Things to do in Dublin

A comprehensive list of the best tourist sites in Dublin and how you can save money when visiting them!

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and has travelled the world full time since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.

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The best things to do in Dublin

From Guinness, to castles, and literary greats - Dublin is a city overflowing with heritage and a welcoming embrace.

There are lots of things to do in Dublin and it helps to have a bit of a plan. Plus I've got a good tip on how you can save money seeing Dublin's sights.

Each time I go – and I have been a few times now – I find more things to do in Dublin. For me, Dublin has normally been a stopping point before heading off to see more of Ireland now. But I realise now that you could easily spend 4 or 5 days in the city, just doing the sights, and you still wouldn’t run out of things to do.

There’s an interesting mix in Dublin. You’ve got the history (mainly from the British occupation but also from earlier periods); there are some more recent cultural museums; there are the sites of the alcohol industry (very important here); and then there are the sort of attractions you get in many cities – like the zoo and stadiums.

Things to do in Dublin, Ireland

Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, let alone make sure you don’t miss anything. To help you out, I’ve put together this comprehensive guide on the things to do in Dublin.

How to save money seeing Dublin’s top sights

The majority of them are part of The Dublin Pass, a ticket that you buy once and then gives you free entry to as many of the attractions as you can visit.

You can choose a pass for 1, 2, 3 or 5 days so it’s perfect for any length of trip. If you’re planning to do a lot during your stay in Dublin, I highly recommend getting the pass because it will save you a lot of money and you’ll be able to skip the queue at some of the busier attractions!

I’m now going to tell you about 21 things to do in Dublin. Of course, there are even more than that – as you’ll probably find yourself as you explore. But these are the best places to see as a tourist who wants to get a sense of all the different things the city has to offer.

The best things to do in Dublin

If you’ve decided to get the Dublin Pass, you’ll maximise your savings as you see more of the sites that have free entry included. These are my top recommendations.

Hop on Hop off Bus Tour

As you can see from the map above, most of the sites are quite close together. In fact, Dublin is a fairly easy city to walk around. But to make your visit easier, see a bit more, and hear some local information, you can use the Hop on Hop off Bus Tour. There are 28 stops and two routes. There is commentary in 8 languages and the ticket lasts for 24 hours.

* Included in The Dublin Pass

Guinness Storehouse

One of the most popular attractions in Dublin is the Guinness Storehouse. The famous beer isn’t made in this building anymore but it’s still within the St James Gate Brewery.

The museum, which is open to the public, is an impressive site with seven floors telling the story of the Guinness brand and the brewing process. At the top, you’ll get a free pint of Guinness to try.

* Included in The Dublin Pass

Visit Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, Ireland

St Patrick’s Cathedral

St Patrick’s Cathedral is one of the most important landmarks in Dublin. There’s been a religious presence on the site since 1191 and it’s said that St Patrick himself used to baptise people here.

There are quite a few features to see inside, including the burial site of Jonathan Swift, the dean of the cathedral and author of Gulliver’s Travels.

* Included in The Dublin Pass

St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland

Christ Church Cathedral

It’s quite unusual for a city to have two cathedrals but Dublin does. The second one is Christ Church Cathedral, which is the oldest building in Dublin.

It’s a beautiful church located in the heart of the old medieval centre. It’s worth seeing both to get a sense of the differences and the important role each of them has played in the history here.

* Included in The Dublin Pass

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland

Dublinia

Right next to Christ Church Cathedral (and actually linked by a passage) is the Dublinia museum. It has two sections – one focusing on the Viking era and one on the Medieval years.

It feels like it is made for children and doesn’t have much in the way of authentic exhibits. A good place for the family or for people with The Dublin Pass who are going to Christ Church Cathedral and want to just pop in and have a look for free.

* Included in The Dublin Pass

Dublinia, Dublin, Ireland

The Little Museum of Dublin

As the name suggests, this museum is quite small but it’s one of my favourite museums in Dublin. It’s hosted inside an 18th century Georgian townhouse and tells the story of the city during the 20th century.

It uses more than 5,000 real artefacts to show visitors the social changes during the period. The room at the top dedicated to the band U2 is also quite cool.

* Included in The Dublin Pass

The Little Museum of Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

Teeling Whiskey Distillery Tour

While many people associate whiskey with Ireland, most of the distilleries have left Dublin for parts of the country where they can get more space for less money. The Teeling Whiskey Distillery opened shop recently and is the first distillery to be built in the city in 125 years and the first to make whiskey in 40 years.

The tour through the site is really interesting and it’s fascinating to see how modern technology complements traditional techniques.

* Included in The Dublin Pass

Teeling Whiskey distillery tour, Dublin, Ireland

Dublin Writers Museum

Dublin has produced some incredible writers over the years and this museum honours them. There are exhibits dedicated to writers like Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde and, of course, James Joyce. There’s a lot of reading here, as you would expect, but there’s also an audioguide to help you through the visit.

* Included in The Dublin Pass

Dublin Writers Museum, Dublin, Ireland

Glasnevin Cemetery Museum

It might seem a bit odd to visit a graveyard but the Glasnevin Cemetery is a very important part of Dublin’s history. It is a focal point of the tensions between the Catholics and Protestants and was the first Catholic cemetery when it was opened in 1832.

Some of the most important national figures – many of whom fought for independence – are buried here. There’s a small museum to see and then you can walk through the cemetery and see it all yourself. (With The Dublin Pass, you also get a 20% discount for guided tours, which are very informative.)

* Included in The Dublin Pass

Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, Dublin, Ireland

Malahide Castle

Malahide Castle is out of the main part of the city but is definitely worth the journey. The oldest parts of the castle date back to the 12th century but you can also trace the history through the changing styles in different rooms. Other than a very short period, the same family lived here for almost 800 years!

