The Republic of Ireland‘s capital city, Dublin is steeped in rich culture and history. Around every twist and turn of the city’s narrow streets is something new to discover. Even with this being my third trip to Dublin, I’ve still found new things to do while also visiting some of the classic tourist destinations:
Ready to explore the vibrant city of Dublin, Ireland, where history, culture, and charm abound? There are a ton of can’t-miss attractions you’ll want to add to your bucket list!
From its iconic landmarks and historic sites to its bustling pubs and lively atmosphere, Dublin offers an array of experiences perfect for any traveler.
Whether you’re strolling through the cobbled streets of Temple Bar, exploring the ancient wonders of Trinity College, or immersing yourself in the rich heritage at St Patrick’s Cathedral, this post is your ultimate guide to the top things to see and do in Dublin.
The Best Things to Do in Dublin
Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the heart and soul of Ireland’s capital, where each corner reveals a new story waiting to be discovered. You won’t want to miss any of these top things to do in Dublin.
1. Guinness Storehouse
For years, the Guinness Storehouse has held the title of Ireland’s Most Popular Tourist Attraction.
The building is shaped like a giant Guinness pint glass, making it the biggest pint in the world. The tour winds up seven floors of interactive displays of Guinness’s brewing history intertwined with the history of Ireland.
During the tour, you’ll learn how to pour the perfect pint, and you’ll even get to try your hand at it yourself. At the top, the Gravity Bar offers panoramic views of the city where you can sip a pint and relax.
Take this Guinness and Jameson Irish Whiskey Experience Tour to learn more about Ireland’s two most famous drinks.
2. Trinity College: Book of Kells and the Library
Trinity College Dublin is Ireland’s oldest university, founded in 1592 and modeled after Oxford and Cambridge.
If you’re not here to study, you’re here for the Book of Kells. The Book is housed in the Library of Trinity College, the largest research library in Ireland. As a legal deposit library, the Library has legal right to claim a free copy of all British and Irish publications, and it holds the largest collection of manuscripts and printed books in Ireland.
All these books total nearly 3 million volumes spanning a total of 8 buildings. The most famous is of course the Book of Kells.
The Book of Kells is a lavishly illustrated Latin manuscript containing the four gospels of the New Testament written by the monks of Iona. The Book was probably produced in the 9th century partially at Iona and partially at Kells where the monks moved after Iona was attacked in a Viking raid. The Library displays two manuscripts at a time, one open to an illustrated page and one open to a page of text.
After viewing the Book of Kells, you will walk through the Long Room of the Old Library. The room has a high, rounded ceiling covering thousands of rare and very early volumes. The shelves are accented by marble busts of great writers, philosophers, and thinkers.
At the front of the room is one of the dozen remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic that signaled the start of the Easter Rising. This room also contains an oak harp from the 15th century, the oldest surviving harp in Ireland and often attributed to Brian Boru, high king of Ireland.
Take this Fast-Track Easy Access Book of Kells Tour to see the Book without the crowds and with early-access admission to the Trinity College Library.
3. St Patrick’s Cathedral
This has been a site of worship for centuries, though the present building of St Patrick’s Cathedral dates from 1220. It is believed that St Patrick used a well on the site of the Cathedral to baptize people into Christianity 1500 years ago. The Cathedral has survived wars and family feuds, revolutions and reformations.
The Cathedral is the national cathedral of Ireland. It became and Anglican cathedral after the English Reformation, only briefly being converted to back to Catholicism during the Williamite Wars.
The Cathedral’s most famous dean was writer Jonathan Swift, appointed in 1713. The Cathedral displays early drafts of some of his writing as well as casts of his death mask and skull. In his later years Swift was troubled by imbalance and noises in his ears, which led many to declare him mad. Ninety years after his death, Sir William Wilde exhumed and examined his body, finding that Swift had a loose bone in his inner ear and had suffered from ‘Ménière’s disease’.
Get your ticket to St Patrick’s Cathedral here.
4. Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral is Dublin’s oldest building, founded in 1030.
