With its lively streetscapes and famous pub scene there’s always something fun to do in Dublin, which makes Ireland’s bustling capital city a great place to hang out and soak up the atmosphere.
Touring towering castles, hiking up to panoramic viewpoints and sampling whiskey at award-winning distilleries are just a few of the great activities in Dublin, and it’s also an ideal base for day trips around the region.
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The compact city centre means that even if you’re tight for time it’s still possible to see the main highlights during just one day in Dublin, and still make it to a bar in time to raise a glass and enjoy some live music. Here’s the ultimate itinerary to make the most of a day in Dublin.
Morning: EPIC Museum and downtown Dublin, Dublin distilleries
Start your day of Dublin sightseeing at the award-winning EPIC Museum out in the Docklands area, which is billed as the world’s first digital-only museum. This interactive experience provides fascinating insight into what’s led to the country’s storied past of emmigration, and what the exodus of 10 million people has had around the world.
Visitors can trace their own ancestry, and there are also a series of video galleries, motion-sensored quizzes and bright displays which makes visiting the EPIC Museum one of the best things to do in Dublin with kids.
Head downtown for a walking tour of the main Dublin tourist attractions, which are all found in the compact centre.
Cross over Ha’Penny Bridge, which got its name from the ‘half penny’ once charged to cross, then walk through Trinity College. The campus is best known for its grand library holding the Book of Kells, which is considered one of the world’s most famous medieval manuscripts.
Continue south down Grafton Street, which is one of Dublin’s main shopping areas. The pedestrian-only promenade is lined with historic townhomes with street-level shops, restaurants and pubs, and has served as the social heart of the city for generations.
Grafton leads straight to St. Stephen’s Green, a peaceful park with walking paths which is a great place to enjoy a quick rest or head to a nearby restaurant to grab lunch.
Afternoon: Dublin Castle, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin distilleries
After lunch, make a pit stop at two of the most photogenic places to visit in Dublin: Dublin Castle and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Admire the church’s spires which have been a landmark in the city for centuries, and mark the area where Saint Patrick baptised Christian converts over 1500 years ago.
Dublin Castle has stood since the 1200s, and was originally a medieval fortress marked by four corner tours around a central enclosure. A fire caused major damage in 1684; fortunately much of the Viking and medieval structures survived and today the castle is one of the top Dublin attractions.
Both self-guided and organized tours are available, which explore the excavation site of Viking and medieval Dublin, the Gothic Chapel Royal and the grandiose State Apartments.
No Dublin itinerary is complete without tasting some smooth Irish whiskey, and there are a few places around the city to sample the beloved brew.
Try the Jameson Distillery on this tour that includes visiting the live maturation warehouse, tasting their world-famous bevys straight from the barrel, and a drink at the JJ Bar.
Over at The Dublin Liberties Distillery, explore the beautiful brick building that has transformed from a tannery to a mill to a sofa factory throughout the years, before turning into their headquarters. The original stonework provides a cool backdrop in the large tasting room, and guests can also book a guided tour.
If whiskey doesn’t whet your whistle, there’s another option: the iconic Guinness Storehouse. Tours start in a giant glass atrium designed to mimic a pint glass, and leads to seven floors’-worth of exhibits tracing the Guiness family history and crafting techniques.
There are also tasting rooms where you can learn how to pour the perfect pint, before heading up to the Gravity Bar to enjoy a beer while overlooking the Dublin skyline. Click here to book
Night: Killiney Hill and/or Temple Bar
Cap off a day in Dublin by watching an enchanting sunset, or enjoying the festivities at Dublin’s famed pub scene.
Those wanting to take it easy after a big day of sightseeing should head up to Killiney Hill in time for the golden hour, and prepare to be wowed. This spot has some of the best views in the city, and is accessed by a trail leading through moss-covered woods up to a panoramic vista with an obelisk.
Gaze out at Dublin Bay, as you admire the pink and purple hues blanketing the coastline.
Back in the city centre, grab a nightcap at one of the most happening places to go in Dublin, Temple Bar. Winding cobblestone lanes link a number of bars and pubs with DJs and live music, and is a favourite spot for late night revellers to bar hop.
Don’t miss the one and only Temple Bar, where you can raise a glass and say ‘sliante’ to the perfect day in Dublin.
Day tours from Dublin
Have extra time to spare? Those spending two days in Dublin or more can book an excursion to nearby attractions outside the city like driving along the scenic Giant’s Causeway or Ring of Kerry, seeing the iconic Cliffs of Moher, or even flying over to the rugged Aran Islands.
Where to stay in Dublin
Clontarf Castle Hotel: What’s better than staying the night in a castle? Staying in a castle that’s only a 10 minute drive from the heart of Dublin! Authentic suits of armour greet guests in the lobby of this spot, setting the tone for a regal stay. The rooms and suites have all been updated with modern amenities, yet retain the charm of the castle with huge four poster canopy beds, dramatic vaulted ceilings, metallic accents and plush, jewel-toned bedding. Click here to book
Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel: More royal rooms are found at the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, which is nestled at the base of majestic Killiney Hill. This four-star, posh property overlooks Dublin Bay has more than 100 individually-designed rooms with touches like balconies, luxury linens and elegant decor. Click here to book
The Wilder Townhouse: This fabulous boutique property has a great location near St Stephen’s Green which makes it a great vase to visit Dublin, and has a range of room types including luxury suites. Guests rave about the on-site bar and breakfast. Click here to book
Globe Guide explored Dublin with Tourism Ireland and Air Canada Vacations. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.
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