Learn how to pour a pint of stout at the Guinness Storehouse, take a stroll through ancient manuscripts, scrolls, and books at Trinity College’s famous library, or take a step back in time at Dublin Castle. Those are just a few of the fascinating and fun things to do in Dublin, so get ready for an adventure-filled getaway in the Irish capital!
After that, learn about Bog Men and Vikings at the free National Museum of Ireland, take a spooky tour through Dublin’s largest cemetery (it’s creepy but it’s also intriguing), or spend a weekend hopping from one traditional Irish pub to the next in Temple Bar. And yes, we do recommend experiencing the city’s boozy St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at least once in your lifetime!
There are a lot of great things to see in Dublin, so it’s time to start exploring. We’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Dublin to help you plan your trip. Stick to our fun and unique Dublin bucket list recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’re going to have an incredible time exploring the Irish capital!
Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 15 Best Things to do in Dublin, Ireland
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The 15 Best Things to do in Dublin
1. Step Back in Time at Dublin Castle
If it’s your first time in Dublin, then take a step back in time and see where it all began at Dublin Castle. Even if it’s your second, third, or fourth time visiting Dublin, you can always find something new to discover at Dublin’s most historic landmark.
Situated right in the center of the city (Dublin Castle was the center of Ireland for many centuries), this medieval fortification has withstood the ravages of time and war since it was first built by the Normans in the 13th century.
The castle became a symbol of British control and oppression in Ireland. Today, many of the excellent exhibitions focus on telling the story of Irish uprisings and political prisoners.
Little of the original medieval castle remains, except for the distinctive tower, which still rises above the surrounding city. But, you will find layer upon layer of local history waiting to be uncovered.
2. Be Awed by Trinity College Library
Trinity College is Ireland’s oldest and most famous university, and it’s home to one of the world’s most beautiful libraries and book collections. Dating back to the 1700s, the Old Library and Long Room contains hundreds of thousands of Ireland’s oldest books, scrolls, and manuscripts. You’ll find ancient works dating back to the 14th century, declarations of Irish independence from the Easter Rising in 1916, and much more.
In fact, every book that’s published in either Ireland or the United Kingdom has to have a copy deposited at Trinity College Library. Of course, there’s not enough room for them to all be on display!
One of the best things to do in Dublin is to join a tour of the Long Room – the oldest and arguably most spectacular section of the library. You’ll even get to see the study desks where Ireland’s most iconic writers, from James Joyce to Oscar Wilde, have compiled works in the past.
You’ll also see the Book of Kells exhibition, which showcases an ancient religious tome dating back to at least 800 AD. It’s one of Ireland’s most important cultural treasures, and it’s quite the sight to see.
3. Discover Vikings at the National Museum of Ireland
If you’d love to learn more about the history of Dublin, Ireland, and the Irish people, then the National Museum of Ireland is one of the best things to do in Dublin. This sprawling museum is entirely free to enter, and you can easily spend hours getting lost in the exhibits and displays that are found across the city.
There are three separate branches that make up the National Museum, with the two oldest elements being found next to each other. Although, they have separate entrances on Kildare Street and Merrion Square.
These are the Archeology and the Natural History branches, both of which offer a unique insight into Ireland’s past. Inside, you’ll find the fabled Bog Men of Ireland – thought to be some of the earliest inhabitants of the country – as well as archeological exhibits showcasing Viking and medieval excavations.
The third branch is located across the city in Collins Barracks. This is the newest part of the National Museum, and the focus is on Decorative Arts and History. If you have time, then it’s well worth trying to visit all three sections of the National Museum, so you can leave Dublin with a complete picture of the nation’s history and culture.
4. Uncover History, Heritage, and Pubs in Temple Bar
Dublin’s most famous tourist area is Temple Bar, where you’ll find history, heritage, and pubs on every street corner. Temple Bar is located on the south bank of the River Liffey, and it’s been known as Dublin’s entertainment district since the 1700s!
You’ll find historic Georgian houses rising above cobblestone streets, while narrow alleys and authentic Irish pubs give Temple Bar its distinctive, historic atmosphere. Traditionally, Temple Bar was the place to go drinking, and that tradition continues to this day.
Temple Bar is somewhat notorious for its nightlife. During the day, you can join an intriguing walking tour of this old Dublin quarter to learn more about the local history, but as soon as night falls, the bar crawls are out in full force.
Yes, it’s touristy, and yes, there will be lots of Guinness, but if it’s your first time in Dublin, you have to visit Temple Bar!
5. Stroll through Dublin’s Green Parks
You’ll love how green and leafy parts of Dublin are, particularly if you know the best public parks to visit during your stay in the city. The most famous park in Dublin is St Stephen’s Green, a large, green space in the center of the city that’s home to statues, arches, ponds, and pathways.
