Last Updated: 29th July, 2018
Dublin: Culture, Craic and a Warm Local Welcome
Whether you’re after culture, history, pints, family adventures or live music, Dublin has it all. One of the most accessible and friendly capital cities in the world, Dublin is easy to explore on foot. A great destination for family city breaks, a romantic getaway or solo explorers, a warm welcome awaits.
Here are some of our top picks around the city that are guaranteed to entertain and delight…
A vibrant area, this should be on the top of you list when you visit Dublin. Once considered a tacky tourist spot, Dubliners have reclaimed the area and brought back its cultural heart for all to enjoy. You’ll find excellent live music and theatre, buskers, great pubs, boutique and vintage shopping, There’s a delicious food market on Saturdays, the wonderful gutterbookshop (friendly owner, Bob, goes out of his way to help) for your literary needs, and you can pop into the IFI cinema for a tasty budget bite to eat as well as an art house film. There’s even a children’s theatre (The Ark) and a fishing tackle shop – you name it, Temple Bar has it!
Once home to the iconic horse market, Smithfield is now an arty hub for visitors, hipsters and intellectuals. Home to the crypts of St Michan’s church, the stunning Smithfield Cinema, a number of boutique shops and cafes and the Jameson Distillery, it’s an historic area with plenty to offer. There’s also a bustling nightlife with a variety of restaurants and bars, including the infamous Cobblestone pub – Dublin’s No.1 spot for real Irish trad music.
An excellent way to see the city, especially as a large group or with young children, take in the top sites at your leisure without having to walk the length and breadth of the city. The bus runs daily, with 24- or 48-hour tickets. Your ticket also provides a number of discounts or free gifts at the attractions and some priority access queue jumping. There are regular special offers online also, so keep an eye on the website to bag an extra bargain.
Who’d have thought that a brewery could be so interesting? This wonderful, interactive museum over several floors, looks at all aspects of this household name – production, history, advertising, new products and more – culminating in a pint of the black stuff at the top in Gravity Bar with its 360-degree views over the city. Boasting plenty of extras experiences – for instance, pull your own pint or taste new beers not yet on the market from the secret brewery – the Guinness Storehouse is Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction. Queues can get big, so book online and go early!
Learn about Dublin’s past and present as you cruise the Liffey in style. With fun but knowledgeable guides, large windows and a glass roof, there are excellent views from Bachelor’s walk to Samuel Beckett Bridge. Suitable for all ages and guaranteed to entertain.
: An exciting, fun and unique ADULT ONLY attraction in Clontarf, this interactive experience is certainly unique. Learn about Dublin’s own Bram Stoker – author of Dracula – and journey through castle tunnels, across spinning bridges, up to Dracula’s lair, before watching a show in the Graveyard Theatre. There is also a Bram Stoker hall of fame, complete with authentic artefacts, and a secret entrance. For literature and horror fans alike!
Pat Liddy’s tours are celebrated by locals and visitors alike; with incredible knowledge, humour and storytelling, Pat and his guides will show you the real Dublin, highlighting fascinating sights, historical events, local traditions, as well as people and their stories. Walking tours can be group or private – either way, you’ll get al your questions answered.
A must for whiskey lovers, the Teeling Whiskey Distillery is over 125 years old and was voted Best Whiskey Visitor Attraction by the World Whiskey Awards; it offers an insight into the whole process of traditional whiskey making, from distillation to tasting – with samples included.
Based in Smithfield, see the Jameson story come to life through an immersive tasting tour, or enjoy an in depth whiskey master-class or a cocktail master-class for something a little different. There are also regular nighttime live music sessions to enjoy – with a tipple, if you choose.
An iconic building dating back to Viking times, you can come here to worship or to admire the architecture including the medieval crypts. If you’re lucky, you’ll get t hear the choir rehearsing – or you can book one of their concerts. And don’t forget to seek out the mummified cat and rat, nicknamed ‘Tom & Jerry’, as immortalised by Joyce in Finnegan’s Wake.
A family-friendly city, there’s plenty to all ages occupied; here are some of favourites…
Viking Splash Tour: See the main sights in Dublin by land and water in a World War II amphibious vehicle; that’s right, a land vehicle that also floats on water! Leaving from St Stephen’s Green, this fun-filled tour offers plenty of facts and lots of laughs as you explore the medieval, Georgian, Viking and Docklands areas.
