Irish culture and heritage spread far beyond the borders of this little Atlantic island. In fact, there are more Irish citizens living outside of the country than ones living within its borders! This post is going to take a look at Ireland’s biggest city and economic hub, Dublin.
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Best Things to Do in Dublin
Dublin is the biggest city in Ireland, and you can definitely feel it. While many people come looking for the countryside charm found in many places throughout Ireland, Dublin undeniably has its own flare and appeal. This city has no shortage of cool experiences to check out, is packed with great restaurants and pubs, and is a great place to base yourself for day trips around the country. Here is my list of the best things to do in Dublin.
1. Have a Pint and Tour the Guinness Storehouse
Guinness is one of the world’s most successful brands of beer, and it is beloved in Ireland more than anywhere else. This legendary brewery is one of the most successful companies to come out of Ireland, and I believe a tour of the Guinness Storehouse is the best thing to do in Dublin. I have been on brewery tours all over the world, and I can confidently say that the Guinness Storehouse tour in Dublin is the best one I have ever been on.
The brewery is set up like a museum, and you work your way up from the bottom floor all the way seven floors up to the top. Tickets are cheap, as they only cost €24 and include the price of admission and a beer from the Gravity Bar on the roof. You can buy your tickets online here.
The bar has really great views of Dublin, and making it to the top is a lot of fun. They say that Guinness tastes better in Ireland than anywhere else in the world, but I’d take that statement even further; Guinness at the Storehouse tastes better than the rest of Ireland! The brewery and the tour are amazing, but the highlight for me was the perfectly poured Guinness in the Gravity Bar.
2. Go on a Day Trip to the Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most beautiful natural landscapes I have ever seen, beating out the Cerro de Los Picachos in Panama, the Grand Canyon, and Big Sur in California.This stretch of the Atlantic coastline ends abruptly with sudden cliffs that are 700 feet above the water.
There are no barriers to protect you from falling, and you can walk (or crawl) right up to the edge and look down. I do not advise this, as it is extremely dangerous and the winds tend to be very strong…but I’m sure you will see people doing it!
Getting to the Cliffs of Moher is pretty simple. While they are located on the completely opposite side of the country, Ireland is pretty narrow, and making a day trip to see them is perfectly doable. I wrote an entire post about taking a day trip from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher, and I break down every possible way you can get there and other logistics for your visit.
3. Grab a Drink at the Temple Bar
The Temple Bar has been around for centuries – closer to a millennium, really. This bar has been open since the 1300s and continues to serve both Irish locals and tourists as one of the most popular establishments in the city. Its most distinguishing quality is its red exterior, and the Temple Bar’s central location makes it one of the best places to be when the evening rolls around.
This place will be packed with people, and most of them will be tourists. While I tend to prefer non-touristy things and roll with locals, a quick stop into the Temple Bar is a must, if not only to be able to say you did it. The drinks are moderately priced and there was live entertainment when we visited. If you’re ready to party, one of the best things to do in Dublin is a long night out at the Temple Bar! When in Ireland, right?
4. Take a Tour of the Abandoned Prison of Kilmainham Gaol
Kilmainham Gaol is a really interesting place to visit, and it carries a long and storied past within its walls. It gives me major Alcatraz vibes, for those who have visited the infamous island prison off the coast of San Francisco.
The prison has held some of the most notorious criminals, rebels, and enemies of the government that Ireland has ever seen, and many of them were even executed within its walls.
Nowadays, the prison of Kilmainham Gaol is run by the Office of Public Works, and they have turned it into a very informative and reflective museum that has become one of the best things to do in Dublin. The people who were housed inside this prison were usually not treated very well, and while the prison housed some high-profile names, most of its inmates were regular people who got caught committing petty crimes.
The museum costs only €8 for an adult to enter, and you must make a reservation in advance. Entrance is permitted by the time slot on your ticket, so be sure to pick a time that you will be available!
5. Learn About Ireland’s Long and Rich History at the National Museum of Ireland
The National Museum of Ireland is spread out over a few different museums, including Decorative Arts and History, Country Life, Natural History, and Archaeology. As the most prestigious museum in Ireland, you could spend days pouring through the information that is available here.
While each of the museums is fantastic, I personally recommend the Museum of Decorative Arts and History. The Country Life Museum is unfortunately not located in Dublin and is a significant drive away from the city.
These museums are all great, but what sets them apart even further is their price of admission, which is nothing. The National Museum of Ireland is free to visit, and the information on display is worth much more than nothing! Take advantage of this, as visiting the National Museum of Ireland is definitely the best free thing to do in Dublin.
6. Sip Some Irish Whiskey and Tour the Old Jameson Distillery
The Irish really love their drinks, and you can’t blame them. They’ve got it down to a science over the years! A visit to the Guinness Storehouse tops my list of the best things to do in Dublin, but no trip to Dublin is complete without a visit to the Old Jameson Distillery.
While the Old Jameson Distillery hasn’t actually been actively distilling anything since 1970, seeing the infrastructure of the building and the distillery process is really cool and educational.
