What springs to mind when you think of Dublin? Drinking Guinness and pub crawls? Shamrocks and lush green countryside? Castles and churches? Ireland’s capital city is all that and much more. For the top things to do in and around Dublin for an unforgettable Irish vacation, read this Dublin Travel Guide to help you plan the big event.
Sitting pretty on the east coast of Ireland is the capital of Dublin, a city famous for its friendly, beer-loving, thick-accented residents full of craic (fun-loving humour). If a trip to Ireland sounds like a good time, read our Dublin Travel Guide, a handy planning buddy, for tips and inspiration for your upcoming holiday to the Emerald Isle. Find cheap flights to Ireland with Skyscanner’s search engines.
When to Visit Dublin
Dublin has warm summers and cool winters. In general, Ireland doesn’t experience extreme heat or cold, which make it pleasant to visit year-round. You’ll find the best and warmest weather from May to September with an average temperature around 20 degrees Celsius.
Not only does summer have the best weather, but there are also a lot of festivals happening throughout the city during this time. It’s also the busiest and most expensive time to visit, so be sure to book your Dublin hotel in advance. If you’re happy to explore when it’s slightly cooler, spring and fall are quieter and cheaper.
Let’s not forget the biggest party in Ireland, and the world: St Patrick’s Day. If you fancy a real Irish party scene, travelling to Dublin for March 17 will guarantee a good time.
Getting to Dublin, and How to Travel Around
The airport (DUB), located 10km north of the city centre, is the largest in Ireland and offers direct flights to and from the UK, Canada, the U.S., and continental Europe. The Dublin Airport is well connected to the downtown area by several bus companies including Airlink, Dublin Bus and Air Coach.
One of the best ways to get to know a new city is with a bus tour. Consider a hop-on-hop-off coach tour of Dublin as a way to discover the best bits quickly.
Visitors can purchase a LEAP Card that works on all public transportation including rail, bus, and bicycle rentals. You can also travel to other cities around Ireland by bus or train. Irish Rail operates throughout Ireland. The main train stations in Dublin are Connolly and Heuston.
If you choose to rent a car, remember that vehicles drive on the left side of the road and drivers sit on the right side of the car.
Dublin’s Top Sights
Visitors interested in the history and culture of Dublin should go directly to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It was built between 1220 and 1260 and is one of the few remaining buildings from medieval times. St. Patrick’s is the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland. You can take tours of the church to learn more about its history.
Saint Catherine’s Church is also an unmissable house of prayer. Built between 1760 and 1769, the Anglican church is steeped in history. It was closed in the 1960s but in 1998 it had a complete make-over and used was reopened by CORE (City Outreach for Renewal and Evangelism) as their place of worship. In 2019, Saint Catherine’s celebrates its 250th anniversary.
Dublin Castle is a site of immense history and is now also the seat of the Irish government. In addition to walking the inside of the castle and castle grounds, visitors can explore the many art exhibits throughout. Guided tours (for a fee), take you through the State Apartments, Chapel Royal, and Viking excavation.
For an epic road trip from Dublin, travel to Ireland’s Ancient East for more incredible historic sites, castles, ruins, museums, parks, and gravesites.
Outdoor Things to Do in Dublin
There are so many wonderful parks and gardens around Dublin to enjoy. Definitely add Phoenix Park to your Ireland list. It’s one of the biggest urban parks in Europe and also home to the Dublin Zoo. It was originally established as a royal deer park in the 17th century and still remains a safe haven for these animals. Visitors are kindly asked to refrain from feeding or approaching the deer. Take a walk or bike ride on one of the many paths or explore Magazine Fort on the southeast side of the park. For a quirky way around, maybe a Segway tour?
St. Stephen’s Green is a favorite spot for Dubliners and visitors alike. The public park is located in the center of the city and perfect for strolling, relaxing, and letting the kids run off steam at the playground.
At the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland, you’ll learn about more than 300 species of endangered plants. Famous for its glasshouses, you’ll easily while away a whole day here exploring and marveling at nature’s beauty.
Where to eat, and what to try in Dublin
Classic Irish food is rich, hearty and stick-to-your-ribs filling. Look for dishes such as soda bread and Irish stew (traditionally made with mutton), which are delicious served together. Everyone’s heard of Ireland’s sad history with potatoes – the Great Famine/ Irish Potato Famine of 1845-1849 that caused mass starvation and disease. As sad a history it is, potatoes will always be a part of their food culture. Try national tater dishes like Boxty, a potato pancake or Colcannon, a mashed mix of potatoes, cabbage or kale with butter or cream. Viva Potato!
If you want to try traditional Irish cuisine in a sophisticated setting, make a reservation at the Pig’s Ear, a Michelin Bib Gourmand-awarded restaurant. Chef Stephen McAllister is taking Irish classics and giving them a modern twist. Think tea-cured salmon, slow-cooked Irish beef cheek and tongue, and tuna tartare.
For less pretense and good old-fashioned Irish home-cooking, head to the Winding Stair. This restaurant sits above an old bookshop and overlooks the River Liffey, Dublin’s central waterway. The stylish eatery prides itself on sourcing Irish produce from small, local farmers. Choose from starters like pea and buttermilk fritters or smoked haddock tartare, indulge with a main of pressed potatoes, and finish off with a dessert of salted whiskey caramel. Sound delicious.
Where to drink in Dublin (other than Temple Bar)
Take the opportunity to mix history and pints with a visit to the Guinness Storehouse. Located in the center of St. James’s Gate, the world-famous brewery dates back to 1759. A trip to The Storehouse gives you a history lesson and insight into how the tasty draught is made. And don’t worry, you’ll get to sample too. The bar area has one of the best views of the Dublin skyline. It’s one of the top things to do in Dublin so don’t miss it.
Dublin loves the nightlife and there are plenty of places to sink a few cold ones and mix with the locals. The Octagon Bar, inside the U2-owned Clarence Hotel, is the place to head to rub shoulders with Dublin’s elite. People flock to the Octagon Bar for its extensive cocktail list.
Head to Market Bar on Fade Street to mingle with the young urban professionals of Dublin. The gastropub has a large beer and wine selection, and excellent coffees too.
Be sure to pop into the Brazen Head for another Guinness (or 3) when you visit Dublin. This pub holds the title of the oldest pub in Ireland (1198 – that’s old) and its long history is featured in photos and memorabilia on the walls. They also serve cider, wine, and sodas and have excellent live music every night.
Other worthy mentions are Temple Bar, another historic favourite pub serving Irish Whiskey and toe-tapping traditional live music every night. And the Lord Edward Tavern, not far from Temple Bar, is said to be city’s last true Dublin pub. Apparently, it hasn’t had a renovation in more than 40 years so it’s full of character and local characters. Check it out and see for yourself and remember to say Slainte (SLAAN-SHA) as you touch glasses before drinking.
Ready to Plan Your Dublin Vacation?
The only thing left to do before you visit Dublin this year is finding cheap flights, hotels, and car rentals with the Skyscanner app and search engines. Onwards and upwards to Ireland!