Ireland’s bustling, historic capital is one of the top tourist spots in Europe. Between the castles, museums, filling eats, and bottomless Guinness, Dublin provides the perfect opportunity to explore Irish heritage and culture in a way that feels like a never-ending good time. Find out how to plan a visit to Dublin and discover the city’s can’t-miss attractions.

Arrive at Dublin Airport

Most visitors arrive in Dublin via Dublin Airport, which is an international airport serving Ireland’s capital city. Dublin Airport is located 6.2 miles (10 km) north of Dublin and is one of the busiest airports in Europe. While it serves a variety of airlines, it’s also the headquarters for Aer Lingus and Ryanair.

Dublin Airport consists of two terminals: Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. After arriving at the airport, clearing customs, and collecting your baggage, the easiest way to get to Dublin’s City Centre is on the Airlink Express bus. Airlink Express makes stops not only in the City Centre, but also Gardiner Street, College Green, Temple Bar, and the Heuston and Connolly rail stations. The Airlink Express stop is located just outside the airport. Maps are posted to help you figure out which stop you need to get off at, but there are also employees standing by to direct visitors.

Aside from the Airlink Express, Dublin Bus, Aircoach, Airport Hopper, Cityscape, and a handful of national coach services operate daily from the airport. You can also rent a car or hire a taxi for a more direct route to your destination.

When returning home, arrive at Dublin Airport at least two hours before your scheduled flight. Departures is located on the first floor (the second floor to Americans) of Terminal 1 and the ground floor of Terminal 2. Self-service check-in kiosks are available for certain airlines and passengers must go through security screening.

Early Morning: Grab Breakfast

Breakfast is an important meal in Ireland. In fact, you’ll hear the term “full Irish breakfast” a lot around here. The full Irish includes a multitude of beloved items like baked beans, sausages, bacon, mushrooms, eggs, grilled tomatoes, and Irish soda bread. Specifics vary depending on who cooks the meal, so you may have potatoes substituted for bread, or black pudding rather than American-style sausage.

Luckily, there are countless places to enjoy the full Irish in Dublin. The famous pastry shop Queen of Tarts serves up a hearty breakfast accompanied by some of Dublin’s best teas and coffees. Be sure to try the potato chive cake!

The Bakehouse serves a daily brunch with a full Irish breakfast on the menu. Their variation is called the Bakehouse Grill and features garlic and herb sausage, Irish black bacon, black and white pudding, grilled tomatoes, fried egg, and toast. Pair the Bakehouse Grill with an espresso, latte, Americano, or loose-leaf tea to round out the meal.

Known for its famous Irish breakfast, Matt the Rashers is a fresh, affordable option when you simply want a good meal without all the fuss. This cozy restaurant serves up hangover-sized portions with all the full Irish components, even liver, so be sure you come hungry.

Other great places to grab a full Irish breakfast include Violets Restaurant, Brendan’s Café, and TJ’s Coffee Bar.

No matter where you choose to enjoy your full Irish breakfast, take some time to download a few apps to make your day go smoother. Apps for Dublin Bus, Transport for Ireland, and LUAS are particularly helpful.

Kilmainham gaol
Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin.

Midmorning: Tour the City

Dublin traffic can be a nightmare, especially during rush hour, but the City Centre is compact enough that exploring on foot is not only possible, but recommended! Walk off some of that full Irish breakfast by strolling across Ha’penny Bridge, popping into shops along the River Liffey, and taking photos in the Temple Bar District.

While there’s no substitute for wandering around Dublin on foot, every visitor should consider booking a hop-on hop-off bus tour to experience all the major sights. City Sightseeing Dublin offers a 48-hour tour that’s perfect for newcomers. The tour takes you to points near Kilmainham Gaol, the Old Jameson Distillery, the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Castle, Trinity College, and the National Gallery of Ireland, just to name a few major attractions. Hop off the bus at any point to check out an attraction and get back on at the nearest designated bus stop to continue the tour.

Noon: Sit Down to a Great Lunch

After burning off some of your full Irish breakfast, you’ll want to take a break from sightseeing to fuel up on a light lunch. Located in Smithfield Market Square, My Meat Wagon used to be a wagon, but now it’s a restaurant serving delicious barbecued meats and sides. You can even order meat boards with short ribs and brisket or pulled pork and pork belly.

In the mood for fresh falafel? Check out Umi Falafel on Dame Street. With its casual, relaxed setting and vegetarian-friendly menu, Umi Falafel is a great way to unwind between attractions. Try the hummus sandwich on Lebanese bread, the grilled halloumi cheese, and the sweet potato fries to create your own meal, or order a falafel plate for two.

If you’re really hungry after touring the city, have lunch at Cafe Restaurant Riba. This lovely establishment offers a set lunch menu on Thursday and Friday afternoon that’s just €17 for two courses and €21 for three courses. Starters consist of crispy squid, spicy free-range chicken wings, and soup of the day, with mains consisting of pan-fried seabream, grilled chicken, beef burger, and asparagus tortellini. You can even choose vanilla crème brulée, cheesecake, or Nutella brioche and butter pudding for dessert!

Other great lunch spots include Bleecker Street Cafe Bar,Fish Shack Cafe, and PHX Bistro.

christ church cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral.

Afternoon: Hit the Museums

One of the best ways to experience Irish history and culture is to visit one of Dublin’s museums. The National Museum of Ireland is a must-see because it displays Irish art and history in four locations, three of which are right here in Dublin. Explore the Archaeology exhibit in Kildare Street, the Natural History facility at Merrion Square, and Decorative Arts & History at Collins Barracks. The final facility, dedicated to Country Life, is on the other side of the country at Turlough Park. Admission to each museum is free.

