A weekend in Dublin means a week-long hangover and stories for a lifetime. The people are warm, the beer is cold, and whiskey is strong.
Although tourists often think of Dublin — and Ireland as a whole — as the place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the city is great year-round. Like London, New York, and Paris, there is no wrong time to enjoy this cultural metropolitan.
This city is fairly walkable, weather permitting. The Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour is also a great way to get across the city quickly. It’s also ideal to see the whole city when you have limited time.
Dublin offers plenty of fun activities for all budgets. And, while it would take months, if not years*, to visit every pub in the city, you can see quite a bit in only 48 hours.
Dublin: Things to Do
Dublin is the city for writers, which is why it’s one of my favorite places to visit. Some of the best sights to see in Dublin are book-related, such as the Old Library at Trinity College. The most famous authors to come from the capital city include:
- James Joyce.
- Oscar Wilde.
- George Bernard Shaw.
- Bram Stroker.
The city is as rich in history as it is in fun! With friendly locals and great public transportation options, Ireland is an easy country for first-time solo travelers.
If you want a more detailed history of the city that you can’t find in bars, then check out Dublin Castle. There are both guided and self-guided tours, which means you can fully immerse yourself for two to three hours or briskly walkthrough in as little as 45 minutes.
TIP: You can actually see parts of Dublin Castle for free.
The Instagram picture you are looking for is the at Old Library Exhibition at Trinity College. However, tickets for the Book of Kells are only available after March 2020. You can walk around and view the artwork on campus for free.
I weirdly like going to jails so Kilmainham Gaol was definitely on my list of sights. Ireland has a history of political turmoil, and a tour of Kilmainham gives visitors an hour-long glimpse into its dark history.
Where to Drink
What’s more Irish than drinking? Visiting breweries, distilleries, and wineries is “travel multi-tasking.” Tours offer local history (of the product and the city) and alcoholic refreshment.
Take your pick of the many distillery and brewery tours in Dublin, including:
- Teeling Whiskey Distillery, which has a tour time length of about 45 minutes and ticket prices with tastings start at 15 euros.
- Guinness Storehouse, which takes at least 90 mins and tickets start at 19.50 euros.
- Jameson Distillery, which can take one to two hours and costs 25 euros.
Visitors will never have a better-tasting Guinness or a better view of Dublin than the ones at the Storehouse. The Teeling Whiskey Distillery is a fun alternative when crunched for time.
However, your Irish drinking experience shouldn’t be tour exclusive. Dublin has around 750 pubs. * If you went to two pubs every night and three on Sundays for a year, then you could have a drink in each within a year.
If you want to hit a few bars and pubs in a short period, then I recommend staying in the Temple Bar District. The city’s nightlife grew around the over 400-year-old Temple Bar.
It is a notorious tourist pub. Have you even been to Dublin if you haven’t taken a selfie in front of the recognizable red exterior? Order a beer (or two since it can take a while to get your next pint) and share a round standing next to a statue of James Joyce, author of Dubliners.
Other fine drinking establishments in the area include the following:
- The Auld Dubliner and the Oliver St. John Gogarty (next door)
- Bad Bobs Temple Bar
- The Grand Social (“travel multi-task” and plan to cross the Ha’penny Bridge)
- O’Neill’s Bar and Restaurant (check out the Molly Malone Statue and St. Andrew’s Church while there)
- The Stag’s Head
What to See for Free in Dublin
The only thing more Irish than whiskey and beer is Catholicism. Many churches and cathedrals are free to check out including Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is the tallest church in Ireland.
Other free sights include:
- The Spire, a steel monument.
- Molly Malone Statue as well as countless other statues in the city.
- Cross Ha’ Penny Bridge.
- Walking through George’s Street Arcade (little shopping center).
- Phoenix Park.
You can also check out Oscar Wilde’s birthplace for free… well, you can see the door and a sign. Although he’s one of my favorite authors, I could have totally skipped this.
Other avoidable sights include the zoo and anything too far from central city if you have limited time. Likewise, stick to “only in Dublin” adventures like Temple Bar and Trinity College.