Local Tips on Things to Do in Dublin, Ireland

Craig and I lived in Dublin for a year in 2003.

I was recently exchanging emails with a friend sharing my tips of things to do in Dublin when I thought this really deserves a post.

Our experience living in Dublin

Grattan Bridge in Dublin, Ireland on the evening .This historic bridge spans the River Liffey in Dublin, Ireland.
Grattan Bridge in Dublin, Ireland on the evening .

I lived in Dublin in the summer with my best friend in 1999, working at Oliver St John Gogarty’s restaurant in Temple Bar, and another local’s pub off Grafton St and living in Ranelagh.

They were some of the best months of my life.

Craig and I lived close to there when we returned 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. Dublin was so easy to get around and we would walk everywhere. We loved being just a short walk to the Liffey through such cool neighborhoods along the way.

Craig worked in construction in various locations through ut the city and I 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 travelled 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.

You can listen to our podcast of our time living in Dublin here. We miss it so much and are dying to get back next year and show the girls a home close to our hearts.

Our favorite Things to do in Dublin

Unwind in St. Stephens Green

View of a small pond in the Saint Stephen's Green park in Dublin, Ireland
View of a small pond in the Saint Stephen’s Green park in Dublin, Ireland

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.

St Stephen’s Green was one of my favourite 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.

Tour Trinity College

Dublin, Ireland - Oct 25, 2014: People at Trinity College yard in Dublin, Ireland on October 25, 2014
Trinity College, Dublin

Trinity College is located right in the centre of Dublin, and is Ireland’s oldest University and most well known.

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.

Trinity Bell Trinity college Dublin
Trinity Bell Trinity college Dublin

The cobbled stones of Trinity College will transport you to the 18th century when the magnificent old Library Building was constructed.

We recommend this 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 …

Drink in a Pub and Listen to Irish Music

Drink in an Irish pub
With friends in an Irish pub

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?

You will never be left scratching your head as to where on earth you can do this.

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.

Brazen Head Dublin Ireland's oldest pub
Brazen Head Irelands oldest pub

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.

Visit The Guinness Storehouse

DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEB 15, 2014: Pints of beer are served at the Guinness Brewery on Feb 15, 2014. The brewery where 2.5 million pints of stout are brewed daily was founded by Arthur Guinness in 1759.
The Guinness Brewery where 2.5 million pints of stout are brewed daily was founded by Arthur Guinness in 1759.

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 one of Dublin’s main tourist attraction … for a reason.

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.

Guinness Factory
The love affair starts. With friends at the old Storehouse bar

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 favourite drink, how it is made and the influence it has over the world. Click here for tickets.

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.

Drink Irish Coffee and Wine Bars

Irish coffee
Irish coffee

My 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 coloured 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.

Eat Irish Food

guinness stew
guinness stew

When we lived in Dublin, we were big meat eaters. I’m not sure how we would manage now being vegetarians. Irish food is delicious and well worth spending a day or tour sampling.

Some of our favourites were potato and leek soup, bacon and 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.

Grafton Street Shopping

Grafton St Dublin Ireland
Grafton St

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!

Attend a Hurling and Gaelic Football Match

Gaelic football match Croke Park Dublin
Gaelic football match Croke Park Dublin

One of the best live sporting matches I have ever seen was the semi-final gaelic football match between Donegal and Armagh.

The stadium was a sea of brightly coloured 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.

Hurling match Dublin Ireland
Hurling match Dublin

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.

Visit the Outer Suburbs of Dublin

The view from Killiney Hill in Dublin, Ireland.
The view from Killiney Hill in Dublin, Ireland.

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 neighbourhoods 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. Ha Ha Good luck!

Ireland is called the Emerald Isle for a reason!!

Visit Guinness Lake (Lake Lough Tay)

Drone view on the Lake Guiness (Lake Lough Tay)
Drone view on the Lake Guiness (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 colour, 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 Foxes 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!

Literary Pub Crawl

Literary pub crawl Dublin
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. (grab your ticket here)

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.

