My ultimate Dublin bucket list: the top 30 best things to do and see in Dublin
Where do you begin to sort out things to do in Dublin? There are a lot of must-see Dublin sights and Dublin is an incredibly vibrant city. Sightseeing in Dublin is a treat for those interested in music, literary pursuits, Vikings, architecture, pubs – oh let’s be honest virtually anything and everything can be found in Dublin.
You can spend a few days in Dublin or an entire week and for many Dublin is the top of their bucket list. If you want to know the places to go in Dublin then hang in there this list of things to do in Dublin has 30 of the top things to do in Dublin to add to your visit to Dublin list.
You may land in Dublin early in the morning but fear not as you won’t be as jet-lagged as you think and the best way to overcome that and get yourself on Irish time is to just hang in there and spend your first day in Dublin just walking and seeing the city.
- My ultimate Dublin bucket list: the top 30 best things to do and see in Dublin
- 30 Things to do in Dublin Ireland
- Must Do’s in Dublin
- The Liffey – the heart of Dublin
- Ha’penny Bridge
- National Botanic Gardens – Glasnevin
- Trinity College, Trinity College Library
- Dublin Writers Museum, Parnell Square
- Chester Beatty Library, Clock Tower Building Dublin Castle
- Walking tours of Dublin
- Foodie Tours in Dublin
- Dublin Bikes
- Dublin Ghost Tour
- Stephen’s Green
- Merrion Square
- Grand Canal
- The Spire
- Molly Malone – the tart with the cart
- Howth Head Hike
- Dun Laoghaire Hike
- The World Famous Irish Music Party from Dublin
- The Irish Jewish Museum, Walworth Road
If you want to know how to get from Dublin airport into the city it’s pretty easy, most of the major buses stop just outside the airport and from there you can get to either central Dublin or across the country to Belfast or the Wild Atlantic Way.
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Dublin is a pretty easy place to sightsee most of the interesting places to visit are within walking range and there is also lots to do along the way from great pubs to hang out in or grab some authentic Irish food in a local restaurant like the Boxty House.
If you plan on staying overnight in Dublin before you carry on visiting the rest of the country you are going to want to book your accommodation ahead of time if you plan on coming in the summer high season. If you want to visit Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day you should probably book at least a year ahead as the town gets very crowded as you can imagine.
There is a vast range of accommodation in Dublin from super budget to luxury castle stays. Dublin has a host of hostels to stay at most of which have private rooms and ensuites and then there is the mid-range hotels and the top of the lot is Clontarf Castle Hotel.
30 Things to do in Dublin Ireland
I always recommend a Hop On Hop Off bus tour to familiarize yourself with a city. The Dublin one is great as it shows you all the places you may want to see later on in your stay and gives you a great way to see just how the city is laid out.
Dublin Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour
Let people laugh, but get on the bus, it’s a nice easy option to tour a City for the first time. You can get your bearings and learn how to get to where you want to go. Travel around the City without getting lost as you can always grab a bus. The tour guides are brilliant on the Dublin buses, with a great sense of humour, they fill you in on all the little things like the statutes nicknames “the tart with the cart” and they stop at all the major sites.
Old Jameson Distillery, Bow Street Smithfield Village
A tour of Jameson’s is a must for whiskey lovers. The tour covers all the basics and a good lesson in what differentiates Irish whiskey from other types of whiskey and in particular Jameson Whiskey. There is also a tasting at the end of the tour, so get in there and volunteer and you will be treated to an extended tasting of whiskies that is most educational.
The Famous Guinness Storehouse Tour
This seems to be the one that everyone wants to see when they hit Dublin for a day. The Guinness storehouse tour is not based on seeing how they make Guinness it is more of a history of where Guinness began and the processes involved. It is an interactive tour but you don’t see the brewery. You do get to go up to the Sky Bar and learn how to pour a pint of Guinness and you get some amazing views of Dublin it has to be said.
You can learn a lot more about the Guinness tour from Sav at Salt Water Vibes blog her post on the Guinness Storehouse Brewery Tour has all the details you need.
One of the top things to do in Dublin is, of course, to check out the pubs. From the 12 Days of Christmas to literary, haunted, musical and more, pub crawls are a fantastic way to not only get to know the Irish themselves but to make new friends and visit pubs you might just never see as a tourist.
The Traditional Irish Musical Pub Crawl
Generally, these are led by professional musicians who perform tunes and songs while telling the story of Irish music and leading you through a series of pubs that offer a wide variety of Irish music. The crawl will show you some pubs where local boys used to perform and treat you to some authentic Irish Trad music.
The Dublin City Pub Crawl
Learn how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness, experience some trad music get your free pints and tour some of Dublin’s most authentic pubs. You may learn some Gaelic along the way and the crawl also includes entry to some after-hours nightclubs.
Literary Pub Crawl
Off the wall, book-themed pub tours take a walk through the famous writers’ of Dublin. Avoiding most of the tourist clichés this crawl is a great evening of storytelling, gossip about writers and a great pint or two.
