A fun and well laid out Dublin weekend itinerary to make the most of your time in the Irish capital. Follow us and discover Dublin’s must see attractions and experience the traditional and trendy side of Dublin Fair City.
Dublin is great weekend destination for travellers of all ages. It is well connected to continental Europe, the US and the UK by frequent flights, it is the right size to be explored in a couple of days without feeling overwhelmed and it is close to places of great natural beauty, a characteristic that allows to easily mix urban exploration and outdoor time.
I know this from experience: Dublin has been my home for the last 12 years! I first came here with a friend, when I was a student, then moved here with my boyfriend and finally started a family here and now my two kids call Dublin home. No matter what type of traveller you are, I believe this itinerary will come in handy if you are planning a weekend trip to the Irish capital!
This is the itinerary I recommend for a city break in Dublin with tips on what in Dublin in 1 day and two days, plus suggestions and resources for additional time in the city. In each section I tried to include tips for visiting Dublin with kids as well as without.
Dublin weekend itinerary
Practical info for a successful city trip to Dublin
Transport to and from Dublin airport
Dublin airport is immediately to the North of the city, about 20 minutes from the centre.
Connection is ensured by buses and taxis
- Budget option: bus n.16. Part of the Dublin bus network, this but is the cheapest (and longest) option to go from the airport to Dublin city centre and the South of the city. While convenient if you have accommodation on its route, I do not recommend taking the 16 if you only have limited time in the city as the long journey will eat into your time in town.The bus stop is outside the main arrival area, to your left on exiting. A ticket vending machine is at the bus stop: cards are accepted. Check exact fares and timetable here
- Mid-budget option: 2 bus services cater specifically for the airport route, Airlink and Aircoach. They both stop immediately outside the arrival terminal building and connect you swiftly to the city centre (traffic permitting). The cost is around 7 Euro per person (12 euro return at the time of writing). This is an excellent option if you are staying in the central area of Dublin (O’Connell Street, Grafton Street area). Both buses have space for luggage.
- More expensive option: by far the most convenient way to get into Dublin city centre is by taxi. A ride will cost anything between 30 and 40 euro (depending on traffic, metered) and bags go free. This is a great option for families especially and by far the quickest way into any part of town. Please note that car seats are not compulsory on taxis and usually not provided: bring your own if necessary.
I suggest you do not drive into Dublin. The city is small but congested and parking is either on street (pay and display) or in expensive parking lots. If you do decide to drive, remember that car seats are compulsory for kids up to age 12 and we drive on the left.
Dublin has a transport network of buses and trams (the LUAS), plus a light railway (the DART) Tickets can be bough on the bus (kids under 4 go free) while tram tickets are sold by automatic machines at each tram station.
Weekend carnets exist but unless you are based far from the cente, you are unlikely to need them: Dublin is better experienced on foot. A good alternative to public transport are the hop on – hop off tours criss-crossing the cities: while pricier than standard buses, they do allow to easily reach more off the beaten track attractions worth seeing.
Important note for families travelling with young kids
Dublin buses have an area for wheelchairs and buggies but there is only space for one at the time! Should a stroller already be on the bus you’d be denied boarding unless you can fold yours.
This is hardly ideal and has meant we often had to wait for many buses before being able to catch one (not fun in the rain…). Make sure you plan accordingly as a napping child in a stroller and buses are a tricky combination in this city.
Where to stay in Dublin
I highly recommend you stay in Dublin city centre to make the most of your time. My favourite family friendly options are (affiliate links):
Budget travellers have a good range of hostel options in Dublin. Many are located close to Connolly train station and are good value but I personally do not recommend that area as I don’t feel it safe enough at night. Good hostels are the Generator in Smithflield and Avalon House.
Dublin one day itinerary
This is my selection of the best things to see in Dublin in one day for a taste of the city’s cultural life, its green spaces and dynamic pub scene
My perfect day in Dublin starts in front of St Stephens’s Green, the park sitting in the centre of town. The large arch framing the park entrance is the starting point of this itinerary: you will find yourself passing it again later in the day, when this itinerary will bring you back here for a stroll in the park.
From St Stephen Green your first stop will be Grafton street, one of Dublin’s main commercial streets and the heart of the city centre. Grafton street is closed to traffic and is teeming with life: shops and cafes abound and the street is home of many street acts.
Especially at the weekend, Grafton street is an endless open air show, with performers showing off talents that go from classical music, to tango to acrobatic pursuits! Shows tend to start later in the day, after lunch so an itinerary starting here will allow you to see the street architecture and enjoy a quiet coffee: you will find yourself back here later in the day for a taste of it while in full swing!
Kids love this bustling street and won’t fail to notice the big ice cream shop on top of the street and the Disney store. The side streets (Wicklow street, St Anne’s street) are lovely and full of cafes: my favourite is called ‘le petit parisienne’ on Wicklow street which while not traditionally Irish, as you may have guessed, has good coffee and excellent pastries.
If you are travelling with a baby or toddler, it is useful to know that Brown Thomas, the large and elegant department store on Grafton street, has two excellent family rooms, one with designated and secluded breastfeeding chairs and both equipped with baby changing facilities.
At the end of Grafton street you will find College Green. here, you will see the impressive Bank of Ireland building and, on your right, Trinity College.
The university grounds are beautiful and easy to visit also with kids: in spring, you often find sports game taking place in the big field at the back (they make for a good show) and if you don’t, you can let the kids loose to run around on the soft grass!
There is a basic by nice cafe just beside the field: students gather here to get drinks and snacks when games are on.
