Dublin is a city to be savoured, and a city to be toured. If the usual seated-sightseeing bus tour doesn’t appeal, there are more adventurous and curious ways to see the city.
We sent guest blogger Allie Gavette to see the city by literary legacy, by peddle power, and by big yellow amphibious vehicle.
This is what she had to say about some of Dublin City’s best tours.
The Viking Splash Tour
“Vikings didn’t actually have horns on their helmets”, quips our guide Barry. Perhaps the horned yellow helmets we’re all wearing are just to match our neon orange life jackets then. With this , you’d never know.
Apparently it was Christians who added horns onto paintings of Vikings to make them look more devilish. But political correctness is not a priority on this tour – having lots and lots of fun is – so we don the horns anyway as our ‘Viking ship’ thunders down the streets of Dublin.
First the Viking Splash-ers took us around the main Dublin attractions with a focus on Viking and Medieval era landmarks, including and .
Our method of transport is actually an old World War II vehicle called the DUKW; an amphibious vehicle built by the United States military. Basically it’s a boat on wheels, and wasn’t I thanking military precision when our tour took a watery turn! It was toward the end we got the promised splash, as we plop straight into the Grand Canal at the Docklands and see the city from a uniquely watery perspective.
Highlights of Viking Splash tour: With political and pub humour for the adults, puns for the kids, and the occasional uninhibited Viking roar at unsuspecting pedestrians – it was a thrilling tour for the young and the young at heart.
Dublin by Bike Tour
In typical Irish fashion, the guides and owners of , Ronan and Ciaran Ganter, are robustly friendly. We felt like instant best mates – mates ready to share tips on the best food, drinks and hangouts in Dublin.
The groups are fairly small, so there is a laid back, intimate quality to the tour, as if we’re just a few friends on a lazy cycle. This makes it easy to ask questions along the way and keep up with the guide on the roads.
Being an all-weather tour, the brothers had us covered – literally – with high visibility, water-proof jackets and pants attached to the back of each bicycle. The bikes themselves are comfortable and with regular stopping breaks the time passed quickly, without breaking too much of a sweat.
A nice touch was getting an email from the thoughtful guides after the tour with a map marking all the places pointed out along the ride, including links to each pub and restaurant. Very considerate as I, like most of us, find it difficult to write and ride a bicycle at the same time! I was plenty prepared for pub quizzes too after stocking up on Dublin’s quirkier facts. Do you know where Dublin’s other O’Connell Bridge is? It’s the little bridge over the pond inside . Who knew?!
Highlights of Dublin by Bike: Getting local insight to finding the best pubs and restaurants off the beaten track, exploring Dublin at a perfect pace, and getting in some old-fashioned exercise.
Literary Pub Crawl
If there is one thing Ireland prides itself on, it’s the amount of native and wildly (pun intended) successful writers. Joyce, Beckett, Stoker, Wilde and many more famous names called Dublin home at one point or another. This -cum-pub-crawl highlights the stomping grounds and watering holes of these literary greats.
Our tour kicks off with the two actor-cum-tour guides leading the group of 40 into song: “What’ll ya have? I’ll have a pint!” goes the lyrics of the Pogues’ Waxie’s Dargle.
Next, a scene from Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, impeccably acted in timing and tone, sets the agenda for the tour: snippets of brilliant writing, lots of laughter, and regular pub stops.
Among the cobblestones of we get a lively letter reading from the pen of Oscar Wilde. Next a history lesson on the development of the pub ‘snug’ in Irish pubs is then washed down with a pint in O’Neill’s.
It was almost 10 pm as we arrived at pub, a setting in Joyce’s “Ulysses.’’ Brendan Behan also darkened this door in his time, and apparently uttered his famous claim of being “a drinker with a writing problem’’ here.
Perfect timing for a toast to the writers and brilliant guides for our crash and craic course in Irish literature.
Highlights of Literary Pub Crawl: It’s like the best bits of about four different plays, for the price of less than one! The tales and trivia surrounding the historic hangouts of literature’s greats amused long after the tour.
There is a Dublin tour for every taste. The cool kids will like the hip Dublin hang-outs shown e-zine hipsters from le cool magazine. Joggers can run this city with a sightjogging tour. You can get an excuse to pull someone close from the Ghost bus tour. The green-fingered will love the exclusive access to private gardens on the Garden Tour.