Backpacker Pub Crawl
A great tour for the youngster or hostel stayers this pub tour goes where the locals do and the guides work hard to avoid the usual tourist traps. Great guides, free shots lots of live music and drinking games make this a great tour for the under 25’s.
Must Do’s in Dublin
The Liffey – the heart of Dublin
The Liffey River begins in the Wicklow Mountains about 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Dublin and it flows westward through 50 miles (80kms) across the country and then finally into Dublin and the Bay where it empties into the Irish sea.
Floods wreaked havoc on Dublin through its thousand years if its existence. Swollen by frequent and torrential rainstorms, the floods were as fearsome and deadly as they were unpredictable and uncontrollable. There was little option for citizens to cross the river and so bridges began to be built.
This white, cast-iron bridge over the River Liffey has become an icon of Dublin, with its ornate design and quaint lampposts. The bridge is named for the original toll of one ha’penny to cross over. It was the first iron bridge across the Liffey and was built in 1816. It was the only pedestrian bridge to cross the Liffey until the Millenium Bridge opened in 1999.
National Botanic Gardens – Glasnevin
The Gardens are free green space that Dubliners flock to on a sunny day when they can put on a pair of shorts and soak up the sun. Even on a cloudy day, the gardens are a riot of colour and fragrance in the summer months. Located just 3 km from the Dublin city centre, the National Botanic Gardens are an oasis of calm and beauty, and entry is free.
Housing over 300 endangered species, the gardens also contain the National Herbarium and several historic wrought iron glasshouses. While you are there head over to the Glasnevin Cemetery where you can see the graves of many of Ireland’s heroes and heroines. Take a look at the Museum or do some research on your Irish ancestors.
Trinity College, Trinity College Library
For a book lover, this library is an awe-inspiring place, housing thousands of rare and unusual books it is an antiquarian dream. Admission does include a visit to the Book of Kells, an ornate manuscript of the Gospels, which Celtic monks decorated by hand in the ninth century, but only 2 pages are turned over every day so you might only see text and not the glorious illuminations.
If you get a chance you absolutely must visit Monasterboice and the Village of Kells to see some of Ireland’s largest celtic crosses and the place where the Book of Kells originated.
Dublin Writers Museum, Parnell Square
The Dublin Writers Museum covers three centuries of Irish literature, with exhibitions showcasing the life, works, materials and personal items of some of the country’s literary icons, from WB Yeats to Frank McCourt.
Chester Beatty Library, Clock Tower Building Dublin Castle
The library’s exhibitions are built on the personal collection of Alfred Chester Beatty. Mr Beatty was born in the United States and was later made an honorary Irish citizen. He was a world traveller with a voracious appetite for collecting.
With free admission and described by the Lonely Planet as not just the best museum in Dublin, but one of the best in Europe, the Chester Beatty Library is a must-see. It is the only museum in Ireland to win the ‘European Museum of the Year’.
Walking tours of Dublin
You may have noticed that Temple Bar is missing in this list of 22 things to do in Dublin, that is because you will end up in Temple Bar at some point during your tour of Dublin. It is an overpriced and very touristy area that charges far too much for a pint of Guinness. Having said that you will find loads of interesting places to take your Instagram photos of but you don’t need to pay anything for a trip down the Temple Bar.
There are many walking tours of Dublin they range from absolutely free to around €15 Euros each you can take the following tours:
1916 Rebellion Tour
A highly acclaimed free tour and very entertaining even if you are unfamiliar with the history.
Dublin Literary Pub Crawl
This brilliant tour has actors performing extracts from major works in a number of pubs with literary connections these are paid tours or you can grab a free literary walking tour as well.
Hidden Dublin Walks
Hidden Walks deals include medieval Celtic Christianity shown through the horrors of the bubonic plague, the characters of the 19th century. The tour winds its way up the Dublin Mountains towards the burnt-out shell of a haunted hunting lodge – The HellFire Club. Dating from 1725 it was known for its association with Satanism, the supernatural and the occult.
Le Cool Walking Tours
The tours incorporate all the staples of the new “cool”, from pop-up shops, bars and restaurants, to new collectives, graffiti art, street performance, and what they call ‘living culture” moments. This is a two-hour tour where you can find out what is new, interesting and learn about emerging economies, music and literature in Dublin’s creative streets.
Foodie Tours in Dublin
Fab Food tours do some great walking foodie tours of Dublin. Touring street markets, speciality gourmet stores, street food vendors and small intimate venues that are bringing new international and contemporary tastes to Dublin. As you enjoy the food, you’ll also learn a little about the culture and history of each neighbourhood.
Those familiar with the city will be amazed to discover food outlets, tasty surprises they never knew existed, and visitors will leave with up-to-date insider knowledge of the best of what is happening food-wise in Ireland.
Dublin city bike tours offer an easy paced eco-friendly bike tour of the City with experienced guides to entertain and inform. A great way to tour the City, get in your daily exercise and just plain enjoy yourself.
