15 Tourist Stops That You Don’t Want to Miss When Visiting Dublin
Believe it or not, there’s a lot more to Dublin than stag parties and getting shit-faced off Guinness.
Trust me, I’m not a big drinker, I hardly touch alcohol, and I didn’t think that I would enjoy my trip to Dublin for that very reason.
But to my surprise, I had a wicked time!
…and I fell in love with the Irish accent (**swoon**)
Since you’ve landed on this page, I’m guessing that you’re looking for some stuff to do on your Dublin trip so that you can have an equally wicked time!
Well, here goes, fasten your seat belts.
We begin our tour with this handy travel map, courtesy of Google.
This will show you where all the must-see attractions are and it will help you plan your visit depending on where in Dublin you are staying.
I stayed at Abbey Court Hostel in the city center (located on the map) and I would recommend it.
If you’ve never stayed in a hostel before, check out my 5 Genuine Reasons Why You Should Stay in a Hostel Instead of a Hotel.
Now that we know where everything is and we have our bearings, time to check out each stop individually.
1. Guinness Storehouse
Yes, I know what I said in the introduction about getting shit-faced off Guinness, but my first stop on this blog post tour is the Guinness Storehouse.
It is the main attraction in Dublin, and I have to admit that even though I am not a drinker, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was one of the highlights of my trip.
It’s a self-guided tour spread over numerous floors. Each floor takes you through a different aspect of the company; its history and founder, how Guinness is made, the marketing campaigns from the past and so on.
Even if you’re not a lover of Guinness (I’m not), I would still recommend this tourist stop be on your list.
…and you can learn how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness – and receive a certificate for it!
TIP: If you’re not fussed about what time you visit, then book an early slot. The place is much quieter and the tickets are considerably cheaper.
2. Kilmainham Gaol Prison
Now a museum, Kilmainham Gaol was once a former prison. It has held some of the most famous military and political leaders in Irish history as well as thousands of ordinary men, women and children.
You can only access the prison by guided tour only. Therefore, I would highly recommend booking in advance to ensure that you get a spot on your chosen date.
The tour lasts about an hour and I thought it was very interesting. If you want to learn more about the history of Ireland and you think you will enjoy listening to stories of some of the prisoners, then this is a definite stop for you.
When booking online, tickets are €8 per adult, which I thought was very good value for the quality of tour that I received.
You check out the Kilmainham Gaol website for more information and to purchase tickets.
3. St Patrick’s Cathedral
Fun Fact: St Patrick’s Cathedral is the tallest church in Ireland (according to Wikipedia anyway).
I am not a religious person, but I love architecture and churches always have the best architecture (in my opinion). I enjoy admiring the stonework, the vaulted ceiling and the exquisite detail of the interior.
St Patrick’s hosts a number of concerts, events and workshops. To see what’s on and to book a ticket, please check out their website.
4. Leprechaun Museum
Do I recommend this stop? I’m not quite sure. Therefore, I thought that it would be best for me to give you my honest review so you can decide if this place is for you or not.
The Leprechaun Museum is a guided tour through numerous quirky rooms. In each room, you are told a story about Leprechauns and their history.
I did enjoy myself. The guide instantly grabbed my attention as he began his storytelling. There was really nothing to complain about, except that I felt I didn’t get enough value from what I paid for a ticket (which was €14).
I’m a 28-year-old and I went on the daytime tour. At times I felt as though it was maybe more aimed at children – but this didn’t stop me from being included and having a good time. However, if you are without children then I would give the night-time tours a go. I suspect these are aimed more towards adults.
Overall, I just felt as though the ticket cost was too expensive and I didn’t get enough value for what I had paid. But, it was still a giggle.
5. Dublin Castle
Originally, Dublin Castle was the site of Viking settlement. It later became the British headquarters for administration in Ireland. Then, following Ireland’s Independence from the United Kingdom, it was handed to the Irish Government. Today it’s a tourist attraction as well as a government complex.
You can book a tour of the castle, or maybe you would prefer to attend one of their exhibitions or events? Either way, check out their website for an updated calendar and to purchase tickets.
6. The Little Museum of Dublin
A quirky little place and not what I expected.
It’s basically a three-storey townhouse that has been transformed to tell the story of Dublin in the 20th century. What helps make this place unique is that its whole collection has been donated by the people of Dublin themselves.
In the first room, you start in the 1900’s and you basically walk through time right up until the year 2000.
Although this was an educational stop for me, for others it was nostalgic – as though they were re-visiting their own childhood.
7. Trinity College
Yes, at first, I thought this was a weird stop too! I mean, why would I want to visit a college? I’m not looking to enrol.
But here we go anyway…
The first thing to note is that it was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, making it Ireland’s oldest university. The second thing to note is that Oscar Wilde studied here (and I’m a big fan of his quotes).
And thirdly, it’s home to the Old Library and the Book of Kells. The Old Library is like something out of a movie with its alcoves and ancient wooden shelves. It is home to about 200,000 of Trinity’s oldest books.
The Old Library is also home to the Book of Kells, which is a manuscript containing the four gospels of the New Testament from 800AD. Drawn by monks, the typography is similar to what we class today as Celtic style.
If this sounds like it floats your boat, head over to their website and book yourself a ticket.
