You can’t visit Ireland without spending a day or two in Dublin. While I’m a big advocate of seeing more than just the capital, even I can’t deny Dublin’s charm. Beautiful buildings, endless museums, awesome greenspaces and, of course, the pubs. Dublin has some awesome pubs. But with so much do see and do, how do you decide? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with this Dublin itinerary.
In this post, I’m sharing what I consider to be the best of Dublin. From where to eat (and drink!) to what to see and do. Whether you have one day in Dublin, two days in Dublin, or three days in Dublin, there is more than enough to keep you busy.
I’ve created this itinerary based on personal preference but I’ve also tried to keep location in mind so I don’t have you wasting your time running around the city. With that being said, your tastes and interests are what matter the most so be sure to mix and match my suggestions to create your own perfect Dublin itinerary. Ready to explore? Here’s what you need to know.
Arriving into Dublin
Getting into Dublin city centre is really easy. The airport has two terminals but they are attached so once you exit the airport you can make your way to the taxi stand (the most expensive option) or, go through the parking lot and make your way to where the busses are. There are several buses that go directly into the city centre and stop at several main areas. I always use the Airlink bus; it runs frequently, gets to the city quickly, and has free wifi.
Visitors should note that car services like Uber do technically exist in Dublin, but they are very uncommon so don’t rely on it.
Getting Around Dublin
My favourite way to explore Dublin is by foot and if you only have one day in Dublin, this is probably the best way to get around and experience the city as the sites and attractions I recommend for one day in Dublin are all quite close to each other. However, if you plan on spending two, three, or more days in Dublin, it may be worth looking into getting a Dublin City Pass. Not only because it includes transit but it will also get you into some of the sites I list below for free and allow you to skip the line. Of course, price it out against your Dublin itinerary ahead of time to make sure it’s worth the money.
If you decide not to do the pass, you may also consider a hop-on-hop-off type ticket which will get you around the city. This is ideal if you plan on going to some of the further attractions like Guinness Storehouse or Kilmainham Gaol which are outside of the main tourist hub.
Dublin also has a decent public transit system that you can make use of. There are city buses as well as the LUAS system. Be sure to ask your accommodation for help in figuring out your route if you plan on exploring Dublin this way.
Where to Stay in Dublin
You may be surprised to know that Dublin actually has some of the most expensive hotels in all of Europe. But, don’t worry. You can still do Dublin on a budget. While there are plenty of luxury hotels there are also some great Dublin B&Bs, some mid-range choices, and hostels.
As for location, I suggest staying as close to the main tourist areas as possible to save on travel time and make the most out of your Dublin itinerary. Look for properties near Temple Bar (though that area can be noisy), Stephen’s Green, or Trinity College.
Here are some of my top recommendations for where to stay in Dublin.
OR if you are looking for a truly decadent Dublin experience, book your stay at Clontarf Castle hotel. It’s a bit outside of the city core, but you can easily hop on a bus to get to and from town. If you’ve always dreamed of staying in an Irish castle hotel, this is a beautiful (and affordable!) pick.
You can also try Airbnb.
One Day in Dublin
Start your day right with a traditional Irish meal: a full Irish breakfast. There’s no shortage of places to have an Irish breakfast in Dublin though some places are better than others. I recommend Queen of Tarts Bakery in Dublin’s Temple Bar. All of their meals (and cakes) are delicious and, it has a cozy atmosphere. Plus, it’s a bit off the beaten path but still central enough for tourists who only have one day in Dublin.
If you’re not a big breakfast person, then I recommend heading to Bewleys on Grafton Street. This beautiful café can get busy (so go around 8am to avoid the crowds!) but it’s stunning inside and has delicious food including a lighter breakfast menu. I suggest their scones and a pot of tea.
After breakfast head across to Trinity College; Ireland’s famous university. The grounds are beautiful and worth a walk around, but the main attraction here is the Book of Kells. However, I caution you not to get too excited because, as beautiful and impressive as it is, you only get to see two pages. They do change the pages daily but it’s still just two pages that you and everyone else is desperately trying to look at. Personally, the highlight for me of Trinity College is the Long Hall which looks like it belongs in Hogwarts or the castle in Beauty and the Beast. It’s every bibliophile’s dream and photos are allowed so make sure to bring a camera.
The Long Hall and Book of Kells to require a ticket. They can be purchased at the door, or in advance. I highly recommend purchasing your tickets in advance so you don’t have to spend too much time waiting. After all, you only have one day in Dublin and you want to make the most of it!
St. Stephen’s Green
After Trinity College head down to St. Stephen’s Green, one of the most famous parks in the city. Here you can find a lake, gardens, and several statues and sculptures. St. Stephen’s green has played an important role in Irish history during the Easter Rising of 1916. Today, however, it’s a peaceful place to relax and you’ll find plenty of locals here, especially on warm sunny days.
