Dublin city is the capital of Ireland and is 44.5 square miles of pure Irish charm. Full to the brim with culture, history, things to do, places to see, and awesome food, drink, and hospitality, Dublin should be an absolutely must-see city on your Ireland itinerary.
Without a doubt, this city is known for being trendy, bustling, and entirely exciting. There are so many wonderful things to do in Dublin, including spectacular sights, a curious history, and all manner of tours and sightseeing activities worthy of your time. Before you plan your next trip to Ireland, take a look at these incredible things to do in Dublin outlined below, to help you make the most of your stay and it be a trip to remember!
Top Things to Do in Dublin
From walking tours and historic buildings to pubs and green spaces, there’s plenty to do for everyone in Dublin.
Dublin Castle, which dates all the way back to the 13th century, is an iconic building in Ireland and was initially a Viking settlement and, afterward, the headquarters for Irish and British administration. After Ireland’s independence, the castle was given to the new Irish government in 1922. The castle is home to the Medieval Tower (aka Gunner’s Tower, Record Tower, and the Wardrobe Tower), which is one of the oldest – yet intact – places in Dublin and was built in 1204-28.
The area underneath Dublin Castle has been excavated and is now known as the Viking Excavation, as some of the original defenses from Viking Dublin were found here. While you’re at Dublin Castle, explore the gardens as the Castle Gardens are truly beautiful and a gorgeous place to unwind as you take in the history of your surroundings. Amongst the top sights in Dublin, don’t miss this landmark on your Ireland to-do list.
The Dark Side of Dublin Walking Tour
For one of the most exciting things to do around Dublin, go on a walking tour that showcases the city’s dark history. This thrilling walking tour will take you through Dublin’s dark side, introducing you to the villains (both real and mythological) of the city.
From paranormal activity to medieval vaults, you’ll learn all about the spooky tales and creepy happenings of Dublin as you make your way through graveyards, dark alleys to unknown parts of the city.
This is hands down one of the best things to do in Dublin and the perfect opportunity to see a lesser-known side of the city. Any list of fun things to do in Dublin would be seriously lacking without a dark side Dublin tour at the top. Another option is the ghost bus tour of Dublin if you were to be safe on a bus!
Sat in the middle of O’Connell Street in the centre of Dublin, the 120 metre high ‘The Spire’ can’t be missed. This stainless steel structure is a landmark in Dublin and stands in the spot that used to be home to the Nelson Pillar.
When the wind blows, the upper part of The Spire (also known as The Spire of Dublin) sways, but don’t worry! It’s completely safe and will always act as a landmark that will show you where the middle of Dublin city is.
The Guinness Storehouse
Taking a trip to the Guinness Storehouse is, without a doubt, one of the best places to visit in Dublin.
You can take a self-guided tour of the building, learning all about this much-loved stout drink, its ingredients, the brewing process, and its award-winning marketing campaigns. You’ll get a chance to visit the Gravity Bar which gives you stunning, 360-degree views of Dublin city too.
This tour, in the heart of the Guinness Brewery, includes a free pint of Guinness (that you get to pour for yourself!) or a soft drink, too. Amongst the most popular activities in Dublin, a trip to the Guinness Storehouse can’t be missed, beer lover or not.
Jameson Whiskey Distillery
Perhaps you prefer something a little stronger than beer, or are just curious about the whiskey-making experience (it really is quite interesting!). Get to take a step behind the scenes and learn about the long but fascinating history of how John Jameson began the process of creating the world-famous brand that Jameson is today, which started way back in 1780 at the Jameson Whiskey Distillery through a guided tour (and tasting, of course).
Sleep in a Castle
That’s right, there is a castle in Dublin that you can spend the night (or more) in! Clontarf Castle is just outside of the city centre but is still easily accessible from the main tourist spots. Get to be treated like royalty and spend time in a part of Dublin’s history, in an 11th-century castle that is of course updated with all the modern amenities you may want. It’s a truly unique experience to make your stay in Dublin epic.
But if you prefer a castle experience is that a little more like how those who lived in castles did in the olden days, there are plenty of other castles in Ireland to choose from! And many are quite affordable for the luxuries that you get to experience.
READ MORE: 15 Splurge-Worthy Castle Hotels in Ireland
Merrion Square is a Georgian Square and one of the biggest of its kind in Dublin. Georgian architecture was the style from the early 1700s to 1800s that you can still see present today around Dublin in the form of beautiful buildings and parks.
The park inside the square has some lovely sights, including a statue of Oscar Wilde reclining, shrubs and brightly coloured flowers and, around the perimeter, you’ll see Georgian houses, the gardens of the Leinster House, two museums, and the previous homes of W.B. Yeats and Daniel O’Connell.
If you visit Merrion Square on a Sunday, you’ll likely see artists hanging their work on the railings for people to buy and be witness to the bustling life of Dublin.
Trinity College is the constituent college of the University of Dublin and is an absolutely breathtaking building that you simply must visit.
One of the best things to see in Dublin is the Book of Kells, and you’ll find it at Trinity College. Written in Latin, the Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book from the 9th century. It features the 4 Gospels of the New Testament with prefaces and tables and was written in either Britain or Ireland.
You can also take guided tours of Trinity College which take you through its 400-year history and its 4 main squares, the buildings, their uses, and their traditions. If you visit during the summer, you can book to stay at the Trinity College halls of residence.
Phoenix Park is the largest enclosed park in any European capital city and is one of the best places to go in Dublin for both tourists and locals. Known to be one of the best things to do in Dublin, visiting Phoenix Park is a must for those who want to chill out and get close to nature, even if just for a bit.
