Spending time exploring the streets, pubs and rich cultural sites are some of the best things to do in Dublin Ireland.
Ireland’s capital city has great public transportation for getting around, a never ending sea of pubs and plenty of museums and cultural sites to fill out rainy days which aren’t uncommon for the Emerald Isle.
If you’re not planning to rent a car and get out into the Irish countryside yourself, there are plenty of tour options originating from Dublin as well which make it the perfect jumping off point for exploring more of the island.
After spending a few days in the capital city of Dublin Ireland, I’m excited to share with you some of my favorite things that we were able to experience.
In this post I’m going to cover some of the best things to do in Dublin. Along the way I’ll also offer up a number of travel tips I wish I would’ve known before visiting!
Table of Contents
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Where is Dublin located?
Dublin is the capital city of Ireland and is located on the east coast of the country, along the River Liffey. The city is situated in the province of Leinster and is the largest city in Ireland, with a rich history and diverse cultural scene. Dublin serves as a gateway to the rest of the country and is where the vast majority of visitors will begin their travels across the country.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Dublin Ireland, but don’t forget that Ireland is best experienced by road tripping the country and taking in the island’s natural beauty. You’ll need to rent a car to get the most out of your trip and during peak summer travel season prices can spike if you wait too long to make a reservation.
Be sure to use a rental car price comparison tool when planning your logistics between stops. If you’re looking for ideas on where else to go during your trip consider a road trip to the Dingle Peninsula or reviewing my list of the most beautiful Irish landscapes for inspiration.
Where is the best area to stay when visiting Dublin Ireland?
While everyone’s individual tastes will differ, I’d suggest seeking accommodations near Dublin’s City Centre. This will ensure you’re in close proximity to the majority of the towns cultural sites and perhaps most importantly, walking distance to the Temple Bar area.
If you’re looking for something that’s centrally located, but at a slightly budget friendlier price range, I’d suggest staying near The Point Village. The Point is located on the eastern edge of the River Liffey near Dublin Port.
This is the area we stayed during our trip and the streetcar system made it quick and easy to get over to the Temple Bar and City Centre areas.
What to expect when visiting Dublin Ireland?
Despite being a major European capital city, Dublin never really felt touristy to me. Even though there are plenty of historic cathedrals, museums and cultural sites to gawk at and take photos of, Dublin Ireland feels more like a huge college town rather than a tourist destination.
That’s great news because one of the best ways to pass time in Dublin is by exploring the endless sea of pubs where the Guinness flows freely and everyone just seems to be looking to have a good time!
Not only are there tons of pubs to bounce between, but they’re almost guaranteed to have live music in the evenings. I would even venture to say there’s enough live music being played in Dublin on a Friday night to give Nashville a run for its money.
While Dublin itself is a bit sprawling, most of the cultural sites and places where you’ll want to spend your time are located within a quick tram ride of the city center.
We kept our rental car with us from our road trip around the island, but for the most part it wasn’t necessary. Parking around town is a bit of a cluster and it didn’t really come in handy other than for exploring Phoenix Park.
When booking your hotel, just make sure it’s near a tram (known as the Luis) stop and you’ll be set!
Explore the Temple Bar area of Dublin Ireland
The Temple Bar area is a vibrant and lively part of Dublin Ireland, known for its cobbled streets, colorful buildings, and late night party atmosphere. This neighborhood is packed with energy, boasting a variety of traditional Irish pubs, live music venues, and restaurants.
If you hope to grab a drink at the namesake Temple Bar itself, be prepared to arrive early in the evening or wait in long lines to get in. But don’t fear, there are tons of pubs and bars in this area so you can easily stumble into plenty of old time Irish establishments serving cold Guinness and hosting live music!
Check out Trinity College Dublin
Trinity College is Ireland’s oldest and most prestigious university, founded in 1592 during the rule of Queen Elizabeth I. A visit to this historic campus allows you to admire its stunning architecture, beautiful courtyards, and picturesque gardens.
There are a number of tour options available through third parties and Trinity College that can provide background on all of the campus’s buildings and rich history. The most popular portion of the University is the Old Library which is also home to the next item on this guide.
