Ireland’s capital city is perfect for exploring when you only have a few days. If you don’t know what to do in Dublin we have some ideas to make the time fly by. Pick and choose your favorites and create your own Dublin itinerary for visiting some of the city’s best attractions. These are our choices for the best things to do if you have a weekend break in Dublin.
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Use this handy Dublin map to help plan your trip.
What to Do if You Have a Weekend Break in Dublin
1. Visit the Book of Kells and The Long Room of the Old Library at Trinity College
The Book of Kells is one of the most popular attractions in Dublin. It is an ornately decorated manuscript of the four Gospels dating to the 9th century, and a self-guided tour gives you the history of the book and a chance to see some of its pages.
Located within Trinity College, it’s extremely important to purchase your Book of Kells tickets in advance to avoid the long lines. This is especially important if you only have a long weekend in Dublin.
The exhibit itself is not very large, and it’s easy to see the images and read about their history in under an hour. At the end of the tour is the Long Room of the Old Library at Trinity College with its collection of over 200,000 antique books. It’s breathtaking with its curved wooden beams and floor to ceiling book shelves and easily one of the most recognized libraries in the world.
2. Take a walk through St. Stephen’s Green
Any time there’s a sunny day in Dublin, I head to St Stephen’s Green park. Located at the end of Grafton Street, it’s the perfect place to take a stroll, have a picnic, or people watch. With over 22 acres, there’s a lot to explore, so stick to the manicured paths that wind throughout the park.
Keep an eye out for the bust of James Joyce (as well as other sculptures) and bring a book to read on one of the benches near the fountains. It’s a great spot to spend the afternoon if the weather is good.
3. Go shopping on Grafton Street
Grafton Street is another one of my must see places in Dublin. This pedestrian friendly street is where locals and tourists alike go for shopping and socializing. There are all types of stores, from high end boutiques to discount souvenir shops.
Take time to admire the stunning flower stands and listen to local musicians who line up along the street. I would highly recommend a stop at my favorite Irish store, Avoca, located on Suffolk Street, just off Grafton. Not only do they have the coolest local products, they have an awesome restaurant in case you’re hungry.
4. Visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral
It’s hard to miss St. Patrick’s gorgeous cathedral in the heart of Dublin. The church was built in the 13th century to honor Ireland’s patron saint, and it is the largest cathedral in Ireland. If you’re a fan of cathedrals, you won’t want to miss this one.
Across the street is equally impressive Christ Church Cathedral, built in 1030 as a Viking church. Inside you will find a 12th century crypt with important church artifacts from over the years. Don’t miss the Christ Church Viking tour next door at Dublinia. This heritage center takes visitors back in time as they learn about Irish Viking history and life in medieval Dublin.
5. Spend some time at Marsh’s Library
Just around the corner from St Patrick’s Cathedral is Marsh’s library. If you are a book lover, this place is a must visit, as the dark oak bookshelves and ancient volumes are breathtaking.
Marsh’s Library was founded in 1707, making it the oldest public library in Ireland. There are over 25,000 books and manuscripts and some of their famous patrons include Bram Stoker, Jonathan Swift, and James Joyce.
6. Visit Kilmainham Gaol
Kilmainham Gaol was the Dublin jail from 1796 to 1924, and over the years it became the symbol of nationalism as many leaders of various government rebellions were kept and often executed here. You will learn about the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising and the famous Michael Collins as well as other Irish criminals who spent time behind these bars.
If you wish to visit, be sure to buy Kilmainham Gaol tickets in advance. Entrance to the jail itself is only through timed tickets for guided tours.
WANT TO SAVE MONEY ON THESE ATTRACTIONS? CLICK HERE AND GET A DUBLIN PASS!
7. Phoenix Park
If you visit Kilmainham Gaol, head to Phoenix Park afterward since it’s less than 10 minutes by car. You can grab a taxi in front of the Hilton Dublin across the street or walk 15 minutes to the entrance near the Dublin Zoo.
Phoenix Park is one of the largest public parks in Europe, spanning over 1750 acres (that’s twice the size of New York’s Central Park). It’s home to the Dublin Zoo, the People’s Gardens, Ashtown Castle, and a few historical sites. It’s a great place for spending the afternoon alone or with friends.
Be sure to stop at The Victoria Tearooms for a bite to eat or a cup of tea. They serve sweet treats as well as salads, soups, and paninis.
8. Take a tour of the Guinness Storehouse
Even if you don’t drink Guinness, you’ll want to visit Guinness Storehouse Dublin to learn about the history, enjoy some delicious food, and take in fabulous views of Dublin’s skyline. The best way to experience the factory is to book your Guinness tickets in advance.
I highly recommend grabbing a bite to eat at 1837 Bar & Brasserie restaurant on the 5th floor before heading out on a tour. Try the flatbread or the Guinness beef stew for a filling and delicious meal.
Tours of the brewery start on the ground floor, inside the world’s largest beer glass (the atrium), which would hold over 14 million pints of Guinness stout. Here’s where you learn about the history of Guinness and the ingredients that go into the beer. If you’re on a weekend break in Dublin and enjoy history and beer then you will love the tour of this Guinness storehouse.
The third floor takes you through the Guinness history of advertising. It’s a quick stop before heading up to the 4th floor where you’ll find the Guinness Academy. This is where you learn to pour your own perfect pint and can even get your picture on a pint of Guinness.
