In partnership with Globus Tours
Ahh Dublin, the capital of Ireland and one of the most majestic cities you’ll visit. It’s well known for its pub culture, being the birthplace of Guinness, but it’s not just a city for a rowdy crowd.
In fact, Dublin has some of the friendliest locals you’ll ever meet. The Irish are very proud of their country and heritage, and love to share this with anyone who visits and cares to take an interest.
It’s also a stunning city, with gorgeous Georgian architecture and medieval buildings throughout its streets. It’s no wonder that many of the world’s greatest novelists, authors and poets have found inspiration here.
We were fortunate enough to live in Dublin for a year in 2003 and in that time, we checked out pretty much all of the best things to do in Dublin – and there are a lot of things!
I also visited in September 2022 in partnership with Globus Tours for an 8-day Ireland tour, and Globus give you the flexibility to choose activities based on my interest as part of their new #ChoiceTouring which I loved, and had some free time in Dublin to explore more.
So whether you’re in Dublin for a weekend or a week, you’ll find this list of the top attractions in Dublin (and a few hidden gems) you’re ultimate guide on what to do in Dublin.
- Getting Around Dublin
- Save Money on Dublin Attractions
- Our Experience Living in Dublin
- Our Favorite Things to Do in Dublin
- 1. Unwind in St. Stephens Green
- 2. Tour Trinity College
- 3. Drink in a Pub and Listen to Irish Music
- 4. Visit The Guinness Storehouse
- 5. Drink Irish Coffee and Wine Bars
- 6. Eat Irish Food
- 7. Grafton Street Shopping
- 8. Attend a Hurling and Gaelic Football Match
- 9. Visit the Outer Suburbs of Dublin
- 10. Visit Guinness Lake (Lake Lough Tay)
- 11. Literary Pub Crawl
- 12. Sample Whiskey at Roe & Co Distillery
- 13. See Wild Deer in Phoenix Park
- 14. Get Cultural at the National Gallery of Ireland
- 15. Learn About Dublin’s Writers
- 16. Dine at Dublin’s Oldest Pub: The Brazen Head
- 17. Walk Along the River Liffey
- 18. Enjoy the Taylors Three Rock Cabaret Show
- 19. Walk Across Ha’penny Bridge
- 20. See the Abandoned Prison of Kilmainham Gaol
- 21. Wander Around the Dublin Castle
- 22. Learn About Irish Famine from Jeanie Johnson
- 23. Visit the Christ Church Cathedral
- Video: Top 5 Experiences in Dublin
- Before You Go
- More Ireland travel tips:
Getting Around Dublin
Dublin is a really easy city to get around. It’s quite compact with all the top attractions within walking distance of each other. You can also rent a bike and cycle, which is quite a popular way to get from A to B in the summer.
If you’re planning on staying outside the city center, you will find regular bus services that connect the suburbs to the city center. There are over 100 bus routes in Dublin, so no matter where you stay, you’re near to public transport.
You can also ride the lightrail system, the Luas. This is Dublin’s newest transport system and has only two lines; red and green, which connects all the hot spots in Dublin city centre.
And of course the hop-on-hop-off bus is a popular way to explore the sites and get to know the city. Or, discover Dublin by boat.
If you do decide to venture out of Dublin and explore some further afield attractions such as Trim Castle or Huntington Castle, or even if you’re planning an epic Ireland road trip, then it’s a good idea to rent a car as it can be time consuming to get a bus to these places.
RentalCars.com is a great place to look for cars to rent. It’s the world’s biggest car rental booking service that compares all the major brands like Hertz, Avis, Alamo, and Europcar.
Save Money on Dublin Attractions
The Dublin Pass gives you free entry to top Dublin attractions, Hop on and Off sightseeing tour, and fast track passes at popular Dublin attractions. Get yours and save money on travel to Dublin.
Our Experience Living in Dublin
Caz lived in Ranelagh, Dublin in the summer with her best friend in 1999, working at Oliver St John Gogarty’s restaurant in Temple Bar, and another local’s pub off Grafton St.
Then Caz and I moved back after we married. We lived in Rathmines, the student area and one of the most desirable places to live for its vibrancy and proximity to downtown.
We loved not owning a car and simply walked everywhere. We loved being just a short walk to the River Liffey through such cool neighborhoods along the way.
I worked in construction in various locations throughout the city and Caz taught at a school in Knocklyon teaching the Irish minority children and teaching ESL to small groups.
