16 Unforgettable Things to Do in Dublin
From pulling a fresh pint of Guinness to finding the best places to eat in the city—with a lot of lively music, sights, and activities in between—here’s our travel guide to the best things to do in Dublin, Ireland.
The Emerald Isle has a lure that calls to travelers of all stripes, from budget backpackers to families to hikers, and more. No matter what type of trip you have planned, you’ll likely start your Ireland vacation in Dublin, a city boasting an unmistakable charm that will leave you wishing you had planned more days to explore.
Visit in September if you can manage it—that’s when you have the greatest chance for sunshine and fewer crowds. Also note that the city has cobbled streets in some areas, so use a suitcase like the Tarmac 30, which features oversized treaded wheels capable of taking on everything Dublin throws your way.
How to Get Around Dublin
When planning the best things to do in the city, you’ll notice the most important landmarks are all located within a pretty tight area, which makes the city easy to explore by bike. Even better, Dublin’s city bike program means you can check public bikes in and out of the bike stations spread across the city center for just a nominal fee. Buy a three-day ticket and you’ll be set to see the best Dublin offers.
There’s no shortage of history in Ireland’s capital city, so you’ll need at least a full day for sightseeing. Start the day at Trinity College Dublin, where you’ll tour one of the most beautiful libraries in the world (the oak-shelving and arched ceilings are swoon-worthy) and end your visit viewing the beautiful artwork within the Book of Kells, which dates to the 9th century and documents the four Gospels of the life of Jesus. Ireland’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral dates back to 1191 and is worth a stop, as is Dublin Castle.
Then take your pick of the city’s most interesting museums: The National Museum offers a fascinating and more formal tour through Irish history, art, and culture; the National Leprechaun Museum offers a captivating deep dive into Ireland’s traditional folklore; and the Little Museum of Dublin takes top honors as hands-down one of the best ways to learn the city’s rich and complicated history.
Once you have your fill of playing tourist, relax like a local in St Stephen’s Green—essentially this is the Central Park of Dublin and makes for the perfect place to escape the city’s hustle and bustle while you gear up for a night on the town.
Immerse Yourself in Traditional Irish Music
Sure it’s touristy and you’ve read about it in every guidebook, but no trip to Dublin is complete without whiling away a few hours at The Temple Bar—easily the city’s most famous pub. With live music every single night, you’re guaranteed to find good craic, the Irish Gaelic word for fun. Plus, it’s located in the heart of the most happening district in Dublin, so you can easily jump to a few different pubs to catch the best of the evening’s live sessions—Whelan’s and The Hairy Lemon Pub regularly boast some of the best live music in the city, or if you prefer a truly tasty craft beer to round out your night, head to Black Sheep.
Explore the Irish Coast by Bike
If you fancy taking any of the longer bike rides along the coast or outside of the city (and you should), rent from River Cycles, which can help you pick the best routes for you and your traveling companions.
The bike ride to Howth Head is remarkably pretty, and visiting the charming town of Howth is a great way to experience true Irish hospitality if you don’t have time to venture further afield than the Dublin area. You can also visit by train or car, but if you go by bike, make a complete day trip out of it by packing your daypack with the essentials: sunscreen, water, rain gear, and enough cash to dine on the tasty seafood offered in Howth Harbor.
Sample Ireland’s Most Famous Drinks
Visit the Guinness Storehouse Factory for a truly fascinating tour spread across several interactive floor exhibits. The best part of the tour? Learning how to build a perfect pint of Guinness straight from the taps before heading to Gravity Bar, a glass-walled bar on top of the storehouse that offers 360° views of the Dublin skyline. If you prefer whiskey, the Old Jameson Distillery not only offers tours, but cocktail-making masterclasses, too.
Discover World-Class (And Affordable) Eats
Head to Leo Burdock for lunch—they’ve been serving fish and chips to Dubliners since 1913. If you’re in the mood for something fancier book a table at The Chapter One, a surprisingly affordable option for a Michelin-starred meal—the lunch tasting menu costs under 40 euros.
Ready for an entirely different pace? Native to the Emerald Isle, Boojum is a Mexican burrito chain locals loved so much it spread from one small shop in Belfast to multiple locations across the region. And for vegetarians or those seeking greens, look no further than Green Bench Cafe.
If you have extra days in the city, look to Delicious Dublin Tours or Fab Food Trails—both companies offer food walks for hungry travelers ready to learn not only about Irish cuisine itself, but how food can shape a city’s history.
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By Shannon O’Donnell on October 10, 2019
Shannon O'Donnell is a long-term traveler inspiring travelers to head out in the world and travel more responsibly. She is an acclaimed travel speaker and works with universities and businesses all over the world to talk about sustainable tourism in support of her passion project, Grassroots Volunteering.