A perfect introduction and general orientation tour of Dublin, South of the river, walking from East to West through the historic city centre and thus featuring Stephen’s Green; Merrion Square; Trinity College; Temple Bar; Christ Church; City Hall and finishing Dublin Castle – your ultimate private South Dublin City Walking Tour. This route takes around 2 hours. You also have the additional option, if desired, of adding on an extra half-hour, which means we can take you to around Saint Patrick’s Cathedral as well, and/or the (with a full hour extension) even Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and to the doors of the Guinness Store House. For more information on this route, see below..
This walk is the essential trail of Dublin’s must-see sights, that runs in a line through the central spine of our capital city. We recommend walking this route on an east-west direction, and thus we usually meet our guests at Stephen’s Green, lined with great mansions and clubhouses. We then walk to nearby Merrion Square, home of the modern-day Irish parliament, of Georgian townhouses and a rich literary associations, including the childhood home of Oscar Wilde.
We’ll then often visit a beautiful little local bookshop, and pause nearby the meeting-point that provided James Joyce with his date for “Bloom’s Day” in Ulysses.
We’ll then enter Trinity College, continuing our east to west direction through this large campus, while taking time to discuss and explore the splendid buildings and rich intellectual history of this famous university.
We’ll then pass through Trinity’s Front Gate into College Green, stopping to admire and understand the spectacular neo-classical, 18th century, former Irish Parliament Building, designed first by the genius Edward Lovett Pearce and later by James Gandon. We’ll briefly appraise the splendid array of other, mostly 19th century bank buildings on College Green and on adjoining Dame St, among them several architectural gems, including a bank founded by that Irish political giant, the Liberator himself, Daniel O’Connell.
We then take a turn to the right, leaving busy Dame Street to enter the highly atmospheric Temple Bar district, with its narrow cobbled streets full of culture, history, traditional bars and entertainment. We’ll take our time to walk through this area, seeing a number of fascinating sites that help illuminate Irish history including two former Central Bank buildings, an old medical school, several places of worship, some small, almost hidden public spaces, arts centres and a few medium-sized yet superlative examples of late-twentieth century architecture, dating from the period in the early 1990s when this lovely, picturesque district was only narrowly saved from complete destruction and demolition. We’ll wrap up our walk through of Temple Bar in one of its quieter, more mellow streets, with a handful of nice hipster cafes, a perfect, relaxing place for a quick coffee and/or restroom break.
As we resume for the second half of our tour we find ourselves by Christ Church Cathedral. Commissioned by the Viking King Sitric around 1028, this was the first of two medieval cathedrals to be built in Dublin. It will soon celebrate a thousand years of worship. This area was the heart of Viking Dublin, and later of the Anglo-Norman and Medieval City too, once full of shops, trade, brothels and taverns We will discuss the history of old Dublin here, its politics, scandals, rebellions and upheavals.
We’ll then swing around to City Hall, another 18th century Georgian masterpiece. Once a guild hall, latterly the ceremonial headquarters of Dublin’s municipal government, this stunning classical building is lined with useful mural paintings of Irish history, helping us to illustrate and visualize many of the historical talking points from our tour.
Then can finish just behind City Hall by entering Dublin castle. This is now a splendid late Renaissance palace, dating from the 1600s. Formerly it was a heavily fortified medieval castle, of which many traces remain. This was also the centre of British power in Ireland for almost eight centuries and, as you might well imagine, is full of much history, some of that history very dark indeed.
On the shorter two (or to two and a half hour) versions of this tour, we wrap up here, as many of our guests now feel ready for a break, to digest and discuss the wealth of information learned!
Alternatively, for our “endurance guests” we can give you two other options, both priced as our longer (3 hour) versions. One option is continuing from Dublin castle onward via the old city wall and by old Saint Werburgh’s church on to St Patrick’s, the second of Dublin’s medieval cathedrals and arguably even more full of history than its ancient rival Christ Church!
We’ll discuss St Patrick’s itself of course, and its place at the centre of Dublin and Irish history. You’ll also see how the cathedral is set by an attractive park, surrounded in turn by the fascinating Iveagh Trust philanthropic housing projects, dating from the Edwardian era (1901-1910) and built by those extraordinarily wealthy, visionary benefactors, the Guinness Family. The park also boasts commemorative plaques featuring many of Ireland’s great writers, such as Swift, Yeats, Wilde, Joyce and Shaw, allowing for a few quotations, or on occasions even a lively debate on the relative merits of these writers!
