Planning a 3-day Ireland itinerary using only public transport can be a pain in the backside… So, we’ve done all of the hard work for you!
We’ve spent 25+ years travelling around Ireland…
The itinerary below has taken that experience (and the many mistakes we made along the way) to create an itinerary that we’re confident you’ll love!
In a nutshell, this 3-day itinerary:
- Has been meticulously planned for those only using public transport
- Has an hour-by-hour itinerary for each day to save you time/hassle
- Follows logical routes that take you to hidden gems, tourist favourites and great pubs and restaurants
Who this itinerary will suit
It’s important that you take a look at the graphic above as each of our road trip itineraries have been tailored to specific needs.
This road trip is specifically for those of you:
- Starting in/near Dublin
- Using public transport and organised tours
- Looking to explore at a slow pace
- With a good level of fitness (i.e. it includes long walks and hikes)
- Remember, we have hundreds of different itineraries here if this one doesn’t suit you
An overview of this 3-day Ireland itinerary
The map above gives you a very high-level overview of where this route will take you.
It uses several bases (e.g. Dublin for 3 nights) and provides you with day-long road trips you can head off on, so you avoid having to change accommodation constantly.
Now, I’ll stop rambling on – here’s a day by day insight into each of the days below!
Day 1: Arrive in Dublin
Day 1 of this 3-day Ireland itinerary is going to be very dependent on the time that you arrive into Dublin.
For this itinerary, we’re going to make an assumption that you’ve landed in the morning and are ready to explore from mid-afternoon.
Recommended accommodation in Dublin
- Budget: Abigail’s Hostel (Temple Bar), Jacobs Inn (central hostel) and the Generator Hostel (short walk from the city)
- Mid-range: Dublin Skylon Hotel (just outside the city), Wren Urban Nest (Temple Bar) and the Harding Hotel (very central)
- Luxury: The Merrion (St. Stephen’s Green – very central) and The Westin (just off Grafton Street)
Getting around Dublin + money savers
- Time savers: If you want to avoid walking where possible, it’s worth getting a ticket for the Hop On Hop Off Bus around Dublin. It goes to or near all of the main sites on this itinerary plus plenty more.
- Money saver: If you’re visiting the ‘main’ Dublin attractions, the Dublin Pass can save you €€€ (here’s how)
Stop 1: Lunch
There’s plenty of great restaurants in Dublin that serve up a delicious lunch, but if you fancy a tasty bite in a lovely old-world-style pub, Neary’s just off of Grafton Street is hard to bate!
They serve simple dishes (like soups and sandwiches) that are packed with flavour and great value for money. Alternatively, Sprout and Co. on Dawson St. is also a great choice.
They have a range of hearty salad bowls, with good options for vegetarians and vegans.
Stop 2: Trinity College
If you can, we highly recommend pre-booking your tickets online, as the queues can get really long (bordering on ridiculous!). This fast-track ticket allows you to dodge the queue and gets you into Dublin Castle, too!
Spend around one hour seeing the Book of Kells, walking around the exhibit, and taking in the beauty of the Old Library. After that, give yourself another 20 minutes or so to walk around the university campus.
Stop 3: The Ha’penny Bridge (via Temple Bar)
The Ha’penny Bridge (officially named the Liffey Bridge) dates back to 1816 and was the first pedestrian bridge over the River Liffey!
It’s a seven-minute walk from the Trinity Gates, but feel free to take your time as you make your way through the lively streets of Temple Bar.
Now, Temple Bar can be a bit of a tourist trap. If you fancy a pint, here are several pubs in Temple Bar worth trying (the Palace is our go-to).
If you feel like an afternoon coffee, there are some great cafes in the Temple Bar area or on the other side of the river. Joe’s Coffee and Vice Coffee are two of our favourites across the water.
They’re both just a short stroll from the north side of the Ha’penny Bridge.
Stop 4: Dublin Castle
Next on the itinerary is Dublin Castle. Nestled in the city centre, the castle dates back to the 13th century and was the seat of the English for over 700 years.
Today, it’s an important government complex and the site of Presidential Inaugurations and key State events. The castle is around 10 minutes from the Ha’penny Bridge on foot.
There’s no admission fee to explore the grounds, but if you want to have a look inside you’ll need to purchase tickets for either a self-guided tour or a guided tour.
Guided tours include access to the State Apartments, Exhibitions, Chapel Royal, and the Mediaeval Undercroft. Self-guided tours include access to the State Apartments and Exhibitions only.
Tickets for guided tours can be purchased on the day of your visit at the ticket booth.
Stop 5: Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral dates back to the early 11th century when it was founded under Sigtrygg Silkbeard, a Norse King of Dublin. It was rebuilt later in stone, largely thanks to the first Anglo-Norman archbishop, John Cumin, in the late 12th century.
The cathedral is only a 4-minute walk from Dublin Castle and a really interesting place to visit. Some highlights are the restored crypt houses, Strongbow’s tomb, and the Treasures of Christ Church exhibition.
You can grab a ticket online here – these include an audio guide that comes in several languages, with three themes to choose from – ‘Power and Politics’, ‘Music and Spirituality’, and ‘Christ Church and the City’.
Self-guided tours with an audio guide usually last around one hour.
Stop 6: Dinner, drinks and live music
By now you must be getting hungry. Dublin has heaps of options for dinner, but we’ve got a couple of suggestions for you!
Our dinner recommendations
If you’re looking for something close by, Spitalfields is a short walk from the cathedral. It’s a little bit pricey, but the atmosphere is great and the food is top-notch!
However, Spitafields is 16+ only, so it’s not suitable for young families. Otherwise, check out The Bull and Castle across the street from Christ Church Cathedral.
