Comparable to the likes of Melbourne and San Francisco, Dublin is one of the liveliest cities in the world.
History & People
Dublin was founded by the Vikings over 1,000 years ago. As the capital of Ireland, it serves as the hub for financial and commercial power, as well as culture.
Dublin is an incredibly friendly city thanks to its people (the Irish are extremely similar to Kiwis- very hospitable and loving folks). It’s also famous for its “craic,” a mixture of humour, intelligence, and rapport that has attracted writers, poets, and all creatives for centuries.
Because of these reasons, Dublin has remained #9 on a top 10 list of the world’s most liveable cities. It continually offers a high quality of life for European expats as a large city with all the perks, but without severe population strains that many other cities see.
Dublin is a hub for iconic attractions scattered around the city. Below are my recommendations for 25 things to do in Dublin, Ireland.
1. Party like a true Irishman (or woman) at The Temple Bar
While touristy, The Temple Bar is probably the first thing that comes to mind for many who hear the word “Dublin” uttered. It has a history that stretches back to the 1300s and is still extremely popular today because of its prime location in the centre of the city.
It offers over 450 different types of whiskey, which is deemed Ireland’s largest collection. You’ll have no problem differentiating it from the other bars with its striking red exterior.
While you’re there, check out the entire Temple Bar District named after the bar. According to TripSavvy, this is known as Dublin’s “bohemian quarter,” with a plethora of lively pubs, live music, food selections, and art shoppes to browse. It’s an absolute must-see while you’re in Dublin.
2. Visit the Guinness Storehouse Factory
This one is strikingly obvious, especially since it’s probably one of the most famous attractions in the entire country. If you’re a Guinness fan, you definitely need to come here.
The tickets aren’t even that expensive for a high-quality tour of seven floors full of brewing history in Ireland. You’ll learn all about the history of the Guinness family and how and why the brand is so famous in the country. At the end of the tour, you can marvel in the beautiful panoramic view of the city while sipping a pint.
3. Visit Trinity College & the Book of Kells
Ireland’s oldest surviving university is Trinity College, also considered one of Europe’s most prestigious institutions.
The Book of Kells is the ultimate focus of this college, also known as one of Ireland’s finest treasures. One historian concluded that it was “written by an angel” and is the most famous of the early medieval manuscripts. If you’re a massive history buff, you won’t want to miss seeing this.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, the Long Room in the college is a must-see site since it was the inspiration for the library at Hogwarts and houses over 200,000 books. It was built in the 1700s and stretches for over 65 metres.
Put simply, it’s the nicest library I’ve ever stepped foot in. For a 4K video of this beautiful room, watch the video below:
If you’re interested in skipping the long queues and grouping your visit with Dublin Castle, click here for a fast-track tour. If you’re a huge Harry Potter nut like me and want to see Harry Potter-esque areas in Ireland (not actual filming locations, sadly), click here.
4. Tour the Old Jameson Distillery
If you’re a big whiskey fan, you’ll also want to check out the Old Jameson Distillery, also conveniently located in the city centre.
Along with learning more about the company’s history, you get to experience a whiskey tasting and earn a Whiskey Taster Certificate at the end of the tour to show off.
5. Marvel at St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Cathedrals are high in abundance throughout the country, and this is no exception. Standing tall as Ireland’s largest church, St. Patrick’s Cathedral has a 43 metre tall spire and is a magnificent work of architecture.
6. Explore Dublin Castle
7. Do a photoshoot on Ha’penny Bridge at night
Ha’penny Bridge is another icon of Dublin, but it’s always flooded with tourists during the day. Why not go late at night so you can make a photoshoot of it?
For 184 years, this was the only pedestrian bridge across the River Liffey in Dublin. Its famous name comes from the original toll (“a penny ha’penny”) that was later removed.
8. Visit Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral Dublin is another spectacular masterpiece that you can admire in the city.
There’s another odd Harry Potter connection in this cathedral. “Voldemort” is the nickname of the monument of Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke (Strongbow), a nobleman who sailed across the Irish Sea from England after attempting to resolve a dispute between provincial Irish rulers. The connection to Voldemort comes because visitors have rubbed off his face with coins to the extent where it’s barely visible.
9. Eat your way through doughnut shoppes
If you’re a big doughnut (“donut” to Americans) fan, look no further. Check out this wonderful list compiled by The Culture Trip to help satisfy your doughnut cravings while meandering through Dublin.
Thanks to my doughnut-loving friend Alyssa (who was living in the city at the time), we ate our way through two of these spots, both of which sent our metabolic rates off the charts. But in the case of food, it’s ALWAYS worth it.
10. Wander through artsy lanes
Dublin, much like Melbourne and San Francisco, has quirky, artsy lanes that you can often lose yourself in.
If you’re really hardcore about finding street art, check out an official site for a map of locations around the city. Since Dublin is quite compact and easy to navigate, this is a fun (and free) way to spend a few hours, especially if you’re an avid photographer.