This is a relaxed space, home to some brilliant institutions, including Áras an Uachtaráin (the residence of the President of Ireland), Dublin Zoo, and Farmleigh House. You can have a picnic at the park, or eat at The Phoenix Café or The Victorian Tea Rooms for a relaxing afternoon in nature.
Phoenix Park is home to a great many Dublin attractions, including the Magazine Fort, the Phoenix Monument, the Wellington Testimonial, the Papal Cross, and more that contribute to a scenic wander through the greenery.
Irish Museum of Modern Art
The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) is one of the top things to see in Dublin and showcases superb artists and exhibitions. There are over 3,500 pieces of artwork at the IMMA, by both Irish and international artists. This museum houses artwork from the 1940s onwards and also hosts events, performances, screenings, and workshops. You can find details of all the events on the official IMMA website for your visit.
Dublin Free Walking Tour
If you’re on a budget and looking for free things to do in Dublin, the Dublin Free Walking Tour will be sure to hit the mark. These tours are relaxed and the guides are from Dublin, so they know the city inside out and give you an easy way to get acquainted with the city.
You can choose from a whole host of tour topics such as North Side, South Side, Dublin Literary Tour, Dublin Food Tour, Dublin Music Tour, and Dublin Traditional Pub Tour.
La Cave Wine Bar
We all know that Ireland is famed for its beer and Irish whiskey, but that doesn’t mean you have to go without fine wine when you visit.
La Cave Wine Bar, as well as being a great place for delicious wine and food, offers the La Cave Wine School for wine courses and tasting. Here, you can learn more about wine, whether you’re already a pro or you’re simply casually curious. If you’re looking for things to do in Dublin at night, this could be one for your list.
St Stephen’s Green Park
In the Dublin centre, St Stephen’s Green Park is a peaceful retreat in the midst of the bustle and excitement of the city. This beautiful green space is home to lots of different types of nature, so keep a lookout for magpies, wrens, swans, tufted ducks, and more wonderful creatures when you’re there. The landscape at the park is also stunning and where you’re going to want to snap a few pictures.
There are more than 750 types of trees at St Stephen’s Green Park, and there are flower beds, formal lawns, herbaceous borders, and many other lovely features. At the park, you can see the 1916 Exhibition, as well as other landmarks such as the lake, its waterfall, and an island for a mini oasis in the capital city. I recommend grabbing a warm drink on Grafton Street (one of the city’s main shopping streets) that ends at the park before roaming through the beauty.
St Patrick’s Cathedral
Founded in 1911 and named after one of Ireland’s patron saints, St Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest cathedral in all of Ireland. It’s quite a grand sight to see both outside and inside, where the floors and walls are decorated in mosaics. The Church of Ireland has held services here for over 800 years, talk about some history!
Kilmainham Gaol Museum
An excellent addition to any Dublin sightseeing itinerary, the Kilmainham Gaol Museum dates back to 1796 when it was the County Gaol for Dublin.
In Irish, Gaol means jail and Kilmainham Gaol held men, women, and children for all kinds of crime, ranging from stealing food to murder.
It closed in 1924, not before making history for itself as the building that held the detained – and sometimes executed – leaders of the Irish Civil War and members of the Irish Republican movement during the Anglo-Irish War.
When you’re in Dublin, you can visit Kilmainham Gaol Museum to take in its stories and Irish history. Plus, there’s a café on-site if you need to refuel for the rest of your day visiting Dublin attractions.
Next to the River Liffey, Temple Bar is known as the tourist hub of Dublin, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s tacky. This is where you’ll find lively pubs, restaurants, bars, entertainment, and more. This area is one of the most loved Dublin tourist attractions, so we highly recommend that you add it to your list.
Did you know that there are around 666 licensed pubs in Dublin? Don’t be overwhelmed with choices though. Perhaps one of the best-known pubs in Dublin, though, is The Temple Bar, which can be found in…you guessed it, Temple Bar! This is a charming spot to catch live music and, to get a taste before you go, you can see the inside and outside of The Temple Bar through its live webcam.
Afternoon Tea on a Vintage Bus
See the highlights of Dublin in a unique way by sightseeing while onboard a vintage 1960 double-decker bus while enjoying tea and sweet treats! The bus has been restored and is a fabulous way to see sights such as Merrion Square, Trinity College, St Patrick’s Cathedral, and much more while the hosts share their favourite stories of Dublin and jazz from the 50s plays through the speakers.
How many days do you need in Dublin?
2 days in Dublin can be done and if you’re short on time, is recommended. 3 or 4 days allows you to take in the city at a more leisurely pace or you can add in some days trips if you’re planning on making Dublin your base. Some day trips options are Belfast, Wicklow Mountains, and Blarney Castle.
When is the best time to visit Dublin?
Since Dublin is the most popular city in Dublin, it can be visited year-round and with plenty of options of things to do when it rains, Dublin can be visited in winter too. But as for the best time to visit Dublin and Ireland overall, summer (June-August) is ideal. Opt for May, September, or October if you prefer fewer crowds but still want to take advantage of the weather before it gets chilly.
Where to Stay in Dublin
If it’s your first time in Dublin or you’re wanting to be close to the action, O’Connell Street is where to be! This Dublin accommodation guide covers all areas, but for a quick pick, try one of these top choices:
- Riu Plaza The Gresham Dublin: Luxurious, polished, and a great location.
- Jurys Inn Dublin Parnell Street: A contemporary, mid-range option just off of O’Connell Street.
- Jacobs Inn Hostel: A budget-friendly option that doesn’t mean shared rooms, private rooms are offered here too.
Have an awesome time in Dublin city and enjoy your trip to Dublin, as I’m sure it will be filled with history, beauty, and proper pub culture. Enjoy a pint of Guinness for me!