Brimming with rich history, literary spirit, and, of course, legendary pubs, the diverse city is an emerging European finance hub – but even the stiffest of suits can’t suppress its quintessentially Irish charm. Characterful, affable, and witty, Dublin is a city that flashes you its grin, pulls you into a round of drinks, and tells you a tall tale or two.
1/5 With historic sights such as St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin Castle, Trinity College, and the Docklands in easy rich, tick off your sightseeing checklist of Dublin’s best sightseeing spots with a hop-on, hop-off bus tour.
2/5 Dublin is a UNESCO City of Literature, with the likes of Jonathan Swift, James Joyce, and Oscar Wilde some of its famous sons – so it's no surprise that a popular (and quiet) spot to visit is the Trinity College Library, built in 1592.
3/5 Combine two of the great Irish loves – booze and literature – and go on a literary pub crawl of watering holes frequented by Irish writers, including the Brazen Head, Davy Byrne’s, Toners, and Neary’s.
4/5 No visit to Dublin is complete without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse for a ‘brewery experience’. You can assess whether – as the adverts claim – Guinness really is good for you, thanks to the complimentary pint included in your ticket.
5/5 From Dublin, embark on the most epic of day trips: a Game of Thrones-themed tour. Northern Ireland’s rugged scenery provides the backdrop for some of the series’ most iconic locations, including Winterfell, a.k.a. the Castle Ward Estate in County Down. Better yet, you get given swords, cloaks, and shields to wear.
Things to do
We've chosen the must-see highlights of this fantastic city.
Things to do
We've chosen the must-see highlights of this fantastic city.
Apparently a pint of Guinness tastes better in Ireland than anywhere else in the world – it's something to do with the water. Test it for yourself with a tour of the Guinness Storehouse. Learn more about the famous stout, enjoy a tasting adventure or even master pouring the perfect pint. Whiskey tastes pretty good in Ireland too, so visit the Jamesons distillery where you can blend your own whiskey, practice mixing the perfect cocktail, and tour the historic Bow Street. The Irish Whiskey Museum and Dublin's only operational distillery, Teeling, offer further insights into the golden spirit.
Discover wild Irish landscapes
You can reach some of Irelands most iconic and spectacular landscapes in a day trip from Dublin. Wild Rover tours will take you to the unique rock formations at the Giant's Causeway, supposedly built by the giant Finn McCool to reach his rival in Scotland. A coach ride along the wild Atlantic Way brings you to the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher which have featured in films including Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Ireland also provided some of Game of Thrones' eeriest backdrops and an official tour from Dublin will lead you on an unforgettable journey through Winterfell.
Irish music and dance
You'll come closest to the true spirit of Ireland at a traditional Ceillidh or Irish music and dance session, with its wild rhythms and stirring melodies. If you've seen Riverdance you'll know what Irish dancers can do with their feet! Try the Irish House Party in a hotel ten minutes from central Dublin for an authentic, family-friendly evening of food, music and dancing performed by All Ireland champions. In the city, pubs like the Cobblestone, the Celt, O-Shea's Merchant and the Old Storehouse offer great craic (Irish for entertainment) and nightly tunes from some of Ireland's best folk musicans.
Tours and walks
A Dublin walking tour led by history graduates will take you through streets packed with historical significance, from the Great Famine of the 19th Century to the Northern conflict. For unrivalled urban green space head to Phoenix Park, the largest enclosed park in any European capital city. Its seven square kilometres are home to Dublin Zoo, a 5,500 year old prehistoric burial chamber and a magazine fort among other attractions. Hire bikes or segways to explore the tree-lined avenues, and stop at the Victorian tea-rooms or the award-winning Phoenix Cafe for a coffee and one of its famous scones.
Modern Irish cuisine
The green fields and blue waters of Ireland supply ingredients for Dublin fine dining restaurants like Michelin-starred Chapter 1 (set in the former home of whiskey-maker George Jameson), where the food is inspired by the seasons and the landscape. At top seafood venue Fish Shop the menu is created from the best wild Irish seafood available that day, with dishes such as home smoked Clare Island salmon. Pop into The Pig's Ear or BANG restaurant & bar for classic Irish food with a twist and finish off with a Dingle Gin or caramelised brown bread ice cream from Murphy's.
