Things To Do In Dublin
The Irish capital is the spiritual and, in some cases, physical centre of the country's greatest exports. From Guinness and Jameson to colossal literary figures such as George Bernard Shaw and James Joyce, it's a treasure trove of cultural legends, beloved historic heritage and tasteful beauty.
To make the most of your trip to Dublin, check out our comprehensive list of activities below. In sourcing these suggestions we contacted a wonderful bunch of travel experts and long-time residents, including our friends at the Dublin Visitor Centre.
They returned with their personal recommendations for fun ways to enjoy the Irish capital like a seasoned local. These include some of the city's best walks, bus tours, gem attractions and nightlife events:
1) Explore With City Sightseeing Dublin:
To acquaint yourself with the Irish capital it's a good idea to take a whirl on the City Sightseeing Dublin open-top bus tour. This hop-on hop-off service has two routes encompassing the bulk of Dublin's top landmarks and attractions.
On the main east-west route you can visit iconic spots such as Trinity College, the Guinness Storehouse and Kilmainham Gaol. The recently introduced blue route extends north of the city in the direction of Glasnevin Cemetery and Croke Park Stadium.
In addition to travel by day City Sightseeing Dublin also have a night tour, a return airport shuttle combination, and day tours of Malahide Castle and County Wicklow. Learn more about Dublin's bus tours in our article about each of the services here.
2) Admire Masterpieces At Chester Beatty Library:
- Address: Dublin Castle, Dublin 2.
As one of UNESCO's official Cities of Literature you won't want to miss Dublin's finest literary treasures. The Chester Beatty Library is a museum containing many priceless books as well as pieces of decorative art from Islamic, East Asian and Western cultures. It can be argued that Chester Beatty's collection of religious manuscripts is one of the richest in the world. See some of the oldest illuminated copies of the Qur'an and Bible along with beautifully displayed pages of Ancient Egyptian papyrus text.
3) Tour Croke Park Stadium:
- Address: Jones' Rd, Drumcondra, Dublin 3.
Another popular thing to do in Dublin is to take a tour of Croke Park Stadium, where guides can surmise the story of the building as well as recant vital moments in Ireland's sporting history.
4) Do An Experiment At Dublin Science Gallery:
- Address: Naughton Institute, Pearse Street, Trinity College, Dublin 2.
If you're at all familiar with Dublin you're almost guaranteed to have heard of Trinity College - home of the famous Book of Kells. But did you know the institution has its own state-of-the-art Science Gallery? It's freely accessible and differs from traditional science museums in that it has no permanent collection.
Every few months a fresh exhibition is set up which explores a trending question in a relevant field of study. What you get is an experience that's just as, if not more, exciting than on a previous visit. Past exhibitions have explored humanity's cultural fascination with blood, the ramifications of synthetic life, and future developments in the gaming industry. All-in-all the Science Galley is modern, interactive, and best all, current!
Check out the site link above to learn more about 2018's present and upcoming exhibitions. The attraction was recommended to us by Paul Moran via the 'Dublin Local Guides' Google+ community.
5) Meet Great Minds At Dublin Writers Museum:
- Address: 18 Parnell Square N, Rotunda, Dublin 1.
If you're a great admirer of Ireland's monumental literary figures then head over to the Dublin Writers Museum at Parnell Square. This popular attraction pays homage to the nation's internationally celebrated wordsmiths. Uncover the life and works of Jonathan Swift, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and many more.
6) Visit Dublin Zoo:
- Address: Phoenix Park, Dublin 8.
A great attraction to visit particularly if you're travelling with kids is the zoo at Phoenix Park. Dublin Zoo covers some 69 acres and is divided into a variety of themed sections each representing either a biome with its endemic species or a specific animal family.
See a herd of endangered Asian elephants at the Kaziranga Forest Trail enclosure, witness some of the world's most strange and unique creatures in the South American House, and gaze into the eyes of a Siberian Tiger at the Fringes of the Arctic. The range of animals that Dublin Zoo helps conserve could easily keep a person occupied all day.
7) Embark On The Fabulous Food Trail:
There's no better way to enjoy the sights and tastes of Dublin at the same time than on this renowned gastronomic walking tour. Every morning they take small groups of visitors on a trail of some of the capital's finest culinary establishments. On top of the usual restaurants you'll discover bakeries, street markets, fish and cheesemongers, various delicatessens and more. During the tour your guide will even recount the stories behind each neighbourhood along the route.
8) Walk Along Grand Canal:
Another member of the Dublin Local Guides community sets us up for our next journey. Willem vd Velden suggested 3 wonderful city walks offering scenic and cultural perspectives that you just don't get on the average sightseeing bus tour. Firstly there's the Grand Canal. Wander around the northern Grand Canal Docks area next to the River Liffey then maybe stop for a coffee the Il Valentino.
If you choose to continue south along the length of the Grand Canal you could alternatively pop into the Schoolhouse Hotel/Bar for a pint and a bite of lunch. Keep heading along the rim of the canal until you come to either Charlemont Street or Richmond Street South then head up towards the beautiful Iveagh Victorian Gardens. It's the prefect point at which to finish up or move onto another city centre location.
