72 Hours in Dublin
Welcome to our 3 days in Dublin itinerary! 72 hours is perfect to make the most of this city. Planning a trip is fun but time consuming, however with this Dublin Travel Guide you won't have to spend much time thinking about what to see in Dublin. Just follow our suggestions and we are sure you'll have an amazing time. Enjoy!
Dublin is renowned for its medieval cathedral and churches, Viking past, cobblestones, Georgian architecture and its atmospheric pubs. And as a Unesco city of literature, it is also a city that has many stories to tell, from the anecdotes overheard at the pub to the evocative pages of Ulysses.
Most of Dublin’s attractions are within walking distance but you’ll need to take a train to visit the picturesque towns dotted along its bay. On the step of the city lie indeed many a treasure: fishing villages, breathtaking cliff walks and a biosphere so rich and diverse that the Unesco recently declared the area protected.
The city is experiencing a revival. New eateries and independent shops are opening right, left and centre. A strong cafe culture with the emphasis placed on locally-sourced organic food and quality coffee is now growing alongside the traditional pub culture. There’s no denying that an exciting wind of change is blowing over Dublin right now.
Keep on reading to discover how much you can fit in a 3-day city break in Dublin. Below you’ll find a walkable circuit that includes the best attractions the city has to offer, insider tips on where to eat and drink and all you need to know to find your bearings in the Fair City.
Upon arrival, go straight to one of the most iconic sights of the city: Trinity College. Hold your breath as you go through the imposing wooden door and let your eyes accustom themselves to the darkness under the arch. Skint joyfully as you step back into the light inside the College walls and face the alluring bell tower. Dating back from the 16th century, it is the oldest university in Ireland and it has counted among its ranks some of the greatest names of the Irish Literature: Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Jonathan Swift and Bram Stoker to name a few. The campus holds many a treasure to keep you busy. Visit the Science Gallery to challenge your mind (admission is free). Marvel at the jewel that is The Old Library, fill your lungs with the most intoxicating old book smell you’ll ever encounter and inspect the world-famous illuminated manuscript, the Book of Kells (general admission is 10€). Visit the stuffed animals of the Zoological Museum (general admission is 3€). You can also opt for a guided tour of the campus led by students, find them at the Front Gate.
And if you just want to relax, you couldn’t find a better place to do so on a warm day than the terrace of the student bar, The Pavillion. It overlooks the cricket ground and you might just be lucky and catch the students in their white suits hitting plays.
If you’re feeling peckish, and if weather allows, grab a pasta box at Credo Pizza (5€) or a hot chocolate at Butlers and head to St Stephen’s Green. This park has such a romantic look with the willow trees caressing the ponds. It’s a great spot to catch a breather and watch the world go by.
Don’t miss out on the beautiful Georgian architecture surrounding the park too, you’ll be able to spot some of Dublin’s infamous doors and in the Autumn, the ivy-covered buildings turn a fiery golden red. Another building worth of note is the Stephen’s Green shopping centre. Step inside to look at its intricate glass structure and the giant clock ticking in its heart.
In the beautiful Georgian building at number 15 St Stephen’s Green, you’ll find The Little Museum of Dublin (general admission is 7€). Spread over three floors, this museum packs a punch. The walls are covered from floor to ceiling with frames holding pictures and memorabilia that tell the many stories of the people who made Dublin, from the big names to the not-so-big ones. From James Joyce to Dr James Halon, a surgeon who kept on practising after turning blind and deaf. And yes, there’s a whole room dedicated to U2. This is the place you’ll start falling in love with the mighty Dubliners.
The admission to the museum comes with a 10% discount in Hatch & Sons, the gorgeous cafe in the basement. It would be rude not to indulge in their selection of cakes; or something more substantial if you haven’t eaten yet (try out their Blaas, a speciality from Waterford).
Walk West from St Stephens Green for about 10 minutes and you’ll stumble upon the gothic St. Patrick’s Cathedral (general admission is 6€) This imposing structure, founded in the 12th century, is actually the largest church in Ireland. Inside, you’ll find notably the burial site as well as the death mask of Jonathan Swift. The author of Gulliver’s Travels was appointed dean of the cathedral in the 18th century. You can catch one of the regular tours or, if you’d rather fly solo, a free app is available to guide you.
Next to the Cathedral, you’ll find the entrance to the Marsh’s Library (general admission is 3€) which is a rare example of a ‘chained library’. It dates back from the 18th century and is the first public library of Ireland.
A few minutes away from St Patrick’s Cathedral stands another gothic gem, Christ Church Cathedral (general admission is 6€). It dates even further back as it was founded in 1093, which makes it the oldest building in Dublin.
In its basement lies the crypt where two strange creatures are staring intently in each other eyes under a glass case. The locals nicknamed them ‘Tom & Jerry’. A mummified mouse and cat who, legend has it, got trapped in the pipes of the church organ in the middle of a ‘friendly’chase.
Evening & Night
Dublin nights are not short on possibility. The Irish are renowned for their theatre with names like Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett or George Bernard Shaw. This is certainly the place to enjoy a play. If you’re in the classic mood, go to the Gate Theatre but if you’re looking for something more avant-guarde, you wouldn’t go wrong with the Smock Alley Theatre. Or you could secretly tap your feet away at a River Dance show at the Gaiety Theatre. Discover the young comedians walking in the steps of the likes of Dylan Moran and DaraÓBriain at the Laughter Lounge comedy club. Or watch a movie in the heart of Temple at the IFI.