The final stop should be the 7th floor Gravity Bar with 360 degree panoramic views of the city. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a pint before wrapping up your tour.
9. Tour one or more of the city’s free museums
Did you know Dublin offers dozens of museums with free entry? These are some of the best ways to entertain yourself on a Dublin city break, especially if it starts to rain!
The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) is near Phoenix Park and Guinness Storehouse. Their collection of modern art is stunning, and they are constantly bring in new exhibits.
The National Gallery of Ireland is one of my favorite free museums in Dublin. Some of the highlights are works by Degas, Monet, Picasso, and Caravaggio. When you’re finished with your visit, pop over to Merrion Square to see the statue of Oscar Wilde and see the colorful painted doors on the Georgian homes that surround the park.
National Museum of Ireland institutions
There are also three National Museum of Ireland institutions in Dublin. The National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology, The National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts and History, and The National Museum of Ireland – Natural History. You can probably guess from their names what you will find inside.
The Archaeology Museum in Dublin is my favorite of the three. Inside you can see everything from bog bodies to hoards of gold to primitive weapons. It’s easy to spend half a day here engaged in the exhibits and learning about Irish history.
The Natural History Museum in Dublin has what you would expect, taxidermied animals and fossils of all shapes and sizes. If you’re a dinosaur fan, this is the place for you.
The Decorative Arts and History Museum in Dublin has everything from furniture to weaponry. It also covers Ireland’s history through its war stories, fashion displays, and Irish craft collection.
Chester Beatty Library near Dublin Castle is another underrated museum in Dublin. It is a collection of the late Alfred Chester Beatty, and houses manuscripts and books from around the world. The gardens in front of the library are perfect for an afternoon stroll or rest.
10. Enjoy the festive atmosphere of Temple Bar
If this is your first time in Dublin, be sure to check out the Temple Bar area. It’s one of those must-see places in Dublin. Cobblestone streets, music spilling out of every pub, and tourists and locals seamlessly mingling.
It’s one of those places where you can be anonymous or join in the merriment. Pop into a traditional Irish pub and listen to some live music, or join a tour and learn about the history of the area and the music scene in Dublin. It’s not to be missed on your weekend break in Dublin.
Click HERE to book a Traditional Irish Music Pub Crawl.
11. Travel through time at 14 Henrietta Street
One of the more unique museums out there, 14 Henrietta Street is a tenement building turned into a museum. Built in the 1720s, this Georgian townhouse (and the surrounding neighborhood) fell on hard times through the years.
The Dublin tenement museum opened in 2018, and visitors experience what it was like to live in this building as they listen to tales from the past told by a tour guide. It’s a fascinating look at Irish life from the high society to the lowest, and poorest class. Book tickets for 14 Henrietta Street in advance, it’s worth your time.
TIP: If you have extra time, take a walk around Merrion Square and admire the colored Doors of Dublin. They come in all shapes and sizes and make for some of the best Instagram spots in Dublin.
12. EPIC – The Irish Emigration Museum
This is often referred to as the best tourist attraction in Dublin, and for good reason. The museum is the perfect place to learn about the Irish people and their rich history. EPIC lays out the accomplishments of over 300 Irish people who made their mark in the world of fashion, sports, television, and more.
This museum is highly interactive, and shows the impact Irish emigrants have made around the world. It’s definitely worth visiting on a Dublin city break.
We hope you have found plenty of things to do on a weekend break in Dublin. It’s an amazing destination any time of year.
Where to Stay for a weekend break in Dublin
Hilton Garden Inn Dublin Custom House – Comfortable and clean hotel. Walking distance to all main attractions. Next to the Financial District and on the River Liffey.
The Merrion – Impeccable property with five star service. The buildings are beautiful Georgian townhouses with every modern amenity you could want. Central location right across from St. Stephen’s Green and walking distance to Grafton Street.
Davenport Hotel – Stylish and comfortable property near Merrion Square.
Hyatt Centric The Liberties – great neighborhood location near St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Staycity Aparthotels, Mark Street – this long-stay hotel is convenient to the city centre and transit station, and has some great restaurants nearby.
Book Your Flights – You can find discounted fares using sites like Momondo or Skyscanner. If you want to keep an eye on discount fares, we suggest signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights, a daily newsletter with flight sales around the world.
If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. It’s nice to have a space where you can relax before your flight.
Book Your Accommodation
We regularly use Expedia.com and Hotels.com to find lodging when we travel. It’s a great way to compare vacation rentals, hotels, and resorts.
If your family knows they want to stay in a vacation rental, we recommend looking at VRBO and Plum Guide.
Book Your Transportation
For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. We tend to use Hertz simply for the quality of service.
When traveling in Europe, we use AutoEurope to make our bookings. They find the best rates and allow you to compare different car rental agencies. Europcar is another option.
Book Your Tours and Travel Photos
We regularly used companies like Viator and GetYourGuide to book tours when we travel. Both have great communication and a large variety of activities that work for all ages.
If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City. Both are worthwhile investments.
Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational-based activities. The former teacher in me loves their tours.
One of our favorite things to do annually is taking photos with Flytographer. They have photographers around the world and we’ve used them on four separate occasions. This is our favorite travel souvenir.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
With the state of travel these days, it’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threats, or cancellations. We always travel with insurance and would recommend SquareMouth, Travelex, or Medjet as good options. And if you want to compare different insurance options, use Travel Insurance Master to find the best policy for your group.