Dublin is an ever-changing city. Over the past 20 years, it has seen massive economic and cultural growth. It has blossomed into a progressive society that prides itself as a welcoming city for tourists and newcomers to the city alike.
The city is rooted in history, and there are endless things to do and see for visitors. From the literacy genius of William Butler Yeats and George Bernard Shaw and the musical hero’s of Thin Lizzy and U2, it’s a city of cultural significance. It’s a perfect place for a weekend break or as your starting point for a trip around this beautiful green country.
1. Guinness Storehouse
Arguably one of the most famous and most frequented tourist attractions in Dublin. The Guinness storehouse is a fascinating look into the production and history of the drink that is so synonymous with the emerald isle. For any trip to Ireland, it would be remiss not to include a trip to the home of “the black stuff”.
The tour of the Guinness Storehouse is much more than the typical brewery tour. It’s a multi-floor experience that takes you through everything from the brewing process to the long history of Arthur Guinness who founded the company in 1759.
It is a very interactive tour with many audio and visual informative sections. The tour can be self-guided or guided and can be as long as you want it to be. You could spend three hours here easily if you’re really into it. The Guinness brand is iconic for how they create a feeling and experience through the marketing of their product. The timeline of their marketing activities throughout history is one of the best exhibits on the show.
As part of your ticket, you will also have the option to either pull a pint of Guinness or you can choose to wait until you reach the Gravity Bar at the end of the tour and have a skilled professional pull your drink for you. In the Gravity Bar, you will also get to take in panoramic views of Dublin City from this unique vantage point.
2. Dublin Zoo
Everyone loves a Zoo… Right. Dublin Zoo is located in Phoenix Park. Its located in the North of the city and is very accessible through public transport. The zoo was established in 1830, making it one of the oldest zoos in the world. Dublin Zoo is home to over 600 animals and is undoubtedly a great day out for all ages.
As Dublin Zoo is a registered charity and conservation, the zoo relies on the funds of visitors to run, so by visiting you will be supporting their conservation efforts.
An example of some of the different exhibits and habitats that are represented in the zoo is the African Plains, the Arctic, Reptiles, Asian Forests, World of Primates, Family Farm, and Sea Lion Cove to name but a few.
3. Phoenix Park
After your trip to Dublin Zoo, you should take a wander around Phoenix park. There are many sights to see in Phoenix Park including the Phoenix monument, the iconic Wellington Testimonial, and the papal cross which was erected in 1979 for Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ireland when famous 1.25 million people attended an open-air sermon.
Áras an Uachtaráin is also located in the Phoenix Park and is the home and workplace of the president of Ireland, currently, Michael D. Higgins, his wife Sabina, and their two Bernese mountain dogs named Bród and Síoda.
4. Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk
For those of you who are fans of a scenic walk, the Bray to Greystones cliff walk would is a great way to appreciate the stunning views of this coastal haven. Technically, this is in Wicklow, rather than Dublin but is just south of Dublin and conveniently reachable by Dart or Dublin Bus.
This walk is 7km in length and should take roughly two hours to complete which means that it will likely get your heart rate up. The walk flows along the coastline and you will get to appreciate some amazing views of the East coast. The walk begins near the Bray bandstand and finishes up in Greystones which is a beautiful coastal village with an abundance of options to reward yourself with a coffee or a beer.
5. Dublin Bay Cruises
Dublin Bay Cruises provide you with a unique way to travel in Dublin. With multiple routes available you are always guaranteed spectacular views of the stunning Irish coastline.
Whether you are going from Dublin City to Dun Laoghaire for a walk along the prom or from Howth to Ireland’s Eye, home of the amazing bird and seal colony, you will be spoiled for choice with the views. You can also be certain that you will be treated well onboard any of Dublin Bay Cruises vessels and you may even treat yourself to a coffee or a glass of wine from the onboard bar.
6. Kilmainham Gaol (Jail)
Kilmainham Gaol (built 1796) is a significant piece of Irish history. This disused jail was a key site in the Irish war of independence.
The jail is located on the West side of the city and is now a museum with much historical significance in Ireland due to the events of the 1916 Easter Rising. It closed its doors as a functioning prison in 1924. During this time, many of the Irish revolutionaries were imprisoned and in some cases executed during their captivity by order of the UK Government.
In the 1930s, plans began to preserve the site as a memorial and museum to the 1916 Easter Rising were made by the Office of Public Works. Names such as Henry Joy McCracken, Robert Emmet, Anne Devlin, Charles Stewart Parnell, and the leaders of 1916 will always be associated with the building as well as thousands of ordinary men, women, and even children. It is a solemn tour but one that would be recommended for those interested in learning more about Ireland’s complex history.