Saturday is a great day to visit Temple Bar. Three markets spread their stalls on the Old City’s cobblestones from 10 am every week. On Meeting House Square, you’ll find the Food Market where the oyster bar is a must. If you have a sweet tooth, try out the scrumptious chocolate goodies from Bean & Goose. On Cow’s Lane, sellers display beautiful Irish craft, from art prints to jewellery at the Designer Mart. And finally, on Temple Bar Square, you can browse through second-hand books and old maps at the Book Market.
Don’t forget to go through the archway to have a look at another iconic sight in Dublin: the Ha’penny Bridge.
There are some great places to have lunch in Temple Bar (Pablo Picante, Bunsen, Boxty, Brick Alley Cafe, to name a few) but you might want to escape to a quieter place to enjoy a meal. How does an airy and light cafe in a library sound? Head over to the Dublin Castle, at the Chester Beatty Library (admission is free) where you’ll find the Silk Road Cafe. Their menu boasts fresh homemade food of Mediterranean and Lebanese influence.
Once your meal is over, climb up the stairs to look at the library’s collection of Oriental rare books and artefacts. Make sure you go to the top floor where there’s an access to a roof top terrace offering a superb view on the Dublin Castle and Gardens.
In the afternoon, explore the grounds of the Dublin Castle. Sit down and relax in the gardens, walk in the majestic courtyard and visit the State apartments (general admission is 4.50€) and surprise yourself by enjoying the Irish History of tax collections and duties in the Revenue Museum (admission is free).
If you are somehow overtaken with the desire for desserts, you’re in luck as you’ll find one of the best cakes in the city at the Queen of Tarts, a few steps away from the Castle.
Are you in a mood for shopping? Then, it’s time to head over to George Street where you’ll find the entrance to the Arcade Market. It is a covered market sheltering retro clothes, old books, records and eateries. The back entrance leads you to Dublin’s creative quarter where stand side by side independent shops, vintage sellers and cafes with the cool factor. Also check out The Powerscourt Centre, a massive townhouse that holds three floors of lovely shops and cafes at its heart. This is such a vibrant area and no doubt you’ll find there beautifully Irish made souvenirs to pick up for yourself or your loved ones back home (Article, The Irish Design Shop).
If you have some shopping stamina left, you are a few minutes away from one of Dublin’s High Streets: Grafton Street where you’ll find all the usual chain stores.
There are numerous good value restaurants in this area, particularly on South William Street and George Street. Go to Cornucopia for vegetarian goodness, Soder+Ko for the interesting fusion of Asian and Scandinavian cuisine, Jo Burgers for surprising toppings, The Port House for fun tapas to share or Yamamori for filling ramen bowls.
When in Dublin…Spend a night at the pub. Finding a traditional pub that is not a glorious tourist trap is not always the simplest of tasks, so here is for you a list of ‘oldies but goodies’where you’re bound to bump into chatty locals too: The Cobblestone (music every night of the week from 7pm), The Brazen Head (the oldest pub in town), The Long Hall, The Stag’s Head, The Celt, O’Neill’s and O’Donoghue’s to name a few.
One of the great thing about Dublin is its proximity to the sea. It would be a mistake not to spend some time in one of its picturesque seaside towns. You can reach the fishing village of Howth with the DART within 25 minutes from the city centre.
On Sundays, you will find a food market just as you’re leaving the train station. Also, keep an eye out for the second-hand book market in the empty church.
Grab a 99 cents with flake and walk along to pier to reach Howth Lighthouse and back. The views on the Ireland’s Eye are straight from a postcard. If you’d like to get closer, there are regular ferry boats circling the island every day.
Howth also boasts of fantastic cliff walks all around the peninsula (it takes approximately a couple of hours to complete the circuit and the level is easy).
What better place to grab a fish and chips than a fishing village? Pick yours from Beshoff’s or Leo Burdock’s, two emblematic chippers in Dublin. Sit down facing the port and enjoy your takeaway boxes, maybe the old seal will make an appearance. Howth Village Market also offers some seriously delicious street food. If you’d rather sit down inside, order some grub at the pub inside the railway station. Handy place to wait for your train. Take the Dart back to town, get off at Tara Street. Walk towards O’Connell Bridge.
From the Aston Quay, take the 69 or 79 bus to KilmainhamGaol (general admission is 7€). The bus journey takes about 10 minutes. The visit of the jail is a chilling experience, both figuratively and literally. It gives a palpable insight into the living conditions of the Irish prisoners during the dark hours of the country’s History.
Something you may want to note is that the jail gets quite busy during the Summer months, you may experience queues and end up having to book a tour at a later time in the afternoon. Fret not as there are attractions around to keep you busy but if that’s an issue, buy the Dublin Pass and skip the queue. The tour lasts 1 hour.
Just next from the KilmainhamGaol, stands the IMMA, the Irish Museum of Modern Art (admission is free except for occasional special exhibitions). As well as offering a beautifully curated collection of contemporary art, it features beautiful gardens where you can enjoy a peaceful walk and a cafe if you’re in need of refreshments.
Further away from the jail, a good 10 minute walk, located on the other side of the Liffey, is Phoenix Park. It is one of the largest walled city parks in Europe and because there’s so much to cover, the best way to do so is to rent a bike (there’s a Dublin bike station at the main entrance). Phoenix Park is the home of the President of Ireland but also Dublin Zoo, Farmleigh House and a herd of fallow deers that are surprisingly very friendly.
Whether you enjoy drinking Guinness or not, you can’t deny that it’s part of the Dublin’s identity. At St James’Gate brewery, you can visit the Guinness Storehouse, a museum spread on 7 floors (general admission is 20€). Learn the process of fabrication of the ‘Black Stuff’and the history of his founder Arthur Guinness. After the visit, you’ll be able to enjoy a free pint in the Gravity Bar which offers one of the best views on the city. Surely the perfect ending to a trip in the Fair City!