by Luc O Cinnseala
Dublin is a city so memorable that you can’t just tell your mates about it; you need to bring them with you. Whether it’s a stag, a hen or just a long weekend away with your best friends, the Irish capital has something to keep you and your group entertained all year ‘round, from the thrilling to the educational to the downright bizarre. It’s not all pubs, y’know.
HostelBookers HQ is based in Dublin, so here’s our hand-picked favourite things to do in Dublin with our pals:
You’ve probably never considered Ireland as one of the world’s greatest ski destinations—and you would be absolutely right. After all, it’s the Emerald Isle and not the White Isle, but that hasn’t stopped us pursuing our geographically misplaced love of skiing with our own top-class facilities here at home.
The Ski Club of Ireland is located in Kilternan, about 40 minutes’ drive south of the city centre. It features four artificial outdoor slopes ranging from nursery slopes to a 180-metre slope. The club caters for skiers and snowboarders of all disciplines. Lessons are available from €50 per person, with discounts offered for groups and students. The club is also connected to the City Centre by the 44 bus, which stops at its gate. Find out more here.
If you have (understandable) issues trusting the Irish weather, then the Ski Centre in Sandyford, on the green Luas line, might be more to your liking. This indoor centre doesn’t have slopes but instead you can ski or snowboard on ‘revolving slopes’; they’re essentially slanted conveyor belts that whizz under your feet while you stay in the same spot. Initially, it’s strange sensation but becomes addictive very quickly, and requires the same skills as real slopes. As with the Ski Club, the Ski Centre caters for skiers and snowboarders of all disciplines, with lessons starting from €49. More info available here.
Croke Park is one of the biggest sources of national pride for the Irish, along with Guinness, Pierce Brosnan and Enya. The stadium, located just a 15-minute walk from Dublin’s O’Connell Street, has a capacity of more than 82,000, making ‘Croker’ the third-largest stadium in Europe.
Matches at Croker
Most notable about the stadium, is that it doesn’t generally host soccer or rugby matches. It’s the headquarters of Ireland’s Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), and hosts Gaelic football and hurling, Ireland’s national sports, the latter of which has been described as ‘a cross between hockey and murder’.
Visit the Croke Park website to see which matches are happening when you’re in Dublin. Tickets can then be bought online or right at the stadium’s turnstiles. Despite its huge capacity, tickets for important matches can be tough to source. However, seeing even minor games will be an experience to remember.
Music at Croker
Second to Croke Park’s main function as a sports stadium is its use as a concert venue a handful of nights a year. In the past, it’s hosted sold-out gigs by U2, Bon Jovi, One Direction and Bruce Springsteen. Visit Crokepark.ie before your arrival and a superstar may just be putting on a show for your visit to Dublin.
Education at Croker
The stadium also contains a museum dedicated to the history of the GAA, as well as the Etihad Skyline, a walkway on the stadium’s roof which gives stunning views of the city from 17 stories up. Access to the museum is €6.50 (€5.50 for students) while the Etihad Skyline costs €20 (€18 for students).
Dublin is one of Europe’s few capitals located on the sea, making the Irish Sea very much part of the identity of the city. For visitors, this means a great choice selection of water-based activities for the tame and the thrill-seekers.
One such option is Surfdock, based in Grand Canal Dock, fifteen minutes’ walk from Temple Bar. For groups of 10 or more, Surfdock offers two hours of mixed activities including kayaking, windsurfing or sailing from €30 per person. If your group is looking for something a little faster, try a wakeboarding, paddleboarding and kayaking package from €45 per person. This is sure to shake off the cobwebs of a rough night.
Dublin does quirky very well and there’s sure to be a tour to cater to you and your mates’ needs.
Viking Splash Tours
You won’t have spent long in Dublin before you have a bus load of tourists in Viking hats roll up silently behind you in a weird yellow vehicle in order to roar at you, scaring you straight. That is the sound of the Viking Splash Tour and if you can’t beat them, join them. This amphibious tour takes in many important Dublin streets before plonking into the water at Grand Canal Dock. Tours in converted military DUKW vehicles—two of which were allegedly involved in the D-Day landings—set off a few times daily from Stephens Green. Tickets are €22 for an adult, with group and student discounts plus options to rent the entire vehicle. A full schedule of tour times and more info can be found here.
Ghost Bus Tour
This bus tour is loved by tourists and Dubliners alike. Taking place on a blacked-out double-decker bus, pimped out with spooky Victorian interiors, this 2 1/4 tour takes in some of Dublin’s spookiest locations, including crypts and cemeteries, with theatrical commentary delivered by trained actors. Ghost Bus Tours run from O’Connell Street on Tuesday and Thursday at 8pm and Friday and Saturday at 6:45pm and 9pm with tickets starting from €28. Visit here for full details.
Guinness is a huge part of Irish history and modern Dublin life and this museum chronicles this important fact—and it’s a lot of fun. Besides, if you plan on spending a weekend enjoying the black stuff in the city, it can be satisfying knowing the story behind your drink.
With stimulating displays set over five floors, the museum takes visitors through the brewing process of this unique drink, its fascinating history and the ways in which it’s left its mark on Dublin and the world. Most memorable for most, though, is enjoying a free pint in the Gravity Bar up on the 7th floor, with nearly 360 degrees of floor-to-ceiling windows offering an unrivalled view of the city.
For the best ticket prices and to avoid queuing outside the building and around the corner, visit the Guinness Storehouse website. (Adult/Student price €18 online).
Where to stay?
Generator Hostel Dublin
Part of the much-respected Generator Hostel chain, this stylish and contemporary offering is in Dublin’s up-and-coming Smithfield, a fifteen minute walk from the Guinness Storehouse and Dublin’s outdoor Shangri La, the Phoenix Park.
If you plan on some U2-related tourism while in Dublin (Trust us, it’s a thing) then make Sky Backpackers your base. This bright hostel is situated in a former recording studio which was used by Bono and co, along with other Irish legends Sinead O’Connor and Van Morrison, something that’s reflected in its arty interior design. It’s conveniently located just off Henry Street, one of the City’s main shopping streets, and a short walk from the bus stops to and from the airport on O’Connell Street.
The Times Hostel
This lively hostel is situated just off Camden Street, where you’re much more likely to end up partying with locals than you would be in Temple Bar. If you plan on catching a gig in celebrated venue Whelan’s or dancing until the small hours at the notorious Coppers, then this is your place. The hostel also hosts some great free themed nights on given days of the week from ice cream parties, to wine & cheese nights to free dinner night on Wednesdays.
Want to make a booking for your group? Our dedicated Group Travel Department are here to help, from the moment you place your enquiry through to booking your accommodation. Book with us over on our Groups page!