What Dublin lacks in size, it more than makes up for in... well, just about everything else. Charming, elegant, and hospitable, the compact Irish capital offers grand designs, authentic experiences, charm in spades, and a whole lot of fun. Variety and scope for adventure await, but where exactly do you start? We'd suggest with our quick rundown of the best things to do in Dublin.
Travel Through Time on a Dublin Castle Tour
Dublin Castle offers a fascinating snapshot of the rich and varied history of the Irish capital. Discovered the excavation site of the Viking city, look around the Medieval Tower and Gothic Chapel Royal, then skip through the centuries by entering the lavish State Apartments. Afterwards, head outside into the castle gardens for close-up views of the fortress's varied architecture.
Set Course for Temple Bar Along the River Liffey
For a taste of authentic Dublin, a little removed from the main attractions, take a quiet stroll along the River Liffey from the Docklands in the west or Phoenix Park in the east. Crossing the many bridges linking the Northside and Southside, you'll discover the city's more peaceful, romantic side. Don't get too used to the tranquillity though. Your route is heading straight for Temple Bar, where the quaint cobbled alleys and atmospheric pubs provide Dublin's rowdy after-hours playground.
Go to the Pub and Visit the Guinness Storehouse
Go thirsty in Dublin? Not a chance. From murky drinking dens to tuneful ale houses and jolly party bars, the city is flooded with great pubs. Start at Toners, McDaid's or the Brazen Head and, well, keep going. Even if you're not drinking, it's worth dropping in just to experience 'the craic'. This is Guinness country of course, and if you like your stout dark, dry and Irish, book yourself onto a tour of the Storehouse at St. James's Gate Brewery.
See Some History at Saint Patrick's, the National Cathedral of Ireland
Dating back to the 12th century, Saint Patrick's Cathedral - with its iconic 43m spire - is the largest church in Ireland, and one of the best-loved. The grand Gothic church plays an important part in Irish cultural life, as the host for Remembrance Day commemorations and the renowned Nine Lessons and Carols service at Christmas. You can join in the daily services in this impressive place of worship, or take advantage of a free guided tour - these depart at regular intervals.
Listen to Live Traditional Music Any Day of the Week
Dublin bounces along to its own unique soundtrack, led by guitars, fiddles, pipes and raucous vocals. From scheduled gigs to impromptu sessions, live folk and Irish country music pours out from the pubs and sweeps over the cobbles. Many of the long-established pubs - including O'Donoghues, the Merchant's Arc, the Temple Bar and O'Shea's - schedule live performances every night, but there's no need to stick to the main touristy pubs. You'll find plenty of bands, sessions and pop-up singalongs further off the beaten track.
Connect with the Gaelic Games at Croke Park
Deeply interwoven with the social, cultural and sporting history of the nation, the Gaelic Games are hugely significant to the Irish people. On All Ireland final days, more than 80,000 passionate spectators pack into Dublin's Croke Park, where the leading hurlers and Gaelic footballers compete for pride and honour. If you can't make it to a match, the GAA Museum and Stadium Tour offers a great insight into what the games mean to people - and why. There's the added lure of a rooftop view across the city skyline from 17 storeys up.
Track Down Dublin's Architectural Masterpieces
Wandering the streets of the capital, you'll discover bold, grandiose churches, civic buildings and townhouses at every other turn. Plot your own route to see some of the heritage highlights, including the domed National Library, the circular-fronted National Museum and the neoclassical Custom House. If modernist designs are more your bag, check out the soaring Spire of Dublin, Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and Samuel Beckett Bridge, which dispel any idea that it's all olde worlde charm.
Breathe in the Fresh Air in Green Dublin
Head away from the busy Grafton Street shops and under Fusilier's Arch to reach St. Stephen's Green, the capital's attractive, secluded Victorian park. The landscaped garden has a charming network of paths, lakes, flowerbeds and sculptures, plus a fountain and waterfall. For a wilder sort of walk, head west to Phoenix Park, one of Europe's largest enclosed green spaces. Hundreds of deer roam freely in the 707-hectare expanse, and you'll also find Dublin Zoo within the perimeter.
Find somewhere to stay by checking out our hotels in Dublin.