Alternatively, instead of going to the St Patrick’s area, and a particularly useful option for guests who’ve made an afternoon booking for the Guinness Storehouse (or a booking at Kilmnaham Gaol) , we can instead escort you to the Guinness Storehouse, walking you west the whole way to the St James Gate Brewery. This additional 45-55 minute walk brings us right through the heart of the fascinating Liberties District, and of course, we’ll be telling you about it the whole way through. We can then leave you right by the Guinness Storehouse doors. (Note we personally do not conduct tours of the Storehouse interior, as there is a wealth of material there, and we believe a guide is entirely superfluous) We can though bring you there, taking you and talking you right through the historic Liberties. This option can be a very nice way to optimize your time!
This same (second) option also works well for people who’ve managed to secure a booking reservation for historic Kilmanham Gaol. True, we can not bring you right to the door of the Gaol. You’ll need wheeled transport for that. But we can shorten the distance to it, with our Liberties tour, and we can certainly assist you getting a bus or taxi in the right direction too. And can of course, we can help you to time your arrival there.
All of these options are things we are happy to facilitate or even advise on, for our private tour clients.
How Long will your Tour take? For the purposes of your own planning: please bear in mind that, realistically, the standard, shorter version of the Classic Tour takes approximately two hours (from around 1 hour 145 minutes to 2 hours 20 minutes, depending on your own walking pace, your preferred speed, and the amount of additional talk and questions covered)
For the purposes of your own planning: please bear in mind that, realistically, either our two longer options discussed above (Guinness or St Patrick’s/Kilmanham). will bring your overall time on the tour to a total of around 3 hours. Doing a combination of both St Patrick’s and Guinness, if you choose them as add-ons near to your Classic Introduction to Dublin tour will (realistically) push your overall total time to around 3 hours and a half. (Exact time of course always depends on your walking speed, and the number of questions!) These time estimates of course include a rest room and coffee break, and of course, all our stopping points for discussion.
Have a think about how long you’d like to tour with us? We’re perfect happy to fee for the smaller, two hour tour, but then for you to decide on the day or oven on the spur of the moment, if you do wish to continue on further. But it’s still worth being aware of all your options, before you meet us, so you can discuss and plan your day and/or plan your other possible activities and bookings, around your private tour with us.
To request our Classic Introduction to Dublin tour, as a private event for your family or group, you have two options. Firstly you may use the handy, highly efficient inquiry form below, which most of our guests find quicker and more convenient (and can often help us too, as it streamlines our operations) Alternatively, for people who wish to personalize their inquiry, you are very welcome to email Dublin Decoded Website at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you choose to email however, for the sake of clarity and to help us answer your inquiry better and more swiftly, please include both your dates, and the name of the tour you are requesting in your subject header please. Example subject header: Classic Intro Tour, U.S. family group, Saturday 25th April?”
Thank you very much for your understanding in this respect.
You will find that Dublin is an extraordinary, complex city, full of story, history, anecdote and detail. We’re confident you will enjoy it even more with us. We very much look forward to welcoming you on tour!
Request: Please note we will not be able to answer inquiries regarding public tours submitted via the private Tour Inquiry Forms below. We run a limited number of highly-acclaimed public tours. Everyone’s welcome to attend these, subject to ticket availability. However sales for our public tours are conducted exclusively online (usually via the EventBrite ticket sales platform) and all available information for Public Tours can be found on the public tours page of our website, here. The contact form below is exclusively for ordering your own private tour.
Guideline Costs: Private tours for small/medium private groups and family groups cost from €180- €270 depending on the length and duration of your tour. (For your entire group, not per individual). 3 hours costs more than 2 hours. Minimum fee €190, regardless of time chosen. Larger groups and corporate tours may well cost more. Hotel meets and pick-ups may cost extra. Exact quotation given on the supply of your date, numbers, and details, please. All marked fields in the inquiry form below are required fields.
- Below, some images from our South Central tour.