Housed inside Phoenix Park and spread across 38 hectares, this is one of the world’s oldest zoos. Home to over 400 animals, its a fun and informative attraction, that’s also important for its conservation and research. Visit the overhead orang-utan walkway, the penguin feed, the chimpanzee chat and more; talks and activities run right through the day. The surroundings are stunning and the animals well kept, and facilites are great in terms of toilets and spots to stop for a drink – always good to know with little ones in tow!
A 38-acre working farm with woodlands, a variety of animals including rare breeds, a dairy kitchen, vineyard and themed gardens, this farm is just outside the city in Dundrum and easily accessible by Luas or in just 15 minutes by rental car. Learn all about food, farming and nature, and enjoy a fresh meal in the Overlands café; you can ever try blue eggs laid by their own rare hens. For a true farming experience, watch the Jersey cows being milked daily at 10.30am.
An arts and entertainment centre for children in Dublin’s Temple Bar, there’s a year-round programme of incredible theatre and events for children of all ages, from 2 to 12 years.
A vast 17th century park that is home to a herd of wild fallow deer, and also houses Dublin Zoo, Phoenix Park is great for some outdoor fun. Whether you fancy running, cycling, or a gentle stroll, there are plenty of footpaths and trails to follow, with changing landscapes – from woodland, to manicured Victorian flower garden, to ponds. Hire bikes at the entrance, including tandems if you’re feeling brave, and there’s plenty of open space for kite flying or a family picnic. The park is also home to Europe’s largest obelisk, Wellington Monument, as well as a stunning little tearoom opposite the zoo entrance.
A fascinating Victorian-era cemetery, this iconic spot boasts the O’Connell tower, a striking museum and many graves of historic importance. You can visit for free or take a guided tour; there are maps available inside the visitor centre highlighting the graves of important figures – including Michael Collins, Roger Casement, and singer, Luke Kelly – so you’ll easily find your way around. The cemetery also leads into the Botanic Gardens, which is well worth a visit.
With gorgeous historic wrought iron glasshouses and beautifully tailored gardens, the Botanic Gardens are a great place to get away from the bustle of the city and enjoy a stroll. This oasis of calm is also home to over 300 endangered species of plant, and six species already extinct in the wild.
Located in the heart of Dublin, The National Gallery of Ireland houses the national collection of Irish and European art, including a number of Turner’s that go on display every January. With family drop in corners, a range of talks and tours, permanent and temporary collections, it’s a wonderful place to spend a day browsing beautiful art. The café is lovely too!
As well as its stunning collections, this modern art gallery is home to the Francis Bacon Studio. Housed here since 2001, when it was relocated from London to the city of his birth, the studio and exhibition provides a fascinating insight into the man and his art. The gallery also offers free classical music recitals every Sunday.
Housed in a beautiful Georgian townhouse near St Stephen’s Green, this relatively new addition to the Dublin museum scene houses over 5000 objects with unique and interesting stories attached. An insider tip: the café in the basement is excellent and offers a fantastic Blaa (a type of bread roll from County Waterford, filled however you like).
See where many Irish revolutionaries – including leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising –were imprisoned and executed by the British. This museum dedicated to Irish nationalism also houses contemporary art works by prisoners from across Ireland. It was also where scenes from the Italian Job (1969), The Escapist (2008) and the music video for U2’s A Celebration (1982) were shot.
This pass gives you entry to 25 of the city’s top attractions – including Dublin Zoo and The Guinness Storehouse – as well as a Hop On Hop Off Bus ticket, further discounts at participating venues, an airport shuttle and a guidebook. Available for adults and children, for one, two, three or five days.
The Freedom Pass Card in Dublin allows you the freedom to travel around Dublin City within 72 hours of unlimited access. It gives access to the public bus service in Dublin, the green Hop On Hop Off open top City Tour Bus, the Airlink Express to Dublin Airport or back. There are some other useful things such as FREE map, Two for one restaurant deals and much more.
There are lots of festivals in Dublin that don’t require any entry fee, such as the World Street Performance Championships and St Patrick’s Festival Parade. Annual music, theatre and literary festivals often offer free events that require booking; check out the programmes as they’re released.
Many museums are free, such as the National Gallery, Natural History Museum, IMMA, the Hugh Lane, Chester Beatty Library and the Decorative Arts Museum. Trinity College offers walking tours lead by students; simply pay a donation at the end. There’s an excellent email newsletter called the Dublin Free Event Guide; sent out weekly, it lists everything that’s free, from markets to gigs to theatre. Sign up before you travel to see what’s happening in the weeks ahead.
