Take every guide on the best things to do in Dublin with a pinch of salt (including this one).
Travel sites love to describe things/places as ‘Best’.
The reality is that the best places to visit in Dublin will change depending on what the person enjoys doing.
In this guide on what to do in Dublin, I’m going to show you the places and things that I’m confident you’ll love, based on my 34+ years of living in Dublin.
The best things to do in Dublin
Deciding on what to do in Dublin can be tricky. If you’re only visiting for a day, see our 24 hours in Dublin itinerary or our 2-day Dublin itinerary if you’re here for the weekend.
Right – I’ll stop yammering on. Here are our favourite places to visit in Dublin at any time of year!
1. Kilmainham Gaol
Kilmainham Gaol opened in 1796 as the County Gaol (prison) for Dublin City and the wider county. It’s within its walls that leaders of the 1798, 1803, 1848,1867 and 1916 rebellions were detained.
Many members of the Irish Republican movement during the Anglo-Irish War (1919-21) were also held in Kilmainham Gaol.
The tour is fantastic from finish to end and the guides are knowledgable and entertaining in their delivery.
Note: As a visit to Kilmainham Gaol is one of the more popular things to do in Dublin, it’s often booked out days in advance.
2. The Dublin Mountains
If you’re looking for things to do in Dublin this weekend that’ll take you away from the hustle and bustle, point your nose in the direction of the Dublin Mountains.
It’s here that you’ll find some of the best walks in Dublin! Located to the south of the city, the Dublin Mountains are actually an extension of the Wicklow Mountains.
They’re around a 30-minute spin from the city and there’s heaps of walks to tackle here. Our favourites are:
3. Marsh’s Library
You’ll find the oldest library in Ireland just behind St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.
Founded wayyyyy back in 1707, Marsh’s Library holds roughly 25,000 books and over 300 manuscripts.
As you wander around Marsh’s, keep an eye out for bullet holes in the bookcases, which were made during the Easter Rising when the hotel next door was being occupied.
Over the years, Marsh’s has had a lot of famous visitors. The likes of Bram Stoker, Jonathan Swift, and James Joyce have all spent time here, and you can see their signatures in the visitor ledger. This really is one of the most unique places to go in Dublin.
4. The Howth Cliff Walk
The Howth Cliff Walk is hard to beat when the weather’s good. You can get a DART directly from Dublin City Centre to Howth and the 5 trails kick-off from the village.
The trails range from 1.5 to 3.5 hours and vary massively in difficulty level. Each treats you to glorious coastal views throughout.
When you’ve finished your stroll, there’s plenty more things to do in Howth, or you can just take it handy with a post-walk-feed.
There are plenty of hikes near Dublin, but this one tends to be the most popular, so try and get here early if you can to avoid the crowds.
5. Trinity College
Arguably one of the best things to do in Dublin if you like to go off review scores online, Trinity College is well worth nipping into.
Trinity College was created by royal charter from Queen Elizabeth I in 1592 with the goal of ‘bringing prestige’ to Ireland at a time when many other European countries were also founding important centres of education.
Take a saunter around the grounds (free) and then head in to see the incredible Long Room Library and the ancient Book of Kells.
Related read: Check out our guide on where to stay in Dublin (a guide to the different areas and neighbourhoods)
6. St Patrick’s and Christ Church Cathedral
St Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral are both well worth a visit (it helps that they’re a 7 minute walk between the two!).
St Patrick’s was founded in 1191 but construction on the current cathedral didn’t kick-off until around 1220 and took a good 40 years to finish!
Founded by the first bishop of Dublin and Sitriuc, Norse king of Dublin, Christ Church Cathedral dates back to around 1030.
Both structures are packed with history and they’re a handy option if you’re wondering what to do in Dublin when it rains!
7. The Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
The Hop-on Hop-off Tour of the city (affiliate link) is widely regarded as one of the best things to do in Dublin by visiting tourists.
It’s a handy way to get around without a car and it takes in many of the most popular attractions in Dublin, like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Ha’penny Bridge, Temple Bar and the Guinness Storehouse.
You can grab a 24 or a 48-hour ticket and it’ll set you back around €30. The reviews speak for themselves.
8. The Guinness Storehouse
Another one that’s widely considered to be one of the best things to do in Dublin by visiting tourists is the world-famous Guinness Storehouse.
You’ll find it standing proudly at St James’s Gate on the site where Arthur Guinness set up shop with a 9,000-year lease in 1759.
There are several tours that you can head off on here but, if you can, opt for the guided tour as you’ll get a better insight into the history of the factor.
The tour finishes with a pint in the Gravity Bar where you’ll be treated to a superb view over the city.
9. Dublin Castle
Few castles in Dublin are as impressive as the very central Dublin Castle, which is based just off the buzzy Dame Street.
The tour here, which is very often overlooked by those of us living in the capital, is arguably one of the best things to do in Dublin.
On it, you’ll listen as the experienced guides tell countless tales about everything from underground chambers to Medieval towers.