History and heritage
Trinity College, Dublin is home to Ireland's greatest cultural treasure – the ninth century Book of Kells. This richly decorated copy of the Gospels is a must-see. Combine a viewing with a tour of Trinity, a university with a 400-year history, or head to Dublin Writer's Museum to see rare first editions. The National Gallery houses Dutch masters, while The National Museum of Ireland boasts one of Europe's most important prehistoric gold collections and an exhibition on sacrificial bog burials. The walls of Kilmainham Gaol hold the history of Irish rebellion and the 1916 Easter Rising.
Continue your literary journey through Dublin's cobbled streets with a pilgrimage to the city's best bookshops. Hodges Figgis is Ireland's oldest, founded in 1768 and mentioned in Ulysses, with the world's largest selection of books on Ireland. The Winding Stair is set in an 18th century house above a restaurant and lets you enjoy coffee, cake and wine among the bookshelves. Source antiquarian books at the acclaimed Ulysses Rare Books or De Burca, which stocks over 20,000 rare and antique texts. A weekend visit to Temple Bar open air books market offers a quiet moment in Dublin's busiest quarter.
Wicklow: the Garden of Ireland
Known as the 'Garden of Ireland' for its lush hills and valleys, County Wicklow is easily accessible from Dublin. Visit Glendalough, the stunning 'valley of the two lakes' to see the 6th century remains of one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. Watch for wildlife such as deer and peregrine falcons or hire a car for the day to explore the Wicklow Mountains National Park. The exquisite formal gardens at the 18th Century Powerscourt Estate have been voted third best in the world by National Geographic, and the grounds are home to Ireland's highest waterfall.
With four Nobel Prize winners for literature and a Unesco City of Literature title, Dublin is a haven for book-lovers. An inspired way to connect with the city's literary heritage is to dip into some legendary watering-holes. Poet WB Yeats liked a tipple in the warm snug of 200-year-old Toners in Baggot Street, which was also a haunt of Dracula author Bram Stoker. Order a glass of burgundy at Davy Byrnes like Stephen Bloom from James Joyce's classic novel Ulysses, or join the convivial spirit of poet Seamus Heaney for a Guinness at the 19th Century Palace Bar.
Find peace in the midst of Dublin's creative bustle with an urban retreat at a day spa. Try the Buff Spa Diva package for a full day of pampering including aromatherapy massage, mineral salt scub, manicure and pedicure, or dive into the infinity pool at the Merrion Hotel's Tethra spa for a swim followed by hot stone massage or relaxing treatments with luxury ESPA and Darphin products. At the hip and stripped-back Fumbally Stables you can book a treatment, yoga class or meditation workshop and the linked cafe offers healthy eating with thalis, a miso hotpot and fermented drinks.
Ireland is world-renowned for its jockeys and horse-racing heritage. Experience the excitement of Irish racing with a day at Leopardstown racecourse – a visit in February will catch the Racing Festival - or head up into the beautiful Dublin Mountains for a trek from the Paddocks Riding Centre and the best view over the city. Unique Irish sports like Gaelic football or hurling also offer an adrenaline-packed thrill and you can watch them live at Croke Park stadium. Water babies will enjoy a kayak tour on the Liffey, offering a fresh view of Dublin.
High end shopping
Treat yourself to some high-end shopping in Brown Thomas, Dublin's most prestigious department store. You'll find a treasure-trove of exclusive brands, top designers, and classic Irish design such as Waterford crystal. Its central Grafton Street address is also home to top jewellers Weir & Sons (look out for their Celtic Jewellery collection). The Powerscourt Centre in the new Creative Quarter is set in a stunning Georgian townhouse offering antiques, beauty salons, art & craft and fashion, with Ireland's leading concept store Atrium on the top floor. Wander nearby to find irresistible independent boutiques tucked away down smaller lanes.