There are heaps (and I mean heaps) of free things to do in Dublin.
Now, when you think of a city break, you can often associate the ‘free things’ as being the stuff that isn’t really worth doing.
City’s tend to have big, shiny tourist attractions that charge an admission fee and it’s often (there are plenty of exceptions) the things that aren’t worth doing that come without a charge.
This isn’t the case in Ireland’s capital, however – there are plenty of worthwhile free things to do in Dublin today, as you’ll discover below.
What we think are the best free things to do in Dublin today (indoor attractions first)
However, there’s are some excellent free attractions in Dublin, too, like the Dead Zoo and the National Gallery of Ireland.
1. The National Museum of Ireland
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!
2. The Chester Beatty Library
Once described by Lonely Planet as ‘not just the best museum in Ireland but one of the best in Europe’, the Chester Beatty Library is one of the more unique free attractions in Dublin.
The museum, which can be found in Dublin Castle, 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. The National Gallery of Ireland
If you’re looking for free stuff to do in Dublin when the rain is baitin’ down, carve out some time to visit the National Gallery. In a nutshell, the National Gallery 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 attractions in Dublin for good reason.
4. The Irish Museum of Modern Art
Tours are free and are delivered by experienced guides 6 days a week. Join one of the museums 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.
5. The ‘Dead Zoo’
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.
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.
6. Aras an Uachtaráin
You’ll find the residence of the president of Ireland in the Phoenix Park. The building was originally a Palladian lodge that was built in 1751.
Now, officially known as Aras an Uachtaráin, it’s home to the current president of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins. The guided tour of the building is easily one of the best things to do in Dublin for free.
Organised by the Office of Public Works, the tours take place on Saturdays all year round (check in advance before planning your trip).
Update: Free tours of Aras an Uachtaráin are currently on hold, according to their website. We’ll update this when they’re back on.
7. The Hugh Lane Gallery
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.
Free things to do in Dublin this weekend (for those of you looking to get outdoors)
Now that we have some of the more popular free Dublin attractions out of the way, it’s time to see what else the capital has to offer.
Below, you’ll find everywhere from the Dublin Mountains and some incredible parks to coastal walks, the Botanical Gardens and more.
1. The Dublin Mountains
If you’re looking for active free things to do in Dublin today, make your way to the Dublin Mountains… OK, it’ll cost you to get here, but only the price of bus fare/petrol.
The Dublin Mountains are home to some of the best walks in Dublin. Here are a handful of our favourites:
2. Coastal, hill and cliff walks
There are plenty of other walks in Dublin to tackle if you don’t fancy heading off into the mountains (each walk is easily reachable by bus, train or DART).
Many of these walks are doable for most fitness levels, so they’re perfect for those of you looking for outdoorsy (but not too strenuous) free things to do in Dublin this weekend. These are our favourites:
Some of the best free things to do Dublin 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:
- The Forty Foot
- Vico Baths
- Burrow Beach
- Seapoint Beach
- Dollymount Strand
- Sandycove Beach
- Donabate Beach
- Portmarnock Beach
- Howth Beach
- Killiney Beach
When you hear people talking about the various free stuff to do in Dublin, you rarely hear the county’s parks mentioned.
Which is a shame, as the parks in Dublin are a great place to spend a day, and many are located in or near the city centre. Here are our favourites:
- The Phoenix Park
- Ardgillan Castle
- Iveagh Gardens
- St. Catherine’s Park
- Tymon Park
- St Stephen’s Green
- Marlay Park
- Newbridge House
- St Anne’s Park
5. The National 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.
6. 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 stree 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).
7. Georgian Dublin
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.
8. The grounds of Trinity College
The grounds of Trinity College are an absolute joy to walk around. They’re also arguably one of the best places in Dublin for people watching.
On a visit, you tend to encounter everyone from locals walking to work to drama students in full-on Victorian attire (at least I did last week!).
If you fancy exploring a bit more of Trinity, you could always head off on the Book of Kells tour (paid attraction, but well worth it!). You’ll get to have a nosey around the incredible Long Room Library.
9. Walking tours
The Sandeman’s walking tour of Dublin is a free 3-hour walking tour of the city that takes you to many of Dublin’s main attractions, including Dublin Castle, Temple Bar, and Trinity College.
The tour is run by a local guide and the reviews online are pretty damn good. Now, although this tour is listed as ‘free’, it runs off a tip-based model.
According to those running the tour, ‘There is no payment necessary at the start of the tour but you are welcome to tip your guide at the end!’.
10. North Bull Island
Once you’ve had your fill of good eats, strong spirits, history, and culture, escape to North Bull Island to experience Dublin’s wild side.
North Bull Island is one of the most biodiverse wildlife habitats in Ireland, so don’t forget to bring your binoculars!
Time your visit just right for about an hour before high tide to spot a skylark, grey heron, or one of more than 30,000 animals that live in this refuge.
Free Dublin: 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 a place 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?
In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with any of the museums or galleries mentioned at the start of this guide, or the many, many walks or hikes near the city.
What are the best free attractions in Dublin?
The National Gallery of Ireland, The Chester Beatty Library and The National Museum of Ireland are arguably the best free attractions in Dublin.
I was born in a quiet corner of a Gaeltacht on the Dingle Peninsula. Over the years, I’ve explored Ireland far and wide, from the wilds of West Clare to the shores of Sherkin. Particularly fond of heritage, history and hikes (and words beginning with ‘H’, apparently…).