Best Things to Do in Dublin, Ireland (from a Local)
Designed to explore exciting destinations around the globe while also encouraging you to take the time to stop and appreciate what is found in your own backyard, the hometown series has taken us around the world, to small towns and big cities as travel bloggers highlight the many unique things to do and food to try. In recent posts we have visited Mexico City, Tel Aviv in Israel, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Paris, and Prague in the Czech Republic. Next, we will head over to discover the best things to do in Dublin with Cath from Travel Around Ireland.
Wondering what are the best things to do in Dublin, Ireland? Wonder no more because with this list of some of the top things to do in the Irish capital, you will soon be looking forward to your visit to Ireland’s largest city.
Best things to do in Dublin, Ireland
As Ireland’s capital and largest city, Dublin has plenty to offer everyone who visits. From foodies to historians, art lovers, families and romantic couples, there is something for everyone in Dublin’s fair city.
So, whether you are looking for things to do in Dublin for free or paid, we’ve rounded up some of the best things to do in Dublin to help you plan your time in the city better.
The Book of Kells and Trinity College
Considered one of the must-do things in Dublin, the Book of Kells is one of the things to do in Dublin City Centre. Housed in the world-famous Trinity College, this early-Christian manuscript attracts thousands of visitors every year.
The Book of Kells experience in Trinity College begins with a comprehensive exhibition which aids visitors in learning about the manuscript. Displays include details about the script and characters used in the book, what the paper was made from, and how the ink was prepared. It is fascinating learning about this world-famous bible before getting to see the real deal.
From the exhibition, visitors then enter a temperature- and light-controlled room where two pages of the are displayed in a case. Note: you cannot take pictures of the Book of Kells itself.
Normally, visitors then exit into the Long Room in Trinity College to view the busts, Brian Boru Harp and wonder at the architecture of the room, but this room is closed from late summer 2023 for three years for renovation.
That said, if you want to view one of the greatest manuscripts in the Christian world, then head to Trinity College to view the Book of Kells. And while you are at it, wander the grounds of this famous university and take in wonders such as the Campanile.
National Museums of Ireland
If you are trying to visit Ireland on a budget and looking for some free things to do in Dublin, then you could visit some of the museums and galleries dotted around the city.
The National Museums of Ireland are free to enter and there are three of them in Dublin including:
- Natural History Museum
- National Museum of Archaeology
- National Museum of Decorative Arts & History.
Another great Dublin free museum to visit is the Chester Beatty Library, located on the grounds of Dublin Castle. This museum houses an extensive collection of religious, artistic, and secular works of art from around the world including a collection of Qur’ans and Chinese jade books.
The National Gallery, conveniently located beside the Natural History Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art are also both free to visit, as is the Hugh Lane Gallery for those who enjoy art.
These are also ideal places to spend a few hours if the typically wet Irish weather makes an appearance.
If you are looking for Dublin top attractions that are a must-visit, then you won’t go wrong with Kilmainham Gaol. As one of the top 10 things to do in Dublin, tickets for this museum sell out fast.
Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison that is closely associated with Ireland’s struggle for independence from British Rule in the early 20th century.
Built in 1798 to replace an older city jail, the ‘new’ jail was soon cramped. Cells that were originally designed to house one prisoner were often occupied with five, and with no segregation, inmates would include men, women and children.
In the mid-1800s a new East Wing was opened, and its design meant prison officers could see every cell in the wing from the center of the main atrium. And it was in this wing that many of the political prisoners were housed including Eamon de Valera who later became Ireland’s first President. This wing is easily recognizable and has been used in films such as Paddington 2 and In the Name of the Father.
If you are looking for historical things to do in Dublin, then head to Kilmainham Gaol. Note that entry is strictly via guided tours which last about an hour and after visitors can spend time in the museum where you will find displays and exhibitions dedicated to Irish Nationalism.
Kilmainham Gaol is a fascinating place to visit but is not suitable for very young children.
A Food Tour
Trying to find some fun things to do in Dublin? Then you might want to consider one of the great walking food tours in Dublin, Ireland.
Knowledgeable local guides bring their groups on an immersive tour of Dublin while indulging in great food along the way. Visits to local pubs, cafés and restaurants will be included in your tour and you might also visit the famous Murphy’s Ice Cream to indulge in some of the unique flavors they produce.
