Dublin is a real joy to explore, whether on foot or by wheelchair. Although some street crossings are rougher than others, the sidewalks at intersections in the main downtown and tourist areas all have dropped curbs, and even with the extensive tram line construction going on, I could get anywhere I needed to in the city. Here are some wheelchair accessible must-sees in the Irish capital.
1. The National Galleries of Ireland – Art and Archaeology. There are actually four galleries, and I didn’t include the decorative arts or natural history buildings because those two lack good accessibility. The art museum in Dublin isn’t very large, but they have an excellent selection of European Impressionist work from 1850-1950, and while I was there they had a fantastic Caravaggio exhibition. The archaeology museum is in a beautiful historic building, and is very easy to navigate with a mobility aid.
2. Henry Street and Grafton Street. Both of these streets are pedestrian areas only, and are filled with restaurants and shops—most of which, fortunately, have a flat entry. The only downside to exploring these fun areas is that they can get very crowded, so you will need to dodge busy pedestrians, many of which aren’t paying close attention to where they’re going. Many of the cafes and pubs that don’t have flat entries do have outdoor seating, which is just as enjoyable if the weather is favorable.
3. Temple Bar and The Medieval District. Some of the sidewalks and roads in this part of Dublin can be rough because of the cobblestones. It is also the part of town with the most hills, so know this before you go. That being said, the sidewalks have dropped curbs and you don’t want to miss the beautiful architecture of the various cathedrals, City Hall, and the colorful vibe of all the eateries and pubs in the lively Temple Bar area. I would recommend exploring during the day, as Temple Bar gets even more jam packed with tourists in the evenings.
4. Trinity College and the Book of Kells. Trinity College is a historic part of the University of Dublin, and home to a centuries-old illuminated book containing the four gospels of the New Testament. The line to get into the Book of Kells exhibit is usually pretty long, so I would recommend buying the tickets online to ensure a much quicker entry. The exhibit area can get quite crowded, but one of the security people will guide you to the lifts for the upper exhibit area, and also to reach the Long Hall. Be prepared for a jaw-dropping experience in this library!
5. The Guinness Brewery. You may hear that this museum and brewery tour is overrated, but don’t listen. It’s fantastic! Like many other museums in Dublin, it will be crowded, but the multimedia displays and history of this famous Irish beer are laid out beautifully over several floors, easily accessible via multiple elevators. Make sure you don’t miss The Guinness Academy, which has a room with a lowered tap just for wheelchair users who want to learn to pour the perfect pint!
6. The Irish Whiskey Museum. This doesn’t look like much based on its small alley-like entrance, but inside are three floors of beautiful multimedia exhibits detailing the fascinating—and extremely amusing—history of whiskey in Ireland. Our tour guide was easily one of the most entertaining I’ve ever had, which is appropriate considering that The Flaming Pig brand of whiskey was named after a historical event in 1875; it’s the kind of story you just can’t make up. At the end of the tour, you will also have the chance to taste several kinds of Irish whiskey.
7. Merrion Square. Right down the street from the National Galleries is a beautiful city park containing gorgeous flowers, open green spaces, and the amusing Oscar Wilde memorial. It’s the perfect space to slowly wander and just relax for a spell during a busy day of sightseeing. On the weekends, local artists display their paintings and drawings on the fences of the park, many of which are quite good and very reasonably priced.
8. Malahide Castle. This beautiful castle is only about 12 kilometers outside of Dublin, and we visited as part of an accessible day tour. It belonged to the Talbot family for 800 years, and has a very interesting history. The two lower floors of the castle are accessible by elevator, and the gardens around the castle are also accessible with either paved or hard-packed gravel paths. For those who can’t get to the bedrooms on the top level, the tour guide provides a booklet with photos of the rooms and historical details.
9. Murray’s Bar and Grill. Normally I don’t recommend one restaurant over another because everyone has their own tastes. However, my best friend (who was traveling with me on this trip) and I went to Murray’s twice because they have live traditional Irish folk music and an Irish dance show (in the style of Riverdance) every night. It’s a busy and fun crowd, with patrons from every country you can imagine. The restaurant has a flat entry and there is an accessible bathroom just off the main dining area; the very friendly staff can guide you. Definitely make a reservation (a few hours is enough notice) and let them know there’s a wheelchair user in your party; they will take good care of you and make sure you have a good view of the stage.