While there’s much to explore inside Dublin’s major museums, smaller facilities provide exceptional insight into Irish history and culture. The Little Museum of Dublin, for instance, is a dedicated people’s museum inside a Georgian townhouse at St. Stephens Green. Entry is by guided tour only, and these tours fill up quickly, so buy your tickets in advance. Tours start every hour, on the hour, and photography is allowed throughout the museum.

From Samuel Beckett to Oscar Wilde, Dublin has a long literary history that has produced some of the world’s greatest authors, poets, and playwrights. The Dublin Writers Museum opened in 1991 to house this extensive history and to celebrate literary Dublin. Located at Parnell Square, the Dublin Writers Museum provides an audio tour across different time periods, relating tales of Bram Stoker, James Joyce, Lady Gregory, and other greats.

One of Dublin’s grandest collections is housed inside the National Gallery of Ireland. Admission is free, and the exhibits are interesting for the entire family, so young and old can appreciate everything this museum has to offer. The collection includes more than 16,300 artworks spanning western European history from the year 1300 to present day. View well-known artists like Picasso and Monet or discover new favorites.

Other must-see Dublin museums include the Natural History Museum, Chester Beatty Library, and the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Molly malone statue
The Molly Malone Statue in Dublin.

Late Afternoon: Shop ‘Til You Drop

With so many one-of-a-kind shops in Dublin, you may find yourself shopping throughout the day for that perfect souvenir. The Celtic Whiskey Shop on Dawson Street is a wonderful place to find limited-release whiskeys at reasonable prices. Plus, they ship anywhere in the world, making it easy to get those souvenirs home without the fuss!

Carrolls Irish Gifts is the place to find any item that embodies your trip to Ireland. From traditional Irish knitwear to shortbreads, and from home goods to novelty keychains, Carrolls Irish Gifts is the place to find it all. And for those who visited the Guinness Storehouse, the Guinness items at Carrolls are usually cheaper than the souvenirs at the Storehouse giftshop, making this store well worth the trip.

Dinnertime: Relax at the Pub

There’s nothing like a pub meal in Ireland to help you wind down after a long day. Fortunately, Dublin is brimming with classic pubs serving up the country’s favorite meals. L. Mulligan Grocer is one such pub worth checking out. Main courses consist of black Angus sirloin steak, crispy pan-fried hake, and free-range chicken Kiev.

For more than 160 years, The Temple Bar has defined an Irish neighborhood like none other. At night, the entire district comes alive around the famous red-painted façade, beckoning travelers to come in and see what all the fuss is about. Granted, The Temple Bar takes advantage of its status as a tourist trap, so prices are higher here than at most pubs in the city, but it’s an experience most travelers can’t resist.

Another historic pub is The Brazen Head, which has been a meeting place for rebels and musicians for centuries. The pub dates back to 1198 and is currently one of Dublin’s best live music venues. The Brazen Head’s motto is, “there are no strangers here, only friends who have never met,” so don’t be shy! Pop in, order a Kilkenny or Bulmers Original Irish Cider and enjoy the energetic atmosphere.

st patricks
St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Where to Stay in Dublin

Since Dublin is such a popular destination for world travelers, there are countless accommodations to choose from. Take your pick of the best Dublin hotels, hostels, and private rentals to create your ideal getaway in the beloved Irish capital city.

Top Hotels

Some of Dublin’s best hotels are located in the City Centre along the River Liffey. Arlington Hotel O’Connell Bridge and Clifton Court Hotel are both affordable options with amazing central locations. Fitzsimons Temple Bar is another great hotel on the river, which boasts a roof terrace, restaurant, and nightclub in addition to 22 en-suite guest rooms.

If you prefer to stay in the bustling Temple Bar area, book a room at RiverHouse Hotel. Its modern rooms feature all the amenities you’d expect from a major hotel chain, but they come at unbeatable budget-friendly rates.

For more luxurious accommodations, check out The Merchant House in the heart of Temple Bar. The Merchant House started out as a townhouse during the 18th century and has been renovated into luxury suites with spacious bathrooms, king-size beds, and minibars. The suites are even named after some of Dublin’s literary greats: Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Bram Stoker, and WB Yeats.

Best Hostels

Traveling in Dublin doesn’t have to break the bank. Area hostels provide a budget-friendly solution for backpackers who don’t mind sharing dorm-style rooms. Abbey Court offers hostel beds from just €13.50 – breakfast included! There’s even a game room, hammock room, luggage storage, on-site laundry facility, in-room lockers, and free Wi-Fi throughout the property.

Generator Hostels in the hip Smithfield neighborhood next to Jameson Distillery is a popular spot for backpackers. This hotel boasts a cafe, bar, and open social spaces for getting to know fellow travelers. Aside from large co-ed and female-only dorms, Generator Hostels offers smaller rooms for one to four people, making this a great solution for small families and friends.

Other Dublin hostels worth checking out include Isaacs Hostel Dublin, Paddy’s Place, and Abrahams Hostel.

Ha penny bridge
The Ha Penny Bridge.

Coolest Private Rentals

Those traveling with a large family or big group of friends should consider booking a private rental with extra space. This is a great choice when you want to cook your own meals or have access to laundry facilities. And with private rentals all over Dublin, you can stay close to your favorite attractions.

Take the trip of a lifetime. Book the best Dublin trip from transportation to accommodations right here on GoDoTrip.