One of my favourite bits of Dublin are the grounds of Trinity College (in the photo). I always wonder what it must be like to study here (the University of Rome is not half as atmospheric!) but I don’t often get time to indulge in the fantasy as my kids usually demand to go run around in the large field behind the library building, while I am lost in contemplation of academic pursuits! We were here again last week, while playing tourists in our own town with a staycation at the Hilton Garden Inn Custom house hotel nearby. Have you ever been to Dublin? #tbin #familytravel #cityview #cityscape #dublin #dublinireland #lovedublincity #lovedublin #tourist #tourism #vacation #ilovetravel #traveling #travelpics #travelphoto #visiting #instavacation #instatbn #travelphotography #wonderful_places #travelpics #aroundtheworld #worldcaptures #worldplaces #instatravel #lifewelltravelled #globe_travel #livetravelchannel #exploringtheglobe
Trinity college is also the home of the Long Room, Trinity’s old library, and the book of Kells, a monastic manuscript dating back to the 9th Century.
The Long room is impressive and worth a visit: Star Wars fans will notice a striking resemblance to the Jedi Archive! Read about its story and find Long Room and Book of Kells opening hours here
After Trinity college, head to the Merrion Square area. Here you have the national Gallery (with a beautiful Caravaggio and a family friendly cafeteria open to the public), the impressive Government Buildings, and the Natural History Museum. Thanks to its huge stuffed animals (it’s a taxidermy extravaganza!) the museum is a peculiar stop suitable for visitors of all ages interested in the unusual and the downright odd!
Just in front of the museum, make sure you don’t miss the statue of one of Ireland most beloved writers: Oscar Wilde.
Top tip for families travelling to Dublin with kids: Merrion square also has a lovely playground called the ‘giants’ garden’, which is a lovely stop especially after the somewhat stuffy rooms of the museum.
From Merrion square, head back to can easy reach the back of St Stephen’s Green and go for a shopping spree on Grafton street. Then, head towards river quays, passing George’s Street arcade and the Ha’Penny bridge.
Something extra: depending on the time of day (and how much time you spent in the museum), you may find yourself with a little more time to fill before going for dinner. In this case, I recommend you stretch up the hill to Christchurch, which is impressive and worth a visit.
Finish your day with dinner in the Dame Street area and a pint in a traditional pub.
Traditional pubs to try: In Dublin you will find pubs and bars to suit all taste, from ‘old men pubs’ to trendy cocktails joints. For a traditional feel go to Keohes, O’Donoghue and Grogan. Pubs usually do not serve food so make sure you have dinner first!
A note about Temple Bar. World famous for its many pubs, bars and restaurants, Temple bar is somewhat of a must see in Dublin but it is far from being to everyone’s taste. While you do also find locals here, temple bar is very touristy and especially late at night fills up with hen and stag parties. If this is not the type of fun you are after, I suggest you come here early in the evening and book a table in advance. One of my favourite traditional restaurants here is the Boxty house, while if you are looking for something exotic i recommend my favourite address of all, Chamelion Indonesian restaurant.
Dublin itinerary 2 days
If you have two days in Dublin I recommend you follow the itinerary outlines above on your first day and plan additional sightseeing on day 2 to the attractions below.
The library is beautiful (sadly they have a no photography policy, but you can request a special permit in advance) and has something that is guaranteed to pique the attention of adults and kids alike: a ghost!
From here, head to Dublin castle, nearby. Here you can visit one of two attractions: the castle itself, interesting to learn about Irish history, and the Chester Beatty Library which holds rich collections from countries across Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.
The Chester Beatty Library has a small cafe’ but the area spoils you with restaurants and cafe’. A very popular one is called the Queen of Tarts, which is casual and perfect for a quick bite.
After lunch, leave Dublin city centre and head towards the Guinness storehouse.
The Guinness storehouse is a beautiful space, worth visiting both for the significance in Irish culture and its location, industrial and with a very different feel from the Dublin you have seen so far. Kids tend to like it too and the whole family is sure to be impressed by the Gravity Bar at the top, with a 360 degrees view over the city. A Guinness is included in the price ticket (taste it, it’s lovely here) and kids are offered a soda.
If breweries are not your thing, a very interesting place to visit is Kilmainham Gaol. The gaol is one of the most interesting buildings in the city and a window over Ireland’s past but is a daunting place. While a visit it worth it, make sure your party is prepared for it – the gaol is unsuitable to young kids.
End your day with dinner back in town.
Dublin itinerary 3 days
With three days in the city you can venture beyond the city centre and take in some of the beauty of the Dublin coast.
On day 1 and day 2, follow the Dubin weekend itinerary as outlined above and on day 3, get the DART (the urban train) and head out to Howth, just north of the centre. You can read all about Howth here
Originally a fishing village and still now an active fishing port, Howth is now an elegant suburb of Dublin: it is worth spending a full day here. Families with older kids can take the cliff walk (not suitable for buggies), while families with younger children can enjoy the large sandy beach and vast playground. Make sure you stay for lunch or dinner (or both, the fish restaurants here are amazing!) and do keep an eye out for the Howth cutest inhabitants – seals!
Should the weather not be on your side for a trip to the coast, I recommend spending day 3 visiting more Dublin museums such as the James Joyce Museum, The Little Museum of Dublin or the Jameson Distillery. If you love literature and language allows, a lovely way to know Dublin is with a literary pub crawl, which takes place in the evening and can be a great way to wrap up your time in the city.
By the end of these 3 day itinerary you will have a good idea of what Dublin is all about and will have explored some of its main landmarks.
I hope you enjoy your time in Dublin and find this itinerary useful! Don’t forget to let me know how you get on!
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