Even if sports are not your thing, you’d be missing out if you did not take the Croke Park Stadium tour. It’s more than visiting the largest stadium in Dublin and the third largest stadium in Europe. The stadium recently celebrated one hundred years of existence, and has a rich, lively history. Its museum covers the history of Gothic games from their ancient roots to present day Irish sports. You can test your own skills at the museum’s interactive games zone, or stroll around and visit the team dressing rooms where legendary players once prepared for the games. The top of the stands are thirty metres high, giving you a spectacular view of the city. Tours last approximately ninety minutes and are available all year round. An excellent place to take the whole family, you might just inspire the next football champion.
Dubliners don’t limit their sports loving nature to the field. The National Aquatic Centre is the premier venue for competitive swimming, diving and water polo in Ireland. The facility provides training for high performance swimming and hosts national, international and provincial competitions. One of the most visited attractions in the city, it also sponsors Aqua Zone, one of the most unique water parks in Europe. Daredevil rides on a Master Blaster roller coaster, giant water slides and raging water adventures are available, along with more peaceful soaking and swimming in an Olympic swimming pool. There is even a pirate ship for the little ones and a visit with Finnie the Frog. Are you trying to stay fit? The National Aquatic Centre has a solution. Its award winning gym features a state of the arts Health Club and gymnasium, with the latest in cardiovascular and resistance equipment, a fitness studio and a dedicated spinning room.
Dublin is not at all bashful about offering tours of its brewing and distilling companies. One of the most famous tours is the Old Jameson Distillery in Smithfield Village. The distillery is actually a museum piece, a walk into the old world of copper and brass, wooden casks and techniques that haven’t changed much in over a century. There is a bar when you can sample three whiskeys, included in the price of your tour ticket, and a certificate that announces you are now a “Master Whiskey Taster”.
It may be one of the newest places in town, but the Whiskey Museum is quickly becoming one of the most popular places to tour the history of whiskey making, as well as the social history of Irish whiskey from the past to the present. The tour guide will explain the difference between Scotch and Irish whiskey, and at the end of the tour, provide you with samples of various Irish whiskeys. It differs from the Jameson tour in that it does not promote a particular brand, but introduces Irish whiskey in general.
If you prefer a good stout to hard liquor, than you might wish to cater your beverage tasting tour to the Guinness Store House. Located at the St. James brewery, in a massive, seven story building, the former fermentation plant has been remodelled into the shape of a giant bottle of Guinness. You will learn everything about the history of Guinness, which delivered its first dark brew in 1759, and at the end of the tour, relax with a pint of fresh Guinness.
It’s a breath of tranquil air when you visit the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin, as well as a treat for botanists. Located in Glasnevin, five kilometres north-west of Dublin’s city centre, these remarkable gardens have been a part of the Dublin landscape since 1795. The 19.5 hectares are situated between Prospect Cemetery and the River Tolka, where it forms part of the flood plain. Today, there are 20,000 living plants and millions of dried specimen. The original purpose of the gardens was to advance knowledge in agricultural, medicinal products and dyeing. It currently participates in national and international initiatives for bio-diversity conservation and sustainable development.
Entrance is free, although there is a charge for parking. There is a self-service restaurant nearby, which means you can take a leisurely stroll, work up an appetite and have a bit to eat before wrapping up your day.
If you love green spaces, you will want to visit Phoenix Park. Established in 1662 by one of Ireland’s most illustrious viceroys, James Butler, on behalf of King Charles II, the expansive park covers 707 hectares and is one of the largest enclosed recreational spaces in Europe. The park is a sanctuary for a large number of mammals and birds, including a herd of Fallow deer who have been living there since its conception. Approximately thirty percent of the park is covered with trees, mainly broad-leaf species, including oak, ash, lime beach, sycamore and horse chestnut. Other attractions include the Victorian People’s Flower Gardens, Aras an Uachtaráin, the presidential residence since 1750, the Ashtown Castle, and other historic building. Nearby, is the Victorian tea kiosk, which serves tea and lunches and provides an outdoor picnic area, and the Dublin Zoo?
You will not really see anything else quite like it because it’s a world’s first. Dublin’s Science Gallery at Trinity College is where art and science take a stand to educate, facilitate, and discuss the issues of the future with exhibitions, events and workshops. How will the future of design, technology, families and communities shape our lives in the 21st Century? After learning to code the language of computers, will we be able to teach computers to code humans?
Your input is welcome in this centre of creativity, innovation and futuristic thinkers. One of the most fascinating exhibits is “Blood”, with twenty-five provocative works that explore the scientific, symbolic and rather strange nature of blood. Not for the faint-hearted, the exhibit is recommended for ages fifteen and above. Unlike most other galleries, there are no permanent collection, so each visit means something new to see and something amazing to add to your vision of tomorrow.