One thing’s for sure, your trip to Dublin will be nothing short of memorable.

We’re planning an Ireland road trip in 2021. It has been some time since we’ve visited Dublin so please leave your best tips in the comments – especially any tips on things to do in Dublin with kids! We never had to research that when we lived there.

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.

More Ireland travel tips:

Plan Your Trip to Dublin

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More Tours of Dublin

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55 thoughts on “Local Tips on Things to Do in Dublin, Ireland”

  1. Christy @ Technosyncratic

    Dublin is on our list of places to travel in the next year, but it looks like we’ll need to develop a taste for beer before we get there! Or maybe just wait and do it there. πŸ˜‰

  2. jamie - cloud people adventures

    comprehensive list! have to get there one day. hurling sounds like a pretty brutal sport, would love to see it live! there are a few things here i hadnt heard of, the guinness lake for example looks awesome. bet you guys had a pretty sweet time living there.

    1. Hurling is really brutal, those sticks fly around everywhere. It is great to watch live although it was freezing when we went. We loved living there. The rain got a bit too much for us in the end, it was pretty persistent. Dublin is such a fun place to live, nevertheless.

  3. Great rundown of things to do. This makes me want to go NOW. We’ve only been to Dublin once, and it was only for about a day and a half, so we didn’t get to do much (we did fit in plenty of Guinness drinking at pubs and listening to Irish music though-imagine that). I’ll have to remember this for whenever we make it back there. What an awesome guide!

  4. I love Dublin! I was there in the winter a few years back. It really is a beautiful town with friendly people. Highlights of my trip were the Guinness factory and Malahide Castle. We had the hardest time finding any authentic Irish food though. All I wanted was some corned beef and cabbage!

    1. Wow, that is surprising you had a hard time finding some Irish food, it could be turning more cosmopolitan now. I forgot about Malahide Castle. I had to have a look at the website to remind myself if I have been there or not, I’ve been to that many. I do remember now really enjoying it too.

      1. Dublin is not the most ‘Irish’ of places, and had you gone down the country a bit, more authentic food would have been easier to find. Having said that though, I have never seen corned beef in a restaurant. It would be like going into a nice restaurant in Manhattan and asking for a Sloppy Joe.

        In fact, as an Irish person I’ve never had corned beef and cabbage. Bacon and cabbage yes. Irish food is generally beef, vegetable and potatoes. The less seasoning the more Irish it is!

        Nice write up on Ireland, good to hear something positive about the place for a change!!

        1. You are welcome. It’s a shame there has not been many good things written about it lately. We love Ireland and I miss it quite a bit. I’ll have to write more posts.

        2. Dublin is as Irish as any other part of Ireland, lived there for 38 years, now live in Leitrim this last 12 years, only difference one is urban one is rural. Hope someday to go back to Dublin.

  5. I did some of the things on your list, but will have to experience the rest on the next trip. I only had a short time in Dublin before taking a 10 day driving trip. After we checked in to our hotel after a long trip from San Francisco, St. Stephens Green was a lovely place to catch our breath and plan our busy day.

  6. So jealous that you got to spend a year in Dublin. We had only a few days there, but did get to Trinity College and the Guinness Factory. I don’t think we have ever come across more welcoming and friendly people as in Irish bars!

  7. Seems like a lot of things in Dublin revolve around that glorious dark brew!
    No plans to visit Dublin at this point in time, but hopefully sometime in the future! I’d love to see a Gaelic football match.

  8. These are fabulous photos and great ideas for seeing Dublin. I know for me, the best way to connect with a place is to see the local sports teams play. I will never forget the Barcelona match I went to – great experience and filled with passionate locals!

    Dublin is definitely on my list!

    1. We always aim for the sports as well, there is always such a great atmosphere and you get a real sense of the locals passion. Watching rugby in Dublin is also great. I was so very lucky to receive a very generous tip when I was working in the restaurant in 99, by a group of Aussie businessmen. They gave my best friend and I free tickets to watch Australia verse Ireland in a World Cup rugby match, with great seats and after party entry with the players. Will never forget that one. It was my birthday! Loved living in Dublin

  9. I actually read Ulysses — sad, I know — but if you ever go back to Dublin read The Dubliners instead. They’re early short stories of Joyce’s and much more accessible, really moving, not so, err, modernist — AKA pretentious.

