Dublin is Ireland's largest city and is seen as the gateway to The Emerald Isle. If you're travelling to Ireland by air, there's a good chance you will land and begin your tour in the capital. However, Dublin is far from a stopover on your Irish vacation: this vibrant city has plenty of attractions to suit all visitors and easily merits a few days in itself. Of course, this isn't always possible and, for those who have a tight travel itinerary, we have written a piece detailing exactly how to do Dublin in one day.
Dublin is Ireland's capital city and its most historically significant, having been the second city of the British Empire until Ireland's independence in 1922. Dublin today is teeming with enough art, culture, and monuments to fill multiple itineraries. Planning to see all the top attractions in Dublin can be a daunting task, but there's good news...
In comparison with other major cities in Europe, Dublin is compact, flat and easily walkable. With the right amount of pre-planning, you can start getting the 'must-see' attractions off your list pretty quickly. Every visitor to Dublin will have their own unique bucket list, but, in case you're caught for time or want to start plotting your adventure straight away, we've drawn up a list of the classic, 'I can't go home without seeing' attractions of Dublin.
Temple Bar is perhaps the most visited district of Dublin, with many tourists scarcely venturing beyond Dame Street and the Liffey which mark the upper and lower reaches of this cultural quarter. Tourists who enjoy Trinity College and Christ Church Cathedral won't have far to go to enjoy the nearby Meeting House Square with its galleries, archives and weekly food market.
The price of a pint or a bite to eat in Temple Bar is higher, on average than the rest of Dublin City. For this reason, many people walk through the area to soak up the atmosphere rather than spend the whole evening there.
Temple Bar is a favourite for stag and hen (bachelor/bachelorette) parties and can become very busy and crowded, especially during weekends and summer months.
Ireland's most prestigious university is arguably its most attractive too. Covering no less than 16 hectares, the college buildings and grounds are a poetic tribute to the best of Victorian architecture. Receiving its charter from Queen Elizabeth I in 1592, Trinity remained exclusively protestant until 1793. Today, such prejudices and exclusions are long gone, and Trinity enjoys a global reputation as a leading institution for learning, teaching and research.
Trinity College is also home to the Book of Kells, which is the most richly decorated of Ireland's medieval illuminated manuscripts. The book contains the four gospels in Latin. Some of the dyes used were imported from as far as the Middle East.
On a sunny day, be sure to bring a picnic so you can enjoy the stunning grounds over a relaxing lunch break.
Shaped like a giant pint of the black stuff, this most popular of Dublin attractions towers over the surrounding neighbourhoods. The top-floor Gravity Bar offering a delightful panorama across the Dublin cityscape which can only be enhanced by a well-earned pint. The Guinness Storehouse is a favourite memory for a lot of people on their tour of Ireland.
The site of the brewery itself is massive, at a staggering 26 hectares, but it will be the old grain storehouse which you visit.
Bring some binoculars to take in the full detail of the cityscape as you enjoy a pint in the panoramic Gravity Bar.
Dublin provides plenty of opportunities for some retail therapy, and if you are looking to hit the shops during your time in the capital, it is Grafton Street that you will want to head for. This district of Dublin has all the high-street stores you could ask for, with British-owned chains being perhaps the best represented here.
If you're looking for something a little more unique or boutique, then you won't have to wander very far. The streets that intersect this main artery of Dublin centre have plenty to tempt you. This is perhaps not the cheapest shopping district you will find on your travels, so be sure to pack your Euro.
Visa and Mastercard are accepted in nearly all Irish stores, but be advised that not all shops will take American Express.
Christ Church Cathedral was founded by Viking King Sitric, almost 1000 years ago, in 1034. The cathedral crypt is one of the largest in the UK and Ireland, dating back to the 12th Century. Here in the crypt, you can see the Mummified remains of the Cat and the Rat, which were found in the cathedral organ, and a rare 14th-century copy of the Magna Carta.
Getting to the Belfry in Christ Church Cathedral involves climbing 86 stone steps in a medieval building and crossing the roof at the South transept – quite the experience!
