A handpicked selection of the very best things to do in Dublin: best Dublin attractions for visitors, tours and things to do to get to see the best of Dublin!
Dublin is a lovely city, full of historical attractions, museums, pretty corners, restaurants and fun things to do.
I have been living in Dublin for over fifteen years, and I love showing the city to my friends when they come for a visit.
They never expect Dublin to have so much to offer and many of the Dublin attractions: while big-ticket attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse are world-famous, many other Dublin gems are simply not known, until you come here!
Today, I am sharing the list of my favorite places in Dublin for first-time visitors so you can get a taste of the city in your own time!
This selection of things to do in Dublin is aimed and visitors from out of town, and can be used both if you are visiting Dublin for the first time or you haven’t been in a while.
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The best things to do in Dublin: my tried and tested selection
Watch the street performers on Grafton Street
Dublin is a music city and you can enjoy its musical tradition not just in pubs and theaters but also on its streets!
A great place for it and a Dublin must-see is Grafton Street, always filled with the music and acts of street performers from all walks of life!
Grafton Street is the main shopping street on the Southside of the river and one visitor will pass often thanks to its proximity to many Dublin attractions and its many shops and cafes.
Closed to car traffic, this street connects St Stephen’s green and Trinity college and is a fun street to discover at all ages.
Kids will love the Disney store and the ice cream shops here, grown-ups will enjoy the shops and eateries and everyone will be entertained by the street performers filling the street with acts going from classical music recitals to sand sculpting, tango dancing and acrobatics!
Admire the incredible Trinity College library and the Book of Kells
Trinity College is a historical university with a beautiful campus right in the center of Dublin.
It was founded in the XVI century and it is an important cultural institution in Ireland as well as an important Dublin attraction for visitors.
The thing to see here, aside from the campus itself, is the old Trinity College Library, which holds a copy of each book printed in Ireland. and the famous Book of Kells.
This is an ancient manuscript dating back to 800 AD with lavish decorations painstakingly created by the unparalleled art of medieval monks and a marvel to see. I highly recommend a visit!
Read here >>> why and how to visit Trinity College Dublin and the Book of Kells
Learn history in Dublin Castle
Not far from Trinity college lies Dublin castle, one of the most significant historical buildings in the whole of Dublin.
The castle dates back to the XIII century and it is not overly impressive outside but it is beautiful inside and worth a visit because of its important role in Irish history.
The castle used to be the seat of English Administration in Ireland for 700 years and is now a great place to learn about the interesting and complex history of the country.
Tickets can be bought from the castle website
As well as the castle itself, it is worth making time to visit the castle grounds too. They host the wonderful Chester Beatty (prev. Chester Beatty Library), a museum with a rich collection of East Asian, Islamic and Western manuscripts with exquisite binding and calligraphy.
Admission is free and advanced booking is usually not necessary.
Visit St Patrick’s and the hunted Marsh’s library
St Patrick’s Cathedral was built in honor of Ireland’s patron saint between 1220 and 1260 and it the largest cathedral in the country, as well as the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland (Anglican).
The church is right in Dublin city center and has lovely grounds and is especially pleasant to visit on a bright day.
When visiting, don’t miss the Marsh’s library just beside: a beautiful library with dark shelves and a myriad of books, the library is stunning and also holds a secret: it is said to be haunted!
Catch a view and a pint at the Guinness Storehouse
Dublin is the home of Guinness and a visit to the Guinness storehouse at James’s Gate is a must when visiting Dublin.
The Storehouse is a large space with beautiful industrial architecture, several food areas and has something special: the ‘Gravity bar’, on the top floor, that offers a complimentary pint of Guinness at the end of the tour and 360 degrees views over Dublin.
Crowds are intense but you can buy skip the line tickets here: they include a free pint of Guinness at the end of the tour (option of non-alcoholic beverage available)
Have a drink in Temple Bar
Tempe bar is the name of a street in Dublin city center famous for its many drinking establishments.
It is one of the city’s most famous attractions and one worth seeing although the time of day you should pick for visiting depends very much on what you want to get from it.
In the morning and early afternoon, the street is touristy but pretty, with some cute storefronts and some interesting finds such as the Irish Film Institute and the Irish Wall of Fame, while if you go at night, you will be in party central!
Personally, I find Temple Bar is at its best at the quietest times, when you can enjoy its pretty corners and unusual street art.
Marvel at Dublin’s cool bridges
If you search the web for a photo of Dublin, chances are you will stumble upon one of two images: a small bridge with a cute iron motive on top (Ha’penny bridge) or a super modern, stunning bridge in the shape of a harp.