See the Book of Kells and Long Room
The Book of Kells, considered one of Ireland’s greatest cultural treasures, is an illuminated manuscript dating back to the 9th century. It is housed in the Old Library at Trinity College and is a must-see for anyone interested in art, history, or Irish culture.
The manuscript contains the four Gospels of the New Testament, and is renowned for its intricate and ornate design.
Upon entering the Old Library you’ll be directed to a museum exhibit that eventually leads to the Book of Kells. You can’t photograph the book itself and it’s held in an extremely dark room to better preserve its contents.
After seeing the book you’ll have an opportunity to explore the Long Room which I suspect is the most photographed place on Trinity College’s campus. I did my best to snap a photo that captured the magnitude of the room, but I found it difficult given the hoards of visitors and lack of lighting through much of the space.
Seeing the Long Room was my favorite part of visiting Trinity College so don’t skip out on that part!
Stroll across Ha’Penny Bridge
Ha’Penny Bridge is one of Dublin Ireland’s most iconic landmarks, spanning the River Liffey and connecting the north and south sides of the city. Built in 1816, the once called Wellington Bridge later got its name from the half-penny toll that was once charged for crossing it.
Today the Ha’Penny Bridge still serves as one of the primary pedestrian routes for crossing the Liffey into the Temple Bar area of Dublin. After visiting Dublin myself I must say it’s nearly impossible to explore the city without crossing Ha’Penny Bridge at least a few times!
Take a tour of the Guinness Storehouse
The Guinness Storehouse, located in the heart of Dublin Ireland at St. James’s Gate, is a must-visit attraction for beer lovers and those interested in the history of Ireland’s most famous beverage.
The interactive, seven-story museum takes you on a journey through the brewing process, the history of Guinness, and its impact on Irish culture. At the end of the tour, you can enjoy a complimentary pint of Guinness at the Gravity Bar, which offers stunning panoramic views of the city.
You can book your Guinness Storehouse experience with a larger tour group or buy your ticket directly from Guinness. This is a great way to kick off your evening before heading out for a night out in the Temple Bar area!
As a pro tip – the storehouse has great on-site dining options so consider showing up hungry with time to catch a meal here.
Visit the Jameson Distillery for a tasting
A visit to the Jameson Distillery at Bow Street offers a unique insight into the world of Irish whiskey and the history of the Jameson brand. The distillery dates back to 1780 and offers guided tours that take you through the whiskey-making process, from grain to glass.
The distillery offers a variety of tasting options that will fit different budgets. Just be sure to book your ticket in advance since these tastings do sell out. Consider making new friends with a group tasting or purchase your ticket directly from Jameson.
Experience the Glasnevin Cemetery
Glasnevin Cemetery is an important historical site in Dublin Ireland, serving as the final resting place for many of Ireland’s notable figures, including political leaders, writers, and revolutionaries.
The cemetery also houses the O’Connell Tower, a 55 meter (180 ft) tall monument dedicated to Daniel O’Connell, a 19th-century Irish political leader.
Guided tours of the cemetery can be booked directly with Glasnevin at their website.
Alternatively you can grab a parking spot across the street and explore the beautiful cemetery grounds by yourself like I did. Once you’re finished, be sure to pop into the cemetery cafe to grab a coffee or a light snack!
Explore the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland
The National Botanic Gardens, located near the Glasnevin Cemetery of Dublin Ireland, is a lush oasis showcasing a diverse collection plant species from around the world.
Weather in Dublin can be unpredictable but if you visit during the shoulder or summer seasons then you should have some windows of sunshine. Visiting the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland are great way to spend an afternoon outdoors taking in the cool Irish summers while enjoying one of Dublin’s most perfectly manicured green spaces.
Hang out in St. Stephen’s Green
St. Stephen’s Green is a picturesque, 22-acre public park located in the heart of Dublin Ireland. A visit to the park offers a peaceful retreat from the busy city streets, with its manicured lawns, geese filled ponds, and tree-lined pathways.
The park features several monuments and sculptures, including a memorial to the victims of the Great Famine and a statue of Irish poet W.B. Yeats. St. Stephen’s Green is a popular spot for locals to hangout during the warmer summer months and when I visited was quite busy in the early evening.
