The St Patricks Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland

Unusual Things To Do In Dublin – Escape The Tourist Bubble And See Something Different

Published on: April 4th, 2020 at 5:00 pm

When it comes to travelling much of the time we want to see the main attractions of a city or country. When we head to Paris visiting the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum are included on most peoples must-see list, with good reason of course. The same thing occurs in destinations such as Dublin, where the most viewed attractions to this city are without a doubt the Guinness Beer Factory, an iconic beer found around the world, the Library of Trinity College Dublin and the district area own as Temple Bar. Today though I want to focus on some unusual things to do in Dublin, things that you can do without having to worry about large crowds or over-tourism. Let’s check out some of the best yet unusual things to do in Dublin.

A list of Unusual Things To Do In Dublin

Why should we visit unusual attractions?

Visiting the typical tourist attractions and crossing them on your bucket list can be cool. It can make you rich, rich in the sense of broadening your cultural and historical perspective.

Today, however, I have chosen to talk about something a little bit different, as I have visited Dublin a few times while in Ireland, I saw both its inner magic and the uniqueness it offers as a capital city. I observed the rhythm of its breath, the way people walk and talk while going about their daily lives and I experienced the many cool and unique things it has to offer. If you are interested in breaking away from the well-trodden tourist path for a period of time while in Dublin this list of unusual things to do in Dublin is just what you are after.

Why is Dublin so unique?

With a population of 40% under the age of 30, Dublin is bursting with energy and life. Contemporary Dublin is a place of endless beauty, offering a dash of ancient magic and cultural heritage blended with the coolest pubs, unique museums and street art.

A group of perfectly poured Guinness beers sitting on a black bar top in Ireland
A selection of perfectly poured Guinness Beers were found everywhere I travelled throughout Ireland on my road trip

Artsy. 

Hip Cafes, unusual museums, cute little streets, colour everywhere and diversity.

You can discover many interesting perspectives of everyday life and modern culture if you observe well.

Green. 

The Irish capital is special for its architectural wonders that are balanced well with the green areas around the city. Of course, it does help that the weather is often a little grey and damp so the gardens and lawns are never in short supply of water.

The spirit of the city. 

Young. Full of life. Friendly. Calling for change. Embrace this unusual young demographic of a capital city and see where it leads you. You don’t need to be young in age, just in spirit and energy.

Cool and unique things to do in Dublin

A list of the coolest and most unique things to do in Dublin for your next trip. These will get you well off the tourist path of every other visitors to the city. Sometimes it is just nice to break away from the crowds and do things at a nice pace.

Street Art 

If you want to discover alternative things to do in Dublin, this city’s street art scene will make you happy. I find that street art is an important part of the identity of every larger city. It is the same with Dublin and its magnificent web of underground street art. Dive deep into the magic of the colourful streets throughout the Irish capital. From North Quay, that is home to 900 artworks alone, to Temple Bar, City Quay and the Italian Quarter, Dublin offers an artsy vibe which you can enjoy without even trying. 

My advice would be to get lost around the streets and discover it yourself. You will be surprised by the amount of love that is dedicated to the walls of the Irish capital. Street art tells us a story of freedom and diversity, just like Dublin does.

You can also check this free alternative tour of Dublin that includes a guided walk around the best walls that you can enjoy looking at. Doing a free walking tour in any new city you visit is something I always recommend.

One of the must-visit art pieces in Dublin is known as Tain Bo Cuailinge Mosaic. It’s a truly magnificent piece that you should take the time to see and is located on Nassau Street. The mosaic depicts the story of the tragic hero known by the name Cuchulain.

Traditional Irish food dishes – try something different

Ireland doesn’t have a selection of special traditional cuisine as some other countries do, see the must-eat dishes for tourists in Krakow, but since it is a melting point of different cultures, contemporary Irish cuisine is in itself unique. 

Here are some recommendations for the dishes that I tried. Among Soda Bread, Irish Stew, Coddle, all sorts of cheese, Bagels and others you will surely find something a little different that will make your taste buds happy. Trying the different Irish dishes can be an interesting way to spend a day in Dublin.

Also, it is good to be aware that Irish people are heavy meat eaters, so vegetarian options are not on their traditional menu however nowadays you can find the vegetarian remakes of the dishes almost everywhere. 

Full Irish Breakfast

Starting your Irish food experience right from the start of the morning may mean you won’t require anything else for a large part of the day. That’s because a traditional full Irish breakfast is loaded with pork sausages, eggs, mushrooms, blood pudding, grilled tomatoes, baked beans and homemade hash browns. All this is of course accompanied by either traditional toast or if you get the real Irish experience you will get soda bread. More on what soda bread is below.  

One of the larger Irish breakfasts I found while travelling the country. Fair to say I had a very light lunch

Irish Stew

Traditionally made with lamb or mutton and root vegetables, this stew is not complicated, but it is a ticket for a trip back to your childhood. It makes you warm and brings back the smell of your grandma’s kitchen. Eating an Irish stew with a glass of Guinness is what to do in Dublin. 

The places that I would recommend for their price and quality are O’Sheas, The Hairy Lemon and Boxty House (Veggie option). 

