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Things to do in Dublin
Table of Contents
- Best Things to Do in Dublin
- Best Hotels in Dublin
- Best Restaurants in Dublin
- Day Trips from Dublin
- 3 Final Tips
Things to do in Dublin Ireland
Dublin, Ireland is a fantastic choice for travelers to visit due to its rich history, striking architecture, delicious food, lively music, and overall welcoming vibe.
Ireland’s capital city is also an ideal location in which to begin (or close out) any additional Ireland road trips you may be planning while visiting the Emerald Isle. With its relatively flat terrain, Dublin is perfect for walking with most of the attractions and restaurants located near the major hotels.
As far as the people, Ireland is one of the friendliest and most welcoming countries I’ve ever visited, and even though Dublin is Ireland’s largest city, it’s no exception to Ireland’s smiling charm.
All of Ireland tends to be windy and cloudy, but the climate here stays fairly steady. The best seasons to visit are Spring, Summer, & Fall, but Winter isn’t too bad either since it’s rare that it snows or freezes.
The one item you’ll definitely need is an umbrella, preferably a small but strong one that you can easily carry with you since rain can pour at any moment.
Best Things to Do in Dublin
The Guinness Storehouse
"Located in the heart of the St. James's Gate Brewery, the Guinness Storehouse is Ireland's most popular tourist attraction. It's the home of the Black Stuff, the heart of Dublin and an unforgettable start to your Irish adventure. The journey begins at the bottom of the world's largest pint glass and continues up through seven floors filled with interactive experiences that fuse our long brewing heritage with Ireland's rich history. At the top you'll be rewarded with a pint of perfection in our world-famous rooftop Gravity Bar. Now that's our kind of higher education." | Guinness-Storehouse.com
Get ready for a 7 story tribute to all things GUINNESS. But also get ready to share that tribute with loads of other people. The Guinness Storehouse is Dublin’s most popular attraction, so be sure to reserve your tickets in advance online.
Due to how large the facility is with its various exhibits, touring the Guinness Storehouse from start to finish can be truly overwhelming and even disorienting, which is why I recommend reserving the CONNOISSEUR EXPERIENCE. It’s the only “Premium Experience” that’s offered but it is well worth the extra cost.
Not only do you learn (and practice) how to correctly pull the Guinness from a tap, but you can also count yourself a member among an elite few. Only 60 out of every 5000 visitors on average get to have this experience.
Plus, you get to taste original Guinness, and the variations of Guinness distributed around the world. Without this tour, I most likely would never have discovered Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, which is now my go-to favorite of the brand.
While you’re tasting in the cozy quiet space, the guide tells the story of Guinness, delving deeper into its origins and how and why its taste has evolved through the years.
At the end of the 3-hour experience, each participant is invited behind the bar to pour a proper Guinness. Once you pass, (and I’m fairly certain no one fails), you receive a certification declaring your Guinness pint-pouring proficiency.
But even if you don’t get to reserve the Connoisseur Experience or it’s a little too pricey, the Guinness Storehouse regular admission tour is a one-stop-shop for history, fun, and family-friendly interactive experiences, dining, and, of course, Guinness tasting.
*Note: You can only enter the 7th-floor 360° observatory of Dublin Gravity Bar if you are partaking in the Guinness Storehouse tour. Your tour ticket gives you entry to the Gravity Bar where you will be able to enjoy an included drink, which can be a pint of Guinness, one of their other beers, Guinness 0.0 (over 18s only), or another non-alcoholic drink.
The Jameson Bow Street Distillery
"Founded by John Jameson in 1780, today the former factory stands as a monument to Irish Whiskey. Visit Jameson Distillery Dublin for the World’s leading distillery tours, cocktail-making classes, premium whiskey tasting sessions or to learn how to blend your own whiskey. All topped off with a Jameson at our centrepiece bar, straight from the proverbial source." JamesonWhiskey.com
Currently, Jameson Distillery in Dublin offers 5 different experiences. In the “Whiskey Blending Master Class,” you create your own blend to take home while also experiencing a cask draw and tasting in Dublin’s only live maturation house.
If you prefer to discover more about the history of Jameson and taste 4 premium Jameson blends (2 of which are only available at the Distillery, then the “Secret Whiskey Tasting” might be the one for you. If you don’t like the idea of sipping whiskey straight, then the “Whiskey Cocktail Making Class” should be a better fit.
