Dublin is a capital city full of exciting things to see and do. A city that owes its origins to the Vikings, filled with hardy red brick stately buildings and grand Georgian squares, with a cutting-edge food scene and vibrant nightlife. Here are some expert tips to help you pack as much as possible into just 48 hours in Dublin, complete with tips on where to go, what to see and where to stay.
Trinity College and the Book of Kells
Start off your day with one of Dublin’s star attractions. Besides being a highly acclaimed academic institution Trinity College is an absolute marvel to look at, and you can’t help but pick up the enormous sense of history just by walking around the campus. The old library at Trinity College is, of course, home to the 1,000 years old Book of Kells. The manuscript contains the four Gospels in Latin based on a Vulgate text, written on vellum (i.e., prepared calfskin), which is particularly admired for its lavish decoration. Allow at least 40 minutes to an hour for your visit to the old library, which is self-guiding. Tours of the wider College campus, including entry to the Book of Kells, are also available. Other attractions at Trinity include the Science Gallery.
Admission Prices: An adult ticket to the Old Library costs €10. Children up to 12 go free.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturdays from 9.30am to 5pm. Sundays from 12pm to 4.30pm.
National Gallery of Ireland
Literally next door to Trinity College, is the National Gallery of Ireland, a wonderful collection of over 2,500 paintings and 10,000 other works in different media, including Italian baroque and Dutch masters such as Vermeer, Caravaggio and Van Gogh. The gallery also houses distinguished Irish artists such as Jack B. Yeats.
Admission Prices: Admission is Free.
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 9.30am to 5.30pm. Thursdays open until 8.30pm. Sundays from 11am to 5.30pm.
George’s Street Arcade
After your morning of culture, head down to George’s Street Arcade for some refreshments. Ireland’s oldest shopping centre, here you’ll find a feast of eclectic stores, stalls and florists, wonderful small galleries and plenty of cute cafes all housed within the most wonderful Victorian building.
Just a stone’s throw away is Grafton Street, one of Dublin’s most popular shopping streets. Grafton is filled with beautiful historic buildings housing some of Ireland’s most iconic businesses, including Brown Thomas, Weir & Sons and Bewley’s Grafton Street Café. At the end of Grafton Street, you’ll find St. Stephen’s Green, a beautiful Georgian Square and city public park.
Finish off your sightseeing day by learning everything there is to know about Ireland’s most famous beer at the Guinness Storehouse. Located in the heart of the St. James’ Gate brewery, which has been home to the famous ‘black stuff’ since 1759, the storehouse is located in a former fermentation plant which has been remodelled in the shape of a huge pint of Guinness. At the end of the tour you can collect your very own pint while admiring the 360 degree views over the city, at the storehouse’s bar.
Admission: Children under 6 go free. Adult tickets cost €18. Prices may be cheaper online.
Opening Times: Open 7 days a week from 9.30am to 5pm.
Start off your morning bright and early at Dublin’s beloved Phoenix Park. Taking up an impressive 707 hectares, the Park was originally established as a Royal Deer park in the 17th century. There are many things to see and do here, including a visit to Dublin’s very own Zoo. Other facilities include a Visitor Centre displaying information and temporary exhibitions; Farmleigh House and estate, a beautiful venue which includes a wonderful collection of gardens, walks and plants; a Victorian Tea Kiosk serving teas and lunches, and a Band Hollow which is host to summer musical performances.
James Joyce Centre
Dedicated to one of Dublin’s most famous sons, the James Joyce Centre is a must for fans of literature and general culture. The centre is housed in a restored 18th century Georgian townhouse in the north inner city of Dublin. Some highlights include a copy of Joyce’s death mask, furniture from Paul Leon’s Paris apartment where Joyce worked on “Finnegans Wake”, and the front door from number 7 Eccles Street, Leopold Bloom’s address in Joyce’s famous novel “Ulysses”.
Admission: Adult tickets cost €5. Students/Concession tickets cost €4.
Opening Times: Open 7 days a week from April 1st to September 31st, from 10am to 5pm. October to March the centre is open Tuesdays to Sundays only.
The Dublin Docklands are fast becoming a must-see destination on any visit to the Irish capital. Presenting an eclectic mix of old historic buildings and modern architecture, with hip wine bars by the waterside, and funky art galleries. On a sunny day you can sit on the banks of the river Liffey and watch locals race their boat, a tradition that dates back for centuries and is still very much alive today. In Hanover Quay you can enjoy the street art, as you breeze past U2’s old recording studio: Windmill Lane.
Finish off your day at Temple Bar, Dublin’s bohemian cultural quarter and, to some, the heart of the city. Here lie numerous restaurants, cafés and pubs, as well as small shops selling everything you can think of. Also located in Temple Bar are the Irish Film Institute, the Project Arts Centre and Design Yard. Most visitors, however, come for the beer. Don’t miss The Palace Bar, a Victorian pub with 19th century décor and some of the finest Guinness in the city. Do bear in mind this is one of Dublin’s most touristic areas and as such can become very crowded in the evenings and you might encounter some loud groups of party-people.
Where to Stay
- On a Budget
Green Isle is a family friendly hotel located 20 minutes away from Dublin’s International Airport and Dublin’s city centre. Offering 270 guest rooms, ranging from large doubles to family suites, a leisure centre with a fully equipped gymnasium and indoor heated swimming pool, this is a perfect choice for a weekend break. From €79/£59 including free Wi-Fi and complimentary parking.
- Splurge a little
One of Dublin’s finest country house hotels, Finnstown Castle Hotel is conveniently located a short 20 minutes’ drive away from the city centre. The hotel is housed in a historical 17th century manor surrounded by 45 acres of beautiful grounds, and features upscale rooms, a gourmet restaurant, tennis court and swimming pool. From €99/£74 including breakfast.
National Gallery of Ireland – Image by Kate. Get the picture. via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Grafton Street – Image by Valeria via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Phoenix Park – Image by Ana Fuentes via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Hanover Quay street art – Image by William Murphy via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Ha’Penny bridge – Image by Charles Gattis via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Guinness storehouse sign – Image by Yukino Miyazawa via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Temple Bar – Image by Alberto Gonzalez Limon via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Trinity College Library – Image by Wendy via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
The Custom House – Image by Giuseppe Milo via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)