The distillery also goes by the name of Bow St. Distillery, and there are a handful of cool experiences that can be booked to do while visiting. From Whiskey blending sessions to tours and bottling your own whiskey. Tickets can be bought online, and I advise doing so to make sure you have a slot! The Bow St. Experience, which includes a tour, tasting, and more, costs €25 per person, and tickets can be bought here.
How to Get to Dublin
Dublin is served by only Dublin International Airport (DUB), which is one of the busier airports in Western Europe. As a result, there are probably going to be plenty of affordable flight options to bring you right into Dublin from anywhere in the world. There really is no other airport I advise looking into, as Dublin will be the best option 999 times out of 1000. There really isn’t a better option.
For some tips on saving a little money on your flight, I’d recommend that you check out my detailed guide to finding cheap flights. Dublin International Airport is also served by several great budget airlines, which is a huge plus if you are looking to save money. If you are skeptical about flying on budget airlines or want to know how to get around their sneaky fees, be sure to read my budget airline guide.
Once you arrive at the airport, you have three options to get downtown.
How to Get Around Dublin
BUS | COASTAL TRAIN | TRAM | TAXI
Getting around Dublin is very easy thanks to its extensive public transportation system. While there is no subway system, there is a great bus network, a coastal train, and a tram system that connect the city to the suburbs. While you always have the option of a taxi and can hail them from the Uber app, I personally found that I was just fine using public transportation to get everywhere I needed to go.
If you are staying for a few days, I recommend purchasing a LEAP card. This is a public transportation card that can be used on all of Dublin’s bus, train, and tram lines. In fact, LEAP cards can be used in other cities around the country, too!
All of the information you could possibly need can be found here, but in summary, you can use an app on your phone in lieu of a physical card and you can top up the balances from your phone whenever you need. Each ride of under 3km costs €1.60, and anything further than 3km costs €2.30.
Safety in Dublin
You may find yourself wondering, “is Dublin safe to visit?” This is a valid question, as it is a major city and is fairly densely populated. The good news is that generally speaking, Dublin is a very safe city to visit. It is the most dangerous city in Ireland, yes, but Ireland as a whole is a very safe country.
There are no major risks or threats to consider, and the worst thing that is likely to happen is a run-in with a pickpocket or petty thief. These occurrences themselves are also rare, and as long as you take normal precautions, don’t stumble around too late at night, and don’t carry wads of cash with you everywhere you go, Dublin is a very safe city to visit.
What Is the Best Time of the Year to Visit Dublin?
Dublin is in Ireland, and while Ireland is not a part of the United Kingdom, it is geographically pretty much the same. England is known for its dreary weather, so you can probably infer the same about Ireland, right?
Well, yes and no. It is true that there is a not-so-pretty season in Ireland, and that runs from November to late March. Ireland gets pretty cold, rainy, and snowy during those months, and the wind can make your visit a little bit less pleasant.
While this rules out a visit during St. Patrick’s Day, you’re not missing out on anything. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in the United States and is a wholly American holiday – in Ireland, it is not a giant party. Been there, done that.
There is a cool parade and some happy people, but alcohol sales were actually banned for the whole morning of St. Patrick’s Day while we were there because the country wants to keep the sacred aspects of the holiday intact. It is a saint’s feast day, after all.
The best time of the year to visit Dublin depends on what you are looking for, but generally, there are two windows of time to consider. The best weather and the most lively events in Dublin occur during the summer months, from June to August. The sun is shining, people are outside having fun, and the country is gorgeous.
This is when most people choose to go to Dublin, and typically crowds know best. The drawback to visiting in the summer, though, is that the prices will all be higher for the peak season and all of the attractions and restaurants will be fuller. If you are fine with waiting in lines and paying more for your hotel, this is the best time to visit.
Personally, I am not into that. I like smaller crowds, paying less for accommodation, and generally being freer to explore the city at my own pace. If this is you, you probably want to visit during the spring shoulder season, which is April and May.
All of the prices during this time are a bit lower, the crowds are much smaller, and the city feels much more like its normal self rather than just a tourist destination. Regardless, if you visit between April and August you are bound to have a great time!
Is Dublin Worth Visiting?
Despite its small size, Ireland is a very popular country to visit, and its capital city is also its main gateway. Most people who visit Ireland pass through Dublin on their way to anywhere else they go in the country, and the vast majority of them spend a day or two in Dublin before venturing further out into Ireland.
Personally, I highly recommend this. While there are certainly other cities and towns in Ireland with more charm, nowhere in Ireland is quite like Dublin. From the iconic brewery and distillery, to the free museums, to the wide range of things to check out, Dublin is absolutely worth visiting.
After all, Dublin has been the center of culture and life in Ireland for a very long time, and many of the most important aspects of Irish history and culture stem from Dublin. While you may be tempted to skip right over it and head elsewhere, I highly recommend a visit to Dublin while you’re in Ireland.
That’s all we have for you about vacationing in Dublin in 2023! Hopefully, this Dublin Travel Guide helps you to plan the perfect trip and gives you a better idea of the best things to do in Dublin.
If you’re planning a trip to Dublin, let us know! We’d love to chat ahead of time and answer any questions you have.