Love history, literature, and beer? Dublin is definitely for you.

One walk through downtown Dublin, and you will pass multiple sites that inspired famous Irish literature, and statues riddled with bullet holes from the 1916 Easter Rising. Grab a pint and get your geek on, because Dublin is a literary reference in city form, full to the brim with fun facts. All of your favourite things!

Now – it’s not all fun and games (and beer). The Great Irish famine, the 1916 Easter Rising, and other not-so-distant stories from Ireland’s past are both fascinating and heartbreaking, and absolutely worth learning about.

Here you will find the best historical and literary walking tours in Dublin – from the fascinating and fun, to the sobering and sad, and everything in between.

Dublin Castle Grounds

Books of Kells Early Access, Trinity College, and Dublin Castle

Let’s kick off with some fun. Take this tour on day one, because it really brings out the best in Dublin. Enjoy early access to the Book of Kells, a guided tour of the college grounds, and explore Dublin castle, all before lunchtime. 

History is a funny thing, and the stories from Trinity College and Dublin castle that I heard on this tour ranged from fascinating to downright hilarious. I left still laughing about how female students at Trinity College make an annual event of putting ladies underwear all over the statue of a man who said women would never be allowed on the campus! My full review here.

Tour type: fascinating, fun. Tour provider: LetzGo City Tours

Long Room at Trinity College

Kilmainham Gaol Walking Tour

The Kilmainham Gaol (pronounced “jail”) tour is a one hour walk through dark parts of Dublin’s history. Kilmainham was built in 1796, and closed it’s doors in 1924. This means it was operational through the Great Irish Famine, and 5 rebellions. It saw numerous executions, and held prisoners of all ages.

Entry to Kilmainham Gaol is only though the tours. It’s very popular, so book in advance if possible. 3 days out is recommended, and if you’re already travelling when you book and have no way to print your tickets, don’t worry – they’re all set up to print them out for you when you arrive.

This is not a happy or feel good tour, but it is fascinating, and an important piece of Irish history that everyone who visits needs to see. Walking the halls of the gaol gave me chills, and a deeper appreciation for Ireland’s history.

Tour type: fascinating, heartbreaking. Tour provider: Kilmainham Gaol

The Literary Pub Crawl

Literature and pubs? Yes please! The Literary Pub Crawl is ranked as one of the best walking tours in the world, and I have to agree. This night was so much fun!

Through out the evening, make your way from one pub to another. Every pub is related to literature in some way. On the way from one pub to another, the actors who lead the tour play out scenes from famous Irish books and theatre. James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yates, and many others make appearances.

What’s more, there are trivia questions at the end. Does it get any better? Hands up if you love learning things about literature, drinking, and then being quizzed on what you learned! Yep, this tour is everything you’ve ever wanted.

Tour type: fun, more fun. Tour provider: Literary Pub Crawl

Dublin Literary Pub Crawl

North Side Political Walking Tour

The North Side tour is a free walking tour (by donation) that takes you through Dublin’s political history, and to some interesting sites not covered in other tours. The Garden of Remembrance, the Custom House, and the General Post Office, just to name a few.

Once the heart of Dublin, many historical sites are located on the North Side, and many important events took place there. The tour is both entertaining and interesting, and gives a very thorough account of important leaders and politicians in Irish history. 

The tour runs everyday at 3PM, starting from the Spire. You can’t miss it – the Spire is massive, and pointy, as the name would suggest. It’s a 3 hour tour, and I recommend tipping at least 10 euro per person that attends.

Tour type: entertaining, fascinating. Tour provider: Dublin Free Walking Tour

The Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship

While not technically a walking tour, the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship tour takes you inside a replica ship of one that sailed between Ireland and Canada during the Great Irish Famine. 

The Famine is a devastating time in Irish history, so I expected this be a difficult and sad tour. The famine was horrendous, and a great many people died. Even so – this tour inspires hope by focusing on the good. Here, you’ll hear the stories of the doctors, businessmen, crews, and everyday people who did the right thing, and ultimately made it possible for the Irish to survive this terrible time in history.

It’s the kind of tour that reminds you that, no matter how bad things get, there are always good people willing to do the right thing.

Tour type: hopeful. Tour provider: Jeanie Johnston

Dublin view

Historical Walking Tours I Wish I Knew About

While in Dublin, I learned about a couple of walking tours that I would have loved to incorporate in to the trip, but I just ran out of time. Maybe you’ll have a chance to!

Glasnevin Cemetery Tours: The Glasnevin cemetery, which can be reached on one of the hop-on-and-off bus routes, offers 3 free walking tours every day. There’s a History General History Tour at 11:30AM and 2:30PM every day, and a Dead Interesting tour at 1PM.

Visit the crypt of Ireland’s founder, and the graves of important figures from Irish history like Michael Collins and Charles Parnell. Tour provider: Glasnevin Cemetery

The General Post Office: The GPO served as the headquarters of rebellion leaders during the Easter Rising in 1916, an event which would eventually lead to a rebellion and Ireland’s independence in 1922. Guide tours of the GPO Witness History exhibit run daily at 3:30PM.

As an added bonus, there is a statue of Daniel O’Connell up the street from the GPO that is full of bullet holes from 1916 that you can check out any time. Tour provider: GPO Witness History

Have you been on any of these tours, or the ones that I couldn’t make?

Which ones looks most interesting to you?

dublinwalkingtourpin

Posted by ninanearandfar

Part time student, full time traveller. Neuroscience major and Canadian travel blogger on adventures.

12 Comments

  1. I looooove walking tours. I did two of these in Dublin (free walking tour and the one at the jail) and left feeling SOOO informed. I’m pinning this because I’m sure I’ll go back and I want to take more of these!

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    1. Right! I can rattle off important dates from Irish history so well because of all these walking tours!

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  2. We still haven’t been so saving this for when we finally go!

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  3. You had me at the literary pub crawl – and the library has long been on my bucket list! xx

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    1. That pub crawl was the MOST fun I had in Dublin.

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  4. I did the Kilmainham tour a few years ago and learnt so much about Irish history, it was definitely one of the most memorable things we did in Dublin. The literary pub crawl is right up my street!

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    1. I loved the gaol tour – so sad, but so important and interesting! The pub crawl is super fun.

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  5. I managed to do the Glasnevin Tour which was so incredible along with the Post Office Tour but am keeping the Literary tour and the political tour for my next visit hopefully in a few weeks. These types of tours are a brilliant way to get to really know a City.

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    1. That’s awesome! I only learned about those two on arrival… guess I have to go back 😉 enjoy the pub crawl and political tour! They’re both awesome.

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  6. These all sound so great, but I’d especially love to do the literary pub crawl! Maybe one day!

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  7. These are all such fun tours!! The Trinity College library looks like a literal dream come true! I think I’d be most interested in taking the Kilmainham Gaol Walking Tour, remaining open through the famine and all those rebellions is impressive as all hell, I’d love to learn more of the history of it!

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  8. Wow! Thank you for putting together this amazing list of walking tours. I really want to go to Ireland and dive deeper into learning about and understanding the country’s history. I have a minor obsession with the Book of Kells, so I think it would be amazing to see it in person.

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