The city of Dublin in Ireland is known for its charming streets, colorful doorways, live music, historic architecture and an abundance of things to do. However, with only a limited amount of time for visiting Dublin you are probably pulling your hair out on what are the best things to experience.
Well, fear not, as Wild N Happy Travel has put together a list of the top experiences to do while visiting Dublin. So whether you have ample time to see the city or if you are planning to take a whirlwind tour before or after one of our many Guided Tours of Ireland, we have you covered.
Here are Wild N Happy’s top recommendations and experience Dublin’s unique side. Find out more!
1. Book of Kells
Book of Kells at Trinity College library is an astonishing piece of work and art. It is even perhaps Ireland’s greatest cultural treasure and you will see why when you see the book. It is filled with intricately detailed designs that modern-day scientists still don’t know how it was done.
It is housed at Trinity College and is probably the best spot to kick off your Dublin tour. It’s at the heart of the capital, packed full of incredible history, and it’s the oldest university in Ireland having been founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I.
It’s best to time your visit strategically, as buildings open to the public can become crowded during peak season. My recommendation is to book the Early Access Book of Kells Tour to avoid the long lines.
Address: College Green, Dublin 2.
Official site: www.bookofkells.ie
2. Kilmainham Gaol
Then there’s Kilmainham Gaol (meaning jail), a restored jail dating from 1789. It is an infamous site in the history of Irish nationalism. It was here that the leaders of the 1916 rebellion were first incarcerated and then executed for what was seen as an act of high treason.
The exhibition centre provides excellent guided tours throughout the rest of the jail, which cover Irish history from 1796-1924, what conditions were like and outlines the struggle for Irish independence.
Address: Kilmainham Gaol Museum Visitor Centre, Inchicore Road, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, D08 RK28.
Official site: www.kilmainhaingaolmuseum.ie
3. National Gallery of Ireland
The National Gallery of Ireland houses the national collection of Irish and European art. It is located in the centre of Dublin with one entrance on Merrion Square, beside Leinster House, and another on Clare Street.
It was founded in 1854 and it has an extensive, representative collection of Irish paintings and is also notable for its Italian Baroque and Dutch masters painting.
Admission to the permanent collection is free. Some temporary exhibitions carry a charge. Exhibitions are free for members.
Address: Merrion Square West, Dublin 2
Official site: www.nationalgallery.ie
3. Irish Emigration Museum
Located in Dublin city centre, EPIC is a must-do for those looking to get a deeper understanding of Ireland and what it means to be Irish.
At the museum you’ll discover the far reaching influence of Irish history, and the impact the 10 million Irish men and women who left Ireland had on the world. As you uncover the story of our emigrants and how they shaped the world, you’ll realise that emigration is not about what people leave behind, but what they bring with them.
The museum is open daily from 10:00am all year round (except 24 & 25 December). On weekdays last entry is 4:00pm and the museum closes at 6:00pm. On weekends last entry is at 5:00pm and the museum closes at 6:45pm.
Address: The Chq Building, Custom House Quay, North Dock, Dublin 1, D01 T6K4
Official site: www.epicchq.com
5. Phoenix Park
Fitting nicely into Wild N Happy’s strong responsible travel principles is Phoenix Park. It is one of my favourite ecological experiences in Dublin and it is the largest enclosed urban park in Europe, some 1,750 acres.
Hundreds of deer roam the parkland, and the President of Ireland’s official residence (Áras an Uachtaráin) is here along with Deerfield, a beautiful 18th-century property home to the American Ambassador to Ireland.
There’s a visitor center located close to a 17th-century tower house, Ashtown Castle, for those wishing to find out more about the park and its environs. At the far Castleknock Gate end and on some 78 acres stands stately Farmleigh House, dating from the 1800s and purchased by the Irish state from the Guinness family in 1999.
Address: Phoenix Park, Dublin 8.
Official site: www.phoenixpark.ie
6. James Joyce Centre
The James Joyce Centre is housed in a stunning 17th Century Georgian building and is dedicated to promoting understanding of the life and works of James Joyce.
Set over three floors, the Centre covers Joyce’s life and works with a permanent interactive exhibition on Ulysses. Whether you’re a true Joycean or a literary novice there is plenty to learn about and a wonderful insight into the Dublin that inspired Joyce’s work.
There are also free audio tours of the building, Joycean walking tours around Dublin city, regular lectures, events and educational courses. The Centre is closed on Mondays from October to March; also closed on St Patrick’s Day, Easter Sunday & Easter Monday and at Christmas.
Address: 35 North Great George’s Street, Dublin
Official site: www.jamesjoyce.ie
7. National Museum of Ireland
The National Museum of Ireland, which is located on Kildare Street in Dublin, is Ireland’s leading museum institution, with a strong emphasis on national and some international archaeology, Irish history, Irish art, culture, and natural history.