Very different from each other and dating back to very different times (Ha’Penny is from 1815, the Samuel Beckett bridge was built in 2009….), they are both iconic of the city’s landscape and worth visiting. You can easily walk from one tot eh other following the river.
Taste modern Irish cuisine in one of Dublin’s many delicious restaurants
Dublin may not come to mind as a culinary capital of the world but it has a lot of restaurants, some with absolutely excellent offerings.
Depending on what y like you can go modern Irish (usually a posher version of traditional Irish cuisine: think salmon, lamb etc), french Italian Japanese, fusion and anything in between!
Discover the city’s literary tradition
Dublin has a strong literary past and is UNESCO city of literature.
A fun way to get in touch with this side of Dublin is to visit one of the city’s museums (James Joyce or Museum of Irish writers) or a literary pub crawl, which mixes readings of Irish writings and a night out in some of the best pubs in the city center.
Learn (and taste) what makes Irish whiskey special at the Jameson Distillery
If you like whiskey, you simply cannot miss the Jameson Distillery, in Smithfield, Dublin 7.
This is a beautiful building now offering organized tours that are informative and fun.
You will learn how whiskey is made, what makes Irish whiskey different from the one from Scotland and yes, they will offer you a taste at the end! I really enjoyed my visit and I don’t even like whiskey so if you do, this place will be special for you!
You can get tickets here
Bring the kids back in time visiting Dublinia, Dublin’s Viking Museum
Dublinia is a funny attraction aimed at teaching about the origins of Dublin and Viking life.
I always thought it was a place for kids but actually, it isn’t.
While very child-friendly and fun, the place reconstructs Dublin as it used to be but it is also very informative and rich with factoids and info that add an important layer to your Dublin experience.
The ticket includes an entrance to Christchurch, a beautiful church also worth visiting.
This is their official website
Visit Kilmainham Gaol
Glitzy, modern Dublin might make you forget that this city and country has experienced a long history of oppression and Kilmainham Gaol is here to remind you of it.
This wonderful yet haunting building operated as a jail between 796 1924 and it is sadly famous for having among its prisoners many of the leaders of the rebellions that fought to free Ireland from British rule and got executed here.
This is a hard place to visit but, if you can take it, a very interesting one. You are likely to need a bus to get here: you can find all the info on how to use Dublin public transport here.
Become a fan of Irish football at Croke Park stadium
A completely different, and much more cheerful way to learn about Irish culture is to go to Croke par, the vast GAA Stadium of Dublin.
GAA is an important part of Irish society, a sport that brings communities other and a visit to Croke Park is a fun way to learn about it and who knows, maybe become a supporter!
You can find their official site here
Go to the park
Dublin has some gorgeous parks, some of them right in the city center and easy to add to your Dublin itinerary when you feel like a break from sightseeing
For a picnic and a session feeding the ducks while in Dublin city center, head to St Stephen’s Green.
Located right at the top of Grafton Street, this is one of the most popular green spaces with both locals and visitors and also has a lovely playground for kids.
Smaller yet more interesting than Stephen’s green is the small park in Merrion square.
Located right in front of the beautiful government buildings and around the corner from the national gallery, this par has a fabulous playground, hosts a nice market and has a cool statue of Oscar Wilde.
A lovely place for a pic-nin lunch from the market stall.
Dublin is home to the biggest inner city park in Europe, Phoenix Park.
This is a lovely, vast green space in the Northside of the city with vast lawns, free-roaming deer, Dublin zoo and some important buildings such as Áras an Uachtaráin (the official and private residence of the President) and Farmleigh, a beautiful Edwardian mansion operating as the official Irish State guest house and wonderful to visit.
Visit Glasnevin’s Cemetery and the Botanical Gardens
The Glasnevin Cemetery and the city’s botanical gardens are beside each other and both worth visiting.
The cemetery is the historical cemetery of Dublin and has some beautiful and important tombstones including O’Connnel’s and Parnell’s and the botanical gardens have impressive glasshouses with exotic plants.
I recommend starting your visit from the gardens and end it at the cemetery museum: learn about it here
Enjoy the Dublin coast
Dublin is on the coast and all it takes is a short hop on the dart to get to some lovely beaches and coastal scenery.
Among my favorite, there are Howth and Bull’s island to the North of Dublin and Killiney In the south, all areas with nice access to the beach and a plethora of fish restaurants and cafes too.
I hope you enjoyed this overview of the best things to do in Dublin and it gave you some good ideas for your visit. Safe travels!