7. Trinity College
Trinity College is one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland and is Ireland’s oldest surviving university. It is conveniently located right in Dublin City Centre just of the main shopping street (Grafton Street).
The Trinity College Library is an architectural wonder and is the largest library in Ireland. Many will know that the Trinity College Library is the home of The Book of Kells (created around 800AD) which is one of Ireland’s cultural treasures containing all four Gospels of the New Testament. The Book of Kells is located in the Old Library incorporating the Long Room along with many other ancient texts and holds thousands of rare, and in many cases very early, volumes. All you book worms and architecture enthusiasts will surely be entertained in the Old Library, which is the section that is open to the public.
8. Viking Splash Tours
Viking Splash Tours is a truly unique and fun way to explore Dublin. Combining authentic World War II amphibious vehicles, the DUKWs, with an imaginative and exciting Viking themed tour, the Viking Splash experience is unrivaled in Dublin City.
The Viking Splash tour is a great history lesson and one that you are guaranteed to be entertained throughout while experiencing Dublin City by land and water. Most importantly, on the Viking Splash Tour, you will learn to roar like a true Viking which is what the Viking Splash Tour is synonymously known for by the locals in Dublin as it often catches people off, guard.
9. Croke Park
Croke Park is the home of Ireland’s largest sporting and cultural organization, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and if you have the opportunity to watch a sporting event there, it is highly recommended to experience a traditional Irish sporting event.
If you cannot get to Croke Park, there are often local matches happening which will also guarantee to entertain. Also, if there is not a match happening in Croke Park during your visit, Croke Park has an amazing stadium tour which is an informative tour of the history of the GAA which is at the heart of Irish sporting history.
Some of the highlights of the Croke Park Stadium Tour include taking a seat in the VIP area, getting a birds-eye view from the media center, sneaking a peek inside the dressing rooms, and of course, walking in the footsteps of Gaelic games legends as you go pitchside through the players’ tunnel!
10. Powerscourt Waterfall and Gardens
Powerscourt Waterfall, is a 121-meter high waterfall, on the River Dargle near Enniskerry in County Wicklow, Ireland. Situated at the base of the Glensoulan Valley, the waterfall is overlooked by Djouce 725 meters and Maulin 570 meters.
After appreciating the stunning sight of the waterfall, it is a short drive away to the beautiful Powerscourt Garden where it is advised you could spend 90 mins rambling through the gardens. The Gardens stretch over 47 acres and offer visitors a sublime blend of formal gardens, sweeping terraces, statues and ornamental lakes, secret hollows, and rambling walks.
Following your exploration of the Powerscourt Garden, you can visit the fabulous Avoca Cafe for a piece of cake and a pot of tea to top off the trip taking the panoramic views of the gardens against the backdrop of the famous Sugarloaf Mountain.
11. Glasnevin Cemetery
This is somewhat of a somber suggestion of something to do in Dublin but it is a popular historical tourist attraction.
Glasnevin cemetery offers daily guided tours.
There are many key figures from Irish history laid to rest within these grounds such as Michael Collins, Charles Stewart Parnell, Éamon de Valera, Countess Markievicz, Luke Kelly, and Brendan Behan to name but a few and you can take in the vast array of celtic crosses, statues, and greenery dotted around the grounds.
The cemetery spans over 124 acres, so it suggests that you take a guided tour. As you don’t want to get lost in this sprawling cemetery.
12. Grab a drink in a traditional Irish pub
Dublin has some of the best and most iconic pubs in the world (dare we say it?) and you will be spoiled for choice when deciding where to go for your evening tipple on any given night or day for you boozehounds.
Temple Bar is an area of Dublin that is known as a tourist trap and as a result, you will pay a pretty penny for your obligatory “pint of plain”, which is worth it for the Instagram post but is maybe not the spot you will stay for the entire night.
If you want to experience a traditional Irish pub, that will allow you to mix with the locals, making your way out of the Temple Bar area is recommended. A couple of our favorites are Kehoes Pub and Grogans, which are both conveniently located just off busy Grafton Street on South Anne Street and South William Street respectively. These haunts pour some of the freshest Guinness known to man.
13. Hop on the Dart to Howth
Howth is a beautiful coastal village located on the Howth peninsula, East of Dublin City. Howth is the perfect place slow down and simply grab a fish and chips to go and sit along the shore and enjoy the views of the Dublin coastline. Beshoff Bros is the place to go when it comes to fish and chips in Howth, the reviews on Google should be an indication of how good it is but please check it out and the food will speak for itself.