Travel south of the city center, and you’ll find Marlay Park, a much larger park that’s a popular venue for outdoor events and music festivals. If you’re looking to get active, then Marlay Park is the starting point of the epic long-distance Wicklow Way mountain trail, although that takes several days to complete in its entirety.
West of the city center is Phoenix Park, a former royal hunting ground that’s now one of the largest suburban green areas in Europe. But best of all? We say the best gardens are the National Botanic Gardens, where you’ll find flora from all over the world right in the heart of Dublin.
6. Take a Spooky Tour of Dublin’s Largest Cemetery
One of the most unique things to do in Dublin is a spooky tour of Ireland’s national cemetery. It sounds eerie – and you’d be right there – but a tour of Glasnevin Cemetery is an unusual way to learn more about Ireland’s history.
Glasnevin Cemetery is Dublin’s largest cemetery. Among the endless headstones and tombs, you’ll find the resting places of major politicians, scientists, doctors, and activists dating back to the early 1800s. In fact, since the cemetery was established in 1828, it’s thought that at least 1.5 million Dubliners have been buried here.
A tour of the cemetery won’t just show you where famous Dubliners are buried. Far from it, because the guides will take you on a journey through Irish history. You’ll learn about Ireland’s national heroes and freedom fighters, many of whom are buried in the cemetery. You’ll also learn about the poor and the paupers and what everyday life was like in the city during the Victorian era and through to the present.
7. Discover the Story of the Irish Diaspora
The Irish have a huge diaspora across the world. From the USA and Canada, across to Australia and New Zealand, millions of people claim descent from the Emerald Isle. If you’re looking to find out more about your own Irish roots, or if you’re just fascinated by the Irish story, then take a tour of the Irish Emigration Museum when you’re in Dublin.
Better known as EPIC, you’ll find the Emigration Museum in the Docklands. It’s from the Docklands that as many as 10 million people left Ireland over several centuries to start new lives abroad.
The museum itself focuses on the stories of 300 individual Irish men and women who left their homeland. You’ll learn about Irish emigrants who became doctors and lawyers, famous politicians and celebrities, as well as notorious outlaws like Ned Kelly.
If you’re descended from Irish emigrants, you can even have a specialist genealogist trace your family tree at the attached Irish Family History Centre!
8. Pour a Pint at the Guinness Storehouse
One of the best sights in Dublin is the world-famous Guinness Storehouse, where you can learn how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness.
If you’re a beer drinker, then you’re going to be right at home in the Guinness Storehouse. Even if you can’t stand the taste of a stout beer, there’s still so much to learn about Ireland’s most famous export that we highly recommend visiting.
The storehouse itself dates back to 1902, but Guinness has been brewed in Dublin since Arthur Guinness founded the St. James’s Gate Brewery much further back in 1759. You’ll learn all the details and more across the seven floors of the Guinness Storehouse. You’ll also be introduced to the four key ingredients of Guinness and the story of Arthur Guinness himself.
After touring the exhibits, you’ll have the chance to learn how to pour Guinness the correct way. Of course, you’ll have the chance to drink the pint you’ve poured!
The tour ends on the seventh floor, where you can drink your fresh Guinness at the Gravity Bar. This is one of the highlights of any trip to Dublin because the panoramas from the top floor of the Guinness Storehouse are absolutely fantastic.
9. Hunt Down Dublin’s Best Whiskey
The second-most famous Irish export, after Guinness, is Irish whiskey. If you’re a whiskey fan, then you couldn’t have picked a better destination than Dublin for a few tastings.
The Irish capital is home to several whiskey distilleries, and you’ll be spoiled for choice when you’re deciding what to do in Dublin. The most well-known distillery is the Jameson Distillery, which is not only one of Dublin’s most historic whiskey brands, but it’s a whiskey that’s exported across the world.
The Jameson Distillery on Bow Street began distilling in the late 1700s. Whiskey isn’t actually distilled on the premises anymore, but you’ll love the Jameson museum and the whiskey tastings.
If you’re looking for a less touristy experience, then you should book a tour of the Pearse Lyons Distillery. Located in an old repurposed church in the Liberties district, the historical heart of whiskey-making in Dublin, you’ll be taken on an in-depth tour of modern craft whiskey production methods in a seriously unique setting.
The Liberties district has many more distilleries for the connoisseur. If you’re not yet whiskeyed out, you can also visit Teeling Distillery and the Dublin Liberties Distillery. If you’re on Grafton Street in central Dublin, you can’t miss the dedicated Irish Whiskey Museum.
10. Join a Walking Tour of the Docklands
The Docklands is one of Dublin’s most underrated tourist areas. The Docklands are found on both the south and north sides of the River Liffey, and the history of this ancient area can be traced all the way back to the Vikings, if not further.
