Famous for its cornucopia of art, music, history, design, literature, architecture and pubs, the options for things to do Dublin are virtually endless. With its unique blend of heritage and hedonism, there is literally something here for everyone. We’ve put together a few suggestions to help you narrow down your to-do list for this magical and eclectic city, but there are just so many places to go and things to see in Dublin, we’ve barely scratched the surface!
In addition to the suggestions below, if you are particularly captivated by history, culture and architecture, you should also definitely consider visiting the National Museum, National Gallery and Trinity College. For even more ideas – some of which are a little bit different to standard sight-seeing – take a look at this this compilation of reader's tips put together by The Guardian.
Always remember to check your Allianz travel insurance* policy to make sure you’re covered for more unusual or adventurous activities.
For more help with planning and organisation, it may be worth considering the purchase of The Dublin Pass. Based on a bunch of independent customer reviews, the pass is a city card that gives you discounted, (and sometimes free), entry to most of the city’s attractions, sights and landmarks. It even fast tracks you to the front of the queue in many instances. There’s also a free hop-on/hop-off bus, complimentary guidebook and a free airport transfer included with the pass. Prices vary for adults and children and you can purchase a one, three or five day pass.
You could easily spend a couple of days dedicated to exploring all the beautiful and fascinating castles in and around Dublin. We’ve outlined just a couple for you below, but if medieval turrets and feudal strongholds are your thing, check out this array of Irish historic castles and houses.
Set in the heart of the city on a high ridge on the South side of the River Liffey, Dublin Castle was originally built by the conquering Normans in the 12th century. The property occupies a massive footprint and all the buildings have been faithfully restored.
The castle as it stands today has evolved over the centuries, falling victim to various military attacks and devastating fires. It was rebuilt and added to in the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and despite its French origins is now primarily Georgian in style.
There are lots of fascinating parts of the castle to see, including the State Apartments; Undercroft; Garda (police) Museum – famous for the last intact medieval tower in Dublin; and the Revenue Museum, situated in the Crypt of the Chapel Royal. Entry to the grounds is free and there are also guided tours available.
Set on 250 acres of parkland on the stunning Dublin coastline, the famous Malahide Castle was originally built by the Talbot family as a fortress and family home in the 12th century. The castle is filled with period furniture and an extensive collection of historic Irish portraits.
The grounds include a four acre walled garden, brimming with exotic plants and manicured lawns. Take a guided tour of the castle and gardens so you don’t miss any of the detail of the rich and fascinating history of this magnificent property.
From Irish whiskey to the famous dark Guinness stout, Dubliners’ reputation for being fond of a tipple is world renowned – with much of their culture and history tied up in the traditions of their famous hospitality. So it stands to reason that there are a few notable pubs that are worthy of a visit while you’re in town.
Originally licensed in 1907, Fagan’s Pub is located on the outskirts of Dublin, in the heart of Drumcondra – a world away from the Dublin city centre. Back at the turn of the century, this area was highly sought after, especially by artists and writers, due to its proximity to the Botanical Gardens. The restored ale house has not lost its appeal to celebrities, playing host to sporting heroes, politicians and foreign dignitaries, including Bill Clinton, Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, and Bono.
Dublin’s little known north side is well worth dedicating a day to, and not just for Fagan’s. Visit the nearby National Botanic Gardens; The Palm House, where the great philosopher Wittgenstein liked to sit and reflect; Glasnevin Cemetery, Prospect Square, and another atmospheric old pub, Kavanagh’s.
Pop in to John Kavanagh’s pub, known to locals as ‘The Gravediggers’, after touring Glasnevin Cemetery for an authentic Irish pub experience. You’ll be greeted by friendly staff, and offered an array of comfort food to soothe the soul. With no music or TVs to distract you, soak in the atmosphere and expand your social skills.
First licenced in 1803, Kehoe’s remains one of the last truly unspoilt historic pubs in Dublin. A stone’s throw from the legendary Trinity College, Kehoe’s oozes literary heritage from its dark wood-panelled walls. Frequented by students, tourists, shoppers and the after-work crowd, you’ll find a great mix of people to meet within its numerous rooms and charming snugs, while you sit back and enjoy what could possibly be the best Guinness in Dublin.
No visit to Dublin is complete without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse. Learn about the history of the famous brew in one of the city’s most historic buildings. Immerse yourself in the full seven storey historic experience by taking the free tour, finishing at rooftop Gravity Bar where you’ll be poured the perfect pint. As you would expect from Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction, there are a range of cafes and restaurants, tasting experiences, and a myriad of gifts and souvenirs available in the retail store. But there is also a lot of truly fascinating history that goes along with it, and is certainly worth enduring the commercial kitsch.
Take this one hour guided tour of the Old Jameson Distillery to learn about the history of the iconic brand. See the recreated distillery and learn the ins and outs of milling, mashing and maturation. The tour includes a tasting experience to give you a true appreciation of Ireland’s most famous whiskey export.
You’ll even receive a certificate as a ‘Qualified Irish Whiskey Taster”! Founded in 1780, the distillery is filled with history and the passionate tour guides are only too eager to share the craft and traditions that have been handed down over two centuries.
Tours run every 25 minutes and can sell out in peak times, so it’s worthwhile booking ahead and discounts apply for online bookings.
Given its designation as a UNESCO City of Literature, it seems inevitable that a trip to Dublin would include a visit to the Writers Museum. Situated in a building comprised of two 18th century houses, the elegant museum captures the city’s rich literary tradition up to 1970. Swift, Sheridan, Shaw, Wilde, Yeats, Joyce and Beckett are just a few of the revered literary intellects celebrated within the walls of the stunning Georgian mansion.
Curiously, there are no contemporary writers honoured by the museum, potentially limiting the appeal to modern readers. However, the adjacent Irish Writers Centre is a place for budding authors to meet and work.
For something a little ‘under the radar’, but quite fascinating, schedule a visit to Marino Casino. Considered to be one of the finest 18th century neo-classical buildings in Europe, it is definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in architecture and design.
The casino was designed by Sir William Chambers as a garden pavilion for James Caulfield, 1st Earl of Charlemont, who was known for his love of classical art and culture. Despite its diminutive appearance, the Casino contains 16 rooms spread over three levels.
Entry to the Casino is by pre-arranged guided tour only. In order to protect the ornate inlaid floors, visitors are asked to leave their shoes outside and are provided with disposable footwear for the duration of the tour.
Dublin is a truly magical and eclectic city, with something for everybody and limitless memories to be made!