Whether you’re just here for a short time or want to get all your sight seeing in on your one day of sunshine so you can spend those rainy days in your cafe/office/hotel getting shit done – here’s the best to see of Dublin – in a day.
While Dublin is an extremely walkable city, you might not want to walk ALL the time. Some other options to get around Dublin in a day include those Hop On & Off sightseeing buses. There are tons of them, they’ll take you all the major sights, and you can just pay the driver. You can get 24 or 48 hour passes, and the red “Dublin Sightseeing” ones are just 19 euros. They typically run from 9 to 5 and may include other discounts (like 15% off the Guinness Storehouse).
The Luas is also an option. It is a tram that runs through the city. It has two lines, red and green and who can see the routes on their website. Their prices vary, but single tickets are as low as 2 euros – even cheaper if you use a leap card. If you’re staying in Ireland for a while, I’d highly recommend getting a leap card. It can be used in more than just Dublin, on the Luas, and on buses. They cost 5 euros to buy and you can top them on online. Very convenient if you don’t like carrying change around.
You’ll also see Coca Cola bike stations throughout the city. If you’re lucky enough to get some sunny days and want a healthy and convenient way to get around, this is an option worth looking into. You can get an annual card for 25 euros, or a three day card for 5 euros. The first half hour of your service is free, after that there is a service charge. You can see their pricing structure here.
St. Stephen’s Green
St. Stephen’s Green is a great place to start. Centrally located and gives you all the transportation options listed above. It is a beautiful park and the largest in the city centre. It has tree lined walks, gardens, and fountains to enjoy. While it’s a cute park and I’m sure the gardens are great in the spring, it’s relatively small and you probably won’t spend much time there.
Surrounding the park are the city’s main shopping street. The most notable is Grafton Street.
A huge shopping street in the centre of the city. No cars go down this street so you’ll find lots of buskers and other shoppers. It’s incredibly busy on the weekend but worth a visit regardless of the day you choose.
It has popular and modern shops, but many of which are in beautiful historic buildings. While it is primarily retail shops you’ll also find a few restaurants and pubs.
Once you reach the end of the street you’ll see Ireland’s Parliament building. On the right will be Parliament Square and just beside that you’ll see the gorgeous Trinity College. Should you decide to go left you’ll end up in Temple Bar.
Trinity College is the oldest college in Ireland and one of the seven “ancient universities” of Britain and Ireland. The grounds are absolutely gorgeous and worth a walk around. There are tour groups you can join should you want to learn more about the history.
In the library – which happens to be the largest library in Ireland – you can see the famous Book of Kells. They do charge an admission fee (11 euros) to tour the library and if you book online it is 14 euros so you can “skip the queue.” This book is the four gospels in Latin, among other texts, and is “lavishly decorated.” Basically it’s an old fancy book with great religious and historical value.
Temple bar is an area near the River Liffey in Dublin – not just a single bar. In this area you will find LOADS of bars, pubs, and clubs, as well as restaurants and even more street performers. It’s a lively place. While typically more expensive than bars and restaurants outside of this area, they’re worth visiting for at least one drink. Often in the evening, (and sometimes during there day) there will be live music. It’s a great area to meet people and overall there are just good vibes.
It’s a great area to meet people and overall there are just good vibes. This area is promoted as Dublin’s cultural quarter. Among all the pubs you’ll also find some galleries, cute boutique shops, and lots of souvenir shops. On the weekend there is a market that is set up along Cow’s Lane.
Castles & Cathedrals
Just west of Temple Bar you’ll find Dublin Castle.
If you’ve read some of my other posts you’ll know how much I like castles. This castle, however, is also the office of public works. It’s a huge government complex and much less ‘castle-y’ than I would like. There’s a big castle-y looking tower, a pretty courtyard, and surrounding the courtyard is the state apartments.
The apartments were originally built as residences for the viceregal court. Now they serve as venues for inaugurations and prestigious functions. You can also take a tour of them online.
Entrance is 10 euros and I don’t personally think it’s worth it. If you’re a history buff, sure, but I’m not.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Venturing south-west from the castle, you find St. Patrick’s Cathedral & Park. Yes, the St. Patrick, the one that we celebrate by drinking too much beer every March. The park is gorgeous – great gardens, there were many dogs running around when I visited which made me a big fan.
On the east end of the park, there are many plaques lining a wall. These plaques commemorate Ireland’s best and brightest in literature.
While I didn’t go in (there was a massive line), I noticed that there was an admission fee of 6.5 euros. Which I personally found odd as most churches don’t charge admission – what if you were going to pray?! Though, I guess if you were to go in for mass there’d be a collection plate make its way around a few times.
Whiskey & Beer
Whether you do one or both (you might be tight for time to do both, but if you can, go for it!), a trip to Dublin isn’t complete without trying the famous Jameson Whiskey or Guinness beer.
While you could, of course, get either of these things at a pub, the distillery and storehouse are much more exciting. You can try more options, learn about their respective importance in Ireland, as well as their histories (which are surprisingly long and interesting).
The Jameson Distillery
Located across the river in an area called Smithfield, you’ll find the distillery on Bow Street. There are a few options when experiencing the distillery. They have a general tour, a whiskey master class, and a cocktail masterclass. The general tour takes you through the history of
The general tour takes you through the history of the Jameson family, the brand, the whiskey itself, and the importance of the distillery in Dublin. You learn how it’s made, and compare it to Scotch and American whiskey during a tasting.
At the end of the tour, you are provided with a “daily grog.” This is a free drink of Jameson (either neat or with ginger ale and lime) that they call the “daily grog” as that’s what all the factory workers received each day.
The storehouse is west of temple bar and very easy to find. Look for the big “Guinness” words written on the building. More of a self-guided tour through an awesome museum-like area. The Guinness Storehouse has seven floors. You enter and exit through the gift shop (of course), and then continue through the floors and up the escalators.
You’re brought through each aspect of the beer and the brand. They tell you how it’s made. You can see their different advertisements throughout the years. There are various lounges, eateries, and tasting areas. Depending on when you visit, you might catch some live music or other performances in one of these lounges.
I personally visited on St. Patrick’s day (and if your name is Patrick or some variation you got in for free!) and there were many festivities. Live music, céilí dancing, and free samples. So check and see if there are any special events during your visit.
At the top is the gravity bar. You can get your free drink that comes with the ticket here (or in one of the lounges below) and looks over a 360 view of the city. Here’s hoping you have a sunny & clear day for the best views!