Dublin is famed for its music, art and literature and in 2010 the city was even designated as the UNESCO City of Literature, but despite Ireland’s capital being such a popular holiday destination, there are lots of hidden gems you can explore. 

From little-known museums and restaurants to unique attractions and extraordinary places, Dublin certainly has lots of secret places to explore.

So if you’re heading on mini cruises to Dublin and want to visit some of the city’s hidden gems, then check out the best places you can visit during your trip.

 

Marsh's Library

Tucked away behind a small metal gate in a wall beside St Patrick's Cathedral, Marsh's Library is a beautiful space unchanged since it opened in 1707. Famous readers have included Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker and James Joyce.

Ireland’s first library houses original oak bookcases and is home to more than 25,000 rare and fascinating books. The attraction holds exhibitions throughout the year so keep your eye out for any special events taking place.

If you are visiting this unique attraction you will need to be aware that the ghost of the library’s founder Archbishop Narcissus Marsh has been known to wander through the building at unusual times.

 

St Patrick's Cathedral

St Patricks Cathedral

Built in honour of Ireland’s patron saint, St Patrick's Cathedral is adjacent to the famous well where tradition has it Saint Patrick baptised converts on his visit to Dublin.

The cathedral dates back to 1220 and is today the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland, hosting sung services twice daily Sunday through Friday, and also serves as a popular attraction.

Displays showcase a selection of artefacts relating to Jonathan Swift, Dean of the Cathedral from 1713 to 1745 and author of Gulliver’s Travels. The Cathedral also features a new Discovery Space with iPads playing samples from the choir and touch-screen technology illuminating the Cathedral’s long history.

Perhaps more than any other building in Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral embodies the history and heritage of all Irish people of all backgrounds from the earliest times to the present day.

Clarissa Delap, Marketing and Events Officer at St Patrick's Cathedral, recommends a number of things first-time visitors should consider.

“Mornings tend to be the busiest times to visit, so we recommend coming in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. We welcome all visitors to attend a sung service at 9.00 or 17.30 (during term time, check the website for this week’s schedule) to experience the building in a completely different light. Just make sure to arrive at least 20 minutes before; we, of course, also ask that if you plan to attend a service you stay for the duration to avoid disrupting the worship of others.

“Starting in 2019, admission is discounted when purchased in advance online.

Lastly, we offer free guided tours throughout the day which are a great way to learn more about the history of the building and its place in the city.”

 

Sweny’s chemist

Founded in Victorian times by doctor Marc Sweny in 1847, the Sweny’s chemist continued to run as a chemist until February of 2009.

The chemist has famously featured in James Joyce’s Ulysses and within the novel, it is described in sumptuous detail. Nowadays the attraction is maintained by a group of dedicated volunteers who preserve the shop, so it is like stepping back to 1904.

If you love literature, then this attraction is a must-visit as there are a selection of second-hand books from James Joyce that you can browse through.

The Sweny’s chemist is open from 11 am to 6 pm every day.

 

The Liquor Rooms

The Liquor Rooms is first and foremost a cutting-edge cocktail bar focused on producing the best possible drink without the stuffiness associated with prohibition style bars.

Led by Luke O’Meara and his team of creative liquor craftsmen, The Liquor Rooms is the only Irish bar to ever be nominated for the prestigious Tales of The Cocktail Spirited Awards. At the Liquor Rooms, they draw a lot of inspiration from Irish art & culture and their latest menu ‘Croga’ is based on infamous Irish Women throughout history.

There is also a host of live music every week and the Liquor Rooms is the longtime home of Irish Burlesque.

Jason Ennis, the social media manager at the Liquor Rooms tells us what first-time visitors should do when visiting this hidden gem:

“Grab a selfie with The Liquor Bear & Badger! Our mascots for years, The Liquor badger supervises our bar nightly. He’s been known to wander to various pop-up bars that we’ve hosted and at one point was also kidnapped and held to ransom by a neighbouring bar – thankfully the badger was safely returned. Our life-size Liquor Bear hangs out in the Blind Tiger and has been known to don many a costume over the years – he appreciates a kiss on the nose.”

 

The Little Museum of Dublin

In 2011 the Little Museum of Dublin was opened with no budget, no building and nothing to display. The collection has been created entirely by public donation, and today there are over 5,000 artefacts in the museum.

Together the displays document the social, cultural and political history of the Irish capital. In creating the museum, we wanted to explore that history, but also to bolster civic pride in a small, cultured, curious city with an ear for a well-told story. (In Dublin, a conversation is not an art. It's more of a sport, played in sitting rooms all over the city.)

During a visit you’ll be invited to tour the house - but also to sit down, relax and have a sweet. There are funny stories, strange facts and tragic scenes; older Dubliners are asked to share a childhood memory (conversation is the primary artefact), sometimes people sing old songs, and in that shared experience, some of you may come closer to a sense of who you really are.

A spokesperson for The Little Museum of Dublin, says, “Admission to the museum operates by guided tour, which we give every hour on the hour between 10 am and 5 pm seven days a week. To avoid disappointment, we recommend booking ahead on our website, as space is limited and tours do tend to sell out.

“We are proud to announce that we were recently voted the#1museum in Ireland for the second year in a row and the #20 museum in Europe in the TripAdvisor Traveller's Choice Awards. The Irish Times has described us as the best museum experience in Dublin.”

There are lots of hidden gem attractions in Dublin and here we list not just the five we’ve featured above, but some others that you could also visit.

  • Marsh’s Library
  • St Patrick’s Cathedral
  • Sweny’s Chemist
  • The Liquor Rooms
  • The Little Museum of Dublin
  • Iveagh Gardens
  • The Leprechaun Museum
  • Press Cafe