An insider guide to Dublin must-see attractions: know and lessen known places for an unforgettable trip to Dublin Ireland
What do you think about, when you think about Dublin? Do you picture busy Tempe Bar, a delicious pint of Guinness in a cozy pub or maybe a stroll following James Joyce’s footsteps around the city?
Indeed, Dublin has many attractions and a dynamic young vibe that makes it a pleasure to explore and experience, whether you are a culture lover, a family traveler or a pub-goer.
I know this well.
I have been calling Dublin home for the last 14 years and today I share what I believe are the best things to see in Dublin, those that you simply cannot miss when planning a trip to the Irish capital.
These are my Dublin must-see. If you want to learn how to include them in your visit, you can check my Dublin itinerary here.
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Dublin must-see: top 10 Dublin attraction +1!
Trinity College and the Book of Kells
Trinity College is one of the most important institutions in Dublin and Ireland in general.
A historical university, it was founded in the XVI century and has a beautiful campus, which bears witness to these ancient origins.
For the visitor, there is a lot to see at Trinity College.
At the most basic level, it is worth taking a stroll around its grounds to admire its grand and beautiful architecture.
Access is free and you will quickly notice the famous Trinity ‘campanile’, one of Dublin’s most famous landmarks.
The real gem of Trinity College, however, is the old Trinity College Library home to the extraordinary Long Room and the famous Book of Kells.
This is an ancient manuscript dating back to 800 AD with lavish decorations painstakingly created by the unparallel art of medieval monks and a marvel to see. I highly recommend a visit!
- Address: College Green, Dublin 2
- Tickets are sold at the door and the Book of kells exhibition website
Not far from Trinity college lies Dublin castle, one of the most significant historical buildings in the whole of Dublin.
The castle dates back to the XIII century and it is not overly impressive outside (if you are thinking windswept ruins, this is not the castle for you, choose one of these castles instead) but it is beautiful inside and worth a visit because of its important role in Irish history.
The castle used to be the seat of English Administration in Ireland for 700 years and is now a great place to learn about the interesting and complex history of Ireland.
The castle is still now used for important State events and is occasionally closed to the public because of them.
Please check their website when planning a visit to avoid surprises.
- Address: Dame St, Dublin 2
- Tickets can be bought from the castle website
The Chester Beatty
The Chester Beatty (prev. The Chester Beatty Library) is on the same grounds as Dublin Castle and is a wonderful museum.
It hosts a wonderful collection of east Asian, Islamic and Western manuscripts with exquisite binding and calligraphy.
Admission is free.
St Patricks’ cathedral
St Patrick’s Cathedral is one of the most important churches in Ireland and a very beautiful one to visit.
The cathedral was built in honor of Ireland’s patron saint between 1220 and 1260 and it the largest cathedral in the country, as well as the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland (Anglican).
The church has lovely grounds and is especially pleasant to visit on a bright day.
Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels, was Dean of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in the 1700s and is buried here.
Fun fact! The Cathedral has a world-famous choir which still performs daily during school term
When visiting, don’t miss the Marsh’s library just beside: a beautiful library with dark shelves and a myriad of books, the library is stunning and also holds a secret: it is said to be haunted!
Address: St Patrick’s Close, Wood Quay, Dublin 8
St Stephen’s green
St Stephens’ green is a large park right in the center of Dublin and a popular spot for picnics and lazy sunny afternoons – yes, we do get sunny afternoons in Dublin and Stephens’ green is where most locals spend them!
The park is right at the top of Grafton street, see below, and is a great place for adults and children alike.
This is a lovely park to experience especially in spring and summer, which are some of the best months for visiting Dublin.
The Guinness storehouse
Guinness is probably Ireland’s most famous creation and its home is in Dublin and more precisely in the Guinness storehouse at James’s Gate.
The Guinness storehouse is a quintessential tourist attraction and you must expect crowds and souvenir shops, however, it is wonderful.
It is a fantastic space with beautiful industrial architecture, it hosts an interesting tour and has something special: a terrace at the top, the so-called ‘Gravity bar’ that has 360 degrees views over Dublin.
An absolute Dublin must-see!
You can get skip the line tickets here and they include a free pint of Guinness at the end of the tour (option of non-alcoholic beverage available)
Tempe bar is the name of a street in Dublin city center famous for its many drinking establishments.
It is one of the city’s most famous attractions and one worth seeing although the time of day you should pick for visiting depends very much on what you want to get from it.
In the morning and early afternoon, the street is touristy but pretty, with some cute storefronts and some interesting finds such as the Irish Film Institute and the Wall of Fame, while if you go at night, you will be in party central!