It is always great to get advice from people who have not just traveled to a country, but lived there.
There is more to an area then just what the tourists see. Although, I must say that in Dublin, there is so many tourist places that are worth seeing too.
You can listen to our podcast of our time living in Dublin here. We miss it so much and are dying to get back and show the girls a home close to our hearts.
Our Favorite Things to Do in Dublin
In case you haven’t noticed, we absolutely love Dublin, and we know you will too! So without further adu, here are the top things to do in Dublin!
1. Unwind in St. Stephens Green
St Stephens Green is a small garden park at the end of Grafton Street on the South side of the city, and is one of the most relaxing things to do in Dublin.
It is the largest of the Georgian Square parks and St Stephen’s Green was one of my favorite places in Dublin to sit and relax, watch the world go by, and have a beautiful picnic lunch.
You will find it popular with visiting tourists, students and workers taking a break from a busy day at the office.
Another popular place to relax in Dublin is the National Botanic Gardens, which is also free to enter.
2. Tour Trinity College
Trinity College is located right in the centre of Dublin, and is Ireland’s oldest University and most well known. It’s alumni include some of Ireland’s most esteemed authors and poets.
The lawns and cobbled quads are a pleasant escape from the mad rush of the city that lies beyond its walls. Take your camera and make sure you take a photo in front of the famous Trinity Bell.
The cobbled stones of Trinity College will transport you to the 18th century when the magnificent old Library Building was constructed.
We recommend doing a guided tour to see the famous Book of Kells, a ninth century gospel manuscript famous throughout the world followed by a walk through the gardens and grounds of the college and a visit to Dublin Castle.
We never visited the Book of Kells!! We were too interested in the life and culture of current day Dublin. Which leads us to our most favorite thing to do in Dublin …
3. Drink in a Pub and Listen to Irish Music
Going to Dublin and not drinking a pint in a pub is like going to Sydney and not seeing the Opera House. And guess what, Dublin has 850 pubs so you will never be left scratching your head as to where on earth you can do this.
Yep, Dublin has a pub on almost every street corner and one in between. See our post on the best pubs of Dublin for some ideas, or just find a pub in whatever street or suburb you are wondering along.
The atmosphere is warm and cozy, the food delicious, the beer flows freely and the craic is good.
I recommend making an afternoon or evening with this enjoying some good old Traditional Irish music and dancing.
You’ll be bopping, singing and dancing with the local crowd after only a couple of pints of Guinness.
History lovers will not want to miss the Brazen Head, which is the oldest pub in Ireland. Craig celebrated his 30th birthday here.
4. Visit The Guinness Storehouse
No trip to Dublin would be complete without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, which was actually called the Guinness Factory when I first lived there.
The Guinness Storehouse is super popular, in fact, it is Ireland’s most visited destination ahead of the Cliffs of Moher so it definitely should be on your list of things to do in Dublin as it’s one thing that makes up the culture of Ireland.
This was where I had my first pint of the velvety black stout, and was not to be my last. I was hooked. Be warned here, once you drink a Guinness at its original location here at the brewery, no other glass of Guinness in the world will taste as good.
One of the reasons I loved living in Dublin was the access to pure Guinness. It’s my favorite drink.
It is not just a pint of Guinness that comes with the entry fee, that is worth the visit, the museum gives a fascinating insight to the history of Ireland’s favorite drink, how it is made and the influence it has over the world.
You might as well visit the place that is responsible for that strange malty hoppy smell that can be smelt all over the city.
To top it all off when done, you can sit in the top level bar, Gravity, that gives a magnificent 360 degree view of Dublin.
We thoroughly enjoyed taking our visiting guests there, especially when they did not like Guinness and thought it only fair to hand their free pint over to their tour guides.
5. Drink Irish Coffee and Wine Bars
Caz and her best friend and I used to spend many a three am morning in the late night “coffee” bars. This was the only place you could find a “drink” after the midnight curfew.
They not only look great with their layers of caramel colored layers topped with silky white cream, but they taste divine. You will find an Irish coffee in any bar or restaurant.
If you are planning a big night out, make a wine bar a place to stop after a few pints in the pub. The wine bars are lots of fun to drink at. Some have evening jazz and wine tasting events.
Of course wine or champagne is all that is on the menu and it comes at a price, but it was often the only place you could continue partying into the early morning hours, and the underground, cavernous buildings they are held in the streets running off the Georgian Square of St Stephens Green makes it just a cool place to have a drink.
