More than 10% of the total U.S. population self-identifies as having Irish ancestry. So the fascination with the Emerald Isle comes as no surprise.
Dublin, the capital and largest city of Ireland, remains a great place to explore. At the mouth of the River Liffey, it’s bordered by the Irish Sea and the Wicklow Mountains range. Dublin’s surprising nature allows year-round active adventures.
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Whether you visit for a weekend, a week, a month, 52 perfect days, or a lifetime, there’s always more to do in Dublin.
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52 Best Things To Do in Dublin
1. Visit the Molly Malone Statue
“It’ll bring you luck to rub her breasts,” is not a commonly heard phrase in this PC world. But start a tour at this favored statue and you’ll see tourists and Dubliners alike adhering to the tradition. She’s the start of sculptures throughout the city.
2. Find Historic Statues
Like Molly Malone, you’ll find random statues scattered around the city. There are already enough for a scavenger hunt. Check them out.
3. Enjoy the Great Food in Dublin
This photo is the cajun chicken salad at the Skerries Mills cafe. No need to have dry fish and oily fries. The city’s chefs deliver mouthwatering, healthy food with an understanding of your dietary restrictions.
4. Tour the Jeannie Johnston Famine Ship
This famous ship had no deaths, and one birth, during her 16 voyages to North America during Ireland’s famine years. The famine ship provides several tours daily.
5. Go to the EPIC museum
Europe’s number one tourist attraction, EPIC tells the tale of the Irish emigration experience. Showcased are Ireland’s contributions to the worldwide workforce, art, literature, and entertainment.
EPIC museum banner is a symbol of the epic time you’re about to have.
The emigration story allows you to imagine what your ancestors experienced.
6. Pay Respects at the Famine Memorial
Not far from the Jeannie Johnston Famine ship on the north side of the Liffey, find these sculptures representing emigration during the potato famine years. A complementary memorial is present in Ireland Park, Toronto, Canada.
7. Visit the Grand Canal Quay
Life in Dublin centers around water. Facebook. Google. Entertainment. Commerce. Shopping. All happens here. And keep an eye peeled. Bono lived here.
8. Head to the GPO to Witness History
The General Post Office on O’Connell Street, required rebuilding after damage from the 1916 Revolution. Filled with displays and videos, it’s worth the price of admission to see what steps were taken towards independence.
9. Visit Dublin Castle
Both protective and governmental, this complex includes the ancient fort, private apartments, public meeting space, government buildings, a decommissioned church, and a large memorial garden. Dublin Castle is truly one of the best things to explore in Dublin. This park is the entry for the Special Events Building and the Chester Beatty Library.
A park where you’d never expect. Hidden behind the wall of historic and medieval buildings downtown. Go in. Take a picnic.
This Dining Room was used for visiting dignitaries, including the English monarch.
Step out of the weather to enjoy free admission to the latest display of Irish art.
10. Visit the Chester Beatty Library
The most extensive religious manuscript collection in the world was collected by American born Alfred Chester Beatty. The atrium contains a small gift shop, seating, and restaurant. Free admission and one of the top things to do in Dublin.
The best library in the world for religious documents. Chester Beatty and his wife traveled the world to find known and obscure religious documents from all faiths. Free admission.
11. Visit Hugh Lane Gallery
This free art museum is located across the street from the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square. This artist’s garret was moved “en toto” within the Gallery. It’s hazy b/c it was photographed thru thick glass
12. Garden of Remembrance
Resplendent with school children, or peaceful at rest, this Irish Freedom memorial allows reflection. It has not been an easy process for Ireland to gain her independence. And many are aware. They’re not done yet.
13. Visit the Little Museum of Dublin
This (not so) little museum underwent expansion in Spring 2019. Contents include pop-culture references sure to amuse and amaze you. Check out the entire room dedicated to the band U2. And tributes to the most elected mayor of Dublin. Everybody loved Alfie.
14. Visit the Oldest Bar in Dublin: The Brazen Head
The oldest bar in Dublin is visible from a distance thanks to this external art.
The oldest pub is also one of the busiest. If you are looking for what to do in Dublin, this is a must!
15. Do Some Genealogy Research
With a preponderance of Irish descendants around the world, Dublin has robust genealogy records. To be most successful though, know the Catholic parish to which your ancestors belonged.
16. Find the Dublin Crest
Located at city hall, these three castles represent three gates into the ancient Viking city. The castle represents Dublin Castle. Many Irish believe in the mystical significance of the number 3.