Many attractions offer discounts and freebies if you book online so get organised before your visit and bag yourself a bargain. For instance, children under three ride free on the Liffey Cruise if you reserve their place when you book.
Walking the streets and interacting with the locals is one of the highlights of any trip to Dublin; after all, its citizens are its beating heart. The streets are awash with buskers and street entertainment, as well as flower sellers and markets, with people always up for some banter.
Home of Joyce, Bram Stoker, Beckett, and Oscar Wilde, Dublin has a literary heritage second to none, but it’s also a UNESCO City of Literature, which means the literary scene is still thriving.
Pubs and your favourite literary works combined; what’s not to love? A witty, passionate romp around iconic bars with two actors who use quotes, readings and storytelling to bring Ireland’s literary past to life.
A beautiful little museum near Dublin Castle housing a collection of ancient manuscripts from all over the world, collected for their importance and beauty. There are also temporary exhibitions, a sky garden and a café serving delicious snacks and lunches.
Every year, Dublin hosts an international festival that brings contemporary literary greats in front of their readership, with a series of workshops, talks, readings, and interactive events, for all ages.
After exploring the cobbled streets of Trinity College, a trip to The Long Room, known for its barrel-vaulted ceiling and outstanding beauty, is a must. Your ticket includes a visit to The Book of Kells, a richly decorated gospel manuscript from 800AD, and the accompanying Turning Darkness Into Light exhibition that tells the story of its creation and importance.
In the capital city, music is everywhere, from buskers in the streets to music pubs and concert halls. Here are a few of our favourite venues…
National Concert Hall: expect world-class performances from opera to classical to film scores.
The Cobblestone, Smithfield: if you’re looking for traditional jigs and reels, this is the No.1 spot for authentic Irish trad.
O’Donoghues: Famous for being the home of the Dubliners, there’s music every night in this lively bar. Come for a pint of the black stuff and to make new friends.
McSweeney’s: Showcasing Dublin most promising up and coming bands and known for its regular open mic sessions, why not share a song while you’re there?
Although the city has plenty of offer, you can hire a car to travel outside Dublin and see more of the county; for hiking, head to the stunning Wicklow Mountains National Park and walk the clearly-marked loops in Glendalough; there are over 20,000 hectares of wilderness to explore. The Powerscourt Estate overlooking Sugar Loaf mountain is well worth a visit, with its gardens, waterfalls, mansion and shopping For some sea air, try Greystones with its stunning cliff walk or Howth, where you’ll encounter the seals in the marina and sample some of the best fresh seafood around. Sports fans will love the Kildare horseracing scene, with Punchestown, Naas and the Curragh all easily accessible and ready for action.
Dublin Bikes in Dublin City Centre is where you can pay for a Coca-Cola Zero Bike from your preferred pick up point and return to the point of your choosing once there is a space available, payment after 30 minutes to be paid for on your credit card. Its as easy as that, and the first 30 minutes are free!
Renting a car in Dublin will help to make your holiday in Dublin easier. Compare car hire companies in Dublin Airport to get the best car hire deals. If you prefer you can pick up your rental car in Dublin City. Car Hire in Dublin allows you the freedom to explore the surrounding towns and villages and take time out to catch up with friends or take them with you on some touristy trips.
City Sightseeing Dublin Hop-on Hop-off Tour of Dublin city, Choose from one or two day tickets on two off our routes.
The Leap Visitor Card is a very handy card to avail of when using the transport system in Dublin it is a pre-paid card allowing for unlimited travel for 3 days(72 hours) and it will cover the Luas/Tram System, Dublin Bus(excluding tours), the DART and the Airlink 747 airport bus route.
Aircoach is a great value comfortable coach service which covers a number of useful routes, ie out and back to Dublin City and Dublin Airport at very regular intervals throughout the day, Dublin Cork and Belfast routes.
Airlink is a bus service run by Dublin Bus which connects to Dublin Airport from a number of different areas ie The O2 Dublin, Convention Centre Dublin, Financial Services Centre, Dublins Central Bus Station, Connolly Train Station & Heuston Rail Station, Christchurch and Trinity College. Some useful routes if planning a visit to Dublin City Centre.
Dublin Bay Cruises why not enjoy Dublin from the water, take in the wonderful views en-route. The water cruises around Dublin takes in Dublin City to the lovely Dun Laoghaire, Dublin City to Howth, Round tip to Howth, Dun Laoghaire and Dalkey Island and return trips.