There are guided tours through the building and you can explore the gardens and surrounds on your own. There’s also a good restaurant here for a casual lunch.

* Included in The Dublin Pass

Malahide Castle, Dublin, Ireland

Other attractions in The Dublin Pass

As I mentioned, I have been to all the attractions listed above and you can fit them into two if you are prepared to be busy.

If you’ve got a bit longer, you could spread them out over three or more days and be a bit more relaxed about your sightseeing. That would also give you a bit more time for some other things to do in Dublin.

The following attractions are all also included in The Dublin Pass but I haven’t actually visited them myself.

James Joyce Centre

This museum dedicated to the famous Irish writer is set in a Georgian townhouse. You can learn more about Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulysses, and see collections of items from his personal and professional life.

* Included in The Dublin Pass

Number Twenty Nine

This Georgian house has been restored to how it would have been in the years between 1790 and 1820. It gives you an insight into the lives of the well-off who lived in townhouses like this.

* Included in The Dublin Pass

National Wax Museum Plus

This wax museum has a focus on Irish people, from centuries ago right up to today. It’s aimed at families and isn’t the most authentic site in Dublin but can be a good way to entertain children.

* Included in The Dublin Pass

GPO Witness History Exhibition

The post office has been an important site in the history of Dublin for years. It played a role in the 1916 Easter Uprising and served as the headquarters of the rebel leaders. This exhibition has a lot of information about Ireland becoming in independent state.

* Included in The Dublin Pass

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo has more than 400 animals, including a herd of Asian elephants. You can explore the African savannah or the gorilla rainforest and there’s even a family farm for the kids.

* Included in The Dublin Pass

Aviva Stadium

The stadium is Ireland’s home of rugby union – a sport people take very seriously here. You can take a guided tour of the complex and get special access to some of the areas behind the scenes.

* Included in The Dublin Pass

Croke Park Stadium Tour

If you’re interested in Gaelic football then this is the place to learn more. Croke Park is an iconic part of the sporting history of Ireland and is one of the largest stadiums in Europe. The guided tour gives you access to areas like the dressing rooms and VIP spots.

* Included in The Dublin Pass

Not included in The Dublin Pass

Unfortunately a couple of the most interesting things to do in Dublin aren’t included in The Dublin Pass. It means a bit of extra money if you buy the pass and then want to see any of them as well. But they’re quite impressive places so I would recommend making time, if you can.

Here are the other places I would suggest:

Book of Kells

The Book of Kells is one of the most important manuscripts ever created. It is beautifully illustrated and contains the text of gospels. It’s believed the book was made in the 800s and is regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure. These days it’s held in the Trinity College Library.

With your admission, you get a detailed exhibition about the history of the book and how it was made. You can then see some of the book in a special room (it’s been divided into four parts and two are on display). Then you go upstairs to the library which is magnificent in itself!

Book of Kells, Dublin, Ireland

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle was built in the 18th century as the seat of British rule. It was from here that the representative of the British monarch ruled the land. After Ireland achieved its independence in 1921, the building became one of the most important in Dublin. The first president of Ireland was inaugurated here and every subsequent inauguration ceremony has been held in the building.

Some of the rooms you can see by yourself and others require a guided tour. There are only a limited number of tickets to Dublin Castle each day and so it is advisable to go early to get a ticket for a particular time, otherwise you might miss out.

Visiting Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland

Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol is best known as the site where many of the people involved in the fight for Irish independence were held. Some were even executed here. But in the 120 years it was in operation, most of the convicts were just ordinary people. It was officially decommissioned as a prison in 1924

A visit to the gaol is not just about Irish political history but about the culture of the time and why so many people ended up locked in here. You need to go in as part of a 90 minute guided tour and it can be busy so I recommend booking online in advance.

Old Jameson Distillery

When you think of Irish whiskey, there’s a good chance you first think of Jameson. This iconic whiskey was made at this site in Dublin until 1971, when operations were moved to County Cork. At its height, about 4 million litres of whiskey was produced each year!

The site is now a history lesson on the Jameson brand and an explanation of the whiskey production process. It’s a well put together tour with quite a few displays. It finishes with a whiskey tasting.

Old Jameson Distillery, Dublin, Ireland

Should you get the Dublin Pass?

So, that’s the end of my list of things to see in Dublin. As you may have realised by now, there is a lot to do and you’ll have no trouble filling your time.

The biggest issue I think you’ll have if you try to do a lot is the cost. And that’s why I am a big advocate of using the Dublin Pass. It’s quite nice to be able to pop into some of these places and just stay a short while, knowing it’s not costing you any extra to do it.

I would recommend at least checking out the cost of the pass for the number of days you might use it, and make a decision for yourself.

Regardless of what you do, enjoy Dublin. It’s a fantastic city with a lot more to it than you might have imagined.

THE BEST ACCOMMODATION IN DUBLIN

The city is easy to get around but I think you’ll find Dublin’s best accommodation south of the river, around St Stephen’s Green.

BACKPACKER

Being a student city, there are lots of hostels but I would recommend Generator Dublin.

BUDGET

Dublin can be expensive but you can get an affordable private room at Destiny Student – Tannery.

BOUTIQUE

For a really cool hotel with a distinct style, I love The Dean Dublin.

LUXURY

And for modern five-star luxury, I don’t think you’ll find better than The Marker Hotel.

Time Travel Turtle was supported by Tourism Ireland but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.

3 thoughts on “Things to do in Dublin”

  1. Wow what a wonderful place..the pictures are lovely too. I have always wanted to travel to Dublin, will plan a trip as soon as the pandemic ends or things get normal.

    Reply

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