Geoff and I often get asked for recommendations on what to do in Dublin, so we thought we would share what we think are the best things to do if you have a short visit in Dublin.
Disclaimer: We’re Southsiders, so you’ll notice the recommendations are all on the South side of the Liffey. If you’ve booked to stay on the North side, We’re not much (any) help. Good luck with that.
There’s so much more to Ireland than Dublin City, so if you’re planning (or dreaming of) a visit, then do try to see more of the Island than Dublin. This post is focusing on the city we now call home, but Ireland has so much more to offer.
A couple of notes to start:
- Cash is still king here. It’s easier to keep some cash on you just incase you come across a place that’s not card friendly.
- Look around and enjoy the people watching as you go through the city. There’s a lot of character in the city, and that’s half the fun of it.
- If you stop to admire a building or listen to a street performer (which is encouraged), please move to the side! Nothing is more annoying than tourists coming to an abrupt stop and then blocking the entire sidewalk.
Hope you enjoy!
Day 1 - Jet Lag and Coffee
So you’ve landed, welcome to Ireland! You’ve got a few options for making your way to the city. If you’ve got two or more people, I’d say just go ahead and get a taxi, it’s about €30 to the city center. Another option is to take the Airlink Express bus from the airport to a couple of locations in the City Center for €7 per person.
If you’re like me, once you’ve gotten your bags dropped off at your accommodation, you’ll be ready for a cup of coffee the size of your head. Dublin’s got you covered on the coffee, but Americans be forewarned -- it won’t be the available in the massive bucket that you can get at home. If you just want a “coffee” ask for an Americano. Otherwise there’s cappuccinos, lattes, and flat whites aplenty. As for where, there’s so many options, but my favorite is definitely Meet Me in the Morning. Just down the street from there is a place where you can get a cheap, quick Irish Breakfast at Cafe Sofia (cash only!). If you want a more upscale brunch environment, I can also recommend Bibi’s Cafe or Whitefriar Grill (make reservations for Whitefriar if you want to be sure to get a table).
Ok, now that you’ve fueled up, let’s see what the city has to offer! Walk over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. If you’ve taken the advice above, you should be nearby. Walk through the park and take a look around the cathedral. To the south of the church you’ll find the stop for the Hop On Hop Off tour buses. You can pre-purchase discounted tickets online, or get some directly from the driver if you don’t want to commit ahead of time.
The bus tours are a great way to hit the major tourist sights. My recommendations are Christ Church (especially the crypt), Guinness Storehouse, and ride the bus through Phoenix Park.
On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings, the Guinness experimental brewery is open. The beers are hit and miss, but I’ve always enjoyed my visits here. Book online first if you want to be sure to get in. You can time it so that you do the Storehouse first, then pop next door to The Open Gate Brewery to see the exciting stuff.
- Quick, Not Vegetarian Friendly: Bunsen - burgers only; a few locations; Temple Bar location is probably nearest to your tourist sites.
- Vegetarian Friendly, Casual, Quick: Boojum - Tex Mex
- Table Service, excellent beer selection, pub atmosphere - P. Macs
- Wishbone - really great chicken wings, but no vegetarian options, book ahead if you want a table
- P. Macs - same as above, emphasis on the beer selection! Ask the bartender or wait staff for recommendations - they’ll hook you up!
- Junior Paulie’s Pizza - a bit out of the way if you’re staying in the heart of the city, but excellent pizza. You’ll want to book ahead here too.
Day 2 - Walking Tour
Good morning, day two! Let’s hit the city on foot. Be warned, Dublin is not a morning city, especially if it’s a weekend. You’ll struggle to find restaurants and cafes that are open before 10am. Unless you’ve planned a specific place for breakfast, just have your hotel or B&B’s breakfast option. If you’re a tea drinker, know that your selection of tea matters to some - Barry’s or Lyons? We prefer Lyons in the Fountain house.