Dublin Bikes check out the rows of blue-lined up across the City. These bikes can be “rented” by anyone by paying a small credit card fee or joining for €10 a year. All you do is pick up a bike and when you are done with it drop it back off at a different Dublin bike location.
Cycle out along the canals and have a picnic on the lawn in the quad in Maynooth or in Phoenix Park where there is so much to do.” Note: Once you sign up to Dublin Bikes, the first half-hour of each journey is free, This means you can virtually get anywhere in the city for free and bikes are the best way to get around!
Dublin Ghost Tour
This is a gothic-style mobile theatre with a storyteller leading a spellbinding trip through Dublin’s haunted streets. On this eerie tour, you will learn about Bram Stoker, Dr Clossy and his bucket of entrails, The Walking Gallows the Dolocher stalker and more. These tours are also done on the Ghost Bus Tour.
Alternatively, go for a relaxing stroll on your own
Dublin is one of the most walkable cities in Europe. There are several websites where you can pick up copies of walking tour guides or even download apps to provide you with step-by-step directions. Tours include Dublin’s Georgian district where you can stroll by Merrion Square’s famous doors, or take the Dublin City tour from St. Stephen’s Green down to the Quays. Here are some more places to see in Dublin.
Gorgeous on a sunny day. Half of Dublin lunches here during the summer. Grab a sandwich and join them.
Not as large as Stephen’s Green but even more spectacular when the flowers are in bloom.
Walk along the banks from Rathmines Bridge to The Old Schoolhouse bar and restaurant.
Take a wander over to view the “Spire” Dublin’s newest landmark and sculpture on O’Connell Street.
Molly Malone – the tart with the cart
The statue of Molly Malone on Suffolk Street is just a short walk from Trinity College and Grafton Street. Probably not a real person but a legend has grown up around a character from a song called Molly Malone who worked as a fishmonger but also as a working girl and died in one of the outbreaks of Cholera that regularly used to sweep the city of Dublin.
Howth Head Hike
The best walk within Dublin’s limits is Howth Head. Grab a DART from Tara Street Station to Howth on Dublin’s north side (30 mins). Walk to the end of Howth along the waterfront following the road up and to the right at the end of the harbour. Keep following the coast and you will find yourself on a wide unpaved path that runs right around Howth Head. The walk has splendid sea views and is guaranteed to clear your head.
Dun Laoghaire Hike
A second, more traditional and less taxing option is to walk the pier at Dun Laoghaire, which extends more than a mile out into the Irish Sea. Again, a DART from Tara Street – this time to the south – will get you there.
The World Famous Irish Music Party from Dublin
Located 10 minutes from the City Centre in a beautiful 18th Century townhouse, The Irish House Party is a truly unique experience in Dublin. This new tradition began with serious Irish musicians revolting against what they considered the naff or cheesy Irish entertainment that was going around the pubs and local venues.
It features traditional Irish music and Irish dancing at its very best, performed by All Ireland champion musicians, dancers and entertaining presenters.
On Custom House Quay you will spot the Jeanie Johnston which is the only famine ship during those harsh times that did not have one death onboard for the seven years it transported the Irish to Canada. The tour of the ship re-creates the journey the Irish took and what they had to deal with on the journey.
I’m going to add a great one to this list that I totally forgot about, Dublin Castle. If you want to know more have a read of Anisa and Russells’s article on What you need to know about visiting Dublin Castle. It’s a fascinating building to take a tour of.
The foundations of St. Michan’s date back to 1095, the church was originally built to serve the Vikings, who were still in Ireland. Caskets are strewn and tucked into niches in the walls but with the conditions in the crypt the coffins are disintegrating and in some of them you can see some of the remains. The main four “mummies” are the Unknown Woman, The Crusader, the Thief who is missing parts of both feet and his hand ( which was said to be his punishment) and The Nun.
Kilmainham Gaol Museum is the place where the Irish rebels were incarcerated. Accused of many crimes including the 1916 Easter Rising it was at Kilmainham that many lost their lives to a British firing Squad.
Not many Dubliners know this but Saint Valentine’s remains are housed in a church on Whitefair Street. On November 10, 1836, the Reliquary containing the remains of St. Valentine was gifted by the Pope to Father Spratt who had preached in Rome.
The Irish Jewish Museum, Walworth Road
This is a real hidden gem for people visiting Dublin. The Museum preserves an important, though small, part of Ireland’s cultural and historic heritage. The Museum contains a substantial collection of memorabilia relating to the Irish Jewish communities and their various associations and contributions to present-day Ireland. The Museum is an all-Ireland museum and its material is associated with the communities of Belfast, Cork, Derry, Drogheda, Dublin, Limerick & Waterford and relates mostly to the last 150 years.
There is just so much to do in Dublin but don’t forget this is an island full of history, relics and ruins, castles and incredible scenery that lies just outside Dublin here are a few ideas for you to check out if you want to get out of Dublin for a day.