In search of the best museums in Dublin? You’ve landed in the right spot.
When it comes to mighty museums Dublin punches well above its weight, but there’s a problem.
Many of the finest museums in the city get overlooked, with a few (understandably!) stealing the limelight.
And, while the Museum of Natural History and IMMA are both wonderful places to spend an afternoon, Dublin is far from a ‘one-horse-town’ when it comes to museums, as you’ll discover below.
The best museums in Dublin
The topic of the best museums in Dublin is one that stirs up a fair bit of debate online, and rightly so.
In this guide, I’ve included Dublin museums that I’ve visited and loved along with ones that have racked up consistent rave reviews online.
1. The Dublinia Museum
I’d argue that Dublinia is one of the best museums in Dublin if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the city’s Viking past.
From creating the first Irish trade routes to constructing what’s arguably Ireland’s most famous cathedral (Christ Church Cathedral), the Vikings had quite an impact in Ireland.
Visitors can experience Viking life with a visit to a Viking warship and learn warrior skills while also immersing themselves in Medieval Dublin’s bustling city, exploring crime, punishment, and remedies of the time.
It’s worth visiting to see the building alone. The museum is housed in Synod Hall – a 19th century structure designed by George Edmund Street, the man that led the restoration of Christ Church.
If you’re looking for unique museums in Dublin that pack a punch, carve out time to visit Dublinia!
2. 14 Henrietta Street
I’m fresh off the back of a visit to 14 Henrietta Street. Now, before visiting, I wouldn’t have classed this as a museum, but it’s described as a ‘social history museum of Dublin life’, and it tells the story beautifully.
The minute you step onto Henrietta Street, you get a sense of what’s coming – the street itself is almost like stepping back in time.
The tour here is delivered by passionate guides who offer an insight into the history of the area and how it went from a once affluent corner of Dublin to a place where people lived hand-to-mouth.
This is one of the more unique Dublin museums, and the combination of storytelling, visual displays, 3D renderings and room reconstructions grip your attention from beginning to end.
3. The Chester Beatty
Sir Alfred Chester Beatty was one of the greatest collectors of the 20th century. During his lifetime, he collected thousands of artefacts, including everything from Egyptian Books of the Dead to contemporary Chinese woodblock prints.
In his later years, Beatty (and his collection) relocated to Dublin. A chunk of his incredibly impressive collection is now housed in the Chester Beatty in Dublin Castle.
The only issue that I’d have with the Chester Beatty is that I found it hard to read some of the information placards, as they were very low down. If you need glasses, bring ’em!
4. The Museum of Natural History
Now, although the nickname sounds a bit morbid, this is one of several Dublin museums that’ll fascinate both young and old.
You’ll find this place tucked between Leinster House and the Attorney General’s Office where it’s home to over 10,000 species of taxidermied animals.
Fascinatingly, it was opened over 160 years ago, in 1857, making it one of the oldest museums in Dublin.
5. EPIC Museum
The EPIC museum is one of the newest museums in Dublin City Centre, having only opened its doors back in 2016. However, even though it’s relatively new to the scene, it’s already become a go-to for tourists.
A visit to the EPIC museum takes you on a journey to uncover what it really means to be Irish (see reviews and ticket prices).
Those that visit will hear the stories of Irish emigrants who became scientists, politicians, poets and even outlaws all across the globe
Recently crowned Europe’s leading tourist destination, the museum has welcomed everyone from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to Justin Trudeau through its doors.
You’ll see this place ranking high in our guide to the best things to do in Dublin for good reason.
6. The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)
Next up is the Irish Museum of Modern Art (also known as IMMA). You’ll find this place nestled in 48 acres in the heart of Dublin 8, a 15-minute walk from both Kilmainham Gaol and the Guinness Storehouse.
IMMA boasts a wide variety of art and an exhibitions programme that change regularly, ensuring there’s always something new to have a gawk at.
You can join one of the guided tours for free and get to known IMMA and the exhibitions in more detail via the words of an experienced guide.
If you’re a fan of modern art, few Dublin museums should tickle your fancy as much as IMMA!
7. The Glasnevin Cemetery Museum
The Glasnevin Cemetery Museum is arguably one of the most overlooked of the many Dublin museums, mainly as it sits just outside the city.
However, if the location puts you off, keep in mind that you can combine a visit here with a trip to the Botanic Gardens and The Gravediggers, where you’ll get some of the best Guinness in Dublin.
The Glasnevin Cemetery Museum is home to a wealth of history. In fact, since waaaaaaay back in 1832, a staggering 1.5 million people have been laid to rest within its walls.