Dublin Castle was developed as a medieval fortress under the orders of King John of England and construction began in 1204 following the invasion of 1169.
If you’re wondering what to do in Dublin to discover the city’s Viking past, look no further than the Dublinia Tour. The tour here is one that has been recommended to me time and time again.
Those that embark upon it will meet the Vikings face to face while learning about life during the Medieval period in Dublin.
How the folks at Dublinia describe the tour: ‘Go back to Viking times in Dublin! See for yourself what life was like onboard a Viking warship. Learn of their long and challenging voyages, their weaponry and the skills of being a Viking warrior.’
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Dublin this weekend, the Dublinia tour is well worth doing. You can visit nearby Christ Church Cathedral when you’re done.
11. Dublin’s whiskey distilleries
If you’re looking for places to visit in Dublin with a group of friends, there are a handful of whiskey distilleries in Dublin who’s tours have racked up rave reviews online over the years.
While the best known is arguably the Jameson Distillery on Bow St., the Pearse Lyons Distillery, the Roe and Co Distillery and the Teeling Distillery are all worth a visit.
If you’d prefer a pint, the likes of the world-famous Guinness Storehouse and the often-missed Rascals Brewing Company in Inchicore are worth checking out, too.
12. The Phoenix Park
The Phoenix Park is one of the better known of the many parks in Dublin. It’s the largest park within any European City and there’s plenty to see and do.
If you fancy a day out with a difference, you can rent bikes at the main entrance of the park and zip around all of the various attractions.
You can stop off for coffee over at the Hole in the Wall pub, see the Papal Cross and admire Áras an Uachtaráin from afar.
If you’re on the hunt for places to go in Dublin a stone’s throw from a plethora of other attractions, get yourself here. Some other parks in the county work visiting are:
- Marlay Park
- Newbridge House
- Ardgillan Castle
- Iveagh Gardens
- St. Catherine’s Park
- Tymon Park
- St Anne’s Park
13. Killiney Hill
The Killiney Hill walk is another peach of a ramble that has an option to suit both fit and unfit walkers.
If you fancy a mini-hike, follow the 30-minute trail outlined here. If you want to avoid as much incline walking as possible, drive up to the main car park. The ‘summit’ is a short walk from there.
The views from Killiney Hill on a clear day are outstanding and you’ll be given a good eyeful of the surrounding city and county.
14. Historic pubs
Dublin’s nightlife is hard to bate, once you know where to look (if you’re new to the city, try our self-guided Dublin pub crawl – you’ll visit some mighty old-school pubs).
In our guide to the best pubs in Dublin, you’ll find loads of old-school pubs worth nipping into.
If you fancy something a bit different, there’s everything from nightclubs to rooftop bars on offer. Here’s some guides to hop into:
- Pubs that do the best Guinness in Dublin
- 7 of the oldest pubs in Dublin
- The swankiest cocktail bars in Dublin
- The liveliest nightclubs in Dublin
- The coolest rooftop bars in Dublin
- The best beer gardens in Dublin
15. Malahide Castle
Malahide Castle is a handy 30-minute spin from Dublin City on the DART and the area is a great spot to spend a day.
The castle here dates to the 12th Century and it’s construction was ordered by Richard Talbot after he was given the land by King Henry II.
You can take a tour of the castle, explore the beautifully maintained grounds and then head into the village – there’s plenty of things to do in Malahide and there are heaps of great pubs and restaurants dotted around its village.
Related read: These are 27 of the best things to do in Dublin with kids
16. Beautiful beaches
Some of the best places to visit in Dublin are the sandy stretches (and the ‘hidden’ swimming spots) that are dotted along its magnificent coastline, as you’ll discover in our guide to the best Dublin beaches.
From tourist favourites, like Dollymount Strand and Sandycove Beach, to lesser-know spots, like Burrow Beach, there’s something to tickle every fancy. Here are our favourites:
- Seapoint Beach
- Donabate Beach
- Portmarnock Beach
- Howth Beach
- Killiney Beach
- The Forty Foot
- Vico Baths
Don’t fancy the sand? There’s plenty of swimming pools in Dublin too!
17. Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin Cemetery and Gravedigger combo
So, this is a bit of a random combo, but bear with me. Out in Glasnevin, a stone’s throw from Dublin City Centre, you’ll find a fine way of whittling away an afternoon.
Kick start your visit with a saunter around the glorious National Botanic Gardens. The story of the gardens begins at the end of the 18th century and, nearly 200 years later, they’re still delighting locals and tourists alike.
When you’ve finished up, you’re a short ramble away from Glasnevin Cemetery, where you can discover the stories of 1.5+ million people on one of several tours (you could also do the nearby Croke Park tour, if you fancied).
To round off your visit to the area in style, take the short walk from Glasnevin to the Gravediggers – it’s here you’ll get some of the best Guinness in Dublin.
