If you’re looking for the best free things to do in Dublin today, this guide is wedged with ideas.
However, for those of you on a budget, worry not – there’s lots to see and do that won’t cost you a cent.
From historical sites and unusual attractions to walks, hidden gems and live music, there’s endless free activities in Dublin, once you know where to look.
The best free things to do in Dublin today
Now, before you scroll down to the various places to visit in Dublin for free, a quick disclaimer.
All of the attractions listed below are free of charge – the only way you’ll spend money is if you need to take a bus/train to get to them. Dive on in!
1. The Natural History Museum
If you’re in search of unique free things to do in Dublin today, look no further than the ‘Dead Zoo’ (aka the Museum of Natural History) in Dublin City.
This is one of several free museums in Dublin and it’s home to a wealth of history.
Visitors to the Dead Zoo will find a collection of taxidermied animals and perfectly preserved skeletons from a wide variety of animal species.
This museum also houses the flies that Darwin studied on his now-famous voyage to the Galapagos Islands.
Although these are kept in the private collection, there are more than 10,000 species on display.
2. The Chester Beatty
The Chester Beatty is one of several museums in Dublin that I’ve revisited in recent months. And, while it was my 3rd visit, I was blown away yet again.
This is one of the more immersive free attractions in Dublin and you’ll find it on the grounds of Dublin Castle.
The museum is packed with the collection of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (a successful American mining engineer, collector, and philanthropist) – one of the greatest collectors of the 12th century.
Visitors can appreciate a vast number of world cultures through manuscripts, rare books, and other treasures from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.
3. Walks and hikes galore
Some of the best places to visit in Dublin for free are the walking trails that can be found dotted across the city and wider county.
- The Dublin Mountains walks
- The Killiney Hill Walk
- Bohernabreena Reservoir
- The Ticknock Walk
- Carrickgollogan Forest
- Cruagh Woods
- The Hellfire Club
- The Poolbeg Lighthouse walk
4. National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology
A visit to the National Museum of Ireland (Archaeology) tops the list as the best of the many free things to do in Dublin this weekend. It’s perfect for rainy days and there’s heaps to see inside.
One of the main attractions is the preserved remains of mummies (part of the Kingship and Sacrifice exhibition – not the one pictured above).
These well-preserved remains were human sacrifices who were then mummified deep inside the Irish bogs they were buried in.
This is one of the more popular museums in Dublin, so it really is great that it has remained free of charge all of these years!
5. The Garden of Remembrance
Another of our favourite places to visit in Dublin for free is the Garden of Remembrance over on Parnell Square.
The park, which was designed by Daithí Hanly, serves as a tribute to all those who lost their lives in the pursuit of Irish independence.
It opened in 1966 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising and it can now be enjoyed by all.
6. St. Patrick’s Cathedral Park
One of my favourite things to do in Dublin for free is to take a ramble around the park at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Although you’ll pay into the cathedral itself, you can stroll around the impressive park for free while admiring the cathedral from the outside.
The cathedral was founded in 1191 and it showcases Gothic architecture at its finest.
It’s said that it was within the cathedral that Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick, baptized converts to Christianity.
7. Christ Church Cathedral
The next of our favourite free things to do in Dublin today is to take a visit to Christ Church Cathedral.
Now, you’ll also have to pay to go inside this one, but you can admire the impressive building from the outside, both from afar and from within its grounds.
The cathedral’s architecture is a blend of various styles, including Norman and Gothic, giving it a unique and impressive appearance.
Its grand exterior, with its elegant spire and dramatic stone carvings can be admired for free.
8. The Irish Museum of Modern Art
Tours are free and are delivered by experienced guides 3 days a week. Join one of the museum’s guided tours and get to known IMMA and the exhibitions in more detail.
Admission to the museum is free (as is the entrance to most of the exhibitions). The grounds here are also beautifully maintained and well worth exploring.