Besides its really beautiful architecture, Christ Church Cathedral has the largest medieval crypt in Ireland, which is the earliest surviving structure in Dublin.
It’s also the home of “the cat and the rat”, a mummified pair literally caught in an eternal game of cat and mouse, found stuck behind the church organ.
Get your ticket to Christ Church Cathedral here.
5. Dublin Castle
King John of England ordered the construction of Dublin Castle in 1204. Until 1922, the Castle was the seat of the UK government in Ireland. In January 1922, Dublin Castle was handed over to Michael Collins, and Collins became the first leader of the newly independent Irish Free State. The Castle is now the meeting place for official State visits as well as foreign affair engagements and Government policy launches.
Originally a defensive fortification for the Norman city of Dublin, Dublin Castle later evolved into a royal residence where the Viceroy of Ireland resided. The south-east Record Tower is the last intact tower of Dublin Castle and of the walled medieval town of Dublin itself.
The State Apartments are open for tours, both guided and self-guided. The lavishly decorated rooms include St. Patrick’s Hall, the grand room used for presidential inaugurations; the Throne Room, containing the throne build for King George IV’s visit to Ireland in 1821; the State Dining Room, the oldest room in the Castle that retains most of its original decoration; and the State Bedrooms, with the last dignitary staying the night there being Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.
6. Castle Gardens
Head around the back of Dublin Castle to see the Castle Gardens and get some of my favorite views of the castle.
The gardens are the original site of dubh linn, the “black pool” where the Vikings harbored their ships and from which Dublin gets its name. The garden is personally my favorite spot for taking pictures of the castle
The Castle Gardens are free to visit and are open daily.
7. Oscar Wilde House
Number 1 Merrion Square is the former childhood home of Oscar Wilde. Wilde dipped his toe in many forms of writing, becoming a famous playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet.
The son of a nationalist, poetic mother and a famous eye surgeon, antiquarian, and philanthropic father, Oscar Wilde was well off in society living on the fashionable side of Merrion Square. And as many fashionable families, the Wilde’s were not without scandal.
In 1867, the Wilde’s 10 year old daughter, Isolda, died. In 1871, the two illegitimate daughters of Oscar’s father Sir William were burned to death when their crinoline gowns caught fire during a ball. Then Sir William came under allegations of rape by a patient with whom he had become involved romantically, momentarily ruining his reputation and severely damaged his practice. In 1876, Sir William died and left Lady Wilde heavily in debt. She then moved their family to London, where Oscar was imprisoned on accusations for homosexuality.
Number 1 fell upon hard times, along with other Georgian homes in the area. The house is now owned and was restored by American College Dublin, which uses the home as a classroom for its students studying abroad.
Related tour: Dublin Literary Pub Crawl
8. Merrion Square
The rows of Georgian houses on Merrion Square is where Dublin’s rich and famous used to live.
You can walk along the Square and brush up on your history of Dublin’s notable residents by finding the plaques on the former homes of Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, Daniel O’Connell, Sybil Connolly, and so many more.
In the middle of the square sits Merrion Square Park, a once private residential park that was opened to the public in the 1960s that still maintains that private serenity.
9. Temple Bar
Temple Bar is an area on the south bank of the River Liffey. It’s bordered by the river, Dame Street, Westmoreland Street, and Fishamble Street.
The area is pretty touristy, but you can find plenty of lively entertainment and Dublin culture. The Irish Photography Centre, Irish Film Institute, the Project Arts Centre, and the Gaiety School of Acting call this neighborhood home.
At night, the area is a major center for nightlife, with many tourist-focused nightclubs, restaurants, and bars, including the popular red-walled Temple Bar Pub.
Related tour: Dublin Temple Bar Night Tour
The pub is the quintessential part of Irish culture. You’ll definitely want to pop into a few pubs during your visit to Dublin.
The Temple Bar district is a popular hot spot for nightlife and entertainment where you can find a mix of traditional pubs, gastropubs, and modern clubs. But you can find great Irish pubs all around the city where you can get a pint.
