When I think about things to do in Dublin, the first thing that comes to mind is pubs. We could have easily spent our three days in Dublin doing nothing more than downing pints of Guinness goodness (it really tastes better in Dublin, Ireland). However, then we would have missed out on Dublin sightseeing – and we weren’t going to visit Dublin and not see the top Dublin tourist attractions! Many of the city’s historic sights are condensed within the city center, which makes for an easy Dublin, Ireland self-guided walking tour – and helped keep us out of the bars, if only for a few hours. (Dublin Walking Tour Map below.)
Dublin, Ireland Self-Guided Walking Tour to 11 Sights
Our walking tour of Dublin focuses on downtown Dublin and is an easy, flat walk through the city center. The route passes by must see Dublin attractions, many of which can be entered. Some sights are free, while other require a ticket. If you plan on entering several sights, see if the Dublin Pass will save you money. The walk, without any stops, should take about an hour.
If you only have one day, this free walking tour of Dublin, Ireland will surely get you acquainted with the city, as it includes stops at all the top things to see in Dublin. With 2 days in Dublin – or more – see our recommendations of more things to do in Dublin at the end of the post.
A: St. Patrick’s Cathedral
It was on this site that in 450 AD St. Patrick baptized the first Irish converts. St. Patrick’s Cathedral was completed in 1191 and is the largest church in Ireland. The spire reaches 140 feet. The cathedral is one of the top attractions in Dublin and visiting requires an entry ticket.
B: St. Stephen’s Green
The 22-acre park in the center of the Dublin was created in 1664 and has been open to the public since 1880. St. Stephen’s Green features a pond, a bandstand, memorials, statues, several paths and green lawns. If there is time in your Dublin itinerary, consider having a relaxing picnic in the park.
C: Grafton Street
The pedestrian-only, high-end shopping street, Grafton Street, leads from St. Stephen’s Green to Trinity College. Street musicians entertain the passers-by. No Dublin visit is complete without strolling the iconic street.
D: Trinity College
Established in 1592, it’s Ireland’s oldest university and a must see in Dublin. The official name is College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, but is just called Trinity College for short. The 47 acre campus has buildings arranged in squares around a bell tower and the library houses the Book of Kells (entry by ticket).
E: River Liffey
The River Liffey runs through the center of Dublin, dividing the city into north and south. Several bridges span the river, including three for pedestrians only, which make for nice walks in Dublin. The most popular footbridge is the Liffey Bridge, which dates to 1816 and is better known as the Ha’Penny Bridge for the 1/2 pence toll once required to cross it.
F: Temple Bar
The energetic Temple Bar district on the south side of the river is chock-full of Irish pubs, restaurants and tourist shops – and is one of the Dublin areas most visited by tourists. The district is one of the best places in Dublin for a Dublin Pub Crawl. Several of the bars have a line-up of live music starting mid-day and going late into the night. Our favorite spots were The Temple Bar and The Quays. Tip: Join the Dublin Traditional Music Pub Crawl in the evening!
G: The Olympia Theater
Opened in 1879, The Olympia Theater still is an operating theater. It underwent a major overhaul in the 1970s and the original iron and glass awning had to be completely restored after a truck crashed into it in 2004. The stage has seen a slew of famous acts from Charlie Chaplin to Mumford & Sons.
H: Dublin Castle
Now a conference and event complex, the buildings of Dublin Castle represent some of the oldest architecture in the city – and one of the top tourist attractions in Dublin. The castle was built between 1208 and 1220 as the residence of viceroys. A ticket is required for admission inside, where they also offer tours of Dublin Castle.
I. Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral dates back to medieval times, around the year 1030 – making it older than St. Patrick’s and one of the best places to visit in Dublin for a history lesson. It was expanded in 1171, but most of the current structure was built between 1871 and 1878. An entry ticket is required for admission, unless you are there to pray.
J: John’s Lane Church
The John’s Lane Church was built on the previous site of St. John’s Hospital between 1862 and 1895. The French Gothic steeple reaches over 200 feet and is the tallest in Dublin. John’s Lane Church is one of the churches you can enter in Dublin for free.
