5 must-sees on a short break in Dublin

Thursday, 15 March 2012 7:40 AM

Dublin is the perfect destination for a short break, with the bustling Irish capital offering something for people of all interests and ages. Whether you're enjoying a romantic getaway or jetting off for the weekend with your family, you'll have an amazing time exploring the sights.

There's so much to see and do, though, that fitting everything in could be a bit of a struggle, particularly if you rely on trains and buses to get you from A to B. Book car hire at Dublin Airport, and you'll have the means to start exploring this vibrant city immediately. Here's a rundown of five must-see places that you ought to visit.

Dublin Zoo

A trip to Dublin Zoo is an exciting prospect for any animal lover and as it is officially the biggest family attraction in Ireland, it truly is not to be missed.

Opened in 1831, this is one of the oldest zoos in the world and today you can see more than 600 animals - including many endangered species - living in a 28 hectare park of lakes, gardens and other natural habitats. Giraffes, lemurs and flamingos are just some of the exotic creatures that live here.

Phoenix Park

Dublin Zoo lies within Phoenix Park and it is worth spending some time exploring the rest of the recreational space either before or after a visit to the zoo. As one of the largest parks in Europe - measuring some 707 hectares - it provides plenty of room for kids to run around in and for couples to go on romantic walks.

Among the many sights to be found here is the Wellington Testimonial - which at 62 m tall is the biggest obelisk in the continent - and the Victorian People's Flower Gardens, which comprises ornamental lakes and manicured flowerbeds. In the centre of the park is the Phoenix Monument, a column that was erected by the Earl of Chesterfield in 1747.

Dublin Castle

Dating back to 1204, Dublin Castle has long played a vital role in Ireland's history and to this day hosts many state occasions, including the inauguration of the president.

Reaching the castle in a hire car could not be easier - there're several public parking areas close by - and from the minute you head inside and explore you'll learn more about Dublin's past. Visit the gothic revival Chapel Royal, which features fine plaster decoration and ornately carved galleries, before taking a tour of the state apartments and medieval undercroft.

National Gallery

A must-visit for any culture vulture, the National Gallery of Ireland on Merrion Square West is home to thousands of works, some of which date back to the 13th century.

Sculptures, paintings and drawings can all be seen here, and with the gallery regularly hosting temporary exhibitions there is always something new and exciting to take in. Picasso, Monet and Rembrandt are just some of the famous artists whose pieces you will find in the institution's permanent collection. Admission to the gallery is free and as it's open seven days a week, incorporating a trip here on a short break couldn't be easier.

Guinness Storehouse

Guinness is undoubtedly one of Ireland's most well-known exports and in visiting the Guinness Storehouse, situated on St James's Gate, you will find out how the iconic drink is made. A Guinness ambassador will show you how to pour the perfect pint and upon reaching the Gravity Bar at the top of the structure you'll be afforded wonderful panoramic views of Dublin.

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