There’s the regular tour of course, which covers the basics of how Jameson is made along with a comparative whiskey taste and a complimentary beverage in the bar at the end.
While I didn’t try the “Whiskey Cocktail Making Class,” I did go on the regular “Distillery Tour” and also signed up for the “Whiskey Blending Class.” The extra cost is worth it for the blending class. Informative, entertaining, tasty, and exclusive (like an adult chemistry class).
*Note: If you reserve the “Whiskey Blending Class,” there’s no real need to also go on the regular “Distillery Tour” because much of the same information is covered.
To explore which tour is right for your time and tastes, click the link below:
St Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Cathedral was built in the 12th century on the site of a well that many believed to have been used by St Patrick himself. The original church was wooden, but the new structure was built using local limestone and stones imported from Bristol.
Like many European cathedrals built in the gothic style, St Patrick’s is constructed in the shape of a cross. The church has had many additions and restorations through the years, most notably funded by the Guinness family, making it the largest cathedral in Ireland and a place of worship for over 800 years.
If you’d like to visit the church, you can purchase a ticket that gives you a self-guided tour of the cathedral helping you better understand its history, symbolic significance, and architectural features.
Christ’s Church Cathedral
Smaller than St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Christ’s Church Cathedral is actually older. Originally a Viking church, the cathedral has been presiding over the heart of Dublin for almost 1000 years.
The architecture is a mix of gothic arches and romanesque carvings, but one of its primary attractions is its 12th-century crypt, the largest in Ireland where several knights and bishops are laid to rest. The bell tower is also the oldest in all of Ireland, and the church is also home to a rare copy of the Magna Carta.
You can purchase a self-guided audio tour of the church, and some tickets include combo access to the Dublinia museum across the street which delves into Dublin’s origins and Viking connections.
Dublinia: Medieval & Viking Museum
"Dublin’s history stretches back over a millennium. Back in the fourth century, the first known settlement here was built in the Cornmarket area of the city centre. It was called Áth Cliath – which means ‘Hurdled Fort’ and continues to inspire the modern Irish translation today. Since then, the city has seen many different settlers and undergone many changes. Around the sixth century, a monastery named Duiblinn – which is Irish for ‘blackpool’ – was founded. This is where the Vikings eventually arrived in the year 841." Dublin.ie
Located across the street from Christ’s Church Cathedral, Dublinia is a fun, interactive museum with ever-changing exhibits featuring Dublin’s Viking origins and what culture and daily life were like in medieval Ireland.
At the end of your visit, if your legs aren’t too tired, climb the 96 steps up St. Michael’s Tower to take in the sweeping views of Dublin.
Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, Trinity College is Ireland’s oldest university, and it’s located in the heart of Dublin.
The campus is steeped in history, and even though you’re not a student, visitors can take in the history of the university by touring the Chapel and especially the “Long Room” of the Old Library, which looks like something straight out of a Harry Potter film. Here you’ll find 200,000 of Trinity College’s most ancient books in a library that has been functioning since 1732.
You can view The Book of Kells in the Old Library, a 1200-year-old illuminated manuscript considered one of Ireland’s greatest cultural treasures. Created by Celtic monks around 800 A.D., the book is one of the best examples of medieval art.
This 13th-century castle has served as the seat of power in Ireland for centuries. Today, visitors can take a guided tour of the castle and explore the beautiful grounds.
The tour takes you from the excavation site of Viking and medieval Dublin to the Gothic Chapel Royal and finally to the former viceregal State Apartments where many artifacts and historic furniture and decor are on display.
Things to do in Dublin
Dublin Shopping & Nightlife
Known for being one of Europe’s busiest shopping streets, Grafton Street is entertaining whether or not you end up buying anything. There’s a little bit of everything offered on this pedestrianized street (no cars allowed) spanning the distance between Trinity College and St. Stephen’s Green.
The shops range from designer to local arts and the street is also known for its buskers, street performers who sing or play an instrument. There are plenty of cafes, coffee shops, restaurants, and pubs to fit whatever mood you’re in as well.
Is it a district? Is it a pub? Temple Bar is actually both. It’s one of Dublin’s liveliest and most entertaining streets with a fun mix of traditional and modern music buzzing from the pubs with the large, cherry-red Temple Bar Pub at its heart.