6. Eat Irish Food
Irish food is delicious and well worth spending a day or tour sampling.
Some of our favorites were beef & Guiness stew, cod & chips, potato & leek soup, bacon & cabbage, Guinness or Irish stew, and of course potato.
Never fear about having the opportunity to try this. Each dish you order will come with three varieties- mashed, baked, and boiled. The Irish don’t want you forgetting about those famine years.
7. Grafton Street Shopping
Grafton street is on the South Side of the Liffey and is a high end street for shopping.
If you don’t have the money to spend in boutique and departments stores such as Brown Thomas, you can window shop as you walk amongst the crowds along the cobblestoned street, people gazing and watching the ever-present buskers that line the streets.
There are plenty of places to rest your weary feet for a coffee or drink. I love the atmosphere on Grafton St and happy to walk through it almost every day.
I worked in a pub during lunches parallel to Grafton St, it has incredible atmosphere!
8. Attend a Hurling and Gaelic Football Match
One of the best live sporting matches I have ever seen was the All Ireland semi-final Ggaelic football match between Donegal and Armagh.
Croke Park stadium was a sea of brightly colored orange and green of jerseys and team flags madly waving in the crowd.
The atmosphere was truly electric with fans on the edge of their seat screaming and cheering with every play of the ball. It was non-stop thrilling action.
I cannot recommend highly enough that on your trip to Dublin, you organize tickets to a live match of either hurling or Gaelic football at Croke Park as one of your things to do in Dublin.
9. Visit the Outer Suburbs of Dublin
Dublin has so many great outer suburbs that are worth visiting for a taste of local living. Our favourite was, of course, our student village, Rathmines, that was full of great bars and Irish pubs.
Donnybrook and Ballbridge are two of the more affluent suburbs in the South of Dublin, and are worth a leisurely stroll to see some of Ireland’s finest Victorian architecture. Shrewsbury Road in Ballsbridge is the 6th most expensive road in the world.
Dalkey and Killiney is where you may run into celebrities such as Bono and Enya, who have homes in these upmarket neighborhoods by the sea.
Killiney Hill offers panoramic views of the surrounding Dublin mountains. You can reach these towns by the DART, the Dublin train service.
Howth, popular for the climbing of the 171m high hill on Howth head, is located in the North of Dublin. Just try to climb it on a fine day.
Ireland is called the Emerald Isle for a reason!!
10. Visit Guinness Lake (Lake Lough Tay)
Only an hour south of Dublin is a scenic drive that takes you through the Wicklow mountains to an impressive lake set in the valleys.
Guinness Lake is aptly named for its dark color, and with its white sand sitting at the top makes it look like a foaming pint of Ireland’s finest.
Actually, I have heard it is named for the Guinness family whose property surrounds the area but I like the other reason better. It is a beautiful spot for photographs and to enjoy the peace of the Irish countryside.
You can walk around the area to see various waterfalls, large boglands with sheep and streams, forests and historical places such as Glendalough.
While you have the car, drive up to Johnny Fox’s Pub for a drink at the very famous “Ireland’s highest pub.”
These are tips you may not find on any other things to do in Dublin list, because these are the local’s secrets!
Remember to book your car rental. We’ve been using RentalCars.com for over 15 years and always get the best price through them.
11. Literary Pub Crawl
Ireland is not just known for its black ale and leprechauns, but for the incredible literary talent that has come from the hills of the Emerald Isle.
One way to get to learn more about these literary geniuses is by doing a Literary Pub Crawl through the streets of Dublin, visiting these author’s old writing and drinking haunts.
Two actors take you on a tour through the maze of narrow streets into several pubs where they act out scenes from the work of Joyce, Behan, Beckett, Yeats, Oscar Wilde and more.
The tour takes you to eight pubs, including the grounds of Trinity college and goes for about two and half hours.
I was never really that interested in the Irish writers; I tried my best to read Ulysses but soon gave up. We went on this tour with some friends, and surprisingly had a great time, and learned a whole lot as well.
I now feel like going back to Dublin and doing all these things again.
12. Sample Whiskey at Roe & Co Distillery
Aside from Guinness, Dublin is also famous for another alcoholic beverage – Irish Whiskey!
Roe & Co is a Whiskey distillery in the heart of Dublin and was once the largest distillery in the country. It was founded by George Roe, in their Thomas Street distillery.
Since then, it has grown to a size of 17 acres, and even shares its neighborhood with Guinness, creating what is known as the “historic brewing and distilling quarter.”