Walk through Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle, located in the heart of the city, is an iconic landmark rich in cultural history and architectural beauty dating back to the 13th century.
Today, the castle is open to the public, offering guided tours that take you through its stunning State Apartments, medieval undercroft, and the beautiful Chapel Royal.
While you can pay to enter the castle and enjoy a guided tour, the castle grounds and garden are free and open to the public. If touring the interior with a guide doesn’t have a place in your itinerary, be sure to at least stroll through the castle garden when passing through the area.
Have fish and chips at Leo Burdock’s
Leo Burdock’s is a legendary Dublin Ireland institution serving up delicious, traditional fish and chips since 1913. Known as Dublin’s oldest chipper, they’ve now been serving up this Irish staple for over a century!
As a heads up, at the original location you’ll have to take your food to go so don’t anticipate dining in. However, certain locations around Dublin do offer indoor seating. It makes for a great lunch option on the go during a busier day spent sightseeing.
Whenever a restaurant, or any business for that matter, has been operating for over a century it usually means they’re doing something right.
Check out St. Patrick’s Cathedral
I’ve found that a common denominator when exploring major European capital cities is that they usually have at least one cathedral worth visiting. When visiting Dublin Ireland, that cathedral is known as St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Founded in 1191 the church is dedicated to Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick. It’s where he’s believed to have baptized Christian converts in the 5th century and today visitors flock to take in views of the beautiful Gothic architecture and immaculately decorated interior.
Views from the courtyard area of the cathedral are free, but if you want to explore the interior you’ll need to pay a small fee as you enter.
Shop at George’s Street Arcade
George’s Street Arcade, located in the heart of Dublin Ireland, is a historic Victorian-style indoor market that dates back to 1881. The market is home to a diverse range of independent shops, stalls, and eateries, offering everything from vintage clothing and handmade jewelry to food and unique souvenirs.
The market can become quite busy and congested on the weekends and later in the day. I’d suggest arriving here first thing in the morning while the stalls are just opening so you can avoid the hoards of tourists while you search for that perfect souvenir.
See the Spire of Dublin Ireland
The Spire of Dublin, also known as the Monument of Light, is a modern landmark located on O’Connell Street in the heart of Dublin Ireland. The spire stands at an impressive 120 meters (393 feet) tall and has become an iconic symbol of Dublin since its completion in 2003.
The area surrounding The Spire is one of the busiest pedestrian areas in Dublin. The streets that cross O’Connell Street are packed with bars, shops and restaurants. While you can take in views of The Spire relatively quickly, be sure to spend some additional time exploring the surrounding neighborhoods.
Visit Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral, founded in 1030, is one of Dublin Ireland’s oldest and most significant religious buildings, with a rich history and stunning medieval architecture. The cathedral predates St. Patrick’s Cathedral by a mind blowing 161 years and is nearly a millennium old!
You can purchase tickets that include an audio guide to explore Christ Church Cathedral here. If you’re interested in attending a service or event at the church I’d suggest visiting their official website.
Explore Phoenix Park
Phoenix Park is located just 2 miles (3.2 km) from Dublin Ireland’s city center and teleports travelers from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Dublin to a peaceful green space that feels much further removed from the city than you actually are.
The sprawling green space is a favorite amongst locals for cycling, jogging and other outdoor activities. The park is home to a number of important Dublin cultural sites including the Dublin Zoo, Wellington Monument and the official residence of the President of Ireland.
During my visit I took a stroll through the park to check out several of the monuments and buildings located throughout the park. Just be mindful that the park is massive, so if you want to see everything you’ll either need a car or bicycle to get around!
Tour the Kilmainham Gaol Prison
Located just south of Phoenix Park you’ll find a former prison turned museum in Kilmainham Gaol. Here you can learn about Ireland’s history and struggle for independence.
Visitors can book guided tours of Kilmainham Gaol which will lead them through its eerie corridors, cramped prison cells and the Stonebreakers Yard where several leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were executed.
The museum’s exhibits showcase the stories of the men, women, and children who were imprisoned there, providing a powerful and moving experience for visitors.