Related read: Check out our guide to 32 of the best things to do in Ireland in 2023
18. The Viking Splash
The Viking Splash Tour is one of the most popular fun things to do in Dublin City Centre, and you tend to see it (or hear it!) as you walk around the city.
The Viking Splash provides a nice quirky way to explore Dublin City from the comfort of a World War II amphibious vehicle.
These vehicles can travel on land and water, which means you’ll be spending the first half of the tour driving around the city and the second, yep you guessed it, on the water.
Related read: Check out our guide to the best free things to do in Dublin today (a mix of outdoor attractions and museums)
19. Poolbeg Lighthouse walk
The Poolbeg Lighthouse walk is another good option if you’d like to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a bit without having to stray too far off-the-beaten-path.
You’ll find the little red Poolbeg Lighthouse on the Great South Wall where it has been since 1768.
There are two different trails here – a long one, which kicks-off at Sandymount Strand (2.5 hours) and a short one, which starts from the car park on Pigeon House Road (1 hour).
The walks take you right out into Dublin Bay and offer some lovely coastal views (warning: dress sensibly – it gets very windy!).
Related read: Check out our guide to the best 5 star hotels in Dublin (from historic accommodation to modern and boutique hotels in Dublin)
20. Dublin’s coastal towns
Dublin’s home to plenty of lovely seaside towns and villages that make a great day-trip-destination if you fancy getting away from the city.
Although the likes of Howth, Malahide and Dalkey tend to attract a lot of the footfall, there’s plenty of other scenic towns to explore.
Places like Killiney, Skerries, Dun Laoghaire and Clontarf are just some of the other areas worth nipping out to, as they’re home to plenty to do and lots of places to eat and drink.
Don’t limit yourself to the various things to do in Dublin City, hop on the DART and head off to one of the many towns and villages nearby. They might surprise you.
21. Mighty museums
Dublin City gets a bad aul rap. Sure, there’s plenty of areas to avoid in Dublin but, for the most part, the city’s a fine spot for a day out, especially when it comes to museums.
Although it’s the EPIC museum, that tends to get a lot of the attention online, there’s plenty more that’ll come in handy if you’re wondering what to do in Dublin when the weathers poor.
Here are our favourites:
- 14 Henrietta Street
- Little Museum of Dublin
- National History Museum
- The National Gallery of Ireland
- Irish Museum of Modern Art
22. Tourist favourites
There’s endless tourist activities in Dublin, as you’ve probably guessed, and you could easily spend a week working your way around them
If you’re still struggling to decide what to do in Dublin, here are some final suggestions for you:
- Dublin Zoo
- O’Connell monument
- St Stephen’s Green
- The Famine Memorial
- Molly Malone statue
- The Spire
- Parks in Dublin
- Mini golf in Dublin
- Dublin architecture
- Art galleries in Dublin
- Merrion Square
- Dalkey Island
- Dublin Bay Cruises
- Bohernabreena Reservoir
- Ireland’s Eye
- St Michan’s Church
- The Marino Casino
- Sorrento Park
23. A very overlooked food scene
If you’re wondering what to do in Dublin after a day spent exploring, or if you fancy a tasty breakfast or lunch, you’re in luck.
There’s countless great restaurants in Dublin, from Michelin Star restaurants and places for bottomless brunch to dive cafes and more. Here’s some guides to nip into:
- Bottomless brunch in Dublin
- Afternoon tea in Dublin
- Best breakfast in Dublin
- Best brunch in Dublin
- Michelin Star restaurants in Dublin
24. Day trips from Dublin
If you’ve ticked-off the various activities in Dunlin mentioned above and below and you fancy exploring some places near the city, you’ve loads to choose from.
There’s heaps of day trips from Dublin that you can head off on (either solo or via an organised tour – more info here). Here are some of our favourites near the city:
- 30 mighty things to do in Wicklow
- 16 lovely walks in Wicklow
- 29 adventurous things to do in Meath
- 41 of the finest things to do in Louth
What to do in Dublin: Where have we missed?
I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some brilliant places to visit in Dublin in 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 what to see in Dublin
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What are the most unique activities in Dublin?’ to ‘I’m wondering what to do in Dublin at night?’.
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 things to do in Dublin this weekend?
Our favourite places to visit in Dublin are the Dublin Mountains, Dalkey and/or Killiney, Howth and Dublin City, as there’s plenty to see and do.
What are the most unique places to visit in Dublin?
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Dublin this weekend, the likes of the kayak tours to Dalkey Island, St Michan’s Church and the Bohernabreena Reservoir are worth a look.
What are the best things to do in Dublin for free?
If you’re wondering what to do in Dublin for free, the various parks, the walks and the free museums mentioned above are a good start.
Wednesday 4th of May 2022
Thanks. This was very helpful. I’d lived here before but hadn’t been back for awhile and it’s given me new things to go see
Friday 27th of December 2019
Hi! Thank you so much! I thought I'd seen everything in Dublin and was planning day trips to other cities but this made me stay here for the rest of the holiday!