Their menu has F.X. Buckley Steaks (renowned in Dublin), plus a great selection of local craft beers. The restaurant can get booked out pretty quickly, but you can always eat in the bar upstairs, which also has steak on the menu.
Live music and trad bars
If you fancy a bit of live music, there’s plenty on offer. Pipers Corner on Marlborough St. has some great tunes, with live music from 9pm every Tuesday to Saturday, and from 8pm on Sunday.
The inside has more of a modern feel, but you’ll be guaranteed authentic Irish music.
For the full experience, O’Donoghues Bar on Merrion Row has live music every night of the week. It’s about as traditional as Irish pubs get, with a brilliant atmosphere.
The Celt is another fantastic pub with live music every night from 9pm, although it’s not always traditional.
Day 2: Wicklow’s Wonders
On day 2 of your 3 days in Ireland itinerary, and today, you’ll be exploring Wicklow, also known as the Garden of Ireland.
You’ve got a big day ahead of you, so make sure to grab a hearty breakfast before you head off on your bus tour.
The tour leaves near the Molly Malone Statue on Suffolk Street, so if you’d rather eat out, we recommend heading to Keoghs Cafe (just around the corner from the statue) for breakfast and a coffee.
Getting to Wicklow option 1: A guided day trip
This 8-hour day trip includes a fully-guided day tour of Wicklow’s best sights and includes a visit to Powerscourt Gardens (you’ll need to pay into the gardens separately)!
You’ll be driven along the Sally Gap, see iconic film locations used in P.S. I Love You, Brave Heart, and Vikings, and explore an ancient 6th-century settlement.
There are two options for this tour, so make sure to choose the option with the Powerscourt Garden visit as this is the more easy-going choice.
We’ll take you through the stops below, but note that 1, you may not always physically stop at all of these sights and 2, these tours are subject to change, so always check with the provider in advance.
Getting to Wicklow option 2: St. Kevin’s Bus
We definitely think a guided tour is the best way to explore Wicklow without a car, but if you can’t book onto the tour above, we suggest using St. Kevin’s Bus to get to Glendalough.
Stop 1: The Sally Gap Drive
OK, this isn’t really a stop. The Sally Gap is a famous cross-road on the Old Military Road through the Wicklow Mountains. The road was built in the early 1800s following the Irish Rebellion of 1798.
It’s a beautiful drive, with spectacular views of the mountains and blanket bog. One of the most notable attractions in this area is Lough Tay (AKA Guinness Lake).
Another is Glenmacnass Waterfall. However, the mountain views and the narrow roads that you drive along are what’ll really make this corner of Ireland a place that you won’t forget.
Stop 2: Glendalough Monastic City
The Monastic City was one of the most important monastic sites in this part of the country. The city was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century and went on to become one of Europe’s most famous religious sites!
Right next to the settlement, there’s a visitor centre where you can enjoy the exhibits and learn more about the site and what made it so important.
After you’re all clued up, walk the 2 minutes to the monastic site and admire the Glendalough Round Tower, Cathedral, and St. Kevin’s Church.
Stop 3: The Lakes at Glendalough
Along the way, you’ll be passing by Glendalough Upper Lake and Lower Lake. Carved out by a melting glacier long ago, the upper lake is spectacular, nestled between trees and mountains.
It’s home to St. Kevin’s Bed, a small cave where St. Kevin lived as a hermit for several years before he founded the monastic city.
The lower lake is the smaller of the two, but equal in beauty, with gorgeous views of the mountains and forest.
Stop 4: Powerscourt Gardens
The Powerscourt Gardens are filled with grandeur and were voted by National Geographic as one of the world’s Top Ten Gardens!
The 47-acre Powerscourt Gardens are managed by a team of five gardeners, who tend to the Walled Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Italian Garden, and more.
The grounds are filled with ornamental lakes, formal gardens, and statues, making them perfect for a leisurely stroll!
Stop 5: Back to Dublin for the night
After a long day of sightseeing, you’ll be heading back to the city. Nip into your hotel to freshen up before dinner, or if you’re not fussed, head out for something to eat as soon as you get back.
Tonight we have a few suggestions for dinner. If you’re feeling like splashing out, head to Chapter One, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the basement of the Dublin Writers Museum.
The food is pricey, and a four-course dinner will set you back €120 per person, but, the mix of modern Irish and French cuisine is divine and the atmosphere is laid back and relaxing.
If, on the other hand, you don’t feel like going too big tonight, we’d recommend hitting up Bunsen in Temple Bar. They have delicious burgers and the value for money is great.
Dublin is full of great pubs, but some of our suggestions for tonight are Bowes on Fleet Street (for the Guinness) and Mulligans of Poolbeg Street.
Mulligans has had a long history over the years, and several people of note have drank at the pub, like Judy Garland and John F. Kennedy!
For trad music, take a look at our previous day’s suggestions, or have a wander and pop into a local pub if the music is to your liking!
Day 3: Back To Dublin Airport
It’s the last day and time to head back to Dublin Airport to fly home.
You can take the Dublin Express from the city centre out to Dublin Airport. The bus has multiple stops around the city centre, and if traffic is good, it can take as little as 15 minutes to get you out to the airport. As always, make sure to check the schedule and book your ticket in advance.
Have plenty of time before your flight? Check out anything in the city that you weren’t able to see on days 1 and 2.
And that’s a wrap on this road trip
We hope you found the above road trip guide useful. If you have any questions, ask in the comments below and we’ll do our best to help.
Or, if you’d like to browse our other Irish Road Trip itineraries, visit our Road Trip Hub – cheers!