The Temple Bar area (and the pub) get really busy and since most places don’t accept reservations, it’s a first come first serve system.
However, there is one hidden gem in the heart of Temple Bar that does allow you to book in advance: The Vintage Cocktail Club.
Tucked away behind a discreet doorway in Dublin’s Temple Bar, Vintage Cocktail Club is a time warp to the golden age of speakeasies, aviators, silent move starlets and the like. The 1920s-style clandestine bar serves up an extensive menu of spirits and specially crafted, award winning cocktails using the finest seasonal ingredients, as well as a menu of delectable bites. Come ring our doorbell, take a seat and allow us to indulge your every cocktail whim and feed your hungry bellies. Settle in for a night of seasonal tipples with raucous yet refined debauchery. Forget the world below, and slip into the mystery of Vintage Cocktail Club.
In true speakeasy form, it is a little hard to find. Look for a black door marked only with the letters VCC. Once you find it, ring the doorbell, and you’re welcomed into the 3 story speakeasy complete with a rooftop terrace. They also serve some delicious sharing boards and small plates.
Gardens & Greens
St. Stephen’s Green
If you’re tired of shopping and crowds, this beautiful park in the heart of Dublin offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. With a lake, fountains, and plenty of green space, it’s an idyllic setting to relax and enjoy nature.
National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin
Located just over 3 miles from Dublin city center, the National Botanic Gardens (Glasnevin) are open every day of the year except Christmas Day. Entry is free and you can enjoy the outdoor garden walks, or if the weather gets a little rainy (after all it is Ireland), there are 7 beautifully restored glasshouses.
Best Hotels in Dublin
I didn’t stay very long at The Fitzwilliam, but I loved my brief time at this purple-themed boutique hotel. It’s ideally located near Grafton Street within walking distance of Dublin’s cultural & historical attractions and there are loads of shops, pubs, and restaurants nearby.
If you enjoy a larger, more modern, and comprehensive hotel experience overlooking the rejuvenated river docks in the financial and tech sector of Dublin, book The Marker. It even has a coveted nightspot rooftop bar & restaurant. If you’re a guest, you get premium entry.
This luxurious hotel is located in the heart of Dublin’s shopping district, just a short walk from Trinity College and St. Stephen’s Green. The Westbury offers spacious rooms, a fitness center, and an award-winning restaurant.
This iconic hotel has been welcoming guests since 1824 and is located in the heart of Dublin’s cultural quarter. The Shelbourne offers luxurious rooms, a spa, and an excellent restaurant.
This five-star hotel is located in four restored Georgian townhouses and offers elegant rooms, a spa, and an award-winning restaurant. The Merrion is also home to a stunning art collection, which is displayed throughout the hotel.
Best Restaurants in Dublin
This Michelin-starred restaurant is located in the basement of the Dublin Writers Museum and offers an innovative tasting menu featuring locally sourced ingredients. The food is on the artsy side with small portions, so if that’s not your thing, then you might want to skip it, but it’s a one-of-a-kind experience.
Grano combines fresh natural ingredients, farmed using organic and biodynamic techniques, to create a contemporary cuisine that respects the roots and traditions of Italian cooking.
Grano sources its ingredients from small Italian food and wine producers with a mission to contribute to the preservation of local food cultures and the revival of ancient cultivation techniques.
The Winding Stair
The Winding Stair Bookshop & Cafe became a famous Dublin landmark in the 1970s and 1980s. Named after the Yeats poem, and in honor of its winding staircase, it is perfectly located, overlooking the river Liffey, with an iconic view of the arching Ha’penny Bridge.
As a popular meeting place for writers, musicians, and artists, it was a well-known hub for debate and creativity with many poems written, novels penned, and movies shot within its walls. The food is old-fashioned home cooking, with produce sourced from artisans within the island.
Gallagher’s Boxty House
Located in the Temple Bar district, Gallagher’s Boxty House is a delicious and casual spot for lunch and dinner and of course, a place to try Ireland’s quintessential boxty: a pancake/crepe made with grated potatoes.
At Gallagher’s, they make 3 types of Boxty with my favorite being the one served with a variety of fillings. Gallagher’s also accepts reservations and is open for brunch as well.