Go pub hopping to listen to traditional Irish music, local musicians, and acoustic sets of popular songs. Just be ready to hear “The Irish Rover” and “Galway Girl” multiple times throughout the night — the musicians know this is what really gets the tourists going!
11. O’Connell Street
O’Connell Street is Dublin’s main thoroughfare named in honor of the nationalist leader of the early 19th century, Daniel O’Connell.
The street was largely rebuilt in the early 20th century following extensive destruction in the struggle for Irish independence and subsequent civil war.
Sites along this street include the General Post Office, where the Easter Rising took place; the statue of Daniel O’Connell; and the Spire, the world’s tallest public art at 398 feet high. The Spire is located on the site of the former Nelson’s Pillar that was destroyed in 1966 by republican activists.
Related tour: 90 Minute Dublin Walking Tour
12. Grafton Street
Grafton Street is Ireland’s famous shopping street that runs from Trinity College south to St. Stephen’s Green. The street is pedestrian-only and features upscale and high-end retail stores and cafes housed in beautiful historic buildings.
But the street has more to offer than just shops; while you walk and shop you’ll be able to stop and listen to a variety of different street performers. You never know who may go from busking Grafton Street one day to a record deal the next!
13. St Stephen’s Green
At the top of Grafton Street is St Stephen’s Green, a 22 acre park with a large lake, a playground, statues and memorials, and picturesque gardens, including a garden for the blind with fragrant plants and Braille labels.
14. Dublin’s Statues
As you walk around Dublin, you’ll realize that the city has a ton of statues. Dubliners have a great sense of humor, and the city’s residents have given their famous statues cheeky nicknames from the “Erection at the Intersection” to the “Hags with the Bags”.
Taking a tour of Dublin’s public art is a great way to see the city and learn more about its history.
I’ve put together a guide of my favorite Dublin statues and their nicknames so you can take your own Dublin statue tour here!
15. Ha’penny Bridge
Ha’penny Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that goes over the River Liffey.
The white cast iron bridge was built in 1816. It used to cost a ha’penny (halfpenny) toll to cross the bridge, a toll that was charged for 100 years. Don’t worry, it’s free to cross now!
Save on Dublin’s Top Attractions
Want to save big on Dublin’s top attractions? With the Go City Dublin attraction pass, you can save up to 55% on the cost of entrance tickets to museums, tours, and attractions all around the city!
Visit bucket list attractions, enjoy top tours, and discover hidden gems handpicked by local experts. With one price and one pass, you have everything you need right on your phone.
Top Dublin Tours
With so much to see, Dublin can be overwhelming for any first-time traveler. To take some of the stress out of planning your visit, opt for a guided tour! Check out this list of the top Dublin tours to help you make the most of your time in this beautiful Irish city.
- Cliffs of Moher Tour Including Wild Atlantic Way and Galway City from Dublin
- Northern Ireland Highlights Day Trip Including Giant’s Causeway from Dublin
- Kilkenny, Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough, Sheep Dog Trials, Day Trip from Dublin
Where to Stay in Dublin
Find the perfect place to rest your head on your visit to Dublin, from the top rated accommodations to unique stays you can’t get anywhere else.
Mapping Out Your Stay in Dublin
Ready to explore Dublin’s top attractions? Use the map below to help plan out your time exploring Dublin, Ireland.
With its history, culture, and charm, Dublin offers an array of experiences that will leave you spellbound.
I hope this list of must-see attractions helps you plan the perfect vacation to Dublin!
More Things to Do in Dublin
Explore all that Dublin has to offer! Check out these posts for more Dublin itineraries.
- 7 Free Things to Do in Dublin, Ireland
- 1 Day of Sightseeing in Dublin, Ireland
- Dublin Statues and Their Wacky Nicknames
Ready to visit Dublin, Ireland? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Book Your Flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Find Accommodation: You can find top hotels in Dublin using Booking.com.
- Start Packing: Check out my packing list resources so you’re prepared for your trip.
- Save on Attractions: Save up to 55% on admission to Dublin’s top attractions with the Go City Dublin Pass.
What are your favorite things to do in Dublin? Let me know in the comments!