Ireland may be small, but it has a big reputation all over the globe. From a troubled history riddled with violence to stereotypes of wisecracking old men with a fondness for booze, the Irish certainly aren’t known for being quiet or dull.
In the capital city of Dublin, Ireland possesses a modern city that marries Gaelic traditions, rich history, and culture with an eclectic cosmopolitan vibe.
It isn’t the cheapest place to visit, but it sure is fun.
In this article, we’ll look at the best things to do in Dublin.
Unmissable Things to do in Dublin
Dublin is a popular spot for a wild weekend, with many groups from the UK making the short trip across the water to celebrate a stag do or birthday party.
There certainly is no shortage of great pubs and clubs, as the capital most definitely lives up to the Irish reputation of knowing how to have a good time.
The Temple Bar area is the place to be if you’re here to party.
If you have more time in Dublin and really want to get to know the place, try ticking some of these things off your list.
Jump through History in Trinity College
Trinity College is home to the famous Book of Kells. However, that is just one reason to visit here. Take a stroll into the Old Library and you’ll get the sense of fantasy, imagination, and magic that the spectacular room exudes. Like a scene from Harry Potter, the Library is a fabulous room which houses all sorts of historical delights, from a 15th-century harp to a thought-provoking science gallery.
Embrace the Chill of Kilmainham Gaol
Ireland has endured a long and troubled past, and there are few buildings with closer ties to that history than Kilmainham Gaol. The site of the 1916 executions is one of Europe’s biggest unused jails, but its walls bear old tales of the thousands of prisoners that were interned there over the past century. The tour is an eye-opener, and one of the best things to do in Dublin.
Try the Best Guinness
A tour of the Guinness Storehouse isn’t just one of the most popular things to do in Dublin, but also one of the best things to do on a visit to Ireland. Swing by St. James Gate Brewery and buy a ticket to tour all seven floors of this incredible building.
Along the way you’ll learn about the Guinness family and discover how the famous stout of Ireland is crafted. After trying some sample various craft versions and enjoying some live music, you can climb the stairs to the Gravity Bar, where you can relax with a pint of the black stuff and take it the fantastic views of Dublin city.
Find Tranquility in the Chester Beatty Library
While the Book of Kells draws the masses to Trinity College, it is not the only bastion of books worth visiting in the city. You can skip the crowds and get your fix here. Better yet, there’s a charming roof garden up top, where you’ll find peace and quiet to read and enjoy some great views across the city skyline.
Watch Gaelic Games at Croke Park
The national sports of Ireland are somewhat of a peculiar mystery to many from outside the country. Gaelic football is best described as a mish-mash of soccer, basketball, and rugby, while hurling is quite unlike else on the planet. The sight of thirty helmet-clad men wielding wooden sticks and smashing a small, rock-hard ball around a playing field at lightning speeds is something to behold.
Whether it’s football or hurling, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience watching a game at Croke Park. The iconic sporting theatre of Ireland is one of the biggest stadiums on the planet, with a capacity of 82,000 making for an electrifying atmosphere.
Hang out in Stephen's Green
When the sun is shining in Dublin, there is no better place to be than St. Stephen’s Green. The biggest public square in Europe is immensely popular, with many people simply enjoying a walk around the huge grass areas in the city center.
Among the highlights are a duck pond, a series of statues in memory of famous historical figures, and also a scented garden with braille labelling, made especially for blind people.
The Little Museum of Dublin
It may be little, but a visit here can make a huge impact. Charting the history of Dublin over the past century, the Little Museum has a great seasonal exhibition and some rare artifacts. For U2 fans, there is also an eerily realistic statue of Bono.
Have a Wee Whiskey at the Old Jameson Distillery
Perhaps the tour of the Guinness storehouse isn’t enough for you? If your poison is some of the harder stuff, then you can’t miss out on a tour of one of the most famous whiskeys in the world. Not only will you learn a little of the history and the work that goes into creating Jameson, you’ll also get a chance to partake in a whiskey tasting. When it’s all done, you’ll receive your exclusive Whiskey Taster Certificate, confirming your professional knowledge of Irish whiskey.
Get a Snap at the Spire
When the center of the busiest street in Dublin became home to a giant, steel drawing pin, the people of Ireland weren’t entirely sure what to make of the government’s use of taxpayer money. The Spire towers some 120 meters high, making it impossible to miss once you venture onto O’Connell street.
Regardless of the debate on whether or not it is a waste of money, it has become an iconic feature of Dublin, particularly with its LED lights at the tip acting as a beacon in the night sky.
If nothing else, it’s a great meeting spot.
Go Shopping Mad at Powerscourt Centre
From the lavish stepped entrance to the luxurious atrium inside, Powerscourt Centre is a shopping center with a little extra. The Georgian heritage of Dublin is evident throughout this incredible building, adding to the experience of a visit there. Even if you do nothing more than window-shop, a trip here is one of the best things to do in Dublin. There are a ton of shops to tempt you, and when you and your wallet need a break, the food on the top floor is a worthy finish.
Picnic at Phoenix Park
Stephen’s Green may be big, but even it is dwarfed by Phoenix Park. At a mammoth 1700 acres, this park is the largest enclosed park in Europe. Inside its walls are many historical sites, including the Wellington Monument, as well as the Presidential residences, a sports playing field, and Dublin Zoo. You can easily spend an entire day here and still only see a fraction of it.
Traverse the Great South Wall
The Great South Wall was originally built in the 1700s in an effort to protect the harbor. This functional blockade stopped sand from coming in and filling up the shallow waters, making it easier for ships to dock. Poolbeg Lighthouse was added at the end of the wall soon after, completing the picturesque setting.
The walk to the wall requires a little detour through a less appealing industrial area, but a stroll along the 4-kilometer walkway to the lighthouse offers good views and a nice coastal breeze.
Visit the Highest Pub in Ireland
Just 30 minutes outside the city center, nestled in the Glencullen Mountains, is Johnnie Fox’s Pub. This is one of the oldest bars in the country, and lays claim to being the highest pub in Ireland. It may be a steep hill to drive up, but when you get there you’ll be greeted by friendly smiles, great drinks and hearty food. Traditional Irish music and entertainment is on every night, making the pub one of the best spots to immerse yourself in the legendary Irish pub culture.
DART around Dublin
That’s Dublin Area Rapid Transit to the uninitiated, and it is one of the great commutes in Europe. The electric rail system is a quick and easy way to get around the city, and one of the best ways to see some pretty areas along the way. Tour Dublin with a ride from Dun Laoghaire Harbor to the River Liffey, out to postcard-perfect Howth and then to the great seafood eateries at the West Pier. A day ticket is a mere €11 and gives you a chance to see Dublin in a unique way.
The Craic is Mighty in Dublin
Ireland has been through some hard times over the years, even as recently as 10 years ago when the economic recession hit them hard.
However, Dublin is a city on the up. When you visit there, you can feel the positivity in the air, meeting warm and friendly folk everywhere you go that add to your experience.
There are plenty of fun things to do in Dublin, and while some of it may cost a little bit, the rewards are well worth it.