8. Grafton Street
As the name would suggest, this is a street. But not just any street, it’s the main shopping street in Dublin.
If you’re looking for a bit of retail therapy whilst on your trip, this is where you come to.
There’s obviously no need to book tickets here, although I wouldn’t call it a free attraction as your Euros will soon be burning a hole in your pocket.
P.S. What more do you want from Ireland than two red-haired lads playing the fiddle? (and doing a very good job at it!). I’m being very stereotypical, but I took this photo on Grafton Street and it always makes me smile.
9. The Spire
Do you know how hard it is to get a picture of this? It is so friggin tall (120m to be exact) that it’s incredibly difficult to get the whole thing in one photo.
The Spire of Dublin is also referred to as the Monument of Light and it stands on O’Connell Street.
The architects were aiming for “elegant and dynamic simplicity bridging art and technology”, whatever that means to you.
The Spire consists of eight hollow cones made out of stainless steel. After the first section was installed in December 2002, construction was delayed due to environmental regulations and planning permission.
It’s a cool thing to see, and you need to see it in order to appreciate the size. But this tourist attraction isn’t going to take up very much time, it will very much be a whistle-stop tour.
10. Ha’Penny Bridge
Truth be told, it’s not the most ornate bridge that you will ever see, but it has an interesting past.
Before the bridge, people would cross the river Liffey by ferries. The ferries were in bad condition and the owner, William Walsh, was instructed to either fix the ferries or build a bridge.
He obviously chose to build a bridge (otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this) and it was constructed in 1816.
Being a clever businessman, Walsh also secured the right to charge a toll to anyone crossing the bridge for 100 years. This toll was calculated according to the costs charged by the ferries. The bridge toll was a ha’penny – or in other words, half a penny.
When this toll was in operation, there were turnstiles at either end of the bridge.
The toll was removed in 1919 and the turnstiles removed.
Again, this is a quick and easy stop, but I recommend walking over the Ha’Penny Bridge at least once whilst you are in Dublin.
11. Temple Bar (and area)
There are two things to note here. First is that Temple Bar is a famous pub in Dublin. Second is that the words ‘Temple bar’ are also used to describe the surrounding area.
Let’s start with the pub itself. The Temple Bar was established in 1840 and it has branded itself as the friendliest watering hole in Dublin. Not only will you find a range of lagers, beers and ales, but also a food menu containing fresh oysters, smoked salmon and hot roast beef rolls.
The area surrounding the pub, in the postcode ‘Dublin 2’ (D2), is also known as Temple Bar and it is a popular spot for us tourists and travellers. Just walking down this street I could hear live music blast out of almost every other pub. I’m not really into pub culture, but even I loved the atmosphere when walking down this street.
12. The Science Gallery
I love Science Museums because they are very interactive. You can touch, feel, pull, squeeze, slide, turn, prod …you get the idea.
The Science Gallery is free to enter and I was very much looking forward to it. However, the exhibition at my time of visiting was all about sound (depicted by the Noise Studio above). Which meant that everything around me made a racket.
It was interesting to learn how the sound was created, how it was carried and how subtle changes affected the sound, but unfortunately, my ears would not let me stay in this place very long.
There may be a different science exhibition on when you visit, or you may not be that bothered about a lot of sound, in both cases, I urge you to check it out.
13. The Natural History Museum
A small collection in one room, although it is quite a large room as it still managed to have a shark dangling from the ceiling.
It’s free to enter and one of the first things that you’ll notice when you walk through the double doors is the skeletons of what look like pre-historic creatures (pictured above). After reading the signs, you find out that it’s a type of deer – a Giant Irish Deer or Irish Elk to be exact.
As long as you don’t mind a bit of taxidermy, it’s an interesting way to kill a few hours and see some past and present creatures that are native to Ireland.
14. Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship (Famine Ship)
Take a tour of a replica 19th-century tall ship, the Jeanie Johnston. It helped Irish immigrants escape the famine by taking difficult voyages across the Atlantic to America and the ‘New World’.
Each voyage lasted about seven weeks and the Jeanie Johnston was the only ship to have not lost a life – which was a remarkable achievement.
Below deck, the ship has been kitted out with life-sized figures that are based on actual passengers. It helps to show what the life was like for those making this dangerous journey. The tour lasts about 50 minutes and the guide shares with you some inspiring stories of human achievement and determination.
Tickets cost €10 per adult and you can purchase them from their website.
TIP: You can also do a combination ticket and get access to a 45-minute river cruise and/or a hop-on-hop-off bus ticket.
15. The Brazen Head
Dating back to 1198, The Brazen Head is officially Ireland’s oldest pub.
If that wasn’t enough, it’s also famous for its award-winning restaurant and live Irish music.
There’s not much else to say about this place, what more do you want except good food and live music? You may want to make room in your schedule for a lunch or dinner visit.
Sadly, that brings us to the end of our Dublin tour. I do hope that I have given you all the information you need in order for you to plan a rememberable trip to Ireland’s capital.
When you get back, pop a comment below and let me know how you got on. Or if there is a place that I missed and you think should have made this list, please get in touch and I’ll get it added right away.
Last comment, no one in Ireland says, ‘top of the morning to ya’. I’m just pre-warning you in case you’re disappointed.