You’ve seen the usual lists of things to see, places to go and what to do in Dublin. But what about the more unusual Dublin tourist attractions?
Here are our recommendations of places to see that make this city truly unique:
1. Visit the Dead
The Natural History Museum is a beautifully restored Victorian museum on Merrion Street. It is filled with unique objects and fascinating specimens which is why it is also known as ‘The Dead Zoo’.
There are over 10,000 exhibits here that have delighted generations of visitors since the doors opened in 1857. The whole building is like a giant cabinet, specifically designed to showcase the incredible zoological collection. Incredibly, it has changed little in over a century.
2. Spend a Little Time Here
The Irish Times described The Little Museum of Dublin as ‘the city’s best museum experience’. The museum is right across the road from the Fitzwilliam Hotel and is the number one museum in Ireland on TripAdvisor.
Though small, it contains over 5,000 artifacts. The now-famous guided tours reveal the history of a city that has undergone remarkable changes in the last 100 years.
3. The Best Museum Afloat
Down on the river, you’ll see an ancient tall ship tied up to the quay. That’s the Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship Museum. Jump aboard to get a genuine feeling for what happened in the 1840s and 50s when over 1 million Irish people fled the country and the famine that ravaged it.
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. This ship is an authentic replica, built in Tralee, Co. Kerry.
4. Catch the Leprechauns
Not long ago, the world’s first Leprechaun Museum opened its doors in Dublin. Now, we’ve been telling tales about the little people for over a thousand years but this is the first time you can actually see what we’ve been talking about.
The museum is not just about leprechauns though – it is dedicated to Irish mythology. It also opens up a fun and magical world full of fascinating folklore, mythology and enchanting stories.
5. Tell the Cabbie a Story
Dublin taxi drives are possibly the chattiest in the world, but here’s something you can surprise them with: Ask them if they’ve ever been to the Taxi Driver’s Shrine. It’s by the taxi rank at the top of O’Connell Street and has a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The story goes that during the Civil War, the horse-drawn cab drivers helped to salvage goods and furniture from surrounding shops. They left all the items in the middle of O’Connell Street for the owners to reclaim, yet the statue of Jesus was never collected, and is there to this day.
6. Stop the Bodysnatchers
Bodysnatching never happens anymore. But there was a time when the city’s biggest graveyard, Glasnevin Cemetery, had a real problem with it.
To protect the freshly buried bodies from thieves and anatomy students, watchtowers were built around the cemetery. From here, armed guards would keep a watchful eye over the final resting place of iconic Irish figures like Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell and Michael Collins.
7. Jump into our Biggest Swimming Pool
For about 250 years, people have been swimming in the extremely cold water of the Irish Sea, all year round. The most famous bathing spot is a promontory on the southern tip of Dublin Bay at Sandycove, County Dublin, called the Forty Foot.
Not so long ago this was exclusively a gentlemen’s bathing place and the gentlemen’s swimming club was established to help conserve the area. In the 1970s, a group of female equal-rights activists plunged into the waters and now it is also open to women and children. Fancy a dip? Take the DART out there and jump in.
8. Go with the Herd
Right in the heart of Dublin is one of Europe’s biggest walled city parks, Phoenix Park. It has 1,750 acres of grassland and tree-lined avenues and since the 17th century has been home to a herd of wild fallow deer. Go see them and, while you’re there, visit Dublin Zoo.
Or see Áras an Uachtaráin (residence of the President of Ireland) and the residence of the US Ambassador to Ireland. Visit the Papal Cross (where 1 million people came to hear the Pope say mass in 1979) and several sports grounds, including polo fields.
9. Death of Romance
Dublin is home to the final remains of St. Valentine. In 1835, an Irish Carmelite named John Spratt visited Rome while building a church on Dublin’s Whitefriar Street. So successful was his sermon in Rome, he was gifted with the remains of St. Valentine by Pope Gregory XVI.
They were, amazingly, left in storage until the 1950s. Now the remains have a special altar and shrine to St. Valentine in the Carmelite church on Whitefriar Street. Traditionally, couples visit and ask Valentine to watch over them in their lives together.
10. Camino Starting Point
You’ve heard of the iconic Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James), the pilgrim route? It stretches across Europe and leads to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, north-west Spain. Did you know that one of the starting points is in Dublin?
The Camino Society at St. James’ Church, a voluntary organisation set up by pilgrims who’ve made the trip, issues the Pilgrim Passport. You’ll get your first stamps there: The Camino’s symbol – the scallop shell – is on the wall of the church.
So there’s 10 unusual places to visit in Dublin. Discover more unique suggestions for things to do in Dublin in our Dublin Secrets blog post.