This is one of the more popular places to visit in Dublin for free when the weather’s fine as the grounds are glorious to stroll around.
9. The Aras an Uachtarain tour
Another of the most popular free attractions in Dublin is the home of the President of Ireland – Aras an Uachtaráin.
Located inside the Phoenix Park, there are free tours of Áras an Uachtaráin that take place almost every Saturday.
They run for an hour and fifteen minutes and tickets are given out on a first-come-first-served basis from the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre.
10. The Shrine of St. Valentine
A visit to Whitefriar Street Church is one of the more unusual free things to do in Dublin today.
The Carmelites, a religious order within the Catholic Church, moved to Whitefriar Street in 1825 and the foundation stone for their new church was laid in 1826.
It’s inside the walls of this church that you’ll discover the remains of Saint Valentine. They were gifted to an Irish Carmelite named John Spratt by Pope Gregory XVI.
The remains arrived in Dublin in 1836. However, they were put into storage until they were rediscovered in the mid 1900s.
A shrine to Saint Valentine can be admired inside the church. If you’re looking for unique places to visit in Dublin for free, this is worth a look!
11. O’Connell Street’s hidden history
Dublin’s O’Connell Street is arguably one of the most historic streets in the city. It was here, during the 1916 Easter Rising, where Irish Republicans seized the GPO and proclaimed the Irish Republic.
This event led to the street being bombarded for a number of days by a gunboat by the name of Helga. Imagine a boat sailing up the River Liffey and opening fire… mad stuff!
To this day there’s evidence of this battle on O’Connell Street. When you visit, make your way over to the O’Connell Monument. You’ll be able to spot bullet holes here (and in many other places on O’Connell Street).
12. Dublin Castle’s gardens and grounds
Although you’ll pay to do the Dublin Castle tour (this tour gets you into the Castle and the Book of Kells), you can visit the castle’s impressive grounds for free.
The gardens have existed since the early 17th century and they can be found located south of the Chapel Royal and the State Apartments.
The gardens have wrought-iron gates with Celtic spirals at their entrance. There’s one main garden and then four smaller gardens at each corner.
Although the gardens are located right in the city centre, they tend to be much quieter than the surrounding streets. If you’re after things to do in Dublin for free that’ll take you away from the hustle and bustle, get yourself here.
13. The Hugh Lane Gallery
The next of our free attractions in Dublin is the brilliant Hugh Lane Gallery, located on Parnell Square.
A celebrated art dealer, collector, exhibitor and gallery director, Hugh Lane is best known for establishing the first known public gallery of modern art in the world.
The Hugh Lane Gallery that we know and love today was originally called the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art and was founded in 1908.
Here, you can see the chaos of Francis Bacon’s studio and explore a plethora or collections and exhibitions.
14. The Ha’penny Bridge
One of the more iconic places to visit in Dublin for free is the beautiful Ha’penny Bridge, which spans the River Liffey a short stroll from O’Connell Street.
The Ha’penny Bridge was Dublin’s original toll bridge. Before it existed, ferries would carry people from one side of the river to the other.
However, they became unfit for purpose and a bridge was built. The cost of crossing? A Ha’penny!
15. The 40 Foot
A swim at the 40 Foot in Sandycove (if you’re a capable swimmer and conditions are safe) is one of the more unique free things to do in Dublin today.
This is one of the most famous sea-swimming spots in the capital. It was originally a ‘men only’ swimming place but now, in 2023, it’s open for all.
When you visit, keep an eye out for the nearby Martello tower – it was here that Oliver St. John Gogarty lived in the early 1900s. James Joyce came to stay with him at the tower for a short period.
16. Beaches galore
Some of the best free things to do in Dublin today are the sandy stretches you’ll find dotted along the capital’s glorious coastline.