Keep in mind: The portions are usually massive unless you’re from the US then they are still probably small.

Soda Bread

Made of bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk which form the raising agent of this unique bread. It is then mixed with flour and served with a bunch of butter spread on top. Soda bread is the most original pastry you can try in Ireland. 

There are endless variations, and you can find it sweet or salty, with Chocolate, with sesame seeds, or maybe both. You will understand why it’s a must-try Irish food when you try it. You can find it almost everywhere around Dublin, yet “The Bakery” is said to be one of the best places in Dublin for all sorts of homemade pastries.

Colcannon and Champ

Champ is a combo of mashed potatoes and chopped scallions with butter and milk, while Colcannon is a mixture of mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage. It is hard to explain what this tastes like, but I loved it. Unusual and tasty. You can try it at the Boxty House and The Pig’s Ear.

Boxty

This is a type of Irish potato pancake. No explanations. Very tasty. Just try it, trust me.

Enjoy your journey of exploring the weird yet amazing tastes of Dublin and let me know what your favourite local dish was in the comments section below.

Hug The Hungry Tree

Hugging The Hungry Tree is probably one of the most unusual things you can do in Dublin. It is a London Plane variety that has been here since sometime around the year 1900 and is located inside the south gate on Constitution Hill. 

It was just a regular tree, but then at some point, it decided to start eating the bench in front of it. So, we could say it is an amazing place to take a photo and a place of great symbolic value to the city of Dublin.

Good to know: The tree is friendly to people. It has a specific problem with benches.

Direction to find The Hungry Tree

The Little Museum of Dublin

Imagine living in Dublin in the 20th century. What would you read about? What would your living room look like? What would the milk bottles look like? Who would be your president? You will find out all of this and much more if you choose to visit The Little Museum of Dublin. 

This museum was entirely made through donations by local Dubliners and all that these people had was a unique idea. It is absolutely wonderful to see how the best-rated museum on TripAdvisor in Dublin was born from nothing. It is a museum of people, offering you an insight into the everyday life of regular citizens. If you are looking for a unique experience visiting the colourful, friendly and playful LMD is what to do in Dublin.

Keep in mind: The first floor is free. The second and third floor are viewed with a guide. 

Grab your tickets beforehand to skip the line and save valuable holiday time

Leprechaun Museum

If you get tired of the real world and think how wonderful it would be to escape to a world where there is magic, Dublin will make it possible. The Leprechaun Museum is one of the most special museums found on Earth. It is a place that honours Irish mythology and folklore where nobody says it better than the slogan on the museum’s website, “Take a break from your serious self and step into the Otherworld.”. 

Keep in mind: Working hours are Monday to Sunday from 10 am to 6.30 pm and the price varies from €10 to €16. Night tours in which you discover the darker side of Irish history (18+) are organized on Friday and Saturday evenings and the price is €18.

Pre-purchase your Leprechaun Museum entrance pass

Drury Street

Going for an afternoon walk around Drury Street is one of the things to do in Dublin. This is known as one of the hippest and coolest areas of the city. The Drury Buildings restaurant is one of the most interesting looking restaurants in the city, covered in cartoonish graffiti from the outside yet with a modern and sleek design found on the inside. 

You can find many interesting artsy shops and cute cafes such as the Irish Design Shop or the Kaph where you can have an amazing matcha latte. This street is home to probably the coolest and definitely the oldest (150 years) shopping centre in Ireland, The Georges St. Arcade. There is also something for foodies, the Asian Market, which offers a wide range of unusual Asian food products to choose from.

Find Drury Street Dublin here

Kilmainham Jail

A jail is maybe not the classic idea of a perfect tourist attraction, but I recommend you give it a try. Kilmainham Gaol is now a museum for visitors but in the past, it used to be a jail, it now serves as a symbol of Irish nationalism. It is a place of great importance for anybody that wants to understand human history. There were a few hangings held there, there was no segregation between prisoners meaning that women, children and men were imprisoned in mixed cells. 

Inside the Kilmainham Jail in Ireland
Inside the Kilmainham Gaol is a spooky place to be but an activity I recommend if you have time

The cells themselves often incarcerated 5 prisoners and were only 28 mt square in size. It was a cold and dark place for people to inhabit and one candle was supposed to last for two weeks. This is not only one of the unusual things to do in the Irish capital, but it is also one of the most painful. Sometimes it is necessary to be aware of our past, so we can understand our current situation better.

Visit the Kilmainham Gaol if your game

Haunted Library or the Marsh’s Library

One of the scariest places in the city centre, Marsh’s Library, was the building where Bram Stoker found inspiration for his novel Dracula. This library is home to some of the most fascinating books from the history of Ireland and it often hosts exhibitions. However, what makes this library really haunted is the legend hidden in its walls. 

There is a story of a ghost living in the library. The unsettled soul of Archbishop Narcissus Marsh is looking for a letter from his niece that is hidden in one of the books. This scary, yet intriguing story wakes up your imagination and makes you aware of the dark side of our minds. It is one of the alternative things to do in Dublin. Turn your imagination on and get lost in the creepy halls of this strange library, if you are not too scared of course.