17. Christ Church Cathedral
The oldest building in Dublin, and the original Roman Catholic church. This Cathedral remained Church of Ireland after decommissioning in the 1800s. Saved from ruin by the Roe family, it’s crypt is the largest in Ireland.
The view from the altar shows the architectural features viewed from the altar to the central worship space.
18. Iconic Bridge
Below, the iconic bridge linking Christ Church with Dublinia.
The entry here is from Dublinia, coming down from the Tower.
Antiquities found during construction didn’t prevent the building of a new government building. To appease the locals, these permanent placards of items found are scattered around the exterior streets on the Liffey Side of Christ Church.
Built within the Synod Hall of Christ Church Cathedral, experience Viking Life and Medieval Dublin. Dress as a Viking. Play carnival games. Examine the original Dublin fortifications. The below model of a medieval village provides context for the information displayed.
20. Hidden Fun
Around the city, often behind closed doors, you’ll find artwork, from graffiti to colorful characters. Find this one located on the lower level around the corner from Christ Church Cathedral.
21. Historic Paths
Take your time and go up, or down, random outdoor staircases. You may be surprised by what you find.
22. Walk Along the River Liffey
The lifeblood of Dublin acts for transportation, commerce, entertainment and a great place to sit and reflect – past and present.
23. Find Beautiful and Surprising Nature
Many people think of the industrial side of Dublin. In addition to St. Stephen’s Green, Ireland’s “Central Park,” and the River Liffey, parks are secreted across the city.
24. Head to St. Stephen’s Green for Buskers and Shopping
Street artists from unicyclists to singers are prevalent along Grafton Street leading to the convenient shopping at St. Stephen’s Green mall.
25. Head to the Queen of Tarts
The Queen of Tarts is a great place for a meal or tea. They specialize in home-baked goods, including many gluten-free selections. Consider take away service when the line gets long.
26. Visit St. Patrick Park
This green space is a popular space for young families on sunny afternoons. Children’s play area, historic display and plenty of flowers.
27. Enjoy High Tea at the Merrion Hotel
Stroll through the lobby then enjoy their famous Art Tea. The high tea with dessert art is inspired by the hotel’s extensive art collection.
28. Skerries Mills Four Sail Windmill
This wonderful day trip location, 30 minute train ride north of Dublin, contains 3 national heritage stars. The four sail windmill. The five sail windmill. And the watermill. Go for the history. Stay for the food.
29. Take a Day Trip to Howth
30. Visit Ha’penny Bridge
The most famous pedestrian bridge in Dublin used to charge a half a penny. Now it’s free, so make sure to take a stroll across!
31. Enjoy Spa time
One of the top choices is the Spa at the Shelbourne Hotel on St. Stephen’s Green. The Shelbourne spa is a sanctuary from the inner city bustle and hustle. Enjoy a therapeutic or relaxation massage preceded by a gym visit and followed by an hour or two in the relaxation room.
During your time in the relaxation room, a staff member will deliver an oval-shaped plate with a small glass of cranberry juice, a jar of berries and a small scoop of honeycomb ice with an assortment of nuts, banana chips, and raisins and a choice of nine teas.
32. Learn about Irish Writers
It won’t surprise you that the Irish have a lot to say … in interesting ways.
33. Merrion Square
One of Ireland’s most famous literary sons is Oscar Wilde. His statue rests on a rock in Merrion Square. His coat, made of jade, allows for the brilliant color regardless of the weather. His Trinity College tie nods to his alma mater.
34. Dublin’s Writer’s Museum
You’ll definitely want to purchase the tour at this venue. Hear the writer’s read their work. Learn about whose friendship affected their writing. And see the formal entertainment space on the second floor of this former Jameson family home.
35. Visit Dublin City Hall
A beautiful place for a wedding. And full of history.
The ground level rooms include static displays and video documenting the history of Ireland and that of Dublin herself. The first floor rotunda contains statues of famous men determined to help Dublin succeed.
36. See Ireland’s Copy of the Magna Carta
Kept safe in Christ Church Cathedral crypt. This document in its third iteration became the foundation for parliament and legal principles.
37. See St Patrick’s “Chance Your Arm”
St Patrick’s Cathedral holds this historic Door of Reconciliation. A truce between the Butlers and Fitzgeralds over the Lord Deputy role in 1492 occurred through the hole in the door.