It first opened its doors in 1890 and since then it has been a must-see attraction for its extensive archaeological collections.
Take time to explore and discover the many outstanding exhibits from the prehistoric age, Celtic, Viking, Medieval, Ancient Egypt, ceramics and glass from Ancient Cyprus to Roger Casement – Voice of the Voiceless.
Free Admission to all exhibitions.
Address: Kildare Street
Official site: www.museum.ie
8. Leinster House
If you are a history enthusiast and want to discover more about the history of Parliament in Ireland, from Norman times to today, then this is the place for you.
Since 1922, Leinster House in Dublin has served as the parliament building of the Republic of Ireland, before which it functioned as the headquarters of the Royal Dublin Society. Leinster House is responsible for politics, elections, passing laws and decision-making.
Public tours are available on days when the Dáil and Seanad are not sitting. My recommendation is to book your tour in advance or enquire at the visitors’ entrance 15 minutes before the tour time.
Address: Leinster House, Kildare St, Dublin 2, D02 XR20
Official site: www.oireachtas.ie
9. Dublin Castle
Built in the early thirteenth century on the site of a Viking settlement, Dublin Castle served for centuries as the headquarters of English, and later British, administration in Ireland.
In 1922, following Ireland’s independence, Dublin Castle was handed over to the new Irish government. It is now a major government complex and a key tourist attraction.
You can take a guided experience for a fascinating tour that takes you from the excavation site of Viking and medieval Dublin to the Gothic Chapel Royal and finally to the splendour of the former viceregal State Apartments.
They are open seven days a week from 9:45am to 17:45pm and last admission is at 17:15pm. Tickets can be purchased on site at the Castle’s visitor reception desk in the State Apartments (upper courtyard) or can be booked online.
Address: Dublin Castle, Dame St, Dublin 2
Official site: www.dublincastle.ie
10. Guinness Storehouse
The Guinness Storehouse is situated in the heart of St. James’s Gate and was once the fermentation plant of the brewery. Today it offers an experience that explores the ingredients, history and culture that enshrines Guinness.
It is arguably one of Dublin’s most iconic attractions and as you wander through the seven-storey experience how the world-famous drink is made, pour a pint of the black stuff and then sample it for yourself at the end while taking in panoramic views of Dublin in the Gravity Bar. You can also now visit the restaurant which showcases how stouts and beers uniquely cut, contrast or compliment food.
It is open daily all year round except from the 24th-26th December. You are able to walk-up without pre-booking but admission would be subject to availability. My recommendation is to pre-book the Guinness Storehouse as it is an extremely popular attraction.
Address: St. James’s Gate, Dublin 8, D08 VF8H
Official site: www.guinness-storehouse.com
11. Jameson Whiskey Distillery
The Jameson Distillery is situated on Bow Street in the city’s Smithfield area and was first opened in 1780. Believe it or not, it was first called The Steins Family Bow Street Distillery up until a Scotsman by the name of John Jameson stepped off the boat in Ireland and changed the Irish whiskey business forever.
Take an unforgettable distillery tour that immerses you in its unique history through storytelling and allow you to touch, smell, and most importantly, taste Jameson.
It is open daily all year round except from the 24th-26th December. My recommendation is to pre-book your experience as it is a popular attraction in Dublin.
Address: Bow St, Smithfield, Dublin 7, D07 N9VH
Official site: www.jamesonwhiskey.com
12. Croke Park
Croke Park is a Gaelic games stadium in Dublin, Ireland. Since 1891, the site has been used by the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) to host Gaelic sports, including the annual All-Ireland in Gaelic football and hurling. The GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association)
It was named after Archbishop Thomas Croke and is sometimes called Croker by GAA fans and locals. It serves as both the principal national stadium of Ireland and headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) which is Ireland’s largest sporting organisation. It represents our unique national games of hurling and Gaelic football and is celebrated as one of the world’s greatest amateur sporting associations.
If you really want to understand the Irish, a visit to Croke Park is a must. More than just a stadium, it’s the home of Gaelic games and it holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Irish people.
Address: Croke Park, Dublin 3
Official site: www.crokepark.ie
You can keep adding to this list in my opinion, as there is just so much to experience in Dublin. Hopefully, my recommendations help you out in some small way and let you discover the unique side of Dublin.
If you need any further recommendations on what to see and do while visiting Ireland, then please feel free to contact one of our many dedicated tour experts. They are full of free knowledge, always ready to answer any questions you might have and will offer you the best advice in achieving your dream holiday.
Take care and safe adventures!
Wild N Happy Mick