Dublin Castle, and of course Temple Bar, which the driver described as “Dublin’s cultural and drinking quarter”. Christ Church was the next main attraction, which I learned was first built in 1038 and left as wooden architecture for years, before turning left and moving down Patrick Street.
Dotted along the impressive Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, groups of students were entering the cathedral in their masses, decked out in their graduation robes and mortar boards. We passed Marsh’s Library, hidden away by the greenery, as well as the house at which the Cathedral’s Dean lived, Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels.
Making our way towards the new Teeling Whiskey Distillery first, we then headed to the renowned Guinness Storehouse, where a queue of visitors braved the rainy weather awaiting admission into this Irish heritage museum experience. Continuing west, the bus passed by the Royal Kilmainham Hospital, Irish Museum of Modern Art, then to Kilmainham Gaol – infamous as the execution site for many of the 1916 Easter Rising leaders.
After crossing the River Liffey, the bus then entered the Phoenix Park, which the driver explained could comfortably fit New York’s Central Park twice. We drove by both the American Ambassador’s Residence and Áras an Uachtaráin, and then Dublin Zoo – the third oldest zoo in the world.
Back on the quays, we were briefly shown the Old Jameson Distillery, passed the famous Ha’penny Bridge and then it was towards O’Connell Street, on which the driver explained the history of G.P.O. and the East Rising, all about Jim Larkin, the Garden of Remembrance and the newest addition of the Spire.
Passing by Custom House, CHQ and the Jeanie Johnston tall ship, we navigated over the Liffey to the Bórd Gáis Theatre. On the South Side again, we made our way towards Merrion Square and the Oscar Wilde Statue, then to our city’s beloved Saint Stephen’s Green. Rounding Trinity College by Pearse Street we finally returned to College Green, where I hopped back off the bus and made my merry way home…via another Dublin Bus!
Overall this is a truly great tour, and I commend the driver for his charisma, jokes and knowledge. The tour costs €22 per adult, €20 per student or senior citizen, and €10 per child – though discount tickets can be purchased online, but be advised that smart phone receipts aren’t accepted.
DoDublin tour buses run every 15 minutes, with multilingual buses every 30 minutes. The first tour begins at 9am from Stop 1, O’Connell Street, and the last tour leaves at 5pm from Stop 1.
Visit the website for full details and to purchase discount tickets.
An enthusiastic foodie with a sweet tooth and love for spices, Nirina is open to a lot of food from many different cultures. A mixed background from Ireland and Madagascar, she loves tweaking recipes, dining at new restaurants, tasting new cuisines or just a good glass of wine. Basically she really, really loves her food. Coming from a family of avid cooks, learning how to whip up the perfect tiramisu, spice up Indian curries or serve homemade samosa was a given.