No matter how you look at it, Dublin can go toe-to-toe with any city in the world. As a matter of fact, its unique Irish charm gives it an edge over many competitors. Culture, history, gastronomy… whatever you want to experience, this place has it all. You might even be surprised by its size when you first visit it, and if you only have one day in Dublin, you will need to plan your sightseeing carefully. This article will help you do just that, so read on and learn all about the places you must visit and things you must do while here.
What’s the best time to visit Dublin?
St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th every year is something to behold here because this is the patron saint of Ireland. That’s a great time to visit Dublin because of the huge celebrations, but there are interesting events and festivals all year round, so you really can’t go wrong. As for the weather, the whole year is pretty wet here, and it’s fairly cold in winter. That’s why you should consider coming here in June or July if you can’t make it to the Saint Patrick’s Day. Summers are really not that hot, plus there are many festivals you can visit, which means you will enjoy your every second here.
A few facts about Dublin
Dublin is a young city – almost one half of all the people living here are younger than 25. But more importantly, it is a City of Literature, a title awarded to it by UNESCO. This is not a big surprise, since so many famous writers were born and raised here: Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce and many other literary greats. The history of this city is also very interesting, as the official year of the city’s foundation is 988 when the Vikings founded a permanent settlement here. Still, people had lived around here for centuries before that.
One Day in Dublin Itinerary
Top things to do in Dublin, Ireland
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Dublin.
The Book of Kells
So, what are the best things to do in Dublin, Ireland? Well, you should start things off by taking a look at the Book of Kells. No only will that bring you close to the world-famous Trinity College (more on that later), but you will also be able to see an incredible manuscript in Latin written about 800 AD. The illustrations were also done by hand, and you will also be able to explore a huge library with more than 200,000 books. This is a must-see for every tourist, so remember to book tickets online in advance.
Shop in Grafton Street
Once you’re done with the book, you can pop just slightly south of the library and head to Grafton Street. You’re just a couple of minutes away, and this street is where you can do some serious shopping. Boutiques, souvenir shops, restaurants… there is plenty to choose from, both if you want big brands or local products for a bargain. No cars are allowed here, either.
Visit Dublin Castle
After you’re done shopping, turn into Wicklow Street and follow it eastwards. You will soon get a full view of Dublin Castle. This is definitely one of the places to see in Dublin because the remains of the original building from the 13th century are still there, while the present castle is from the 18th century. What is particularly interesting is that the castle is still in use – every new Irish President will be inaugurated here, and the government also uses it when they need to host something important.
Grab something to eat and drink at Temple Bar
By now, you must be hungry, so head north from the castle. Right beside the River Liffey is the part of town known as Temple Bar. Loads of pubs, shops, art studios and cafes can be found here, but what sets the place apart is a huge among of young people from all over Europe. The energy of the place is really something special, with numerous musicians outside and live music in most of the pubs. If you want to hang out, this is the place to be.
See Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
Finally, if you still have the time and energy to spend on your Dublin city break, go back to the castle and then head southwest. Just ten minutes away is Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. This is where Jonathan Swift was buried and, obviously, a cathedral dedicated to Ireland’s patron saint. It’s really worth checking it out because of its architecture and all the history related to it, but do expect a lot of tourists when you get there.
Things to do in Dublin for free
If you’re travelling on a budget, you will certainly be looking for things to do in Dublin for free. Naturally, those things still have to convey the spirit of the city to you, so that you can really get a feel of what the Irish capital is all about. Here are some interesting examples of such activities.
Visit Phoenix Park
Not only is entering Europe’s largest urban park completely free, but there are plenty of things you can do there, too. Sports and recreation are extremely well represented, but Phoenix Park is also home to Dublin Zoo. True, that is not free, but if you want to see some wildlife, you don’t have to enter the zoo – stroll around a bit and you may stumble upon the heard of deer that lives here. The park is also where Áras an Uachtaráin, the residence of the Irish president, is located and you can visit it for free every Saturday.
Check out galleries and museums
When you visit Dublin, you will surely want to visit the city’s galleries and museums. Not only are they numerous and full of interesting exhibits, but they are in most cases also completely free. Irish Museum of Modern Art is a great example of that, as are Science and National Gallery. Stroll around the city and you will find many other places like this where you can enter without paying anything.
Mingle around the Ha’penny flea market
If you’re in the city on a Saturday, head to the Ha’penny bridge and check out the flea market there. You’ll get a great vibe from all those people there and you’re not obligated to buy anything, so this is a great spot for people-watching. But if you have a few euros to spare, browse the market a bit and you will find great deals on all sorts of interesting stuff – from books and jewellery to clothes and records.
Things to do in Dublin at night
So, your one day in Dublin is over and now you have the whole night ahead of you. Where to go and what are the coolest things to do around here? There are plenty of great choices to unwind and relax – here are some of the most popular of them.
Dublin pub tour
One of the easiest things to do in Dublin at night is to just sit down in one of the pubs, order yourself a pint of Guinness and enjoy the lively atmosphere of these places. There are quite literally hundreds of them scattered all across the city, so you really shouldn’t have any trouble finding one. People here are very friendly, and you’ll be sucked into their way of life very quickly.
Evening stroll through the city
Dublin is absolutely beautiful by night. The numerous city lights, the bridges you can find all over the place and the architecture all contribute to a very romantic atmosphere. This is why something like this is ideal for couples. Besides, you can always grab a snack with your significant other – you will easily find a vendor or something along the way.
