This post was originally published on A Globe Well Travelled in 2017. The content has been revised and updated with fresh information.
I don’t think I’ve ever written a city guide with so many boozy recommendations.
When I travel, I love tasting a craft beer from a nearby microbrewery or a glass of local wine, or sampling a regional spirit, like Mexican Mezcal or Russian Vodka. These experiences are some of my favourite activities, and there’s no better place to explore alcoholic culture than Dublin.
The Irish are famed for their drinking habits, and that stereotype is prevalent all over the city. If you aren’t a big drinker, don’t worry – I also have some sober suggestions for you! Here are 12 essential activities for a weekend in Dublin.
Where we stayed:
Some websites will suggest staying in the Temple Bar area in Dublin. Don’t take that advice! Temple Bar is very touristy and full of drunk Brits having bachelor parties. I’d suggest staying south or west of Temple Bar as it’s quieter but just as easy to get around.
We ended up staying in the Staycity Apartments Saint Augustine. I loved everything about it (big room with separate lounge and kitchen, super friendly staff, excellent location) except I wish our room was on a higher level. I think we got the only room in the place that sits at street level so we had people constantly walking by our window! If you book it, put in a request for a room on a higher floor.
1. Drink at an Irish Pub
Dublin literally seems to have an Irish Pub on every corner. You’ll find a lot of pubs in Temple Bar, but the area is extremely touristy so if you prefer somewhere quieter, head southeast to the area between Temple Bar and St Stephen’s Green. The narrow streets have plenty of historic bars and restaurants that don’t charge a tourist tax.
My personal favourite was drinking outside the Dame Tavern. This divey pub had a few empty Guinness barrels lined up outside to use as tables, from which we were perfectly positioned to hear the live music drifting over from the Stag’s Head across the road.
Another place to check out is the The Brazen Head, which is the oldest pub in Ireland. This 800 year old venue has multiple rooms, an outdoor seating area, and plenty of old-timey charm to soak in while you drink.
2. Have a pint of Guinness
While Ireland has many local beers, Guinness definitely takes the title of the most well-known. Guinness is sold at nearly every venue in Dublin, so take your pick of pub and grab a pint.
One of the main activities for visitors to Dublin is visiting the Guinness Storehouse. To be honest, we didn’t think much of this place (Rob described it as “the factory farming of brewery tours”), but if you don’t mind overpriced tourist attractions then you might like it. If you do decide to go, make sure you book a few days ahead to get discounts on your entrance ticket.
3. Sample Irish Whiskey
Sampling some Irish Whiskey in Dublin is a must. Jameson runs hourly tours of their Bow Street Distillery for 18 Euro, which includes a 40 minute tour, a whiskey tasting, and 1 drink of Jameson straight or with ginger ale at the bar after the tour. They also sell whiskey chocolates in the gift shop (so delicious!).
If you’re debating whether to do this or the Guinness Storehouse, I would definitely recommend the Jameson Distillery! It’s by far the superior choice.
4. Visit Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle is almost completely hidden from view by the buildings surrounding it, but it’s definitely worth seeking out. You’ll find the pedestrian entrance next to the City Hall building.
The castle’s elaborate staterooms can be explored on a self-guided tour and entry costs 7 Euro. You can also do a guided tour for 10 Euro, which allows you to see the Viking Excavation and the Chapel Royal as well as the staterooms.
5. Visit St Patrick’s Cathedral
St Patrick’s is the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland. The building dates back to 1220 and is kept in a superb condition for tourists (which is funded by the 6.50 Euro entry fee).
I’ve seen a lot of cathedrals in Europe, and this one is just as lovely and impressive as many of the others. Definitely worth visiting if you’re into religious sites and historic buildings.
6. Visit Christ Church Cathedral
Most European cities will boast one cathedral for visitors to check out, but Dublin actually has two!
Christ Church Cathedral is close to the city and dates back to 1028. While the interior is not quite as large and grand as St Patrick’s, the cathedral is arguably more interesting. You can walk down into the crypts beneath the floor, and see a mummified cat and rat. Entry is also 6.50 Euro
7. Walk through the Trinity College Library
A long while ago I saw a beautiful photo of Trinity College Library on Pinterest, and I’ve wanted to visit ever since. I’m so glad that I got to tick this one off my travel list! The Long Room in the library is absolutely gorgeous, with towering wooden shelves of ancient books.
To get access to the library, you have to purchase a 13 Euro entrance ticket to the Book of Kells exhibition which has original copies of the gospel books. I didn’t find the exhibition to be all that interesting except for the displays on Celtic calligraphy and book-binding. Still, it’s worth a look!
8. Wander along the River Liffey
The River Liffey is one of Dublin’s best features. It winds right through the center of the city and has some adorable bridges that you can use to cross it. The most famous is Ha’penny Bridge, which is named as it used to cost half a penny for pedestrians to cross.
9. Tour Kilmainham Gaol
This activity is not in the city center, but it’s absolutely worth the short journey out of the city (we caught a bus there in under 15 minutes). If you’re interested in learning a little about Ireland’s history from the late 1700s to early 1900s, this is the perfect place to find out about it.
Kilmainham Gaol has housed political prisoners from Ireland’s uprising and civil war, and the guides will happily tell stories of the gaol’s inhabitants. To get inside, you must do a guided tour which you can book online. The tour lasts 1 hour and costs 8.50 Euro.
10. Eat carb-heavy Irish food
Boy, the Irish can eat! Every meal we had was an enormous portion of carb-heavy foods. One of the main dishes to try is a full Irish Breakfast, which consists of bacon, sausages, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans, and toast.
For vegetarians like myself, Ireland can be a tricky as most of the dishes are rather meaty. I found a few great places for veggie food in Dublin, such as Umi Falafel (healthy veggie falafel) and Cornucopia (a vegetarian bistro).
11. Get an Irish coffee
I don’t think I’d ever had an Irish coffee before coming to Dublin. This drink is made with Irish whiskey and coffee, and is topped with cream. I did some research on the best places to get Irish coffee in Dublin, and landed on the Stage Door Cafe. Can confirm: the Irish coffee was extremely tasty!
12. Listen to Irish music
There are many pubs where you can listen to live music in Dublin, but only some of them play traditional Irish tunes. We found some local music at O’Shea’s, The Cobblestone, and The Brazen Head. Drinking a pint while listening to ballads about the Irish countryside is a great way to spend an evening.
Want some more ideas for things to do in the city? Check out this guide to Dublin for even more activities!