Things to do in Dublin
Dublin (Baile Átha Cliath in Irish) offers everything you would expect from Ireland’s capital city. Originally a Viking settlement, it now has one of the fastest growing populations of any European city. In the past decade it has evolved into a cosmopolitan city with a great social scene.
We hope you’ll find our information helpful to make your trip to Dublin as memorable as possible, if you have any queries in advance of your visit, please don’t hesitate to contact us, we’d be delighted to help!
Trinity College and College Green
Trinity College 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. Occupying an enviable 40-acre site, Trinity retains some of its ancient seclusion of cobbled squares, gardens, and parks and is famed throughout the world for its collection of great treasures. These include, on permanent exhibition, the 9th century illuminated manuscript, the Book of Kells, the Books of Durrow and Armagh, and an ancient Irish harp. The priceless artefacts are displayed in the Treasury and the awe-inspiring 18th-century Long Room, which houses more than 200,000 of Trinity’s oldest books and hosts regular literary exhibitions.
Trinity is a haven in an otherwise bustling area. Alumni over the centuries include such figures as Jonathan Swift (most famously known as the author of Gulliver’s Travels), Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker (author of Dracula), and playwright Samuel Beckett. Entering through a timber-tiled archway, you are instantly brought back in time. The immaculate green lawns, 18th- and 19th-century buildings, and cobbled pathway are reminiscent of a more gentile age and ooze a sense of hushed academia. It’s best to time your visit as buildings open to the public can become crowded during peak season. As well as taking in the must-see sights do make time to relax and simply enjoy the atmosphere. Opposite the college on College Green is the old Irish Parliament building now a branch of the Bank of Ireland.
Hours: Open Monday-Saturday 9:30am-5pm, Sunday (May-September) 9.30am- 4.30pm, Sunday (October-April) 12pm-4.30pm
Admission: Adults €9, senior citizens & students €8, children (under 12) free
Address: Trinity College, College Green, Dublin 2
A short southerly stroll from Trinity College takes you down towards Dublin’s premier shopping location, Grafton Street. A statue of Molly Malone sits at the bottom of the street, so it’s impossible to miss. This eclectic stretch buzzes morning, noon, and night and is a magnet for buskers, from classical quartets to traditional fiddle players and singer-songwriters. Many famed bands and musicians have given impromptu performances here, including Bono of U2. Aside from buskers, you will find a broad range of boutiques, jewelers, and department stores including upmarket Brown Thomas. Many would say that the jewel in the crown is Bewley’s Oriental Café, a Dublin institution at this location since 1927. If on a shopping spree it’s well worth taking a slight diversion to the arty Powerscourt Townhouse Centre with its designer shops and trendy places to eat.
Bewley’s Café – Open 8am-10pm Monday-Wednesday, 8am-11pm Thursday-Saturday, 9am-10pm Sunday
Address: 78/79 Grafton Street, Dublin 2
St. Stephens Green
After eating your fill at Bewley’s Oriental Café, an easy stroll to the top of Grafton Street brings you to Fusilier’s Arch, the main entrance to St. Stephen’s Green. Georgian buildings surround ‘the Green’ (as it’s known locally), although some sadly fell by the wayside during redevelopment, mainly in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. The 22-acre park is a Dublin gem and an oasis of calm away from the hustle and bustle of downtown city life. When weather permits, you should do as the locals do and stretch out on the grass for some rest and relaxation, or grab a picnic lunch. Immaculate flowerbeds fringe the lawns. Also in the park is an ornate fountain at its center, a bridge over a duck pond, and a children’s playground. Incidentally, the park was the scene of bitter combat during the 1916 Uprising, however it was agreed by both sides that hostilities should cease while the park-keeper fed the ducks.