Take a day trip outside of Dublin Ireland
While Dublin is a fun and exciting city, a day trip outside the city allows you to explore the stunning natural beauty and rich history that Ireland has to offer.
The most popular day trip option from Dublin is to head west and see the Cliffs of Moher. While I’d suggest renting your own vehicle and making this journey yourself, plan B should be booking a guided tour from Dublin to visit the cliffs.
Another popular day trip option from Dublin is to head into Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and visit the Giant’s Causeway, Dark Hedges or Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. Again, I’d suggest renting your own vehicle and undertaking this road trip your self. But if that isn’t an option, a guided tour from Dublin to the Giant’s Causeway will certainly suffice.
To experience Ireland’s most beautiful landscapes you’ll have to get outside of the city center!
Spend an afternoon at the National Gallery of Ireland
Dublin Ireland is home to several world-class museums and galleries, providing a wealth of cultural experiences for visitors to enjoy. Don’t sleep on the city’s museums, especially since they make for great activities to fill out rainy days which aren’t uncommon.
The National Gallery of Ireland, located on Merrion Square, boasts an impressive collection of Irish and European art. The museum features works by renowned artists such as Caravaggio, Vermeer, and Yeats.
How many days should I spend in Dublin Ireland?
Excluding day trips outside of the city, I would look to spend three days and nights visiting Dublin Ireland. This should provide you with enough time to see all of the major historic sites, museums and cultural experiences.
If you don’t plan to drive outside of Dublin yourself, I would consider tacking on another one or two days to your stay. This additional time will allow you the opportunity to take guided tours to the Cliffs of Moher, Giant’s Causeway or elsewhere in Ireland
Dublin is great, but if you never leave the Irish capital then you’ve done yourself a huge disservice and missed out on the best that the Emerald Isle has to offer.
Is credit card accepted in Dublin Ireland?
Yes, credit cards are widely accepted in Dublin and across all of Ireland. Most hotels, restaurants, shops, and attractions accept major credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard.
American Express is always hit or miss in Europe and I didn’t really try using mine during this trip.
While it’s never a bad idea to keep some emergency cash on you, I went a full ten days traveling across Ireland without ever needing to pay for something in cash.
What is the best time of year to visit Dublin Ireland?
The best time of year to visit Dublin Ireland is during the summer and shoulder months, from April to September. During this time, the weather is generally warmer, the days are longer and there’s less rain.
Not only is this the best time of year to visit Dublin, but it’s also the best time for exploring the rest of Ireland. I planned my trip during the last week of May into the first week of June and we were lucky enough to avoid seeing a single drop of rain over a span of ten days!
One of Ireland’s best kept secrets are the beautiful beaches so make sure you hit at least one during your visit.
The most beautiful beach we encountered during our trip was Dog’s Bay Beach. It’s located in western Ireland and we stopped here a day after climbing Croagh Patrick near Westport. Be sure to check it out as well.
Another activity well suited for summer travel is landing on Skellig Michael Island. You can hike to the top of this remote island where you’ll find puffins, thousands of other seabirds and ruins from an ancient Irish settlement.
Check out these activities available in the area
Looking for more ways to fill out your trip itinerary? Be sure to check out the list of activities below from GetYourGuide.
Is visiting Dublin Ireland worth it?
I really enjoyed my visit to Dublin Ireland and would encourage other travelers to spend two or three days here during their trip to Ireland. There’s enough to do in the city to easily fill out three days exploring, and this guide should help you do just that.
My favorite activity to do in Dublin Ireland was hopping around to a few different pubs in the evening, drinking Guinness and enjoying live music with an upbeat Irish twang. I can’t wait to return in the future so I can enjoy the energy of Temple Bar again.
If you need help planning your trip to Ireland don’t forget to check out some of my featured travel guides. I have a dedicated post highlighting my favorite cheap flight booking hacks along with a guide covering tips for planning a trip abroad.
These are some of the places featured in my compilation of beautiful Irish landscapes video on YouTube and you’ll even encounter a roadside waterfall if you know where to look when heading to Slieve League!
Hopefully this post covering the best things to do in Dublin highlighted some activities you plan to incorporate into your travels.