38. Enjoy Street Performances
Take the time to read what the artists write. You may be surprised by what you learn.
39. Dalkey Castle & Heritage Center
My favorite day trip 30 minutes south of Dublin on the Dart train is Dalkey Castle. Dalkey itself is a walkable town with history, great restaurants, and a stunning sea coast.
40. Visit the Guinness Storehouse
Want to know how much work goes into creating your favorite pint? Guinness is happy to share their process during a tour of the brewery!
Storehouse barrels are stacked for display with the video of a cooper’s life illuminating.
41. Experience Post-Game Night Life
Friday or Saturday game nights are the same across Dublin. Whether Temple Bar or your local bar, take care which team you’re rooting for.
42. Visit Trinity College
The “Ivy League of Europe.” Trinity College allows one of the best walks within a walled campus. It’s bad luck for any currently enrolled student to stand under the campanile.
43. Explore the Long Hall
This imposing hall above the Book of Kells welcomes visitors from around the world. The library has the right to receive every book published in Ireland. Many are now held off-site. Scavenger hunt tip: search for particular famous Irish figures amongst the busts.
44. See the Book of Kells
This is the most famous historic document in Dublin and it rests in Trinity College. Enjoy the historic description prior to standing in line to pass the illuminated manuscript.
45. Hop on Public transportation
One of the best values in Dublin, ride the Airlink from the airport to downtown for 1/4 the price of a taxi. Bus lines, tram (Luas), and train make most of Dublin easily accessible.
46. Search out Fun Selfie Signs
If you’re looking for a postcard selfie home, find this one.
47. Visit the National Wax Museum
Go for the wax figures, stay for the history. The diverse information, unlike any other wax museum, almost prepares you for the Irish History lesson in the lower level. If fantasy or horror is your genre, don’t miss the basement displays.
48. Visit the Jameson Distillery
Worth the tour to learn the difference in the number of times distillation occurs. Single distilled whiskey (Scotch), double-distilled whiskey (American) and triple distilled (Irish) Whiskey.
Not found on any major tour, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin maintains his seat at this Cathedral. Just blocks from the Spire on O’Connell Street, this 200-year-old cathedral welcomes Catholic pilgrims.
50. National Gallery of Ireland
This art museum offers special exhibitions, like Sorolla’s paintings on life in Spain. It’s also a great place for children’s birthday parties. Free admission.
51. Poolbeg Lighthouse
A twenty-minute taxi ride and a 30 minute walk out to the lighthouse, Poolbeg is a popular daily jog for locals and unexpected joy for tourists. Watch the ships pass the lighthouse on their way to England.
52. St. Patrick’s Day Parade
There’s something extra special about attending the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin. 2019’s theme “Storytelling.” On March 17th, everyone is Irish!
Recommended Dublin Travel Resources
- Travel Insurance: World Nomads.
- Transport: AirfareWatchDog and Skyscanner (Best Sites to Research Flight Prices)
- Airbnb, Prefer to rent a room or house? Sign up here for a $40 credit.
- Top Dublin Hotel Reviews: TripAdvisor
The Best Time To Visit Dublin
Dublin’s best weather occurs between May and September, but it’s temperate year-round. Temperatures typically stay between 45 and 65 degrees F.
If you are looking for what to do in Dublin, Ireland we hope this list helped! Know of other things to do in Dublin that should be on the list? Please share in the comments below.
The Best Places to Stay Dublin
For the most elegant stay, choose the Grace Kelly Suite at the Shelbourne Hotel. It averages $10,000 / night. The most economic places to stay in Dublin are typically AirBnBs. (Sign up here for a $40 Airbnb credit).
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5 Indispensable Items to Pack for Ireland
- Get the Lonely Planet guide to Ireland.
- Get a good quality mirrorless camera for capturing your trip. I use the Sony Alpha a6000 .
- Weather is unpredictable, so bring a lightweight umbrella and rain jacket (even in summer you may find areas chilly and rainy)
- Waterproof hiking boots. I love Keen because they are lightweight and super comfortable.
- A great cross body travel bag. Crossbody bags prevent theft and are much easier to access.
Read More About Ireland
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Gail Clifford, MD, a physician for more than 25 years, has traveled to five continents and all 50 United States. An avid traveler, she happily goes on new adventures, especially on birthdays. Multi-generational travel remains a treasured pastime. She divides her time between Ireland and the U.S.