Hours: Open all year Mon-Sat 7.30am, Sundays and holidays 9.30am, gardens close according to daylight hours
Address: St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2
Kildare Street Museums and Houses of Parliament
From the Little Museum of Dublin, a saunter past the legendary Shelbourne Hotel will take you to the top of Kildare Street, home to the Irish Parliament (Dáil Éireann) on the left hand side. The parliament building was once known as Kildare House after James Fitzgerald, the Earl of Kildare, who commissioned its construction in 1745 and set out to create a grand Georgian mansion to reflect his loft social status. When he became Duke of Leinster in 1766, the house was renamed Leinster House. On the opposite side is a branch of the National Museum of Ireland (Archaeology) with outstanding permanent exhibitions including Ireland’s Gold, Prehistoric Ireland, the Viking Collection, and the Treasury, including the magnificent Ardagh Chalice. If you’re interested in literature you should visit the National Library close by, which has a permanent W.B. Yeats exhibition.
Hours: National Museum (Archaeology) Open 10am-5pm Tuesday-Saturday, 2-5pm Sunday
National Library exhibitions – Open Monday-Wednesday 9.30am-7.45pm, Thursday-Friday 9.30am-4.45pm, Saturday 9.30am-4.45pm, Sunday 1pm-4.45pm
Address: Kildare Street, Dublin 2
The National Gallery of Ireland
A right turn at the end of Kildare Street will bring you to the National Gallery of Ireland with entrances on Clare Street and Merrion Square West. Housing the finest collection of Irish art in the world alongside an outstanding collection of European art from the Middle Ages to the present day, this is a must-see while in the capital. The gallery opened in 1864 with wings being added in 1903, 1968, and most recently, 2002. Collections include the Yeats Museum, seven rooms devoted to Irish art, Italian Painters, the Shaw Room, and Baroque Room. The gallery, which is spread over four levels, regularly hosts impressive temporary exhibitions, and there’s an excellent café popular with locals and visitors alike.
Hours: Open Monday-Wednesday 9.30am-5.30pm, Friday-Saturday 9.30am-8.30pm, Thursday 12 midday-5.30pm
Address: Clare Street & Merrion Square, Dublin 2
Phoenix Park and Dublin Zoo
An 18-minute walk from Collins Barracks is Dublin Zoo in Phoenix Park. This is the largest enclosed urban park in Europe, some 1,750 acres, which is surprising given that Dublin is a relatively small capital city. Hundreds of deer roam the parkland, 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 Visitors Centre 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.
For generations of Dubliners and those coming from abroad, the main draw is Dublin Zoo, which attracts more than one million visitors annually, dates back to 1830, and is the second oldest zoo in Europe. A trip to the zoo is a day out in itself. Amongst other rare and exotic animals there are Asian lions, Asian elephants, a Reptile House, an orangutan enclosure, sea lions, tigers, hippos, bats, and penguins. Facilities include restaurants, kids play areas, and a family farm.
Hours: Phoenix Park – Open daily 7am-11pm, Visitors Centre – Open June-October 10am-6pm, seasonal variations, Dublin Zoo – Open daily Monday-Saturday 9.30am-6pm, Sunday 10.30am-6pm, seasonal variations
Admission: Adult €16.50, under 16s €11.80, seniors €12.80, under 3 years free
Location: Phoenix Park, Dublin 7
Official site: www.dublinzoo.ie
Christ Church Cathedral
Restored in the 19th century and dominating the surrounding area, Christ Church Cathedral is built on the site of Dublin’s first church, which was founded in 1028 and made of timber. The Great Nave has magnificent early gothic arches, and here you can see the 14th-century replica of the tomb of legendary Norman conqueror Strongbow, who is buried elsewhere in the cathedral. The fragment that lies alongside is said to be part of the original tomb and has the nickname, ‘Strongbow’s son.’ Parts of the vast crypt, which runs the length of the building, date from the 13th century.
Hours: Open 10am-5pm daily (6pm summer)
Admission: Adults €6, donation expected – Cathedral crypt & treasury
Address: Christchurch Place, Dublin 8
- Visit The Guinness Brewery and enjoy a pint of the black stuff and outstanding views over Dublin in the Gravity bar -
- Visit Trinity College to see the Long Hall and The Book of Kells -
- Stroll around Frances Street and browse the many antique shops -
- Shop ’til you drop – Brown Thomas, Arnotts & Jervis shopping centres -
- Visit Johnny Foxes pub in the Dublin mountains for great seafood, Irish music & dancing -
- Shopaholics will love Dundrum Town Centre, a short tram ride away -