11. Visit the Dublin Flea Market
Dublin Flea Market is run the last Sunday of every month and well worth a visit, especially if you’re an antique/vintage collector.
Other than the obvious second-hand antiques, it also sells furniture, vinyls, records, and books. As someone obsessed with markets around the world, I can honestly say that this is one you definitely don’t want to miss.
12. Day trip to the Cliffs of Moher
This is another obvious one, but some don’t realise that it’s incredibly easy to day trip from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher and back. It’s extremely easy to organise a day tour either online or in person.
Regardless of the length of your trip in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher should be at the top of your list. Read more about planning your trip to the cliffs here.
13. Day trip to Glendalough & the Wicklow Mountains
Another ideal getaway from the hubbub of the city is Glendalough & Wicklow Mountains through a day trip.
Wicklow Mountain National Park is a piece of pure magnificence. Wicklow is also known as the “Garden of Ireland” because of its abundance of trees, shrubs, and never-ending greenery. Glendalough is a medieval monastic settlement with plenty of ideal photo ops.
14. Day trip to Killiney & Dalkey Quarry
My favourite day trips from the city (other than the Cliffs of Moher) were to beach suburbs like Killiney and Dalkey Quarry.
Both are incredibly easy to reach via Dublin’s public transport and offer panoramic views of the turquoise Irish coastline if you go in the right weather. The beaches get quite crowded in the summer, but I highly recommend you go for an easy walk above the beaches instead. You’ll be rewarded with some of the most breathtaking views, and you’ll nearly forget that you’re just outside Dublin.
15. Walk through St. Stephen’s Green
St. Stephen’s Green is a beautiful Victorian public park that you can relax in after a hard day’s worth of walking.
Spanning nine acres, its flowers and trees are most vibrant in the spring but is therapeutic year-round to explore. It even has its own waterfall and various rock sculptures.
And then we wonder why our American parks pale in comparison to everyone else’s around the world?
16. Explore the National Botanic Gardens
The National Botanic Gardens are in Glasnevin, just 3 km. outside the city centre, easily accessible by public transport (or about an hour’s walk) and free to enter.
I always make it a point to visit as many gardens as I can when traveling, and this one didn’t disappoint. It’s well worth a visit if you enjoy walking around beautiful flowers and various landscapes in the quietude of nature.
17. Relax in Phoenix Park
Known as the “largest enclosed park in any capital city of Europe,” Phoenix Park is an amazing area for a picnic or general relaxation. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across a few wild deer as well!
The park sits about 2-4 km. outside the city centre and comparable to Windsor Park in England (not nearly as big, but still nice).
18. Visit Malahide Castle & Gardens
Just 30 min. outside the city centre in the seaside town of Malahide, this gem is waiting to be explored. The castle grounds are also home to a gorgeous garden & butterfly house and tickets are decently priced.
19. Visit Powerscourt House & Gardens
This landmark is a real treat since its gardens are ranked 3rd best in the WORLD. With 47 acres to explore, it’s apparent why; the sweeping views, perfectly trimmed hedges, and ornate flowers truly leave you speechless.
If you’re really adventurous, you can trek to Powerscourt Waterfall, Ireland’s tallest waterfall at 121m. It’s located 6 km. from the estate. You’ll need to take public transport or hire a car to see this attraction.
20. Visit the Dublin Writer’s Museum
The Dublin Writer’s Museum is housed in a glamorous 18th century mansion and features the works of famous Irish writers over the years.
21. Enjoy live music on the streets
For a free, entertaining activity, why not enjoy the live music from buskers on the street? The musicians in Dublin are fantastic, and you’ll wonder why these talented people aren’t already famous.
22. Visit the National Museum of Ireland – Natural History
This museum is also known as the “Dead Museum,” as hilarious as that sounds. Like all museums throughout most of Europe and the UK, it’s free to browse around.
It houses more than 10,000 exhibits of zoological depth, so you can explore Irish mammals, birds, fish and insects as well as animals of the world.
23. Get lost in pages at the National Library of Ireland
Once again, Ireland puts all other American establishments to shame. It’s free to browse through thousands of books at the National Library of Ireland and usually runs specific exhibitions throughout the year.
Admire the interior and exterior of the library while you’re there; everything has such incredible history throughout Europe.
24. Take a cruise along the River Liffey through the city
Another great way to see the city is by taking a short river cruise. You’ll learn about the history of the city, gain more insight into its architecture, and pass through several other neighbourhoods while floating along the iconic River Liffey.
25. Walk along the River Liffey
Last but not least, you can always stroll along the River Liffey (for free, again!). My favourite time of day to go for walks is sunset, since you get photographic opportunities for both times of the day.
If you download the GPSmyCity app, you can map out your walking path seamlessly. Or better yet, just follow the river and keep walking! You’ll pass a variety of famous landmarks along your walk.
There are so many entertaining things to do while in Dublin. Whether you’re staying in the city centre or basing yourself in Dublin and taking day trips to beautiful spots like the Cliffs of Moher and Glendalough, you’re bound to be spellbound by its lively, friendly atmosphere.
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