The Little Museum of Dublin
Dublin has no shortage of museums, but the Little Museum of Dublin is my favourite so if you only have one day in Dublin, I say pick this museum. It’s not free and tours are timed so you’ll definitely want to book online ahead of time. It’s very interesting and definitely worthwhile because tours, while very informative, are quite short, meaning you can learn and see quite a bit without taking up too much time out of your one day in Dublin itinerary. Of course, if you like, you are welcome to stay and look around more once the tour has finished.
No doubt you will have worked up an appetitive after this so grab some lunch near Grafton Street. There are plenty to choose from but I suggest heading to Davy Byrnes which is just off Grafton Street. It’s a historic pub that is known for being mentioned in Ulysses. You can grab food and a drink here and rest your feet for a bit before moving on.
Grafton Street Area
Grafton Street is the main pedestrian street in Dublin. It’s lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants. If you are looking to shop or pick up some souvenirs definitely peek into some of the stores on Grafton Street and check out the side streets too. Keep an eye out for Avoca and Kilkenny stores for quality Irish merchandise. For fun souvenirs like magnets, postcards, and Guinness merchandise, head to Carrolls.
Mary Malone Statue
You may know of Mary Malone from the famous Irish song of the same name that has become Dublin’s unofficial anthem. She’s a fictional character who sold seafood (mussels and cockles) by day, but worked as a prostitute by night. The statue of Mary can be found Suffolk Street by the tourism office and makes for a fun photo reminder of your day in Dublin.
Dublin Castle isn’t quite the castle that you may be expecting, but it is a pretty impressive building and worth a visit. It was once the seat of the Irish government, but today is maintained by the Office of Public Works and open to tourists. Within the Dublin Castle complex you can find richly decorated state apartments, the Garda Museum, and the Chester Beatty Library.
You’ve walked around and explored quite a bit today so head to Temple Bar Quarter and grab a pint. Temple Bar itself is a tourist trap, but it’s also a must see and a good place for a pre-dinner drink. If it’s too crowded for you, head down the road a bit to the Palace Bar which is one of my favourites in Dublin. This historic pub is a great place to have a pint or some Irish whisky.
There is no shortage of places to grab dinner in Dublin and you can find pretty much any cuisine you like. However, I recommend heading to the Boxty House. It’s located in Temple Bar District and offers a variety of dishes all playing on the tradition boxty; an Irish potato pancake. The food is good and the prices are reasonable (especially if you take advantage of the early bird menu).
Hit the Pub(s)
If you only have one day in Ireland than my favourite pub to recommend is O’Donoghues. It’s a local and tourist favourite and for good reason. Great pints, great music, and great atmosphere. It will be crowded, but it’s worth it.
Two Days in Dublin
Start your day off right with a fresh breakfast from Avoca Café in Dublin. Eggs, pancakes, porridge and more can be found on the café menu of this popular Dublin café. Looking for something lighter to grab and go? Try Keogh’s Café for fresh and delicious muffins, scones, and pastries that you can eat as you explore.
Visit a couple of Dublin’s Museums
As I mentioned earlier, Dublin has a number of museums to visit. In fact, you could spend your whole time in the city just exploring museums if you really wanted. If you have two days in Dublin, it’s definitely worth checking out one or two. Bonus: Dublin’s national museums are free!
I recommend the National Museum of Ireland. It’s my favourite thanks to the cool artefacts, incredible gold pieces, and the bog bodies which I think are strangely fascinating. However, there are plenty more Dublin museums and galleries to check out which may appeal to you. Some of the more popular choices include:
- The Dublin Writer’s Museum
- The Zoological Museum
- EPIC the Irish Emigration Museum
- The National Gallery of Ireland
- Museum of Modern Art
- The National Library of Ireland
When you think of Ireland you probably think of Fish and Chips, so head to Beshoff’s, a local favourite, to get some. It’s a fast-food style spot where you order at the counter and can take your meal to go or sit in. There are a few different types to choose from though I like the cod.
Visit Two of Dublin’s Famous Churches
Dublin has no shortage of Churches, but there are two that are definitely worth a look. St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Christ Church Cathedral. Both are stunning buildings that are worth a walk around. You do have to pay to go inside, although I’d say you only need to go into one. Personally, I prefer Christ Church Cathedral.
Dublinia Museum is right beside Christ Church Cathedral and is another cool museum in Dublin. Sadly, this one is not free but it’s informative and fun- especially if you are travelling with children. Dublinia tells the story of Viking Dublin and Medieval Dublin with interesting interactive exhibits. At the end, there’s a great viewpoint you can climb to and get a bird’s eye view of the city.