Visitors can choose two different tours of the distillery. One is a cocktail tour called “The Flavours Workshop” where you can learn take a masterclass in cocktail making.
The other is ‘Old Fashioned Master Class’ where you can learn about blending flavours of whiskey.
On all tours, you also learn about the history and background of the distillery, as well as the distilling process. You’ll get to explore the the Stills House and the Store.
Interested in taking a Distillery tour? See more about the Roe & Co Distillery Cocktail Workshop here! Or combine your visit with a tour of three of Dublin’s top distilleries.
13. See Wild Deer in Phoenix Park
Another scenic park in Dublin is Phoenix Park. It’s the largest enclosed park in any capital city in Europe and was originally a royal hunting ground.
It was built in the 1660s and opened to the public in 1747, and is most famous for its herd of wild fallow deer who call the park home, oh, and for hosting the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979.
The park is a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and is a great place to go walking around the pond or cycle along the cycling trails. It’s also where you’ll find the Zoological Gardens, Victorian Flower Gardens, and a cafe.
The park is open all year round, for 24 hours a day, so no matter when you want to visit, you can always be sure it’s open. It’s one of the best free things to do in Dublin.
14. Get Cultural at the National Gallery of Ireland
There are more than 40 museums in Dublin, and one that you should not miss off your Dublin itinerary is the National Gallery of Ireland. It’s where you’ll find the national collection of Irish and European art from the 1300s to today.
It first opened its doors to the public in 1864 and it one of the most important attractions in Dublin.
Don’t miss a stop by Oscar Wilde’s house which is just around the corner from the museum, and the iconic Merrion Square across the road.
15. Learn About Dublin’s Writers
Dublin was an inspirational city for many writers. The most famous of which was James Joyce, whose iconic novel, Ulysses was written as a love letter to the city.
Other famous writers from Dublin were Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels, Bram Stoker, who wrote Dracula, and Samuel Beckett, the playwrite who wrote En attendant Godot.
You can learn all about the writers of Dublin at several places in the city. In Dublin city center, you’ll find many statues dedicated to these writers. The most famous is the Oscar Wilde Memorial statue in Merrion Square.
There is also a James Joyce Museum and the MoLI – Museum of Literature Ireland.
16. Dine at Dublin’s Oldest Pub: The Brazen Head
The Brazen Head is a must-visit attraction in Dublin for anyone looking to get an authentic look into Ireland’s pub culture. It’s located on Bridge Street, one of the oldest streets in Dublin and where you’ll find some of the most stunning pieces of medieval architecture.
The pub was deliberately built in its place as it is next to the Father Matthew Bridge, where the original crossing of the river was located. It was historically the meeting point for any travelers making their way across the river.
It was built in 1198 but the building had been updated a few times. The building you see today was built in 1754 and used to be a coaching inn, but records of the pub date back to 1653.
The pub is warm and welcoming, with rustic interiors and authentic pub decor. You can eat traditional pub food such as Beef and Guinness Stew, Bangers and Mash, and for dessert, an Apple Crumble. It’s also a good stop to try an Irish coffee!
Another great pub we recommend for food is the Stags Head Pub, which has fantastic Guinness and Oysters.
If you’re looking for an afternoon pick-me-up, head to Shoe Lane Coffee Shop for a hot coffee to re-energize you.
17. Walk Along the River Liffey
The River Liffey is the river that passes through the center of Dublin and so it’s impossible to miss this stop off of your list of things to do in Dublin!
The name Liffey, means Irish An Life, and it passes through three counties in Ireland. The river has been well developed, with walkways, bridges and quays.
It’s where you’ll find several of Dublin’s top attractions, such as Dublin Dockyard, The Irish Emigration Museum, The Irish Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum Experience and of course, several top pubs!
It extends all the way to Dublin Bay, where it connects to the sea.
18. Enjoy the Taylors Three Rock Cabaret Show
Taylors Three Rock is a lively entertainment venue and restaurant and where you can watch a cabaret show – a show dedicated to everything Irish. From Irish folk singing to River Dancing, this two hour show is a homage to Ireland’s culture and heritage.
While you’re enjoying the show, you can enjoy a delicious feast of tasty Irish food and swallow it down with an Irish coffee.
The highlight of the show is definitely the Irish Dancers, who are actually world champion Irish dancers who tour the world representing their country.
Some of the dancers have performed in the West End in London, which is the goal for anyone looking to make it in show-businesses.
