Make the most of your visit to Dublin with Culture Trip’s guide to the city’s best tours, classes and experiences.
Ireland’s capital is filled with so much beauty that you could easily spend an entire weekend just wandering around taking pictures. But what makes Dublin shine is its culture – its people, its food and its music. Make time for these, and you’ll leave with something more valuable than photographs – priceless memories, new friends or even a unique, handmade souvenir.
Traditional Irish night show
Enjoy a traditional Irish show | Courtesy of Viator
No visit to Dublin would be complete without witnessing a performance of Irish music. This evening show covers all your bases with a three-course meal, live musicians and an act from dancers who have toured with Riverdance and Lord of the Dance. The meal comprises classics such as Guinness bread, Irish salmon and beefsteak; tuck in while watching sean nós (traditional solo dance), jigs and reels. But be warned – the dancers encourage audience participation, and you may be called up on stage to show off your moves.
For all its thrills, one of the downsides of solo travel can be the dining alone. This intimate 10-person dinner party is the perfect antidote, bringing travellers together at the Dublin Cookery School in the coastal suburb of Blackrock. Part lesson, part social event, the experience begins with a glass of bubbly before you’re ushered into the kitchen for a cookery demonstration. Once dinner is ready, you’ll retire to the dining room for an evening of delicious food, drink and craic. Make sure to book well in advance.
At one time, the words ‘Irish’ and ‘gourmet’ would never have been seen in the same sentence. How times have changed – Dublin is now a veritable culinary capital, and in this private cooking class you’ll learn to make classic local dishes for yourself. Host Mary, a former instructor at the Howth Castle Cookery School, will lead you through creating a three-course meal in her spacious, rustic kitchen. A few drinks are included in the price of the lesson, and alternatives for vegetarians and vegans are available upon request. A minimum of four people are required to make the booking.
For a more active mode of sightseeing, try this two-hour kayaking tour along the River Liffey. No previous experience is required. The tour begins with a short lesson, and your guide will even tow you for a while if you get tired. As you paddle, look out for Georgian architecture alongside striking contemporary buildings – the banks of the Liffey are a design lover’s dream. You can also expect to encounter some local wildlife. There are changing rooms on-site, where you can also leave your belongings for the duration of the tour.
The Irish are famous for their sense of humour, and so it’s appropriate that one of Dublin’s best offerings is this comedy tour on a purpose-built bus with a stage. Taking place on Saturday evenings, the tour includes sights such as Trinity College, Merrion Square and St Patrick’s Cathedral – but it’s the comedy that’s the real draw. Regular host Steve Cummins peppers his Dublin knowledge with hilarious, occasionally bawdy humour (be aware that 18 is the minimum age for this tour). The option to bring your own beer is an added bonus.
One for the bold, this silent-disco tour will literally have you dancing to your own tune. After a shot of liquid courage at the bar, you’ll don a high-tech headset blasting tunes from the ’80s to the present day. The energetic host will then lead you past Dublin’s highlights on a tour that is part guided walk, part aerobics class. Bear in mind that no one outside the tour will be able to hear your music, so you may get some odd looks! Ponchos will be provided on rainy days; the moves you’ll have to bring yourself.
An absolute must for any traditional music enthusiast, the Waltons New School of Music offers one-hour taster lessons designed specifically for visitors to the city. Choose from the tin whistle or bodhrán (goatskin drum), or pick a session that combines the two. Even those with no musical experience will be surprised by how much they can pick up in a short time. Lessons include a brief lecture on the history and landscape of Irish music – by the time you leave, you’ll know the difference between reels, jigs and hornpipes. You can even take your instrument home with you at a bargain price.
In 2011, goldsmith Deirdre O’Donnell launched the School of Jewellery Ireland, expanding in 2015 to offer full-time courses for aspiring professionals. This one-day jewellery skills course takes place in a high-tech studio and will be taught by one of the school’s seven tutors (who have a combined total of 195 years of trade experience). Choose from pendant, ring, cufflink, bangle and earring designs – brass is included, but you can work with silver for an extra fee. The school also offers a one-day make-your-own wedding ring course – perfect for engaged couples who want something special.