COVID-19 Restrictions: Queen of Tarts, Gutter Bookshop and George’s Street Arcade are all open, Dublinia & Christ Church Cathedral are closed.

As restrictions ease and Dublin reopens, it’s a great time to make a day of it with a trip to the city. With so much to see and do in the historic heart of Dublin, you’ve got to get out and enjoy it – just don’t forget your face mask and hand sanitiser!

Entrance of Dublinia

Dublinia

Travel back to the 10th century at the must-visit Dublinia, for an exploration of Viking and Medieval Dublin. Stroll down fully reenacted Viking model streets, see inside a merchant’s house, experience a Medieval fair and stand on a ship’s deck.

Medieval guard

In-house historians throughout will share their expert knowledge about weaponry and dwellings with you, bringing the story of Dublin to life. Dublinia has a load of artefacts on loan from the National Museum of Ireland, plus you’ll also see Viking skeletons and a new guest exhibition from York about Viking heroism. Finish your visit by climbing the 96 steps of St Michael’s Tower, built 1667, for spectacular views of the city.

The museum is open daily from 10 am-6:30 pm. A family ticket is €30 (2 adults & 2 children aged 4-12), while an adult ticket costs €12, toddlers go free, and concessions are available for students and senior citizens. You can book tickets in advance online.

Nave of Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral

Continue your exploration of Medieval Dublin with a trip to the iconic Christ Church Cathedral. Founded almost a thousand years ago, the building was extensively renovated and rebuilt during the 19th century. You can avail of a free map for a self-guided tour or access info on your phone through QR codes around the Cathedral. There’s a one-way system in place and hand sanitisation stations throughout, where you’re encouraged to clean your hands while saying the Lord’s Prayer.

Christ Church Cathedral grounds

You’ll find lots of ancient treasures, including Strongbow’s tomb, a mummified cat and mouse, the heart of St Laurence O’Toole, a copy of the Magna Carta and lots of gold plates and chalices. It also has the largest cathedral crypt in Ireland or the UK, constructed between 1172–1173.

If you’ve been to Dublinia, show your ticket at the entrance for a 10% discount. Masks are required, and visitors from another country who have not quarantined for 14 days will be denied entry. Children under 12 can visit for free during July and August, while an adult ticket costs €7.50. Concessions are available for students and senior citizens, and tickets can be booked in advance online. You can also visit the Cathedral during services to worship and hear its iconic choir sing.

Being served at Queen of Tarts

Queen of Tarts

For the perfect brunch, you need to visit Queen of Tarts on Cow’s Lane. With a roomy outdoor terrace, it’s an ideal place to people watch and dine safely. We got their buttermilk pancakes, freshly squeezed orange juice, a perfectly frothy latte, and a slice of their famous Victoria sponge cake. Everything was delicious, fresh and homemade.

Queen of Tarts staff member holding tray

There’s also an extensive takeaway menu, and the café sells cute handmade face masks in a variety of fabrics for €5. We also love the vintage teaware and branded merchandise they have for sale. Pick some up to have a lovely tea party at home!

During our visit, staff were all wearing masks, tables were spaced apart, and there was ample hand sanitiser throughout the premises. You’ll find a second smaller café around the corner on Dame Street offering the same menu in a more intimate setting. Both cafés are open for breakfast, lunch and brunch, and afternoon tea is also available on weekends.

Oscar Wilde quote in the window of the Gutter Bookshop

The Gutter Bookshop

The Gutter Bookshop is a must-visit and one of two shops independently owned by Bob Johnston, the other being in Dalkey (Matt Damon visited during lockdown!). The Gutter takes its name from an Oscar Wilde quote: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are staring at the stars.” You can buy merch bearing this quote in-store, along with a wide range of books, tote bags, children’s gifts, stationery and reading accessories.

Bob Johnston, owner of the Gutter Bookshop

The two best shelves to browse are the signed first editions, and the staff picks. Bob’s team are well-read and passionate about giving their customers recommendations, and their favourite books are stocked alongside post-it notes about why they believe you should read them too!

The store is known for hosting many book launches and other events, running book clubs, and being involved in the Dublin Book Festival. Unfortunately, most of those events are on hold for the moment. The Gutter provides a click and collect book ordering system, and staff adhere to strict safety and sanitation guidelines in store.

The entrance to George's Street Arcade

George’s Street Arcade

A unique enclosed Victorian shopping centre in the heart of south Dublin’s city centre. It’s home to great food outlets, including Loose Canon (perfect for wine and a cheese board), Flip (for veggie burgers, owned by Blazing Salads of Drury Street), Lolly & Cooks and the Juicery. You’ll also find quirky indie shops and stalls, including Retro Vintage Fashion, Maktus, Stokes Bookshop and more! It’s well worth a walkthrough if you’re in the area, and it’s owned by the Layden family, who are being sound to their tenants through the pandemic.

Want more?

Head to Leo Burdock for some of the best fish and chips in Dublin. They’ve been feeding locals since 1913. You’ll find them in locations across the city, but their Christ Church outlet is one of their oldest. Don’t forget to ask for extra crispy bits! If you’re looking for an on-street dining experience with a Parisienne flair, stop in to Chez Max on Palace Street and watch the world go by with a croque monsieur and a glass of wine. The Bull & Castle, operated by Dublin’s steak experts FX Buckley, is a great dinner spot opposite Christ Church. If you’re looking for something more casual, Sano is perfect for an affordable pizza for lunch or dinner.

The Temple Bar area is full of quirky independent shops to poke your nose around. Design Lane showcases the best products from local designers and makers. While you’re in the Cow’s Lane area pop in for a browse! Siopaella is a haven for designer concessions, while vintage fans will enjoy a browse in Fresh or Lucy’s Lounge.

Head to City Hall to discover more about Dublin’s diplomatic history. Dublin Castle’s State Rooms, and the adjoining Chester Beatty, will also have you transfixed for hours.

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