Dublin is a great walking city. There’s so much to see, and, bonus, there’s basically no hills. Head out to St. Stephen’s Green for a morning walk. If you’re farther south in the city, walking along Grand Canal is also a great option. Once it’s about 11a-Noonish, head towards Grafton Street. The buskers (street performers) will probably be getting started. Stop and watch a few budding artists; there’s some very talented performers here.
At the top (north) of Grafton Street, you’ll find Trinity College Dublin. Have a walk through the gates and take a look. The campus is beautiful. Just inside the doors you’ll find the tour ticket stand. The tour is worth it and includes admission to the library and to see the Book of Kells.
It should be nearing lunch time, so:
- Chopped: Salads and wraps, just south of Trinity on Grafton
- Avoca Cafe: downstairs of the Avoca stop, near the famous Molly Malone statue; Sandwiches, salads, grab and go options
- Klaw: In Temple Bar (where I’m sending you next), Seafood, known for their lobster roll
After lunch head to Temple Bar. You can get the iconic Dublin picture looking down the street at THE Temple Bar, or one from the window in Bunsen.
After your walk through Temple Bar, head back south towards George’s Street. Take a stroll through George’s Street Arcade. There’s some neat shops inside and around there, and you may find a couple souvenirs to take home.
Personally, I then usually go straight across the next street to Powerscourt Center which is a really neat shopping mall that has a cool antiques market that I love to browse. If that’s not your style, there’s many pubs nearby.
Depending on the time, I’d suggest hailing a taxi and taking it over to Teeling Whiskey Distillery. The tour is great and the whiskey is better. You’re in Ireland; even if you don’t think you like whiskey, give it a try. Enjoy.
After Teeling, shoot over to Camden Street (it’s close enough to walk, depending on how much whiskey you had at the distillery).
Camden Street is a lively place to be on weekend nights, so if you want to be in the thick of a Dublin night out, you’ll want to stick around here.
There’s a lot of restaurants, so have your pick. We like Against the Grain for typical pub food, but you can also find Bunsen, Pitt Bros BBQ, Camden Rotisserie and others along “The Camden Mile”.
Once you’ve filled your belly, you’ll probably want to snug into a pub, and Camden Street has something for everyone. Devitt’s is a classic pub but recently updated so it’s fresh and clean. They also have traditional Irish music upstairs from 9pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Cassidy’s is also a classic-style pub if you find Devitt’s is crowded.
For a more modern options, we like a new pub Jimmy Rabbitte's. This place as a quirky decor and a nice beer garden out back. Against the Grain is also a favorite, serving up the craft beers of Galway Bay Brewery.
If you’re out for a late one, a late night takeaway is a MUST. Stop in McGuinness takeaway shop for a battered sausage (it’s like a corndog, but better) or stop at Zaytoon for a delicious kebab to round out your night.
Day 3 - Hungover by the Sea
On your last day in Dublin, I’d recommend a short train trip to head up to Howth.
Howth is a beautiful harbour town with a couple of great seafood restaurants. Take a walk along the shoreline or a boat ride out to Ireland’s Eye. There’s also a 6km “cliff walk” that’s highly recommended (we’ve yet to try it ourselves, but we’ll take note to report back).
The food and wine is usually what brings us to Howth. We love Octopussys Seafood Tapas situated directly on the West Pier. They don’t take reservations for lunch, so we usually try to get there just before they open at 12:30p to get the first seating.
Soak in your last day in Dublin by enjoying the fresh air of the village and take the cliff hike if you’re up for it. Also, if you’re lucky, you might spot some seals in the harbour or puffins on the beach, so keep a look out!
We hope you get the chance to visit Dublin. If you find yourself planning a trip, be prepared to fall in love with the place. We fell in love with it the first time we visited in 2012. We were back again in 2014, and then packed our bags to move in 2016. The people are so friendly and the city is so welcoming. We’re so happy to call it home now.