A fun and well laid out Dublin 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 whether you have a full weekend in Dublin or just one day in the city!
Dublin is great weekend destination.
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 has a relaxed and dynamic vibe many people connect with straight away.
Located on the Irish Eastern coast, Dublin is Ireland’s capital but it is not just a busy hub for city lovers: Dublin is also close to places of great natural beauty, a characteristic that allows to easily mix urban exploration and outdoor time even if you only have a couple of days in the city.
How do I know this? From experience: Dublin has been my home for the last 14 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 traveler you are, I believe this itinerary will come in handy if you are planning a trip to Dublin!
This is the weekend in Dublin itinerary I recommend for a city break 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.
Please note: this post contains affiliate links and, should you make a purchase though them, I might make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Dublin itinerary for the perfect city break
I write this Dublin itinerary so you can use it before you come, to plan your stay, but also as as a quick reference guide for when you are in the city.
To consult it easily, bookmark this page or pin the image below so you can have it handy at all times!
How to get from Dublin airport to Dublin city centre
Dublin airport is immediately to the North of the city, about 20 minutes from the centre.
Connection is ensured by buses and taxis and you can choose between several solutions, depending on the time you have available and budget.
Dublin airport to city centre by bus (budget option)
Several buses connect Dublin to the city centre and their terminal is just outside the Dublin airport arrival hall.
Head right as you leave the building and you will see them in front of you: they are double-decker buses, yellow and blue in color.
These buses are part of the Dublin bus network and are 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 their routes or if you are on a strict budget, I do not recommend taking the normal bus if you only have only one weekend in Dublin or have accommodation more than a few stops away.
The journey is long (it takes me an hour to get home on the South side of the river) and will eat into your time in town.
The cost of this option is a little less than 4 Euro at the time of writing.
The best way to get from Dublin airport to the city center: Airport shuttle buses (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.
How to get from Dublin airport to the center by taxi (most 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 small groups especially and by far the quickest way into any part of town.
Important note if you are travelling with kids. Car seats are not compulsory on taxis and usually not provided: bring your own if necessary.
Practical info about driving in Dublin
If you are using Dublin as a first stop in an Ireland itinerary you might wonder if it is convenient to get a rental car at the airport and drive into town. My advice is: don’t.
Dublin is not a pleasant city to negotiate by car. The city is small but congested and parking is either on street (pay and display) or in expensive parking lots.
While having to go collect the car on your day of departure can be a pain, I do believe overall you will find yourself saving time and money discovering Dublin without and only getting it when about to hit the road.
If you do decide to drive, remember that car seats are compulsory for kids up to age 12 and we drive on the left. If you are planning on driving in Ireland, you may find our Ireland driving tips here
How to use public transportation in Dublin
Dublin has a transport network of buses and trams (the LUAS), plus a light railway (the DART).
The system works pretty well and while not cheap, it is a good way to visit the city if you have accommodation outside of the centre or you need to reach some attractions a little outside of the main city centre area such as the Guinness Storehouse of Kilmainham Gaol.
Tickets can be bough on the bus (kids under 4 go free) while tram tickets are sold by automatic machines at each tram station.
The DART, the city’s light railway system, is excellent to explore the coast: tickets for the train can be bought at each train stations, some of which are right in the city centre (Pearse street, Tara street station)
Unless you are based along the bus line and therefore you are likely to use the buses several times a day, chances are you do not need to get the bus at all in Dublin or only for the occasional hop.
Most of the city attractions are walking distance from each other and Dublin is at its most charming when discovered 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.
I recommend this solution especially to families since buses are annoying to negotiate with young kids and buggies (see my family guide to Dublin with kids for info if you are visiting the city with small kids)
Where to stay in Dublin: best areas and hotels
I highly recommend you stay in Dublin city centre to make the most of your time.
Dublin city centre develops on the two sides of the river Liffey and usually is referred to as divided into a ‘North Side’ and a ‘South Side’.