9) Stroll Along Sandymount Beach:
Willem's second walk recommendation lies just outside the city centre in the coastal suburb of Sandymount. Here he suggests strolling along the quint and lengthy Sandymount Beach.
And then there's the cliff walk from Bray to Greystones. It's by far the furthest from central Dublin, being located along Country Wicklow's eastern coast, but if you do plan on seeing more of Ireland's natural beauty then the walks don't come much better than this. Bray to Greystones is a well signposted route and the departure point is easily reachable via rail or bus.
10) Hidden Dublin - Haunted History Walking Tour:
Back in Dublin Willem's last recommendation takes a spooky turn as you can choose to set out with the Hidden Dublin guides on a Haunted History Walking Tour. The organisers at Hidden Dublin are popular with both locals and visitors for their quality experiences and entertaining guides. They offer a number of tours, but the one linked to above is a renowned favourite. You depart with a small group from City Hall before exploring some of Dublin's oldest (and reputedly most haunted) streets. The tour finishes up at the iconic Brazen Head Pub.
11) Hidden Dublin - Gravediggers Ghost Bus Tour:
Our next two recommendations comes from Dublin Local Guides member William St Martin, who'd previously helped us find one Dublin's best bars. His first suggestion relates to the previous, but with a different twist. The Gravediggers Ghost Bus Tour departs every night from College Green and features a troupe of professional actors who recant a darker side to the past 600 years.
During the tour you'll laugh, scream and visit some of Dublin's most iconic attractions, from St. Audeons Church to the infamous Kilmainham Gaol. Of the Gravediggers tour William himself noted: "The guides are real actors and they really engage with us, it is a very unique way to discover horror stories and places of Dublin... The tour ends at the church bar, which is another unique place".
12) Have a Hooley At Johnnie Fox's Pub:
From grisly tales of murder and body snatching to toe-tapping rhythms, William St Martin's second recommendation once again takes us outside the city centre limits and across to the little southern village of Glencullen. Here you'll find Johnnie Fox's Pub and the renowned Hooley Irish Dance Show. Every night at around 19:00 the guests arrive and are warmly greeted before being seated and offered their menus. You can either choose one of Johnnie Fox's award winning seafood dishes or a delectable alternative like prime sirloin steak and a variety of vegetarian dishes.
The meal is followed by a lively music session that incorporates traditional instruments, folks songs, ballads and even fun sing-alongs. Once the bands finish their set the scene shifts to introduce the highlight act. Lights dim, the stage rises, and out come Johnnie Fox's famous Irish dancers. This portion of night has been officially cited as one of the country's finest Cultural Shows, and a spectacle certainly befitting at least one visit.
You can reach Johnnie Fox's Pub from central Dublin by contacting their Shuttle Bus partner directly, read more here.
13) Check In At The Guinness Storehouse:
- Address: St James's Gate, Ushers, Dublin 8.
The Guinness Storehouse has been delighting millions of international visitors since its opening in 2000. The former fermentation plant has seven floors which have all been renovated into separate exhibition spaces each exploring a different aspect of the popular Irish stout. Meet Arthur Guinness himself and learn about the ingredients that go into his drink, then ascend to the higher levels where Guinness' brewing process, logistics, cooperage, advertising and sponsorship all come to light.
As you move up the floors you'll also find yourself getting closer and closer to the top of the gigantic pint glass which rises through the centre of the building. Peer down into the awesome core of the structure before ascending to the final floor - the Gravity Bar. This circular observation deck offers panoramic views across Dublin and you'll even be poured a complimentary Guinness (pint included in ticket price).
14) Smell The Sea Air At Howth Village:
This suggestion came from travel & lifestyle blogger Beverley Reinemann, who we contacted via Twitter (@PckYourPassport). Beverley suggested taking the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) to Howth Fishing Village.
Howth is a pretty Dublin suburb that lies on the Howth Head peninsula. It's a great place to see relics from Ireland's past (Howth Castle), savour stunning seaside vistas like those around Ireland's Eye, and run along lovely beaches (Claremont Beach). Note that Howth is a main stop on our Malahide Castle & Coastal Day Tour, which runs daily from central Dublin.
15) Savour History At The Irish Whiskey Museum:
- Address: 119 Grafton Street, Dublin 2.
One of the capital's newest and most popular attractions in the Irish Whiskey Museum on Grafton Street. 20 tours are conducted daily, with guides taking visitors on a journey that encapsulates the entire history of the country's famous spirit. Discover the drink's origins as way for an impoverished Gaelic people to escape reality, through its renaissance and refinement, to eventual worldwide renown. Click here to book yourself a tour.
16) Visit Kilmainham Gaol:
- Address: Inchicore Rd, Kilmainham, Dublin 8.
Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison which opened to the public in 1971 having lain in a state of disrepair since its closure in 1924. Not only does the gaol offer insights into Dublin's penal system, but its main exhibition vividly illustrates some of the most tumultuous and poignant events in Ireland's social and political history.