K: The Brazen Head
Dating back to 1198, The Brazen Head is Ireland’s oldest pub. The five room (plus upstairs and courtyard) pub has three classic bars and live music. On Sunday’s the day-drinking crowds gather for an Irish Sunday Session, which is one of the most fun things to do in Dublin. Even if it’s not a Sunday, the classic Brazen Head pub is a perfect place to stop for a pint at the end of a Dublin Self Guided Walking Tour.
Want to learn more of Dublin’s history and meet fellow travelers? Join the Dublin Historical Walking Tour for an easy 2-hour stroll through the city filled with interesting facts and information. Or, for more themed Dublin walking tours, check out this list of walks in Dublin led by a certified Dublin travel guide.
Rather than walking, consider buying a sightseeing Dublin tourist pass (like the Dublin Pass) and catch a ride with a 1- or 2-Day pass on the Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off Bus or 3-Day Dublin Freedom Pass on the Green Hop-On Hop-Off Bus.
Dublin, Ireland Self-Guided Walking Tour Map
Click here for a link to Google Maps that has turn-by-turn directions for our Dublin, Ireland Self-Guided Walking Tour.
Our top tips for your trip to Dublin
Essential Dublin Experiences
Once you have the lay of the land, indulge in a few essential Dublin experiences and Dublin tours. Visit Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse for a connoisseur tasting and then head to the Jameson Distillery for a lesson on Irish whiskey. Take a River Liffey cruise or get a taste of Dublin on an Irish Food Walking Tour. At night, bounce around the pubs in Temple Bar or join one of the entertaining Dublin pub crawls – and end the night on a Dublin Ghost Tour.
Day Trips from Dublin
Use the city as a base and explore Ireland on one of many Dublin day trips. Popular day tours from Dublin include visiting the coastal village of Howth, heading to Northern Ireland and Giant’s Causeway, seeing the stunning Cliffs of Moher and making a trip to the Blarney Castle (and kissing the Blarney Stone!).
Looking for multi-day Ireland trips? Set out from Dublin to see Ireland highlights on a five-day tour or enjoy the sights of Ireland on a six-day trip. For a longer trip that includes Dublin, the Intrepid Travel Northern & Southern Ireland Tour includes nine days of exploration.
Where To Stay
During our visit to Dublin, we stayed in this awesome Airbnb Apartment. (Not already a member of Airbnb? Use this link to create an account and save money on your first stay!) We have found that staying in apartments is often less expensive than hotel rooms – with the added benefit of a kitchen and, usually, more space. Dublin holiday apartments can also be searched on FlipKey (which is part of TripAdvisor) or on VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner.
However, for those who prefer staying in traditional accommodations, there are many Dublin hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center. Check out these top-rated hotels (based on guest reviews!) for your upcoming trip: Jurys Inn Dublin Christchurch, The Ripley Court Hotel, Temple Bar Inn. Or, find a deal on a hotel room by bidding on Priceline.
Budget travelers can search for Dublin Hostels – like Garden Lane Backpackers, Sky Backpackers or Egali Hostel. For a true bargain – and a unique experience – search for hosts on Couchsurfing, where travelers stay with locals for free.
Dublin can be reached by plane, train, bus or car. Our preferred method of getting anywhere is by flying (we are JetSetting Fools, after all!) and when we do need to purchase plane tickets, we start our search for the best deals on airline tickets on Skyscanner or Flight Hub.
To get from city to city when flights are not possible, we usually rely on public transportation and take trains or buses. In Europe, we use Rail Europe to find train tickets. Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann provide bus transportation services in Ireland. We aren’t keen on driving abroad, but renting a car can often save time and money (especially when traveling with more than two people) – and it allows for greater discovery.
Before You Go
- Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia, Skechers and Reef. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell and Sanuk.
- We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos. We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
- It’s easy to get turned around or lost in any new city! Be sure to have a good city map and/or guidebook prior to arriving.
- We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
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