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Dublin at night, this has to be the number one activity to do.
Combine seeing the musicians at the Taylors Three Rock with a 4-course dinner! Book advanced tickets here.
19. Walk Across Ha’penny Bridge
If you’re looking for a backdrop of Dublin’s iconic architecture, then head over to the stunning Ha’penny Bridge, which is the most famous pedestrian bridge on the river Liffey.
It was the first bridge to be built back in 1816 and gets its name from the time when pedestrians had to pay half a penny to cross the bridge. The bridge was created to replace the ferries that originally took people across the river.
20. See the Abandoned Prison of Kilmainham Gaol
Perhaps one of the most unique things to do in Dublin is explore the abandoned prison of Kilmainham Gaol.
The prison held men, women and children who had committed crimes for over 100 years. The inmates were said to have committed all matters of crimes, from petty crimes to some of the most notorious events in history.
As you wander the prison, you will learn about its past, its prisoners, and the stories of their crimes. Many of the inmates were those who fought for Irish independence, including Robert Emmet, Anne Devlin, the Fenians, Charles Stewart Parnell, Countess Markievicz.
It also held the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. Of those leaders, 14 were executed by firing squad in the Stonebreaker’s yard.
It opened in 1796 and closed in 1924. It was made a national monument in the 1960s and is now a museum.
21. Wander Around the Dublin Castle
No trip to Ireland would be complete without visiting one of its iconic castles. In Dublin, this castle has to be, of course, Dublin Castle.
The castle was built in the early 13th century on a former Viking settlement. Archeologists have discovered parts of the medieval castle were actually part of Viking defenses, making it one of the oldest castles in the country!
While much of the castle has been restored since its inception, the remains of the wall and the steps to the original moat are all the original walls. There’s also two museums in the complex for visitors to check out.
Caroline visited here about 5 times guiding her ESL summer students through on a field trip. She really enjoyed it – even more than once – and so did her European teen students.
If you’re interested in seeing more castles in Dublin, then the Malahide Castle is a short half day trip North of Dublin and is a stunning, well-preserved affluent castle. It has one of Ireland’s iconic Fairy Trails, which is one of the most fun activities to do with kids in Ireland (well, aside from Dublin Zoo!)
22. Learn About Irish Famine from Jeanie Johnson
The Jeanie Johnson is a three-mastered barque ship which was built in 1847 and resides on the River Liffey. It’s now a museum on the Irish Famine, which is an incredible story of a time when 1 million Irish people fled the country due to a famine.
Of those people, 2,500 took a grueling journey across the ocean on the Jeanie Johnston. The museum shows what conditions were like on board a Famine ship and tells the stories of the people who took the voyage.
After visiting the Jeanie Johnson, make sure to swing past the Custom House Quay which houses the Local Government Board of Ireland.
23. Visit the Christ Church Cathedral
Dublin is not short of beautiful churches and cathedrals, but one that must not be missed is the Christ Church Cathedral.
This stunning church has been standing in the heart of the city for over a millennia and is an important landmark in the country.
It has a reputation for being a house of liturgy, live music, and warm hospitality, and is one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in the city.
If you visit at the right time, you can witness a choir or organ performance. Be sure to check out the events calendar to see when performances are scheduled.
Video: Top 5 Experiences in Dublin
Click play to watch our short video sharing our Dublin highlights.
Before You Go
As you can see, there is so much to see and do in Dublin. Whether you’re looking to sample some of the best Irish beers, explore enchanting castles, visit some stunning landscapes or just get acquainted with the local culture – there’s a handful of attractions in Dublin that will satisfy your Irish dreams.
Before you go, make sure you have your accommodation sorted. The city is hugely popular, and many of the top hotels and apartments in Dublin city centre get booked up in advance.
Don’t leave it to the last minute, take a look through Booking.com’s 281 properties in Dublin and get yourself a good deal.
It’s also a great idea to purchase an eSim before you arrive in Dublin. You can get 3GB data for a month for only $9. It’s so easy to install and activate your eSim, and it will be ready to use right on Dublin touchdown!
One thing’s for sure, your trip to Dublin will be nothing short of memorable. Happy travels!
More Ireland travel tips:
If you’re planning an epic Ireland road trip, then you might want to check out these other resources:
- 10 of the best Dublin pubs & bars
- Things to Do in Northern Ireland
- 10 Places to Visit in Ireland with Kids
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Do you have any more exciting places to add to this list of things to do in Dublin? Let us know in the comments!