We'd strongly recommend taking one of the guided tours so that you can hear and understand the many tragic stories that took place behind its imposing walls. See the cells that held numerous rebellion leaders from the late 18th century until 1916. Walk into the execution yard and observe the plaques in their honour. And enter the chapel where many sombre ceremonies took place.
17) Tour The Little Museum of Dublin:
- Address: 15 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2.
A much smaller yet equally incredible institution is the The Little Museum of Dublin. Situated within an 18th-century Georgian building at St Stephen’s Green this museum dedicates itself to the civic history of the Irish capital. Exhibitions focus on the key events, culture and lifestyle of the city during the 20th century. Throughout the variously themed rooms you'll encounter over 5,000 artefacts either loaned or donated directly from the citizens of Dublin.
Be sure to check out the space dedicated to JFK's June 1963 visit to Ireland, and a new exhibition centred around U2's rise to international stardom. Note that the The Little Museum of Dublin has received numerous recent accolades such as a third TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and a 2012 nomination for European Museum of the Year. Book an hourly tour with one of their entertaining and passionate guides.
18) See Marvellous Manuscripts At Marsh's Library:
Though often overlooked, Marsh's Library is an essential spot for anyone seeking out Ireland's literary culture. The building itself a terrific early Early Baroque gem tucked away just behind St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Inside they have over 25,000 multilingual books dated from the 16th-18th centuries, and even a Latin volume of the 'Lives of the Irish Saints' from around 1400. You can explore the building as part of a tour or simply wander as you please between the Irish oak bookshelves. As you do so bare in mind that famous names such as James Joyce and Jonathon Swift once frequented this exact place.
19) Explore The National Museum of Ireland:
The National Museum of Ireland is an institution separated into three main branches: NMI - Archaeology; NMI - Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks and NMI - Natural History.
NMI - Archaeology:
The first of these examines Ireland as it existed in prehistory up until the medieval period (1150-1550). Exhibitions in the archaeology branch include an ancient horde of decorative Celtic goldwork, a display of Iron Age bog bodies, and tools, arms and armour from medieval Ireland. There are three other sections to the archaeology branch which depart from Ireland, these explore: Ancient Egypt, Cyprus and Rome.
NMI - Decorative Arts & History:
By entering the Decorative Arts & History branch you can delve into the country's illustrious cultural and artist past. There's a 'Reconstructed Rooms' exhibition which provides physical insights into four centuries worth of Irish interior design. An extensive collection of Irish Silver chronicles the country's silversmithing practices from the early 17th century to the present day. And at the 'Airgead' exhibition, you can trace the story of Irish coins and currency from the 10th century up till the 21st.
NMI - Natural History:
Finally, the Natural History branch looks back on a geological scale to both Ireland and the rest of the world's vast variety of fauna. Marvel at over 2 million scientific specimens, chart their evolution and learn about life's daily struggle for survival.
20) Enjoy A Tipple At Old Jameson Distillery:
- Address: Bow St, Smithfield Village, Dublin 7.
As well as exploring the history behind Ireland's best selling whiskey and the story of its founders John Jameson & Son’s, the Old Jameson Distillery aims to give visitors a true taste for the drink. See the seven stages of whiskey making brought to life through a guided tour of the original facilities and enjoy a tipple from one of their signature bottles.
All guests receive a comparison whisky tasting, see if you can tell your Irish from your Scotch or American whiskey? All guests are rewarded with a signature Jameson Ginger and Lime after completing the tasting and a much coveted Irish Whiskey Taster Certificate. The Jameson Distillery also houses a gift shop, JJ’s bar and the 3rd Still Restaurant.
21) Do A Good Old Fashioned Pub Crawl:
While there are plenty of guided pub crawl providers in Dublin sometimes all you need is a quality list of local recommendations. Check out our article discussing 15 of the city's very best, from the heart of Temple Bar, to the suburbs of Blackrock and Dalkey.
22) Peruse Trinity College Library:
- Address: College Street, Dublin 2.
At Trinity College Library you can catch a glimpse of what is possibly Ireland's definitive national treasure. The Book of Kells is a lavishly illuminated gospel book written by Christian Monks in the early 9th century. It is well worth viewing for its cultural significance and the beauty of its Celtic designs.
23) Party At Whelan's Of Wexford St:
- Address: 25 Wexford St, Dublin 2.
Whelan's Bar is one of Dublin's definitive live music venues, and not just traditional music. Since 1989 they've hosted gigs featuring the likes of Jeff Buckley, Nick Cave, the Arctic Monkeys and Ed Sheeran. On one hand it's your typical cozy Irish pub, and on the other it's one of the world's most underrated and intimate live music venues.
24) Discover Ancient Relics At Whitefriar St Church:
- Address: 56 Aungier St, Dublin 2.
An indispensable history stop for anyone seeking such experiences. Whitefrier Church in the city centre is notable for housing the relics of Saint Valentine as well as the relics of Saint Albert of Trapani. They also own a life-size oak statue of Our Lady of Dublin.