Visit on a Sunday evening and linger for an enchanting evensong service to experience the heavenly acoustics of this historic building.
Phoenix Park is one of Europe's largest open parks. The park is lined with running/cycle trails and has countless locations for picnics and other activities. The sprawling park is also home to roughly 500 wild deer. Photo opportunities with the deer, and the park in general, are endless. Phoenix Park is the perfect location to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
If you're feeling active, then be sure to hire a bicycle to take in the full expanse of the park. Phoenix Park Bikes are located just inside the main gate on Parkgate Street.
Pack your longest-range lens if you have a fancy camera. The deer are beautiful but they tend to be most compliant with photographers who are far away!
Visitors who set off in search of ramparts and turrets are likely to walk past Dublin Castle in search for something more medieval-looking. So, be warned that there won't be jousting and suits of armour. For 700 years the bastion of British rule in Ireland, the castle is really a Victorian architectural mish-mash, and wouldn't look out of place in London or Paris.
This is perhaps one of the more sedate attractions you'll find set against Dublin's bustling backdrop, and it's certainly not a day out for the kids, but the 45-minute tours are frequent and informative. A visit to the castle will appeal to anyone who has a keen interest in Irish history.
Especially for visitors following a tour guide for one quick 'lap', Dublin Castle will be more of a short visit than a full day out.
A splendid neoclassical building designed by Sir Thomas Newenham Deane and completed in 1890. The original building is generally considered the most significant and most important for visitors to see on their Ireland tour.
Among the museum's most notable attractions are various Bronze and Iron Age artefacts, including The Ardagh Chalice, the Tara Brooch, the Broighter Gold Collar and the Loughnashade War Trumpet. Equally stunning is the Cross of Cong, which was crafted in 1123 A.D.
A great day out for kids & grown-ups and entry is free. But adults travelling without children may prefer the quieter times on weekdays during Irish school terms.
Built between 1745 and 1748 as the city residence of the Duke of Leinster and Earl of Kildare, James Fitzgerald. This attraction is most notable for politically-minded visitors - it is home to the Houses of the Oireachtas, the seat of government in the Republic of Ireland. Watch politics in action as the laws of the land are made right here before you.
If you are interested in seeing politics in action, remember to check that the Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann chambers of parliament are sitting at the time of your visit.
Keep in mind that you will have to go through security and provide photographic ID. To speed things up, it is a good idea to register in advance.
The original Poolbeg Lighthouse was, allegedly, the first lighthouse in the world to run on candlepower when it was built in 1768. It changed to oil in 1786. The structure that survives today was built in 1820. Poolbeg Lighthouse stands on the Great South wall of the Port of Dublin, extending nearly four miles out into Dublin Bay.
On the four-mile walk along the seawall to the lighthouse, you are very exposed to the elements. So this is definitely one to be enjoyed on a warm, sunny day or wrapped up warm on a crisp winter's morning.
The pathway is a little uneven in places. Those with lower mobility may find the walk to be a challenge. There is a place to sit and rest halfway.
Mount Pelier Hill is a 383-metre hill which is commonly known as the Hell Fire Club, the popular name given to the ruined building at the summit.
The ruin was originally a hunting lodge built sometime around 1725 by William Conolly, an Irish politician. It was known as Mount Pelier until it was taken over by the Irish Hell Fire Club in the 1730s. It is said that the location was then used as a meeting place for occult and other spooky or deviant practices.
The original building was constructed on an ancient passage tomb. Its roof was blown off in a storm shortly after its completion, leading locals to believe that the building was haunted... by a giant black cat.
Visitors who are not put off by spooky locations or steep walks will enjoy a stunning view on a clear day.
Almost everyone who arrives on a visit to Dublin from abroad will arrive by plane (though some self-drive visitors from the UK may arrive by Ferry). Dublin Airport is located just 10km (6 miles) from Dublin City Centre and is accessible by both the M50 and M1 motorways. It is made up of two terminals. Visitors arriving from the USA and Canada will be arriving at Terminal Two.
Short-haul flights served by Ryanair, British Airways, Germanwings, Iberia, Lufthansa, Norwegian, SAS and Air France.