The best way to travel to Howth is by jumping on the Dart which runs all along the Dublin Coastline from Greystones in Co. Wicklow to Howth, or Malahide. The Dart ironically is an acronym for Dublin Area Rapid Transport but this will be a slow journey and so the perfect mode of transport to relax and take in the views.
14. The Spire & the Ha’penny Bridge
The Spire is an iconic monument located in the center of O’Connell Street in Dublin City. It is a steel pin-like monument that stands at 120 meters with the bottom being 3 meters in circumference.
The Spire was erected in 2003 and was quite divisive to the locals of Dublin City because many did not see the point of it and thought it was an eyesore to the historical O’Connell Street. As the years have gone by it has become synonymous with the Dublin Skyline.
For tourists, it is a good meeting spot as you can spot it from much of the city as Dublin does not have too many tall buildings. Another name for it is Monument of Light and in the evening, it is often illuminated beautifully and the tip is lit by an external source.
A short walk from The Spire is the Ha’penny Bridge which is an iconic landmark and it has become synonymous with identifying Dublin. The Ha’penny bridge features in many Irish songs. It was the first pedestrian bridge to cross the River Liffey and the name came from the fact that when this bridge began to be in use in the 1800s, the cost of crossing the bridge was a halfpenny (Ha’penny).
15. St. Stephens Green, Grafton Street, Molly Malone statue
St. Stephens Green is a public park located in the Southside of Dublin’s City Centre and is the perfect place to sit with a to-go lunch and do a bit of people watching. The park is 22 acres of well-manicured lawns and beautiful flowers to enjoy. An interesting element in St. Stephens Green is that there is a corner dedicated to the blind with scented plants labeled with Braille signage.
Adjacent to St. Stephens Green is the popular shopping street, Grafton Street. It’s pedestrianized and is a popular street for buskers to play and so you will never be short of entertainment as you browse from shop to shop.
Along the many streets just off Grafton Street, there are many restaurants, cafes, and pubs.
Not far, near the North end of Grafton Street, you can find the famous Molly Malone statue. Molly Malone is also a popular song in Dublin and a statue to commemorate the song and the figure of Molly Malone was erected in 1988.
The GPO stands for General Post Office and is the headquarters for Ireland’s postal service known as An Post (literally translating to The Post in the Irish language). It is situated on O’Connell Street, not far from the Spire, and is a fabulous Georgian building to look at. The GPO is a site that is embedded in Irish history as it was the headquarters for the leaders of the Easter Rising.
17. The Iveagh Gardens
The Iveagh Gardens are another public garden located not far from St. Stephens Green. The Iveagh Gardens are known as one of Dublin’s hidden gems as it is mostly surrounded by taller buildings and so the entrances could be easy to miss.
There are many stunning elements to enjoy when taking an afternoon stroll through the Iveagh Gardens such as a large sunken lawn near the Earlsfort Terrace entrance where the remains of an elephant from Dublin Zoo was buried in 1922, The waterfall which holds significance as it cascades over rocks from all 32 counties of Ireland and the Iveagh Garden maze to name but a few, not to mention the beautiful flowers present in the Gardens.
Many events take place in the Iveagh Gardens throughout the year from concerts to The Taste of Dublin and so be sure to check online as there may be a ticketed event happening there during your visit.
18. Dundrum Town Centre
Dundrum Town Centre is the largest shopping center in Ireland and could be the perfect excursion for a rainy day or just if you fancy killing a few hours of shopping. There are over 168 shops representing clothing stores, restaurants, and a cinema. If you are looking for anything, you can nearly guarantee you will find it at Dundrum Town Centre. It is conveniently located along the Green Luas line which is the easiest way to get there from the city center.
19. Take in a show at the Gaiety Theatre
The Gaiety Theatre is a very well-known theatre located near the south of Grafton Street and St. Stephens Green. The Gaiety Theatre opened in 1871 and has been the home of so many theatrical performances since its opening.
Musical, Operatic, Comedy, Pantomime, and Dramatic shows have all been performed here. You can check what is scheduled to play on the Gaiety Theatre website. The Gaiety School of Acting is also associated with the theatre and there have been many Irish Actors that have studied there.
20. Jameson Distillery
The Old Jameson Distillery is the location where Jameson was originally manufactured and distilled before 1970 when operations ceased. This location is known as the birthplace of Irish Whiskey and Jameson is synonymous with Ireland along with Guinness.
There are a variety of tours you can book from cocktail making, tours of the distillery, and premium whisky tasting to name but a few. The Bow Street Markets shop is the perfect spot at the end of your tour to pick up all your souvenirs and gifts for your loved ones. The ‘Bottle you own’ experience is also a very popular option where you can fill your bottle of Jameson from the cask and includes a personalized label.