You can find good hotels on both banks of the river, at different price points.
unfortunately, Dublin hotels are expensive and you are unlikely to come across a small charming room at a reasonable price almost anywhere in town (you still do find them in the rest of Ireland!)
Some hotels we have personally tried and can recommend are:
Merrion hotel (luxury): wonderful hotel in the very centre of the city, just in front of the Government Buildings. This hotel is a bit of a treat but excellent if you are in Dublin for a romantic weekend or love good food: their restaurants in one of the best in the city
Hilton Garden Inn (mid range, find our review here): nice and clean Hilton property, in a good location. WE had a nice stay here with family and enjoyed the large room and non pretentious, kid friendly restaurant on site. A good mid range option
Hilton Dublin (mid range): another Hilton property but on the South Side of the river, I stayed here recently with my daughter and had an excellent stay. Large, clean rooms, good location and good breakfast in the on site restaurant. They do host events so request a room on a high floor to minimize noise if you happen to be there when one is on.
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.
Dublin itinerary day 1
With a compact and walkable city centre, there is a lot you can see in Dublin in one day.
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.
Morning in Dublin: Stephen’s Green, Grafton St, Trinity College
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.
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 favorite is called ‘Le Petit Parisienne’ on Wicklow street which while not traditionally Irish, as you may have guessed from the name, has good coffee and excellent pastries.
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: the star of the show here are the Long Room Historical Library and the book of Kells, but wandering around the grounds of this university is also fun.
There is a basic but nice cafe just beside the sports field and in summer students gather here to get drinks and snacks when games are on. This is a fun place to stop and have a rest on a sunny day.
Lunch on Dame street
There are plenty of lunch options in the Trinity College / Grafton street area and you won’t have difficulty finding what you like: head towards the Dawson street area for the largest selection.
Some places to consider are the Dunne and Crescenzi (Italian) and the Queen of Tarts, which is a local institution not just for tarts but sandwiches and light snacks.
As you walk in this area, keep an eye out for the famous statue of Molly Malone, now located just in front of the tourist office!
Afternoon: Dublin Castle / Christchurch
After lunch head towards Dublin castle and take your time to explore the area.
Here you have Dublin castle itself but also the impressive Chester Beatty Library, which is an important and free art collection and also the two main churches towering above Dublin: St Patrick’s cathedral and Christchurch.
With one afternoon available only I recommend you opt for St Patrick’s and also visit the impressive Marsh’s Library just beside.
If you have more than one day, visit Christchurch and leave St Patrick’s cathedral for your second day per itinerary below.
Dinner on South William Street / Wicklow street
Finish your day with dinner in the Dame Street area and a pint in a traditional pub.
Again, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to dinner options, but these are some of my favorite addresses: The Millstone (Irish). Chameleon (Indonesian) and the Poort (two Os) House (Spanish).
Late drinks in temple bar…. or not!
Many people who plan a weekend in Dublin want to see the famous drinking heaven that is Temple Bar.
I don’t want to be the jaded local telling you not to go, but I do feel like saying that Temple Bar is not for everyone.
Temple Bar is a pedestrian, very busy street full of pubs and restaurants.
It is fun and buzzy but it is PACKED with people and very popular with groups on hen and stag nights, out in Dublin for the weekend. Depending what you are after, it can be heaven or hell!
If this is not the type of fun, I suggest you come here early in the evening and book a table in advance.
One of my favorite traditional restaurants here is the Boxty house, while if you are looking for something exotic I recommend my favorite address of all, Chamelion Indonesian restaurant.
Traditional pubs to try during your weekend in Dublin
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 The Brazen head, which also has good music, O’Donoghue, Grogan’s or The Long Hall. They all have that traditional, old style feel but are very popular so you get the best of the pub experience: tradition and craic (the Irish word for ‘fun’)
Pubs usually do not serve food so make sure you have dinner first!
Dublin itinerary day 2
If you have two days in Dublin I recommend you follow the itinerary outlined above on your first day and plan additional sightseeing on day 2 to the attractions below.
Morning: St Patrick’s Cathedral and Marsh’s library
The library is beautiful (sadly they have a no photography policy, but you can request a special permit in advance) and has something that makes it pretty special: It has a ghost!
Lunch near the George’s Street arcade
Head back towards the city centre proper and have lunch in the area of Great St George’s street.
You can find a selection of restaurants I like suitable for adults but also families (no worries, no mess or noise, just places selected for being inclusive!)
Here you have a huge selection of restaurants and cafe and you are also in a good position to get the bus to the next attraction: the Guinness Storehouse
Afternoon at the Guinness Storehouse
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.
The place is massive and very much geared towards tourists but despite this, it is still impressive and worth a stop.
The tour of the storehouse makes you see several parts of it and it includes a stop at the panoramic gravity bar, where you get offered a pint of Guinness (taste it, it’s lovely here) and or a soda if you prefer to avoid alcohol
Dinner in the Grafton street area
End your day with dinner back in town.
Dublin itinerary day 3: end your 3 days in Dublin visiting the coast
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 Dublin weekend itinerary as outlined above and on day 3 I would start the day with a trip to Howth before going for shopping and dinner back in Dublin city centre.
Morning and lunch: Howth
Star your morning with a short hop towards the coast using the DART and get off the last stop, Howth.
Originally a fishing village and still now an active fishing port, Howth is now an elegant suburb of Dublin and it is a great place to get beautiful views of bay.
If you feel like getting a bit of fresh air, the best things to do in Howth is to take the cliff walk that starts from the village and follows Howth head, or you can take it easy in the village and its marina.
No matter what you do, make sure you come back to the village for lunch to try out one of Howth’s famous seafood restaurants!
Afternoon and dinner: museum and shopping in town
For your last afternoon in Dublin, I recommend you head back to Dublin and plan on seeing one of the city’s museums or an afternoon of shopping around St Stephen’s Green.
Depending what you are into, you can see Dublin’s impressive National Gallery (right in the city centre), the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), stunning but a little detached from the main city centre streets or even the fun Little Museum of Dublin, right on st Stephen’s Green and recording the story of Dublin city.
Take a walk to Merrion Square for a look at the Irish Government buildings before heading for dinner in town again.
Other things to add to your Dublin itinerary
Depending on your party and taste, here are some more things you can do in Dublin:
Hop on Hop Off Bus: a touristy activity, but a good one if you are short on time or don’t want to walk excessively. I recommend this activity mostly to families with kids or if you happen to be tired or hangover after a long night out in Dublin…. Just saying!
Literary Pub Crawl (Strong understanding on the English language required): this is a really fun activity if you love books and literature. Dublin has a strong literary tradition and following a pub crawl with this theme is a great way to have fun while getting to know some of the city’s most famous authors. You don’t have to be proficient in English to enjoy it but strong grasp of the language is recommended.
Kilmahinham Gaol: a daunting but really interesting place is also Kilkainham Gaol. The place is full of history and a perfect location to learn more about Irish history
James Joyce Centre A bit of a treat for Joyce’s lover, this is a lovely museum that can be easily be added to your city centre sighseeing
Dublinia: Dublinia is a funny place, more for kids than adults but more informative than it may at first glance see. This is the Viking museum of Dublin and has nice reconstructions on how Dublin used to be and interesting info panels with the history of this area.
Jameson Distillery Tour Whiskey lovers cannot miss a tour of the Jameson distillery in Smithfield. I do not drink whiskey but went a while ago and loved it: the tour here is comprehensive and interactive and you get to taste whiskey at the end of it, which is surprisingly nice!
I hope you enjoyed my tips on how to spend a weekend in Dublin and I gave you good ideas on how to plan your Dublin itinerary. Safe travels!
Updated September 2019