Dublin, the capital and largest city in Ireland, is a must-see location for travelers. Full of history and Irish charm, the city of Dublin is the perfect balance of natural escapes and bustling attractions.
Centered on the River Liffey, edged by Dublin Bay, and framed by the Wicklow Mountains, Dublin offers a variety of outdoor activities. Closer to the city centre, Dublin becomes a social scene packed with culture, nightlife, and entertainment. No matter your interests, Dublin has something to offer you.
Here are some popular attractions in Dublin and the best ways to spend a day there.
Museums and Tours
Little Museum of Dublin
The Little Museum of Dublin was named the “best museum experience in Dublin” by the Irish Times in 2013 and was ranked on TripAdvisor as the #10 attraction to see in Dublin. The museum, located in an 18th-century Georgian townhouse, chronicles the history of Dublin in the 20th century. It provides visitors with information on life in Dublin during that time period. Perfect for history buffs and anyone interested in learning more about Dublin, this museum is a great way to spend a few hours.
National Museum of Ireland
The National Museum of Ireland offers free admission to visitors. With an emphasis on Irish history, art, culture, and archaeology, the museum offers a wide range of exhibits and collections. The museum also has several Victorian gardens on the grounds where visitors can go for a stroll and enjoy some of the loveliest gardens Dublin has to offer.
Taking a tour of the historical Dublin Castle is a great way to spend your day. Built-in the 13th century, the castle served as a military fortress, prison, treasury, court of law, and administration headquarters for centuries. It is now a major government complex and a key tourist attraction. The castle is open daily for guided tours where you can walk the grounds of the historical Gothic Chapel Royal and view the excavation site of Viking and medieval Dublin, among other things.
Kilmainham Gaol was once a prison but is now a museum and one of Ireland’s most important historical monuments. A visit to Kilmainham Gaol will take you on a journey through Irish history and its fight for independence. Many Irish revolutionaries were imprisoned and executed in Kilmainham Gaol. Though bleak, the prison holds a particular historical and cultural significance and gives visitors a rare opportunity to share in the history of Irish nationalism.
Guinness Storehouse is a very popular tourist attraction in Dublin. Located at St. James’s Gate Brewery, the storehouse is in an old fermentation plant seven stories high. The self-guided tour takes visitors through the history of Guinness. A story that begins over 250 years ago is told through various interactive exhibits and ends at Gravity Bar, Dublin’s highest rooftop bar where you can enjoy views of Dublin while, of course, sipping on some Guinness.
Old Jameson Distillery
Whiskey lovers won’t want to skip out on a visit to the Old Jameson Distillery. Located just off Smithfield Square in Dublin, the Old Jameson Distillery is the original site where Jameson Irish Whiskey was distilled until 1971. It is now a visitors center that provides guided tours and whiskey tastings. There are a number of guided tours given throughout the day, so you can pop in at most hours and learn about the history of the Jameson brand and even try the whiskey.
St. Stephen’s Green
While in Dublin’s city centre make sure to check out St. Stephen’s Green, a Victorian garden square and public park. At 27 acres, St. Stephen’s Green is the largest of the parks in Dublin’s main Georgian garden squares. Others include nearby Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square. St. Stephen’s Green is a great place to rest, read a book, or have a picnic, all while taking in the beautiful Dublin scenery.
Wicklow Mountains National Park
Located about an hour outside of Dublin is Wicklow Mountains National Park, known for being the largest of Ireland’s six National Parks. Covering over 20,000 hectares, the National Park is an important recreational space for locals and visitors alike. According to the park’s official website, over one million visits to the park are estimated to be made each year. While there be sure to check out the scenic Glendalough Valley where the ancient monastic settlement of St. Kevin is located. The Wicklow Mountains National Park is a must-see for wilderness enthusiasts, conservationists, and anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Another park to add to your Dublin itinerary is Phoenix Park. Located west of the city centre and north of the River Liffey is the 1,750-acre urban park known as Phoenix Park. A beautiful and tranquil recreational spot, Phoenix Park is more than 350 years old and is home to Ireland’s main zoo, the Victorian People’s Flower Gardens, and the official residence of the President of Ireland. The park is so historically and culturally significant in Ireland that the Irish government has been campaigning since 2011 to have the park designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Shopping and Nightlife
Dublin City Centre
If shops, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs are what you’re looking for then you’ll definitely want to spend a day in Dublin City Centre, Dublin’s cultural hub. Known for being the most diverse area of Dublin, you’re sure to meet a wide range of people as you peruse the shops and grab a bite to eat. Some notable sights located within Dublin’s city centre include Trinity College, Dublin Castle, and the National Museum of Ireland. Walk down Grafton Street, the main shopping thoroughfare, for some retail therapy, and end your day at one of the many bars and pubs. You can easily visit most of Dublin’s main attractions when you spend a day in Dublin City Centre.
Temple Bar District
Temple Bar District is the place to go when you’re looking for entertainment, art, drinks, and culinary delights. Often described as Dublin’s “bohemian quarter,” Temple Bar is a haven for artists and creatives looking for a good time. No matter the time of year, visitors can often enjoy live music in this district, whether on the streets or in a bar. Pubs, restaurants, music, and fun await you at Temple Bar District.