15 essential things to do in Dublin
It’s with good reason that Dublin is one of the world’s most famous – and most visited – cities. In fact, it’s with several good reasons: the wide array of things to do in Dublin ticks every traveller’s boxes. There’s the Irish capital’s rich history and culture, its literature and music. Then there’s the craic – good fun is compulsory on a visit to Dublin, with great Irish food, wonderful pubs, friendly locals and, of course, a pint or two of Guinness.
With so many attractions and activities, how do you choose what to do in Dublin? The Guinness Storehouse is obviously a great start – it’s Ireland’s most popular attraction, after all. Inside you can discover the story of Guinness, eat fine food, and, of course, do some very important product tasting, while enjoying 360-degree views of Dublin from our Gravity Bar.
And there’s so much more to do and see (often with a Guinness connection, such has been the effect of the beer and the family on the city for more than 250 years). To help you plan your visit to Dublin, we’ve used our insider knowledge to put together a list of 15 other top spots around the city we think you really must visit.
1. Get a crash course in Dublin’s history
The Little Museum of Dublin is a relative newcomer to the list of things to do in Dublin, but it’s quickly flown to the top of the must-do list with its ingenious approach to teaching visitors about Dublin’s history! What it lacks in size, it makes up for in impact as every room of this Georgian town house is packed with history. You can also take tours of the two main exhibition spaces, each decorated with a collection of visual prompts expertly woven into a story of Dublin from 1900 to 2000, by fun and informed guides. What’s more, they do it all in under half an hour and for only €10 including admission, leaving you not only educated and inspired, but with time and cash left to see more of Dublin!
The Little Museum of Dublin is just 25 minutes walk from the Guinness Storehouse.
2. Take in a GAA game at Croke Park
There are few more iconic Irish sites than the hallowed turf of historic Croke Park – and no more Irish a pastime than watching 30 people indulge in the frantic, fantastic and often painful sports of Gaelic football and hurling, the latter being arguably the fastest field sport in the world. Get a friendly local (FYI, the locals are all friendly) to explain the basics, then grab a pint of Guinness and take in one of the most exciting sporting spectacles you’ll ever witness, in one of the world’s finest stadiums. A Dublin must-see for sport fans.
Croke Park is just 20 minutes from the Guinness Storehouse by taxi.
3. People-watch with a pint at Kehoe’s
When you visit Ireland, you’ll soon discover that Irish pubs are integral to local life, which is why there are so many marvellous ones in the city. Each has its own charms and they all do a fine pint of Guinness. Kehoe’s has barely changed over the years, becoming a real Dublin institution, and one of the best people-watching spots in the city. There are few better ways to spend a sunny day than to stand outside the pub with a pint and take in the hustle and bustle of the city. And if the occasionally soggy Dublin weather defeats you, take your glass to one of the pub’s many nooks and snugs and do your people-watching from there.
Kehoe’s is just 25 minutes walk from the Guinness Storehouse.
4. Browse antique books at Marsh’s Library
16th century clergyman Narcissus Marsh was at one point the Archbishop of Dublin, provost of Trinity College and founder of the Dublin Philosophical Society. He also somehow had time to build and start filling this great library, close to St Patrick’s cathedral. It’s still a working research library and its collection of over 25,000 books has expanded to include the Benjamin Iveagh library, donated by the Guinness family and housed at Farmleigh House. Without a doubt, one of the best places to visit in Ireland – a trove of hidden treasures.
Marsh’s Library is just 15 minutes walk from the Guinness Storehouse.
5. Have a cheese toastie at Grogan’s
Guinness isn’t the only thing worth consuming in Irish pubs: Irish pub food isn’t bad, either. Many places in Dublin serve up hearty dishes (it helps with the unpredictable Dublin weather), but none comes heartier, more traditional or tastier than the legendary toasted cheese sandwiches at Grogan’s. Simple, and simply delicious, combinations of Irish cheddar and local ham are served up all day, so if you’re there, ask for the special and prepare to be delighted. Of course, you’ll want a pint of something as the perfect pairing too, but we couldn’t possibly suggest what that might be!
Grogan’s is just 25 minutes walk from the Guinness Storehouse.
6. Listen to the choir at St Patrick’s Cathedral
A feature of the Dublin skyline for over 800 years, this Church of Ireland cathedral was – as the name suggests – built in honour of Ireland’s snake-chasing patron saint. The country’s largest cathedral is more than just a place for worship, though. There are fascinating graves (including that of Jonathan Swift, once dean of the cathedral), beautiful art and architecture, and guided tours throughout the day. But perhaps its most magical attraction is the choir, which performs every day during school term time and will warm the heart of any visitor.
St Patrick’s Cathedral is just 15 minutes walk from the Guinness Storehouse.
7. Take a peek at Dublin’s ‘secret’ Iveagh Gardens
Some secrets are too good to remain hidden, which is why you’re about to find out about Iveagh Gardens, often known as Dublin’s secret garden. Laid out by the 1st Earl of Clonmell and once a fashionable public space called Coburg Gardens, it fell into disrepair before being rescued and revived by Sir Benjamin Guinness in 1862; the family then cared for the gardens before donating them to the Irish nation in 1939. You can now enjoy a rustic grotto and cascade, fountains, wilderness woodlands, a maze, a rosarium and archery grounds – there are few better things to do in Dublin if the weather is good.