Many of the best Dublin beaches are a stone’s throw from the city, and they provide a great place for a stroll and/or a swim. Here are our favourites:
- Burrow Beach
- Seapoint Beach
- Dollymount Strand
- Sandycove Beach
- Donabate Beach
- Portmarnock Beach
- Howth Beach
- Killiney Beach
17. Self-guided Dublin walking tours
One of the more popular free activities in Dublin are self-guided walking tours like the one outlined above.
These (at least our one does, anyway!) take you around the city in a logical manner and bring you to tourist favourites and hidden gems.
If you follow our one, you’ll be taken to a mix of free-paying and free things to do in Dublin, like Merrion Square and the Guinness Storehouse.
18. St. Stephen’s Green
This nine hectare/22-acre park features commemorative sculptures, extensive trees and a children’s playpark among its many attractions.
The park features several notable statues and monuments, including the Yeats Memorial Garden, commemorating the famous Irish poet W.B. Yeats.
The central fountain and the ornate bridge add to the park’s charm. It also has a very bizarre history attached to it!
19. The grounds of Trinity College
Trinity College is one of Ireland’s most prestigious and oldest universities, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I.
However, you don’t have to pay to ramble around the impressive college grounds where you’ll discover some of the finest architecture in Dublin.
Trinity’s architecture is a captivating blend of historical grandeur and contemporary design. The campus features a mix of iconic historic buildings, dating back to the university’s founding in the 16th century.
This is one of the best free attractions in Dublin for good reason!
20. National Library of Ireland
If it’s raining and you’re looking for places to visit in Dublin for free, take a ramble over to the National Library of Ireland on Kildare Street.
This is a treasure trove of history, literature, and Irish culture. It was set-up in 1877 and it’s now home to a whopping 12 million+ items including a vast collection of books, manuscripts, maps and photographs.
The library hosts a number of permanent and temporary exhibitions, including:
- Seamus Heaney: Listen Now Again
- People & Places: Ireland in 19th & 20th Centuries
- Yeats: The Life and Works of William Butler Yeats
21. North Bull Island
Just outside the city centre, along the coast in Clontarf, lies North Bull Island – one of the most biodiverse wildlife habitats in Ireland!
You can get the train to Clontarf and then take the stroll along the coast until you see the road on the left in the picture above.
22. The Phoenix Park
Some of our favourite free things to do in Dublin are the various parklands that can be found dotted around the city and county.
The Phoenix Park is the most popular. You’ll find it over beside Heuston Station where it’s home to Áras an Uachtaráin, a large herd of wild deer and plenty of walking trails.
If you don’t fancy this one, there are plenty of other parks in Dublin. Here are our favourites:
- Ardgillan Castle
- Iveagh Gardens
- St. Catherine’s Park
- Tymon Park
- St Stephen’s Green
- Marlay Park
- Newbridge House
- St Anne’s Park
23. Merrion Square and park
Dublin’s Merrion Square is one of the most intact Georgian Squares in Dublin. The square was originally laid out back in 1762 and is surrounded on three sides by Georgian redbrick houses.
Merrion Square has had many famous residents over the years. Daniel O’Connell, Oscar Wilde and William Butler Yeats all lived here at one time or another.
If you’re looking for things to do in Dublin for free in the morning, stroll up Grafton Street, ramble through St. Stephen’s Green first and then make your way to Merrion Square and have a nosey around.
24. National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History
The National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History can be found over in Stoneybatter and it’s a great place to get an insight into the daily lives of Irish people over the centuries.
Located a 10-minute walk from the Jameson Distillery, it’s here that you’ll find a collection of decorative arts, fashion, furniture, and historical artifacts.
One of the museum’s highlights is the “Proclaiming a Republic: The 1916 Rising” exhibition, which looks at the pivotal events surrounding the Easter Rising.
If you’re a fan of history, this is arguably one of the best things to do in Dublin for free.
25. The Iveagh Gardens
One of the more unique places to visit in Dublin for free are the Iveagh Gardens just off St. Stephen’s Green.