Test your nerves by visiting the Haunted Library while in Dublin

Meet the locals

When in Dublin, I would recommend not to miss out on meeting the Dubliners. These people are full of love, joy and good vibes. I have a few Irish mates that I had met in Australia before I started travelling and it was refreshing to find that most of the countries population are people not taking life too serious and just keen to experience a good time. Head into a random pub, and you instantly have a strong chance of enjoying a nice conversation over a few local beverages. These locals are friendly, open and love to share a good time. What is a better way to understand the culture than to understand the people? 

The bright red bricked pub in Dublin called The Temple Bar is famous around the world
Famous pub in the Temple Bar district in Dublin, Ireland.

You may even find out some other unusual things to do in Dublin, if that happens, I am open to new ideas and feel free to comment below!

Popular things to do in Dublin

Of course, why checking out some or all of these unusual things to do in Dublin is highly recommended I also know that visiting the popular things to do in Dublin is something that has to be done also. I mentioned at the start that a trip to Irelands Capital wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Temple District, the Guinness Beer Factory and the Library of Trinity College Dublin. These are just three of the most popular tourists attractions in Dublin.

Below is a list of popular things to do in Dublin:

The best option for visitors to visit multiple locations throughout Dublin at the cheapest price is to purchase The Dublin pass with Hop On Hop Off bus access. It includes bus transport and entry to over 30 popular attraction with skip the line access to ensure you visit all the tourist locations fast and easily.

To conclude, Dublin has a really good underground scene, a bunch of alternative places to visit and funny little stories to offer. It is a place of love, diversity and colour. Every little street will inspire you to dig deeper into its culture. Enjoy every second of it, escape the tourist bubble and let these unusual things to do in Dublin inspire your trip. 

If you are planning to see more of the Irish countryside then I suggest you also read the must-see destinations around Ireland. It is a really relaxing island to explore and I would encourage anyone looking to visit the area to just hire a car, create an Irish road trip and get lost it it’s rustic beauty.

Travel budget tips

Either booking a new travel holiday right from the start or while on such a holiday can be expensive. Things like flights, accommodation, meals, transport and tours can add up fast and put a strain on what should be a fun time. These budget travel tips will assist with booking a holiday at the best price or staying on budget while travelling.

Other useful companies I use in Europe:

GetYourGuide – A company that offers a selection of popular tours for almost every destination you are likely to visit. 

Viator – Viator also offers a range of tours and private excursions you can do in popular destinations. Always good to compare prices between companies.

FishingBooker – If you enjoy a fishing trip then Europe has plenty of exciting destinations to choose from. FishingBooker is a website that lists the best local charters in different locations around the world

Ebates – This is a great tool to use when booking almost anything online. You will automatically get a percentage of your paid price credited back to you after you complete your tour, accommodation stay or flight. Find out more about Ebates here

Booking.com – One of the companies I use the most when I’m travelling. It allows me to search for good accommodation and see pictures, and fellow travellers reviews of the hotel. Always offers great prices as well.

HostelWorld – If I’m not looking for a hostel then I always book through HostelWorld 

Europe on a shoestring by the Lonely Planet – The travel bible as it becomes known to me during my travels around Europe. Shares plenty of information and provides a great source of knowledge. An easy to read book, which features attractions, accommodation travel advice for different parts of Europe.

World Nomads Insurance – If you are travelling for an extended period or almost any period in general then it is always best to have reliable travel insurance. Unfortunately you just never know when your travels will need to be altered or someone decides they like your belongings more than you.

Organise Your Trip: Travel Advice and Tricks I Personally Use

Book Your Flight

Heading to either Skyscanner or Momondo are my methods of choice for this. They are my favourite as they search for flights from different companies all over the world. You can filter the results to suit your needs and ensure you land the best price every-time.

Book Your Accommodation

This is an important part of any holiday you’re going on. Read all the reviews and get the right accommodation via TripAdvisor. They even show you the best prices available at the time for that room from suppliers like Booking.com.For booking a hostel your best bet is to start with HostelWorld or possible even use CouchSurfing if you’re on a real budget.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance is a must these days so you have a piece of mind you’re covered for anything that could go wrong while on your trip. I now never go on a trip away without travel insurance. I’ve been using World Nomads for the past few years.

My favourite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • SafetyWing (cheaper option to just cover you for health issues)

Looking for the best companies to save money with?

As I have been travelling frequently over the last few years I’ve learnt some great tools to use for saving money when travelling. I have a travel resource page that lists all the trusted companies I personally use and rely on. I think you will find them good as well.

I also have a couple of great blogs that share quick and easy ways to save money on flights or accommodation. Take a look and save some cash on your next trip.

The Best Place To Book Your Tours

If you are someone you likes to have the best tours in one place and read reviews from other travellers about their personal experiences of each different tour then the best platform to use is GetYourGuide.

They offer the best tours, have money-back offers in case your trip is cancelled and ensure the price of each tour is the lowest possible.

Other posts that might interest you:

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unique and unusual things to do in Dublin, Ireland

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Last Updated on: June 8th, 2020 at 3:22 pm

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