Iveagh Gardens is just 25 minutes walk from the Guinness Storehouse.
8. Try something new at the Guinness Open Gate Brewery
Believe it or not, there’s more to Irish beer than Guinness Draught. Yes, it’s still wildly popular and an essential part of Dublin life but this experimental brewery in St James’s Gate is proving just as essential after we opened its doors to the public in recent years. So, if you are seeking an Irish witbier, saison or IPA, or want to experience some of Guinness’s different once off innovations, which are changed monthly, then we recommend you head to the taproom and sample some! And if you can’t pick, you can get a tasting paddle and try four for just €8. Don’t worry, they serve the black stuff, too.
Guinness Open Gate Brewery is just 5 minutes walk from the Guinness Storehouse.
9. Broaden your mind at Trinity College
You don’t need to sign up for a degree course to enhance your mind at Trinity College. One of the best universities in the world – and alma mater to the likes of Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift and Samuel Beckett – its beautiful buildings sit proudly in the heart of the city, open to all. The university’s most famous attraction is the astonishing ninth-century Book of Kells manuscript. But any Dubliner will tell you that the real treat here is the Old Library that houses the book itself. This towering oak-shelved 18th-century room is an awe-inspiring experience in its own right.
Trinity College is just 25 minutes walk from the Guinness Storehouse.
10. Eat fish and chips at Leo Burdock’s
At Leo Burdock’s not only do you get salt and vinegar with your fish and chips, you get an extra dash of history, because this chipper chain has been part of Dublin life since the first shop was opened by Leo’s parents in 1913 (Leo was 13 at the time). No weekend visit to Ireland is complete without eating fish and chips at one of these now seven restaurants that serves the very best in the country – just ask famous customers Tom Cruise, Charlize Theron and Conor McGregor! Our choice of the chippies though is the Werburgh Street location, just next to Dublin Castle. Speaking of which...
Leo Burdock’s is just 15 minutes walk from the Guinness Storehouse.
11. Immerse yourself in history at Dublin Castle
There are few buildings that reflect the changing and often turbulent political history of Ireland better than Dublin Castle. A castle has stood here for nearly 900 years, with most of the current building dating from the 18th century, and until the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921, it was the seat of the English and British governments in Ireland (the building itself witnessed several major events in the struggle for independence). Since then, it has hosted the inaugurations of Irish presidents, and also welcomed thousands of visitors as one of Ireland’s best tourist attractions.
Dublin Castle is just 15 minutes walk from the Guinness Storehouse.
12. Follow literary greats to Neary’s
Ireland, and Dublin in particular, is synonymous with great literature, and many of its great writers are synonymous with Dublin pubs. They drank, talked, and took in characters and conversations that made their way onto the page. Every pub will tell you James Joyce, Brendan Behan or Flann O’Brien drank there – and they probably did – but none has a stronger literary connection than Neary’s. This quaint hideaway on Grafton Street, long popular with writers and actors, is a UNESCO City of Literature bar, making it an absolute must for fans of the written word.
Neary’s is just 25 minutes walk from the Guinness Storehouse.
13. Walk off your pints in St Stephen’s Green
If you’re in central Dublin and feel like walking off your pints of Guinness, cheese toasties or oysters, there are few better places to stretch your legs than St Stephen’s Green (another public space donated by the Guinness family, when Sir Arthur Edward Guinness bought, landscaped and opened up the park). Its 3.5km of paths take you past a bird-filled ornamental lake and several leafy places to take shelter from the very occasional rain showers you might experience in the city. In the summer, lunchtime concerts are the perfect outdoor accompaniment to a picnic.
St Stephen’s Green is just 25 minutes walk from the Guinness Storehouse.
14. Eat oysters at Temple Bar food market
One of the great advantages of a city by the sea is that you get to eat the very best seafood, and Dublin is no exception. Irish oysters are famous for being among the most delicious in the world and one of the best places to eat them is the Temple Bar food market. You can wolf down the slippery customers at this foodie paradise every Saturday morning, but don’t worry if you’re not around then – the 1837 Bar & Brasserie at the Guinness Storehouse specialises in them (it’s even named after the year that pairing Guinness with oysters first became famous).
Temple Bar Food Market is just 20 minutes walk from the Guinness Storehouse.
15. Step back in time at the Long Hall
When a pub has been serving beer since 1766 you can have faith that they know what they’re doing. This visually stunning and historically important pub – one of Dublin’s best and most famous for pouring an excellent pint of Guinness – is like a working museum exhibit. The interior dates back to 1881 and it’s barely changed since then, with ornate handcrafted wood carvings, stained glass and dashes of gold leaf. The bar staff are chatty and attentive, and you might even bump into a celebrity or two: word on the street is that it’s Bruce Springsteen’s favourite Dublin pub.
Long Hall is just 20 minutes walk from the Guinness Storehouse.