Long-haul flights served by American Airlines, US Airways, Delta, Air Canada and Aer Lingus. Recent additions to Terminal 2's roster include United Airlines, Etihad and Emirates.
There are bus services available to and from both terminals, provided by Aircoach, Airlink , Dublin Bus and GoBus. Aircoach will bring you to multiple stops in Dublin City, including O'Connell Street and Grafton Street. They also operate routes to and from Cork City (€19- Adult, Single, 3hrs) and Belfast City (€12- Adult, Single, 2hr 20mins). You can follow their distinctive blue signs from the arrivals hall in both terminals. GoBus offers a route from Dublin Airport to and from Galway City (€18- Adult, Single, 2hrs 30mins). A ticket to Dublin City Centre from Dublin Airport costs €6 (Single)/ €11.50 (Return). Dublin Bus also operates a service between Dublin Airport and Dublin City for a similar price.
Like all international airports, there is a large number of taxis available outside both terminals at all times. To travel to the city centre by taxi will cost between €30-€40.
Currently, there is no direct railway link between Dublin Airport and Dublin City.
The main bus terminal of Dublin City is Busáras Central Station. Located on the eastern edge of the city centre, on the same street as Connolly Train Station. Busáras Central Station is the terminal for all state-run buses coming in and out of Dublin City, both locally and across Ireland.
There are also a number of private bus companies that operate in and out of Dublin City. Their pick-up and drop-off points differ from one another and depending on what part of Ireland you are going to/coming from. The majority will have pick-up and drop-off points at Dublin Airport.
Train services in and around Dublin serve local commuters better than they do visiting tourists. To get to Dublin from a different region of Ireland by land, the bus is usually the recommended option.
Most people who visit Dublin City would usually advise against driving there. The traffic in the city centre can come to a stand-still for large parts of the day and you have to travel miles outside the city before you can find any free parking. If driving to Dublin city is a must you can find more information on parking here.
Dublin Port operates ferries across the Irish Sea to Liverpool in England, Holyhead in Wales and, during Summer and Christmas, to Douglas on the Isle of Man. The ferry companies that operate to and from Dublin Port are Irish Ferries, Steam Packet, P&O Ferries and Seatruck Ferries.
Dublin Port is connected with Dublin City Centre via Dublin Bus (the number 53 bus). Bus fares are payable with coins (Euro), smart cards or pre-paid tickets. There is a plentiful number of taxis outside Dublin Port at most times of the day, expect to pay in the region of €9 to €12 for a taxi to the city centre. The Luas Red Line tram operates 7 days a week and is located on East Wall Road, opposite the entrance to Dublin Port, and a one-way ticket to the city centre costs €2.
Because the roads are so busy, driving in Dublin is not usually recommended. In the capital, public transport is usually the best way to get around. When navigating your way around the city itself, the following three options are usually the best, depending on the weather and what luggage you may have with you.
Dublin City and its suburbs are well catered for in terms of bus services. The state-owned Dublin Bus company, founded in 1987, has a reputation of being reliable, plentiful and not too harsh on the pocket.
It is always advisable to check their timetable and stop locations if you are planning a bus journey, especially if you are new to the city. For more information, visit their website...
Dublin City runs a bike hire scheme, sponsored by the food delivery company Just Eat. It is a cost-effective and quick way to get around the city. There are 115 stations in total, each within close proximity to another.
A user must first take out a subscription, which allows an unlimited number of rentals. A long-term subscription is €25, a 3-Day ticket costs €5. Under 30 minutes is free and prices only go up after this. For longer rides, it is advisable to get to a terminal in under 30 minutes and take a new bike. For more information, visit their website...
Dublin City taxis are also known as hackney carriages, the kind that you can flag down on the street or find at a taxi rank. There are also private hire vehicles, which are not licensed to "ply for hire" or stand in a taxi rank and can only be booked in advance.
A taxi journey of 35 minutes (for example from Dublin Airport, in the North of the city, to the city centre) would cost between €30 to €40. See here for more info on Dublin Taxi ranks.