Food tours are great outdoors things to do in Dublin as you will be moving from place to place while learning about the city and seeing some of the highlights. But be warned, that if the rain comes you might get a bit wet on your walk.
No matter the weather, so long as you go prepared, you will enjoy indulging in local cuisine, while learning about the Irish capital. You might need a nap after!
EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum
One of the best things to do in Dublin with family is visiting EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum. Located in the rejuvenated docklands area of the city, this immersive and interaction museum is ideal for those travelling with kids.
This award-winning museum is dedicated to telling the story of Irish emigration through the ages.
Through twenty individually themed galleries, visitors can learn about those who left Ireland over the ages and the effect they had on the wider world. From the Great Famine between 1845 and 1852 to others who left before and after, galleries include amazing light exhibitions, memorabilia displays, interactive exhibitions and audio-visual displays.
And for those travelling with kids, there is a ‘passport’ to stamp in each room once you have explored the gallery.
EPIC is an incredible museum, and it is fascinating to learn about those who left Ireland and the many other diaspora who claim Irish heritage. If you are looking for one of the 10 best things to do in Dublin, then add EPIC to your itinerary.
One of the top 10 tourist attractions in Dublin is Dublin Castle. Located in the centre of the city, not far from Temple Bar, this former motte-and-bailey castle also houses departments of the Irish government as well as being a large conference complex.
Dublin Castle was the former seat of British Rule in Ireland until independence was gained in 1922.
Many of the buildings date from the 18th century and include the State Apartments which visitors can see via guided tours, the Chester Beatty Library (as already mentioned), several towers, the Garda Museum, and of course, several governmental departments.
The complex is large and there are beautiful gardens to enjoy on a sunny day. Dublin Castle is worth visiting while in the city.
Two of the top ten things to do in Dublin are Christ Church Cathedral and St Patrick’s Cathedral. These two cathedrals are two of the main tourist attractions in Dublin and are great places to visit if you enjoy architecture.
Both cathedrals belong to the Church of Ireland, although they were once Roman Catholic cathedrals before the Reformation by King Henry VIII. And both are worth visiting while you are in Dublin.
St Patrick’s Cathedral was founded in the late 12th century and is a remnant of medieval Dublin. The cathedral sits on a site on which it is said St Patrick’s baptized Christian converts 1500 years ago. Guided tours are offered daily, but visitors can also self-guide via an app.
Christ Church Cathedral was founded in the first half of the 11th century and visitors can view the nave and the crypt below. The cathedral sits in the heart of Viking Dublin and is on the site of a Viking church. There are also guided or self-guided tours of the cathedral available to visitors.
Both cathedrals are architecturally important buildings in Dublin and with their close proximity to one another, you can visit both in one day.
Where to Eat in Dublin
When it comes to food, Dublin has something for everyone.
Start your day with a full-Irish breakfast in Ann’s Bakery on Mary Street, my choice of breakfast venues.
For lunch you could eat at the Bad Ass Café in Temple Bar or Fallon & Byrne, not far from the Molly Malone statue.
And if you are looking for dinner or things to do in Dublin at night, start with a meal and cocktails in Nolita’s on South Great George’s Street before heading to Whelan’s or Flannery’s Bar for music and drinks.
Where to Stay in Dublin
Dublin is not short of accommodation options for visitors to the city. From budget-friendly hostels to five-star luxury hotels and everything in between, there is something to suit every budget.
That said, there are a few areas of the city that you should start your search in. The Temple Bar area of the city will have you in the heart of it all, just be prepared for noise.
If retail therapy is your thing, try looking for accommodation around Grafton Street and St Stephen’s Green. Or for a quieter affair that is still walking distance to the city center, choose somewhere around Merrion or Fitzwilliam Squares.
The Irish capital is a cosmopolitan place to visit, and you will find plenty of fun things to do in Dublin, Ireland, whether you like history, shopping, the arts or architecture. This list should help you narrow down some things to add to your itinerary.
About the Author
This post was contributed by Cath, author of Travel Around Ireland, a site dedicated to helping people plan their perfect trip to Ireland through helpful Ireland travel guides and reviews from across the island. Cath is an Irish expat who returns to the Emerald Isle annually to visit family and explore the country with her husband and son.
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