In recent decades, the Docklands have undergone massive regeneration. You’ll love how wonderfully modern architecture stands side by side with Victorian warehouses and old customs buildings.
Today, the Docklands are home to trendy restaurants, high-end hotels, private quays, and plenty of start-ups and flashy engineering projects, but much of the old history remains hidden under these new developments.
The best way to uncover the Dockland’s unique heritage while learning more about its modern redevelopment is to join a walking tour of the area. You’ll learn about the Viking origins of the Docklands, mass emigration from Ireland in the Victorian era, and plans for the future of this centuries-old commercial hub.
11. Take a Cruise of Dublin Bay
One of the coolest things to do in Dublin is a scenic boat tour of the bay. It might not feel like it when you’re exploring the narrow streets of Temple Bar and central Dublin, but the Irish capital is a port city. You’re never too far from the Irish Sea and booking tickets for a boat cruise is super easy.
There are several routes you can take. One of the most popular is the Dublin City to Dun Laoghaire Harbour cruise, which gives you a waterside view of Dublin as you cruise past the harbor and the old Docklands, then out into the bay.
Other cruises take you from the bay along the coast, where you can join day trips to fishing villages like Howth or trips in search of seal colonies and wildlife.
You’ll also love joining a cruise to Dalkey Island, a beautiful but windswept island that’s located far out in the bay. En route, you’ll not only have wonderful views of the Irish coast, but you might also spot a dolphin or two!
12. Get Local at the Markets
There’s no better way to throw yourself into local life than by visiting the markets, and in Dublin, there’s at least one market for every day of the week. The daily Moore Street Market (on Moore Street) is the most popular market in Dublin. You’ll love shopping for artisanal handicrafts and sampling foods from the city’s diverse communities.
Head over to the Liberties district on Thursdays through Sundays, and you’ll find a funky marketplace where almost anything – clothes, food, kitchenware, etc. – is for sale at local rates.
On Saturdays, you have to visit Temple Bar, where you’ll not only be able to shop for secondhand books at the iconic Temple Bar Book Market but where you’ll be able to enjoy the culinary delights of the seasonal street food market.
13. Hike to the Top of Killiney Hill
If you’re looking to escape the city, one of the best things to do in Dublin is hiking Killiney Hill. You’ll need to head toward the coast, where, in the southeastern suburbs of the city, you can find one of the best walks in Ireland.
Killiney Hill rises just 153 meters above sea level, but that’s far higher than the surrounding coastline and the city itself. You start the walk in the Killiney Hill car park, which you can either drive to or reach using public transport from the city center. From the car park, there’s an easy-to-follow two-mile walking route that takes you to the top of the hill and in a loop through the surrounding park.
The summit of Killiney Hill offers spectacular views over Killiney Beach, while you’ll be able to see far along the coast in either direction (as long as the weather is good, of course!). You’ll also have a panoramic view of Dublin’s skyline. As if that wasn’t enough, you’ll love the views over the Wicklow Mountains!
14. Join the Festivities on St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day is one of Ireland’s biggest cultural exports. And it’s no surprise that celebrating Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick, is one of the coolest things to do in Dublin!
But while Irish communities (and let’s be honest, plenty of non-Irish communities, too!) across the world host parades and celebrations on March 17, there’s nowhere quite like Ireland for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
Traditionally, St. Patrick’s Day was a celebration of the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, but it’s evolved into much, much more than this. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is as much a celebration of Irish culture as it is a religious festival. Across Dublin, the streets will be a sea of green, white, and orange, as the city goes all out for its most important day of the year.
You’ll want to dress up in Irish colors and watch the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in the morning. Then find yourself a spot in a traditional Irish pub for the rest of the afternoon, evening, and perhaps even into the following morning!
We won’t lie to you, St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin can be a messy affair, especially in places like Temple Bar. But remember, it’s about so much more than drinking Guinness.
The festivities often coincide with other cultural events, too, such as Gaelic Language Week or temporary exhibitions in museums and galleries across Dublin. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about Saint Patrick and dig deeper into Irish culture!
15. Explore the Dublin Mountains on Foot
If you’re looking for Dublin activities that will get you active and outdoors, then the Dublin Mountains should be at the top of your Dublin bucket list.
The Dublin Mountains are really an extension of the Wicklow Mountains, an impressive range of hilltops that extends all the way south toward Wexford. Close to the city, the Dublin Mountains section of the range offers hiking and outdoor activities for anyone in need of a green escape from the city.
The best way to hike the Dublin Mountains is by tackling the 26-mile-long Dublin Mountains Way, a beautiful walking path that takes you from Shankill to Tallaght. You can try and walk the whole route in one day (it would be a long day!), or you can pick and choose sections to hike at your leisure.