Jameson Whisky Experience
Dublin has a few alcohol-related tourist attractions but Jameson’s Whisky Experience is my favourite. There are small group tours with entertaining guides that really do a good job of telling this story and history behind this Irish whisky. Plus, you get to compare it to American and Scottish Whisky, and you get a drink at the end. It’s one of my top recommendations for things to do in the city and a perfect stop if you have two days in Dublin.
For two days in Dublin, I recommend dinner at the Brazen Head which, if you’ve done any research, you will recognize as the oldest pub in Dublin. It’s also known for its live music so stick around after your meal and have a pint or two and enjoy the pub ambience.
A Nightcap at the Long Hall
If you are still up for a drink head to the Long Hall. It’s one of the more beautiful historic pubs in Dublin and the perfect place for a pint or two before your two days in Dublin comes to an end.
Three Days in Dublin
Today is a busy day and my suggestions for a three days in Dublin itinerary doesn’t have many lunch choices, so I suggest you eat up this morning. Try Hatch and Sons for a country style full Irish Breakfast to get you going.
Kilmainham Gaol is the old jail and where many of the Irish revolutionaries and leaders of the Easter Rising were held and executed. Today, this historic building is a museum that can only be accessed by tour. The tours here are excellent but do need to be booked well in advance. So if you know you have three days in Dublin (or if this on the top of your list of things to do in Dublin with one or two days) then make sure you book your time slot early. It’s a bit far from the heart of Dublin so you’ll want to either take a taxi, figure out the local bus system, or use your hop on hop off pass if you have one.
Chances are you are wondering why I haven’t recommended the Guinness Storehouse until now. I’ve been twice and if I’m being completely honest, I don’t love it. It’s a self-guided tour that always seems to be very crowded. Is it interesting? Yes. Is learning how to pour a pint of Guinness kind of cool? Absolutely. But, it is a huge facility and takes up a lot of time that, personally, I think can be spent doing better things if you are short on time in Dublin. That being said, if you do have three days in Dublin then it is worth a visit. For the best prices, book your ticket ahead of time. Doing this also means you can skip the lines which can be huge.
There aren’t a ton of good lunch spots in this area (at least not that I’ve found) so if you are hungry, I suggest grabbing something at the café or restaurant at the Guinness Storehouse.
Phoenix Park or Jeanie Johnston Tallship & Famine Experience
If you have a nice day, I’d recommend heading to Phoenix Park. This is the biggest park in Dublin and is home to the Dublin Zoo, the Áras an Uachtaráin (residence of the Irish president), and several impressive monuments. It’s also home to a herd of wild fallow deer which are quite friendly and sometimes enjoy being fed by humans.
If it’s raining, then Phoenix Park isn’t such a great idea, so instead head to the Jeanie Johnston Tallship & Famine Experience. This tallship is a replica of the original which was built in Quebec, Canada and used as one of Ireland’s famine ships. It made 16 voyages carrying the Irish to North America. There are guided tours of the museum which will tell you the story behind the ship, it’s crew, and passengers and what their experience was like crossing the ocean. The tour last about an hour but be sure to check the schedule in advance as tours run at specific times.
Have an early dinner at Market Bar in Dublin which is a fun tapas-style restaurant. It gets pretty busy and can have long wait times (which is why I recommend going early) but the food is good and the dishes are perfect for sharing if you have a group. It’s a fun atmosphere and a popular local, rather than tourist, spot in the city.
It’s your last night so I recommend doing a bit of a pub crawl to celebrate the end of your three days in Dublin. There are plenty of bars to choose from but if you are up for a bit of a walk (or taxi ride if your feet hurt) then I suggest heading to a couple spots a little bit away from the main tourist area. One of my all-time favourite Dublin pubs is the Bleeding Horse. Nearby you can also find another Dublin classic, Whelan’s which you may recognize from the movie PS I Love You. If you need a night snack (at least until 11pm) then cross over to the Bernard Shaw which has a big blue pizza bus in the back serving up delicious personal-sized pizzas with your pints.
Have more time? There are plenty of great day trips you can take from Dublin. Whether you want to go west to the Cliffs of Moher, south to kiss the Blarney Stone, or North to see the Giants Causeway or find the Game of Thrones filming locations. Be sure to check my list of the best day trips from Dublin to find the perfect trip for you.
Dublin is a great city, and while I recommend you do take some time to explore the rest of the county, you absolutely need to spend some time in the capital. There is plenty to do in the city and the above is only my recommendations based on my favourite things to do. Feel free to mix and match as you please to create your own perfect Dublin itinerary for 1, 2 or 3 days in Dublin.
Planning a trip to Ireland? Don’t forget to read these helpful posts:
- What to wear in Ireland (for men and women)
- Irish Pub Etiquette
- Irish Slang
- Things Not to do in Ireland