Things to do in Dublin
Day Trips from Dublin
The Hill of Tara
Only a 35 – 40 minute drive from Dublin, the Hill of Tara is a quiet, unassuming place accessed by a narrow road. Parking is roadside, and there are stores and cafes there for visitors.
To get to the Hill of Tara, walk the curving dirt path toward the old, white church that now serves as a visitor’s center. An attendant will then direct you up the graveyard path, through the gate, and onto the plush grass of the rolling hilltops.
“142 Kings are said to have reigned in the name of Tara beginning in the Neolithic Age. The Lia Fail or “Stone of Destiny” was the site of a King’s coronation, and it was said that the stone would roar when touched by the rightful King of Ireland. Believed to be a dwelling place of the gods, the site was also fabled to be an entrance to the otherworld — a land of eternal joy and immortality. The oldest monument at the site is the Mound of the Hostages, a Neolithic passage tomb, dating from c. 3000 BCE.” | MythicalIreland.com
To get to the Stone of Destiny, you have to traverse the Ring Forts — there’s really no other way to do this than to half-trot down into the bottom of one ring, maintaining enough momentum to propel you to the top of the next.
Keep up this pattern with each successive ring. If it helps, imagine climbing up and down the humps of a giant green camel, and you can kind of get the idea.
After you’ve finished your walking tour of the Hill of Tara if you need a snack or are in the mood to shop, retreat to the parking area where you can grab a coffee or lunch at Maguire’s Cafe and Giftshop or a book from Michael Slavin’s tiny bookstore.
NEWGRANGE. Older than the Pyramids…Older than Stonehenge…the Neolithic passage tomb constructed in 3200 B.C. offers a mind-altering experience, and it’s located only 45 minutes from Dublin.
I recommend visiting it; I also highly recommend not relying on Google Maps to get you there. You’ll get there, but you’ll be on a road that runs behind the monument, and even if you walk the path to what looks like the ticket lodge, you will not be allowed to enter.
The only way to gain access is to go directly to the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Center: an artfully designed starting point with an informative film, a walk-through museum, a gift shop, and a (surprisingly) delicious cafe.
The tour bus loading point is about a 5-minute walk that takes you over a bridge with views of lush pastures dotted with Ireland’s quintessential sheep.
It’s a quick bus ride to the main passage tomb, and your guide will lead you up the hill and discuss the history of the site while you wait to enter.
If you have a large group, half will enter the passage first, giving you about 15 minutes to walk around the monument and the surrounding sites.
When it’s your turn to enter, you will walk single file into the dim passageway and carefully make your way through the ever-narrowing path to the circular room deep in the heart of the tomb.
Walking the slightly rising path to the inner chamber of the tomb will give you chills (the good kind), but if you are severely claustrophobic, you might want to skip it.
Also, at one point, the guide turns off the lights in order to simulate the illuminating sunrise of the Winter Solstice through the “roof-box” at the opening of the passage. It doesn’t last long, but if you have children or are yourself afraid of dark and closed-in spaces, please be aware.
Things to do in Dublin
3 Final Tips
- Don’t forget an umbrella! Here’s the one I ordered to use while there and it was great. Easy open and close, small enough to fit in a bag but large enough to give me ample coverage from the wind and rain. Still have it, use it, and love it.
- Shoes: Think comfort first. The best way to see and experience Dublin is by walking it, but you won’t make it long with a pair of uncomfortable or slippery shoes. Go for shoes that are warm, relatively waterproof, and have rubber soles. The old cobblestones you’ll encounter on some streets get slick after a rain.
- Pub Etiquette: If you’re in the larger pubs of Dublin, this may not even happen because most people are there with their own groups and are probably tourists like yourself. But, if you find yourself in a smaller, quieter pub where you strike up a conversation with a local person or couple sitting near you at the bar, they may offer to buy you another round of whatever you’re drinking. It’s a show of goodwill and friendship and signals that the conversation is good enough to keep it going. As a show of good faith and friendship, you should offer to buy them the next round, but you don’t have to do it immediately. Wait until the drinks get a little low, and then offer. Since you’re a visitor, I wouldn’t initiate the practice, but if someone extends the offer, remember to reciprocate. You may never see that person again, but for those moments sharing stories in the pub, you’re friends.
Things to do in Dublin