The finely manicured gardens here were designed in the 19th century and they provide a temporary escape from the hustle and bustle.
There’s benches to plonk yourself, tree-lined paths and (surprisingly!) a little waterfall to have a gander at.
26. Live music in Temple Bar
Now, I’m not sure if I should be including this in a guide on free things to do in Dublin, so bear with me…
Technically, you can walk into any of the pubs in Dublin with live music and listen to the tunes for free (once you avoid being seen).
Will you be asked to leave for not buying a drink? Probably. Will you be noticed in some of the larger pubs in Temple Bar that rip tourists off with crazy prices? Probably not.
Proceed with caution!
27. The Molly Malone statue
The bronze Molly Malone statue is one of the most visited free attractions in Dublin and you’ll find it across from O’Neill’s Pub on Suffolk Street.
The statue depicts a woman standing next to a wheelbarrow and it represents a character from Dublin that may or may not be fictional.
She also may or may not have been a fishmonger, if local legend is to be believed. This is one of the more famous landmarks in Dublin and it’s worth dropping by (it’s a stone’s throw from Temple Bar).
28. Famine memorials on the quays
It’s here that you’ll find a harrowing tribute to the victims of the Great Famine. There are a number of statues that show haunting sculptures on what appear to be their last steps.
The memorial honours the memory of the millions of Irish men and women who lost their lives and were forced to emigrate.
You likely won’t spend long here, but if you’re looking for free attractions in Dublin with history attached to them, add this to your Dublin itinerary.
29. The National Gallery of Ireland
Next we’re off to one of the most popular free attractions in Dublin – the National Gallery of Ireland.
In a nutshell, the National Gallery on Marrion Square houses the national collection of Irish and European art.
Dating back to the mid-19th Century, it’s packed to the brim with 2,500 paintings, approximately 10,000 other works in different media (including water-colours, drawings, prints, and sculptures), a Yeats museum and much more.
You can take a free audio tour guide to the permanent collection. There are also free public tours at weekends. This is one of the most popular free places to visit in Dublin for good reason.
30. The Botanic Gardens
Looking to escape Dublin’s concrete jungle for a while? Head out to the quaint locale of Glasnevin for a bit of fresh air at the magnificent National Botanic Gardens.
These working gardens also double as a research centre for botanists and are home to more than 15,000 species of flora. If you’re looking for free things to do in Dublin with kids, this place should tickle your fancy.
The educational programmes on offer are a fun way to teach your little ones about conservation. Or, just take a stroll through nature and stop to smell the flowers.
31. James Joyce Tower and Museum
The last attraction in our guide to the best free things to do in Dublin is on that’s missed by tourists and locals alike.
Located at Sandycove Point in Dún Laoghaire, the James Joyce Tower and Museum is a literary landmark dedicated to the renowned Irish writer, James Joyce.
The now-iconic tower served as the setting for the opening of Joyce’s “Ulysses,” making it a site of great literary importance.
The museum is situated inside the historic Martello tower which dates to the 19th century and inside you’ll find everything from first editions and portraits to Joyce’s tie and more.
Free Dublin attractions: What have we missed?
I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some brilliant free attractions in Dublin from the guide above.
If you have any free things to do in Dublin that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!
FAQs about the best things to do in Dublin for free
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What are the most interesting free attractions in Dublin?’ to ‘What’s the best free stuff to do in Dublin when it rains?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What are the best free things to do in Dublin this weekend?
There’s countless free attractions in Dublin; if you like museums, try the Chester Beatty or the Natural History Museum. If you’re fond of outdoor attractions, the Famine Memorial, the Molly Malone Statue and the many parks are some of the best places to visit in Dublin for free.
What are the best free attractions in Dublin?
The National Gallery of Ireland, The Chester Beatty, the Hugh Lane, the Forty Foot, the Phoenix Park, Aras an Uachtaráin and The National Museum of Ireland are arguably the best free attractions in Dublin.