3 Days Itinerary in Ireland
Ireland is known for fantastic beer, stunning cathedrals, and a rich history among other things; but there is so much more to this beautiful country. Home to more than a half-dozen heritage sites and more castles than a guest can visit during one holiday, lucky Ireland has incredible museums, art galleries, cafes, and is a leader in scientific achievements. (And did you know because of its location it has no snakes?) There is far too much to explore on this gorgeous island in a 3-day stay, so go ahead and start booking your hotel room now for the next holiday, too.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Erected around the year 1200, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the biggest church in Ireland. St. Patrick was supposed to have baptised the local chieftains in the well locatedSt. Patrick’s Park across the way. As one might expect from a building so old, there is rich history here. The structure has sustained much damage from storms and fire so there have been some alterations made, making the architectural style a bit more interesting. Interestingly, author Jonathan Swift was dean of the cathedral at one point in the 1700s.
Trinity College is the most prestigious universities in all of Ireland and stepping onto the campus is much like time travel, going back to an era of cobblestone streets and town squares where students ride giant bicycles. Education was only for the wealthy and came with an air of come-uppance. Today, though, the diverse staff and students alike are still in attendance for the love of learning and a thirst for knowledge. Lose yourself in the architecture and stunningly preserved lawns. Many of the present structures date back as early as the 18th century.
Not surprisingly, the Guinness Storehouse is the most popular attraction in Dublin. While guests are not allowed to tour the brewery itself, the converted grain storage building has seven floors that pay homage to all that is Guinness, which was founded in 1759. There are 1.6 hectares chock-full of multimedia displays depicting the history of the brewery and everything else you may have wondered about. The experience culminates on the top floor, at the Gravity Bar, offering visitors gorgeous unobstructed views and the opportunity to sample the freshest pints of Guinness flavours.
There are a lot of castles in Ireland and they are all worth a visit – they are castles, after all. Kilkenny Castle is a heritage site and one of Ireland’s most visited landmarks. There are many highlights to take note of throughout the castle, including a wonderful tearoom, which is located in the kitchen, and two art galleries. The Long Gallery is a long hall containing portraits of the family members who lived there, with the oldest dating back to the 17th century. The hall itself is impressive, too, detailed with marble and intricate carved scenes from the family history. There’s also the Butler Gallery, located in the basement, featuring temporary exhibits of various modern artworks.
Back in 1172, ground was first broken to erect a wooden tower by the conqueror of Ireland. Twenty years later his son-in-law built a stone castle complete with four towers – now only three remain. The castle was subsequently bought and handed down through generations all the way up to 1935. Maintenance and repairs eventually overwhelmed the family and they sold everything. In 1967 it became property of the city.
Made in the Stone Age and dating back to around 3200 B.C., Newgrange is a grass-covered, dome-shaped passage tomb that has mesmerised people the world over. Looking more like something from a science fiction movie than a prehistoric site, the 80-metre wide stone structure stands 13 metres high and aligns perfectly with the sun during the Winter Solstice. It’s unsure what exactly the original purposes were for Newgrange but it may have been used as a calendar, a burial place, or a centre for rituals. Predating Egypt’s pyramids by 600 years, Newgrange is definitely a must-see.
St. Stephen’s Green
What once was a spot for public hangings and being burned at the stake is now a lush, manicured square for friends and family to gather and chat, have a coffee, and pass the time in the sun. The history of St. Stephen’s Green is varied and horrid at times but it has come a long way and is a great little spot to pause, take a photo of Fusiliers’ Arch, and ponder the varied artworks along the walking paths. There is also a children’s playground, an old bandstand, and a bust of James Joyce.
The National Gallery contains a strong collection of Irish art as well as European schools of painting. In one wing is a collection of works by Rembrandt and his peers; in another you’ll find Picasso and Goya. There are also impressive collections by Italian artists. The piece of resistance, however, is the Caravaggio entitled “The Taking of Christ”, from 1602. There are several other areas worth exploring but one simply must not leave without seeing that one.
Tours & Seasonal Events
There are many different day trips and self-guided tours to be taken all over Ireland. There are also lots of different festivals and events going on at different times throughout the year, so check local calendars and websites to see if there’s anything special you want to experience while you’re there.