    Thanks for sharing a city so close to your heart, Caz. Eyre’s white sand beaches are amazing…

    1. What a shame you didn’t! You guys would love Cork and Ireland. It’s a fun place to live for awhile. You have to get used to lots of rain though.

  10. Wow thank you for such a wonderful write up on Ireland. It’s so lovely to hear someone who isn’t from Ireland describe it so beautifully. Makes me so proud to be Irish

  11. Dublin appears to awesome and beautiful place.In future i will surely visit it.The captures explain the beauty of the place.Like the write and follow your blog in future.

  12. Thanks for pointing us to this article Caz! It will be bookmarked (along with the one about the best pubs!)

    A literary pub crawl!! Oh my, adding that to the list. And we are all about the sporting events – can’t wait to take in a few of those.

    I am getting SO excited!! We will drink many guiness in your honor. Thanks! πŸ™‚

    1. You are killing me Dalene. I just want to come with you two!! Ah the memories. You will have such a great time. And the rest of the country is just so beautiful as well. I should do another post up with highlights around the country too. Cant’ wait to read all your stories.

  13. Hey, thanks so much for the “things to do” list. I was looking at a few sites, and you had the most interesting points of interest. Thanks a million.

  14. Terry Jonnathan

    It was a delight reading your blog.If you are fond of drinking then Dublin offers many good and attractive offers in pubs,bars and restaurants.Messrs Maguire is one of the best pubs in Dublin offering a luxurious space for grand and corporate party. Fix your party with Messrs Maguire Dublin.Visit http://www.messrsmaguire.ie/

  15. We are traveling to Ireland in June 2013.
    Where do we look to find information about ancestors from the Cavan/Feranaugh area.

  16. Hi Caz, your blog is wonderful, as you’ve probably guessed I’m from Dublin and go back as often as I can, reading your blog just makes my visits all the more urgent. Do you do blogs on other cities/ countries ?. Thanks Damian.

    1. Yes. Many Damian! Just go to the search box on our site and pop in the city/country you are after and it will pull up a lot of posts for you

  17. Going to be in Dublin Oct 25th – Nov 7 saving this list for things to do! If anyone has any more suggestions or wants to get a pint let me know πŸ™‚

  18. Hi there! Just discovered your blog and I’m incredibly inspired! I am about to finish up my degree in teaching, and I would love any advice you have to offer- I’m an American student. Are there any organizations that have placed you in other countries that you’d recommend? I’m especially interested in Ireland. Thanks in advance!!

  19. I was just wondering, what would be a good time frame ( # of days ) to take in a good amount of different things to do in Dublin?
    I would also like to tour around the island, to venture out into the “real” Ireland.
    Is two weeks to short of time to accomplish this? Would three weeks be better?
    Thank you for your wonderful information.

  20. We have booked a 10 day Best of Ireland tour and have extended it by 4 days to really experience Dublin. My husband and I will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary and our two children and their families are sending us on this fantastic adventure. We will be there for the first two weeks of May and can hardly wait. Any suggestions about clothing other than pack a umbrella? I am researching all of the information about travel and I came to your site. Enjoyed the read and even made some notes. Thank you for sharing.
    We are coming from Canada

    1. Hey Marie,

      That’s super exciting. What time of year will you be visiting Ireland? As for clothing, you probably know the weather in Ireland is unpredictable and rains a lot. So comfy waterproof shoes would be good, also good wet weather gear and layers. Have a great trip.

  21. I came across your post on Pinterest. I grew up in Dublin and can identity with so many of your great suggestions.
    I’m pretty sure the Guinness family imported white sand from Scandinavia to be deposited at the top of the lake, giving it a pint like contrast to the naturally peaty water. There’s no white sand to be found anywhere near by!

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