The Cemetery is sprawled over an impressive 124 acres of parkland and the tour here is top-notch. The highlight, in my opinion, is the O’Connell Tower.
Those that climb the 198 steps to the top can enjoy breath-taking views out over Dublin City and beyond. This is widely regarded as one of the best museums in Dublin for good reason.
8. The Little Museum of Dublin
Set in an old Georgian mansion just off Grafton Street and right across from St Stephen’s Green, this gorgeous Dublin museum is packed with an endless number of things to discover.
From James Joyce to John F Kennedy, you’ll be immersed in countless stories and tales. There’s also plenty of weird and wonderful little artefacts and bits of random memorabilia on show.
This is one of the more unique museums in Dublin and, while it won’t take you long to get around it, it’s home to plenty of interesting bits and bobs to keep you entertained.
9. The GPO Museum
The GPO 1916 tour is excellent. I did it a couple of years back and I’ve been banging on about it to people since. When you walk into the GPO 1916 tour, you nearly feel like you’ve stepped out onto a battlefield.
From the minute the tour begins, you feel completely immersed in the action. The exhibition puts you right inside Dublin’s GPO during Easter Week in 1916.
It’s highly visual and conveys the events in an easy-to-digest, dramatic manner that’ll leave you with a totally different perspective of the General Post Office and O’Connell Street forever more.
10. The National Museum of Ireland (Archaeology)
The National Museum of Ireland (Archaeology) is one of the most popular museums in Dublin City Centre. The fact that it’s home to some mummies (yes, mummies!) helps.
The preserved remains you’ll find as part of the Kingship and Sacrifice exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland are a little spookier than those resting in the vaults at St. Michan’s.
These leathery-looking remains were human sacrifices that were then mummified by the Irish bogs they were buried in.
There’s plenty of other interesting artefacts to have a nosey at here and, like some of the other Dublin museums, it’s free!
11. The Irish Whiskey Museum
The Irish Whiskey Museum is a fine spot to learn about the history of Irish whiskey (you get to sample several types, too!).
The tour takes you through 4 different rooms, each of which represents a different period in Irish history.
In 2013, there were only 4 whiskey distilleries in Ireland and five visitor centers. Now, there are 24 operational distilleries and 28 more in different planning stages.
The Irish Whiskey Museum remains independent from all whiskey distilleries and provides an insightful and impartial insight into the world of whiskey in Ireland.
The tours are interactive and there are some tales that whiskey novices like myself should find interesting (see reviews and ticket prices).
12. National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History
The National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History is located at Collins Barracks in Stoneybatter, around a 10-minute walk from the Jameson Distillery.
Housed in a former military barracks, this museum showcases an extensive collection of decorative arts, fashion, furniture, and historical artifacts which offer an insight into the daily lives of Irish people over the centuries.
As you step into the vast exhibition halls, you’ll encounter an impressive array of items, including intricate silverware, delicate ceramics, and stunning textiles that reflect the artistic and creative achievements of Ireland’s past.
One of the museums highlights is the “Proclaiming a Republic: The 1916 Rising” exhibition which explores the pivotal events of the Easter Rising.
13. The Irish Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum Experience
Next up is one of the most unusual museums in Dublin City Centre – the Irish Rock ‘N’ Roll Museum.
You find this place in Temple Bar, where it’s welcomed artists like Christy Moore and Rihanna over the years (see reviews and ticket prices).
Those that step inside its doors will discover all things weird and wonderful related to the Irish music industry. 30 years of musical history come together in one big experience.
Visitors will receive an access all areas pass that’ll provide entry to the backstage area at the renowned Button Factory venue, behind the Wall of Fame and to the recording studios where Glen Hansard’s Oscar award-winning film Once was filmed.
14. MoLI – Museum of Literature Ireland
We’ve saved one of the best museums in Dublin City Centre till last – MoLI – Museum of Literature Ireland (see reviews and ticket prices). It’s within theses walls that you’ll discover Ireland’s rich literary heritage.
There’s immersive exhibitions, beautiful gardens and plenty more to discover here. Although it’s a while since I last visited, I remember the Historic House Tour as the highlight.
It’s here that you explore Numbers 85 and 86 on St Stephen’s Green. These are examples of Georgian architecture at it’s finest.
Dublin museums: Which ones have we missed?
I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some brilliant Dublin museums 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 museums in Dublin City Centre
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Which Dublin museums are free?’ to ‘What are the most interesting museums in Dublin?’.
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 museums in Dublin to visit this weekend?
Personally, I think it’s hard to beat EPIC, 14 Henrietta Street, Kilmainham Gaol and The Chester Beatty Museum.
What Dublin museums are free to enter?
The Irish Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Natural History and The Chester Beatty are all free to enter.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.