Dublin kayak tour
If you want to end your day with something completely different, why not hop on a kayak and see the city from a unique perspective? Meet the River Liffey first-hand and learn about the history of this city from a guide who will accompany you. The rides close shop pretty late, so there is no reason to rush things. Just chill and enjoy something that will definitely be a memorable experience.
Where to stay in Dublin?
Holiday Inn Express Dublin City Centre
Not only does Holiday Inn Express Dublin City Centre offer great value for your money because of its modern and well-equipped rooms, but its location is nearly perfect. You are within a walking distance of all major attractions in the city, so getting around won’t be a problem. There’s even the option of a late check-out if you want to stay just a tiny bit longer.
The Westbury Hotel
If you want to spice up your trip to Dublin with a dash of luxury, the Westbury Hotel will oblige. It boasts two brilliant restaurants, spacious rooms with private bathrooms, an excellent bar and a gym. Furthermore, the location is spectacular, right near to Trinity College, so you will literally be in the city’s very centre. From there, reaching every major attraction is nothing more than a gentle stroll.
Hotel 7 also has a pretty good location – it will only take you about 15 minutes on foot to reach Temple Bar and Trinity College. The rooms are modern, spacious and comfortable, and the hotel has its own restaurant where they even serve specialized meals for children. Friendly staff is on call 24 hours a day to help you out with anything you may need.
Sky Backpackers Hostel
Young travellers will absolutely love staying at the Sky Backpackers Hostel. It is located right across the Liffey from Temple Bar, but it also has a very interesting history. The object used to be a recording studio where such greats like David Bowie, Van Morrison, U2 and others would come to record their hits. The staff is very friendly, the rooms have everything you need, and the breakfast is pretty good. What more could you ask for?
Day trips from Dublin
Like we said, there are many things to do in Dublin. You can spend days and even weeks learning about the city’s rich culture and history non-stop. Some unique places around here are ideal for organizing a day trip from Dublin and spending your time that way, but you can also easily make a trip out of town. Therefore, if you have two or three days in Dublin, don’t hesitate to make some of these places a part of your itinerary.
Trinity College Tour
Going on a Trinity College tour is one of the best things to do in Dublin city centre. This illustrious institution was founded way back in 1592, and its grandeur is still visible to this very day. An incredible piece of architecture, the campus will simply take your breath away with its outside appearance and its massive halls. It will be like you have entered a fairy tale. You simply can’t visit Dublin and not see this. Many would even say that this is among the very best things to do in Ireland altogether.
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Guinness Brewery Tour
Have you ever seen how a brewery works? As you may know, the Irish are, well, passionate about their drinks. And Guinness is their number one beer. More than 10 million pints of this beverage are sold across the world EVERY DAY, which is why a Guinness brewery tour is one of the coolest things to do in Dublin. See how and where this magical world-famous elixir is made and taste it if you haven’t done so it already.
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Now here’s a nice piece of history for you. Kilmainham Gaol was a prison until 1924, and it served as a way for the British to deal with Irish revolutionaries by imprisoning and executing them. There are many stories this place can tell you, so it’s a good thing that today it serves as a museum which can teach you a lot about Irish history. Of course, knowledgeable guides will be with you every step of the way. For anyone who is willing to learn, this historic Dublin prison tour is an absolute must.
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Cliffs of Moher
If you’re willing to make a longer trip, you won’t be disappointed with what the Cliffs of Moher have to offer. It takes about three hours to get here, but the breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean from these steep cliffs will be well worth it. Just a half an hour’s drive from this magical place is Burren National Park, so you can really soak in the nature of this incredible country. You will find many picturesque villages along the way and eating there is a great idea – the food is excellent.
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Another great idea for Dublin day trips is heading out to Wicklow county. Here, you will finally understand why Irish color is green. This is Irish countryside at its finest: charming, serene and incredibly attractive. Quite different from that Dublin jail tour, that’s for sure. Enjoy a calming walk through Wicklow National Park, enjoy great food and drinks at the local pub and see where some scenes from the move Braveheart were shot. You will remember this for a long time.
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The last one on our list of day trips from Dublin is Blarney Castle. This is also a slightly longer ride (a bit less than three hours to the south of Ireland), but since the legendary Blarney Stone is there, the trip will pay off. If you can kiss the stone, the legend says, you will receive the “gift of gab”, i.e. eloquence and wit. The castle itself is an impressive piece of medieval architecture with surroundings that only strengthen its natural allure.
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Extra tips for visiting Dublin
– If you’re thinking of doing a lot of shopping when you visit Dublin, it’d be a good idea to bring some kind of reusable bag with you. Most shops will charge you for their big plastic bags, so if you have something with you to put the souvenirs in, you’ll avoid unnecessary expenses
– Leap, Dublin public transport’s smart cards, will get you a 20% discount on bus fares
– Given the plug sockets they use in Ireland (type G), it is quite possible that you will need an adapter. Pack one if you will need to recharge things at your ho(s)tel.
– Tips are only expected from you in restaurants (10% is the standard rate). Anywhere else, and you’re not expected to provide them, but you can do that, of course, if you’re satisfied with the service provided.
– Dublinbikes, a system of public bikes in the city, are free to use for the first 30 minutes after you pick one up. You can download a free app to help you find them and to learn everything about using them
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