The emerald green dotting the streets of the city, the Irish music coming from the pubs, the omnipresence of Guinness beer, the welcoming smile of its inhabitants... Irish culture can be breathed in every corner of Dublin. Here are our top tips for experiencing the city to the full.
1. Take a guided tour of the mysteries of the city
Few cities have as many legends and mysteries as Ireland. That's why, although there are many types of guided tours of Dublin, I recommend you take the Dark Dublin tour which was the one I personally found most original.
As you stroll through the streets of the city centre an expert local guide tells you stories of murders, beheadings and ghosts so elaborate that you'll even be scared to continue walking around the city.
This type of tour takes place at dusk and is not usually suitable for younger children, but there are many other options that follow the same pattern: a 2 to 3 hour group walking tour where a guide shows you the main monuments and sights of Dublin while telling you about the history, culture and customs of the city.
- Dublin Castle
- Temple Bar
- Smithfield Square
- Olympia Theatre
- Molly Mallone Statue
- Christ Church Cathedral
- St Patrick's Cathedral
- Jameson Distillery
- Trinity College
In case you are travelling with children, don't miss this list of things to see and do in Dublin with kids.
2. Discover the surrounding countryside
If walking around the city is already a privilege for nature lovers due to the many green spaces in Dublin, taking one of the tours around Dublin is an experience not to be missed during a visit to Ireland.
There are many places to choose from and most are accessible with an organised day trip. The most popular are the Game of Thrones filming locations, a visit to the Cliffs of Moher or a visit to Malahide Castle and Gardens. The natural landscapes are the main attraction of Ireland and these tours are a good proof of that.
All of them can be booked online and include, in addition to transport, the services of a specialised guide who highlights the historical and cultural importance of the destination. Don't hesitate and ask for all the information and recommendations you need.
Other places to see near Dublin
Ireland has incredible destinations other than Dublin that you can't miss, that's why I leave you with this list of posts where you can find out how to get to each of them from the Irish capital:
- How to get to Wicklow from Dublin
- Giant's Causeway from Dublin
- What to see in Howth on a day trip from Dublin
- How to get from Dublin to Belfast
- How to get from Dublin to Cork
- How to get from Dublin to Galway
3. Visit the Guinness Brewery
With Guinness beer being part of **Ireland'**s national heritage, it's no wonder that a visit to the Guinness Brewery is one of the most popular activities for visitors to the capital. It's an all-round experience for beer lovers and museum-goers alike. Explore this article on how to visit the Guinness Bre wery to find out all the details.
The Guinness Brewery has seven floors, is set up as a museum and the tour is designed to be enjoyable. Not only will you learn about the history of beer, why it's so important in Ireland and what types there are, you'll also learn how to pour a pint and you'll be able to enjoy a Guinness (or a soft drink if you're younger) in the Gravity bar on the top floor, where you can enjoy the best views of the city.
The opening hours are from 9.30am to 7pm (until 8pm in winter) and I recommend you buy your ticket online to avoid queues when you arrive.
4. Tour the city on the sightseeing bus
Using the tourist bus in any European city is a quick and comfortable way to visit all the monuments and points of interest of the city without having to spend several days doing it and without having to walk. The Dublin sightseeing bus has another advantage: you can get out of the rain without having to give up panoramic views of the city.
The service works just like anywhere else: you buy a pass for 24 or 48 hours and during that time you have unlimited access to the city's sightseeing buses, whether you want to do the whole route or use them as a means of transport to move between monuments and museums.
All the sightseeing buses have audio commentary in several languages that will allow you to learn interesting facts about the city during your visit. In addition, by purchasing a Dublin Sightseeing Bus Pass with free stops you will also receive a range of discounts and benefits at selected locations around the city.
5. Take a pub crawl around the city
It's pretty hard to leave Dublin without visiting some of its pubs; there's one on every corner and the atmosphere is unbeatable. Inside, locals and locals of all ages mingle to enjoy Irish music and beer and, of all the things to do in Dublin, joining them is the most authentic experience you can have on your trip.
These pubs are so popular that there are even guided tours where a local will show you some of the most iconic ones such as Temple Bar. The real value of these tours is spending time with a local, chatting to them and asking them questions, but don't worry, Dubliners will be just as welcoming if you visit the pubs on your own. The important thing is that you don't miss out on the city's social life at its roots.
6. Visit Trinity College
You've probably heard of this building in films or books. Good news: it's in Dublin and it's open to the public. It is the oldest university in Ireland and was founded by Elizabeth I in 1592. The building itself and its gardens are a marvel, but the real jewel is its splendid library.
You can visit the place every day from 9:00 to 17:00 and follow in the footsteps of some of its most famous students such as Oscar Wilde or Samuel Becket. I insist on seeing the Old Library with more than 200.000 books, including the "Book of Kells" which contains the 4 gospels of the New Testament.
7. Travel back in time from Dublin Castle
Right in the centre of Dublin you will find one of the city's most charming castles. Today it is used for conferences and official receptions. Although a visit inside is a must, seeing the building from the outside is a must on any tour of Dublin city centre.
If you buy the Dublin Pass, you can get in for free and if you take the tour focusing on the city's dark legends, watch out for the gory stories the guide will tell you when you arrive at the gates.
8. Visit St. Patrick's Cathedral
The country's largest church is dedicated to the patron saint of Ireland and its Gothic architecture and ornate interiors are well worth a visit. It is located in the centre of Dublin and is one of the city's most important points of interest.
On the site where the cathedral stands today, there was once (so the legend goes) a well where St. Patrick baptised the city's pagans to convert them to Christianity. Literature lovers will find the tomb of Johnathan Swift, the creator of Gulliver's Travels, inside the cathedral.
9. Stroll through St Stephen's Green Park
This Dublin park is what El Retiro is to Madrid or Hyde Park is to London: a real tourist attraction in itself. You're lucky that it's not too crowded and you'll be able to stroll around in peace and quiet while you feast your eyes on its wide variety of flowers.
The best time to visit is from April to June. Don't miss the pond and the fairytale houses inside. The park is very large so get lost inside without fear to discover its different corners. Your camera is a must.
10. Get cultured at the National Gallery of Ireland
With free admission, the National Gallery of Ireland houses the works of painters such as Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Monet and Picasso. It is located in the centre of Dublin and contains a collection of works ranging from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.
As well as enjoying the permanent collection, it is worth taking a look at the regular temporary exhibitions, all of which are perfectly organised to make the visitor's experience more than satisfactory.
11. Get your Dublin Pass for the best tours
City Sightseeing Passes are definitely a great way to save money (as they give you access to almost every major attraction for a fixed price) and above all time, as they allow you to access these attractions without waiting in queues at the entrance. In this guide about the Dublin Pass, you can see all the advantages and how to use it.
I'll leave this and other Dublin travel tips here for you to find out all you need to know before you set off for the Emerald Isle - enjoy!
When is it best to travel to Dublin and for how long?
It's clear that travelling to Dublin at any time of the year will bring you good vibes, but if you want to know the best plans depending on the month to help you make your decision I leave you with this list of things to do in the most popular months to get to know the Irish capital:
- 10 things to see and do in Dublin in January
- 10 things to see and do in Dublin in March
- 10 things to see and do in Dublin in April
- 10 things to see and do in Dublin in May
- 10 things to see and do in Dublin in October
- 10 things to see and do in Dublin in November
- 10 things to see and do in Dublin in December
Also by time of year:
- 10 things to see and do in Dublin in Winter
- 10 things to see and do in Dublin in Summer
- 10 things to see and do in Dublin over Christmas
Or depending on how much time you have to get to know the city: