Perfect Dublin itinerary: how to spend 1-3 days in the Irish capital

Our carefully crafted itinerary in Dublin Ireland. In the photo, bridge over the river Liffey

A fun and well laid out Dublin itinerary to make the most of your time in the Irish capital.

Dublin is a great weekend destination full of things to see.

Well connected to continental Europe, the US and the UK by frequent flights, you can see Dublin’s most famous attractions in a couple of days without feeling overwhelmed and the city has a relaxed and dynamic vibe many people connect with straight away.

Dublin is Ireland’s capital but it is not just a busy hub for city lovers.

The is also close to places of great natural beauty, a characteristic that allows you 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 to see in Dublin plus suggestions and resources for additional time in the city.

PLANNING A TRIP TO IRELAND? DON’T FORGET TO ALSO CHECK OUT OUR ARTICLES ABOUT BEST DAY TRIPS FROM DUBLIN,  BEST IRELAND ITINERARY and FAMILY TRAVEL GUIDE TO DUBLIN!

Please note: this post contains affiliate links and, should you make a purchase through them, I might make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

Practical tips to follow this Dublin itinerary

Before we dive into the itinerary itself, I want to share a couple of important practical info that I believe will help you make the most of your time in Dublin.

The best way to get around Dublin is on foot and by bus.

Depending on where you are staying, you may need the bus only occasionally or may want to consider a visitors’ Leap Card, which offers unlimited travel on Dublin’s public transport system.

You can find all the info about getting around Dublin in this guide, which also includes my tips on the best tickets to get.

The best area to stay in Dublin is the city center.

I am personally fond of the Hilton properties in town and especially the Hilton Charlemont, beautiful and well located.

You can find my full guide to the best areas to stay in Dublin here.

The best time to visit Dublin

The most pleasant times to visit Dublin are usually the spring and summer but each season has something to offer.

You can find my month-by-month guide to Dublin here

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 a quick reference guide for when you are in the city. 

Dublin itinerary day 1

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 center 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 center.

Grafton Street is closed to traffic and is teeming with life: shops and cafes abound and the street is home to many street acts.

This is a busy street and later in the day it becomes very busy, but the mornings here are lovely.

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 but the stars of the show here are the Long Room Historical Library and the book of Kells, which is a manuscript dating back to the Middle Ages with exquisite calligraphy.

The Long Room Trinity College Dublin
Trinity College, Long Room

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.

Some places to consider are Dunne and Crescenzi (Italian) and the Queen of Tarts In front of Dublin Castle), 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, which has a wonderful collection of Islamic and Eastern art, and also the two main churches towering above Dublin: St Patrick’s Cathedral and Christchurch.

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 a couple to seek out are The Millstone (Irish) 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 on what you are after, it can be heaven or hell!

Personally, if I come to this area I like to hide in the Vintage cocktail club, with is a fabulous speakeasy just off the main Temple Bar street.

If you prefer a traditional pub, have a look at The Brazen Head, Grogans or the Long hall.

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

Start again where you left off and head first to St Patrick’s Cathedral: this is the biggest and most important cathedral in Ireland and a beautiful one to visit.

When here. take your time and explore not just the church but Marsh’s library, just beside it.

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 center 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

The Storehouse is really popular so I recommend booking tickets in advance. You can do it here.

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 center and take in some of the beauty of the Dublin coast.

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 Dublin Bay.

If you feel like getting a bit of fresh air, the best thing to do in Howth is to take the cliff walk that starts from the village and follows the 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!

day trip from Dublinto howth one of teh best day trips form Dubln to get a glimpse of the Irish coast
Howth, a fishing village perfect for a day trip from Dublin with kids or without, with wonderful fishing boats, seafood restaurants and stunning views

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 on what you are into, you can see Dublin’s impressive National Gallery, the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), or even the fun Little Museum of Dublin, 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 easily add to your Dublin itinerary

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.

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 center sightseeing 

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. 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

Loved this post? Share it or pin it for later!

2 thoughts on “Perfect Dublin itinerary: how to spend 1-3 days in the Irish capital

  1. Elizabeth (Wander Mum) says:

    Excellent, comprehensive guide. Thank you Marta. I’ve been thinking about a family trip to Dublin and the surrounding area so this is wonderful inspiration! Thanks for linking #citytripping

Comments are closed.