Personally, I find Temple Bar is at its best at the quietest times, when you can enjoy its pretty corners and unusual street art.
One of the most iconic sights in Dublin is the pretty Ha’penny bridge.
From Temple bar, it connects the South and North part of the city crossing the river Liffey and has a cute iron decoration that makes it unique.
Dublin has many lovely museums and one of the most important is the National Gallery of Ireland in the city center.
The most famous masterpiece here is probably the taking of the Christ by Caravaggio but the museum also has an interesting wing with Irish artists and hosts regular exhibitions worth keeping an eye out.
Address: Merrion Square W, Dublin 2
Grafton street area
Grafton Street is a pedestrian street in the heart of Dublin city center and, for many, the focal point of any Dublin visit.
It is a lively, cool road with many shops and cafes and maybe its most distinctive traits are the buskers and street performers that flaunt their skills for everyone to enjoy.
In this area, you find nice shopping opportunities (including the fabulous and fancy Brown Thomas department store), the quirky George’s Street Arcade with vintage shops and alternative cafes and a plethora of pubs and food establishments.
Other things to see in Dublin
A short walk from famous Grafton street lies Merrion square, the elegant Georgian space that now hosts Ireland’s government buildings.
This is one of the grandest parts of Dublin and one you can easily explore in conjunction with the National Gallery, just around the corner.
As well as the government buildings, here you have a lovely garden with a peculiar sculpture of Oscar Wylde and a fabulous playground (one of the best places in Dublin for kids!)
If you like whiskey, you simply cannot miss the Jameson Distillery, in Smithfield, Dublin 7.
This is a beautiful building now offering organized tours that are informative and fun.
You will learn how whiskey is made, what makes Irish whiskey different from the one from Scotland and yes, they will offer you a taste at the end!
You can get tickets here
James Joyce Centre
The James Joyce Centre is a must-see for literature lovers.
Hosted in a beautiful Georgian house, here you can the door to the famous No 7 Eccles Street from Ulysses and learn about James Joyce’s life and work.
If you know James’ Joyce’s books and the Ulysses in particular, this is a treat.
If you are not, I believe you may find more satisfaction in other museums such as the several branches of the national museum of Ireland or Imma, the stunning Irish Museum of Modern Art.
Dublinia and Christchurch
Dublinia is a funny attraction aimed at teaching about the origins of Dublin and Viking life.
I always thought it was a place for kids but actually, it isn’t.
While very child-friendly and fun, the place reconstructs Dublin as it used to be but it is also very informative and rich with factoids and info that add an important layer to your Dublin experience.
The ticket includes entrance to Christchurch, a beautiful church also worth visiting.
This is their official website
Glitzy, modern Dublin might make you forget that this city and country has experienced a long history of oppression and Kilmainham Gaol is here to remind you of it.
This wonderful yet haunting building operated as a jail between 796 1924 and it is sadly famous for having among its prisoners many of the leaders of the rebellions that fought to free Ireland from British rule and got executed here.
This is a hard place to visit but, if you can take it, a very interesting one. You are likely to need a bus to get here: you can find all the info on how to use Dublin public transport here.
A completely different, and much more cheerful way to learn about Irish culture is to go to Croke par, the vast GAA stadium of Dublin.
GAA is an important part of Irish society, a sport that brings communities other and a visit to Croke Park is a fun way to learn about it and who knows, maybe become a supporter!
You can find their official site here
Dublin is home to the biggest innercity park in Europe, Phoenix Park.
This is a lovely, vast green space in the Northside of the city with vast lawns, free deers, Dublin zoo and some important buildings.
Worth noticing are Áras an Uachtaráin (the official and private residence of the President) and Farmleigh, a beautiful Edwardian mansion operating as the official Irish State guest house and wonderful to visit.
Glasnevin Cemetery and Dublin’s botanical gardens
The Glasnevin Cemetery and the city’s botanical gardens are beside each other and both worth visiting.
The cemetery is the historical cemetery of Dublin and has some beautiful and important tombstones including O’Connnel’s and Parnell’s and the botanical gardens have impressive glasshouses with exotic plants.
I recommend starting your visit from the gardens and end it at the cemetery museum: learn about it here
The Dublin coast
Dublin is on the coast but you may not realize the proximity of the sea if you only visit the city center.
To see Dublin’s bay in all its glory, you need to go a little farther out, my suggestions being either Bull island or Howth, both in the North of the city.
Bull Island has a gorgeous sandy beach popular with kite surfers while Howth has an impressive cliff walk and inviting fish restaurants.
Both should go on your Dublin must-see list!
I hope you enjoyed this overview of the best things to see in Dublin: safe travels!