A fun, interactive museum to visit while in Dublin is Dublinia, where your kids can experience what life was like on the Emerald Isle during Viking and Medieval times. From walking down a Viking street to participating in a Medieval fair’s games, this museum immerses kids and adults in Dublin’s past. It’s a must-see attraction for families visiting Dublin!
The museum is located in a building that is attached to the massive Christ Church Cathedral, which was founded as a Viking church in 1028. Your tour of Dublinia will actually end in the cathedral and you can purchase a combination ticket to tour it as well. Due to the museum’s popularity, I recommend that you purchase tickets in advance here.
Your visit will start in Viking Dublin, where your kids will learn how the Vikings came to Dublin in the 9th century.
There are many hands-on activities for kids, including trying on Viking clothes, and interpreters at various stations. The interpreters are all in costume and are very knowledgeable about Vikings so be sure to ask lots of questions! We learned from an interpreter all about the Norse gods and how the Vikings worshipped.
We saw the Viking camps and how they built the fortified camp of Dubh-linn (present day Dublin) into a busy settlement.
There are many rooms to explore and kids will have fun learning about these fierce invaders. We enjoyed walking down a Viking street, hearing the sounds of daily life and seeing the Viking homes.
Our kids thought that learning about the Viking bathrooms was hilarious!
Note that the rooms are small and a bit cramped. Strollers are allowed but the pathways may be a bit challenging. It is easy for little ones to run ahead into a different room so be sure to hold on tight to your child’s hand!
After you get your fill of Viking-era Dublin, head upstairs to learn about Medieval Dublin, the time period after Dublin was captured by the Anglo-Normans in 1170. My favorite part about this exhibit was the large scale model of how Dublin would have looked in the 15th century. It is fun to look at where your hotel is now located and see what it would have been back in medieval times.
My son’s favorite part was to explore the medieval fair and try his hand at games and activities.
He also loved sitting in the stocks with this poor unfortunate Dublin citizen.
You can walk down a medieval street and learn more about the Black Death (bubonic plague) that killed an estimated 14,000 in Dublin.
There is also a typical medieval house to explore.
Seeing the narrow streets and living conditions, you can easily imagine how the terrible plague spread. The exhibits do a great job of explaining this difficult subject to little ones.
You will end your tour at St. Michael’s Tower, a 17th century viewing tower that is now part of the museum. It belonged to the church of St Michael’s Tower the Archangel, which once stood on this site. It is a long climb of 96 stairs but the view is worth the pain! On a clear day, you can see the black hills of the Wicklow Mountains to the south.
You will exit through the great gift shop so don’t miss buying your little one a Viking helmet! As you exit across the pedestrian bridge into the Christ Church Cathedral, you can explore the cathedral if you purchased the combination ticket. Even if you don’t enter, you will be able to see the awe-inspiring nave as you exit.
Dublinia is a fun and entertaining way for kids to learn more about this dark part of Ireland’s past. Through the many interactive exhibits, children can have a better understanding of what life in Ireland was like. It’s a great way to fit in some fun history into a vacation!
- Cost: 10EUR/adult; 6.50EUR/child. Included in Dublin Pass.
- Recommended: all ages
- Allow 1-1 ½ hours to tour the museum
- Gift shop and coffee shop located onsite
- Transportation: Dublinia is a 20 minute walk from Dublin’s city center. It is also easily accessible from several forms of public transportation – Dublin Bus and Luas light rail.
- Dining options nearby: I highly recommend eating at Brazen Head, Ireland’s oldest pub dating back to 1198. It is a short walk from Dublinia and its atmosphere is lively! The Temple Bar area of Dublin, full of restaurants and cafes, is also a short walk away. This area is only recommended for families at lunchtime as evenings in Temple Bar can be a bit rowdy!
- Nearby hotels: See my Dublin review for ideas!
- Nearby attractions include: St. Audoen’s Church (we had a lovely visit here – don’t miss the children’s corner in the church and the little musical park/playground beside it), Christ Church Cathedral, a piece of the old Dublin City Wall, Dublin Castle (you can see the gardens, where the original Dubh-linn pool was located, without a ticket), Chester Beatty library, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Books to Read:
- 14 and up:
- How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe
- In Search of Ancient Ireland: The Origins of the Irish from Neolithic Times to the Coming of the English
- The Dublin Saga (The Princes of Ireland and The Rebels of Ireland by Edward Rutherfurd (for older teens)
- 10 and up:
- Horrible Histories Gruesome Guides: Dublin
- Horrible Histories: Ireland
- The History of Ireland
- Historopedia: The Story of Ireland From Then Until Now
- Vikings: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #15: Viking Ships at Sunrise
- DK Eyewitness Books: Viking: Discover the Story of the Vikings Their Ships, Weapons, Legends, and Saga of War
- You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Viking Explorer!
- 6 and up:
Have you visited any other Viking-related museums? Comment below!