Dublin in One Day
Ireland might be known for its gray skies and rolling green hills, but Dublin is also one of Europe’s most charming gems.
Even if you only have one day in this lovely city, there’s still a lot to take advantage of. I was only here for a few short days, but it’s definitely going back on my list to return to. Here’s my guide to seeing Dublin in one day!
9.00 AM | Breakfast
Breakfast is, of course, the most important meal of the day. The Irish certainly don’t forget that either. Start the day off at a local cafe like Keoghs Cafe, located right in the heart of the city. Pair a coffee with one of their delicious muffins, and the simple, yet filling food will put you in a great mood for the rest of the day. Brick Alley Cafe is another good substitute in the district that serves some fantastic hot chocolate and fresh juices. Either way, I’d recommend avoiding any shop that you recognize the name of–I’m speaking to you Starbucks lovers. Take a chance and enjoy some true Irish food!
Don’t forget to also peek along the River Liffey to see the Ha’Penny Bridge, so named because of its previous toll of one half-penny for pedestrians to cross, and the O’Connell Bridge, named for ‘The Liberator’ Daniel O’Connell who fought for Catholics’ rights to serve on parliament.
9.30 AM | Temple Bar & George’s Arcade
After breakfast, meander through the Temple Bar district and see all the colorful store fronts and flowers blooming outside the pubs. You’ll likely walk by The Temple Bar on the corner, with its famous red paint catching your eye. Though iconic, the pub is not a true, proper example of Irish culture by the locals; it’s an expensive tourist trap. Take a few pictures if you want or pop in for a quick peek inside, but avoid the bar at night when it’s overrun by tourists. It’s not as bad during the day, but I definitely recommend other pubs for nightlife that will save you money and give you a better taste of Irish pub life.
Keep heading south until you reach George’s Street Arcade. There, you’ll find a small, but great covered market with all sorts of unique handmade crafts that make for souvenirs. Searching for handmade jewelry, odd knicknacks, or even piercings? You’ll find it here, along with the flair of local artists. I was able to pick up a really nice watercolor print at a decent price and support a local artist–a great niche area for the artsy shopper.
10.30 AM | St. Patrick’s
If you’re picking up a print or postcard of Dublin, one of the most famous sites you’ll see is St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Named for Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick, it’s a beautiful site to see, inside and out. Be warned–there is a 6 euro entrance fee for adults to enter the cathedral. If you’re like me and still on that broke college student budget, however, it’s still worth a visit! Even if you don’t enter, however, the stonework on this cathedral is quite stunning, which was largely restored in the 19th century by Benjamin Guinness of the Guinness beer company. Thus, locals affectionately call it the “Guinness Church.”
11.15 AM | Stephen’s Green
Turning back towards to the city center, head east until you reach St. Stephen’s Green, the largest park in Dublin. On a nice day, there’s nothing better than walking around all the fountains or basking in the rare sunlight at this lovely park.
12.00 PM | Lunch
After a nice breather in the park, head outside the green to find lunch nearby. If you’re feeling rejuvenated from the park, you can also pair lunch with a quick shopping spree at the Stephen’s Green Shopping Center, the largest indoor mall in Dublin. Or, take your time and find a nicer sit-down restaurant along the outskirts of the park. You might even take some free time after lunch to digest your food again back in Stephen’s Green as you prepare yourself for the afternoon.
1.00 PM | National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology
After a relaxing morning, start looping up from Stephen’s Green to the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology. Entrance is free and you can easily lose track of time as you discover more about Dublin’s Viking settlers, key iconic artifacts in the museum’s Treasury collection, and well-preserved bog bodies. Even in my busy day of sight-seeing, I could have easily spent more than the two hours I did getting lost in their fascinating collections and history.
3.00 PM | Trinity College, Book of Kells & Old Library
If you haven’t had enough culture yet, due north of the museum is the famous Trinity College of Dublin. Entrance into the campus grounds is free, and many tourists take the time to simply wander around the buildings of the prestigious institution. But don’t miss the most famous part of the college–the Book of Kells and the Old Library.
If you have time, I suggest queuing up for the student tour of the college (lasts about 30 minutes) and buying your library entrance fee (11 euros for adults) with the tour. It only costs 1-2 euros more, plus you get an overview of the college’s history. You’ll still have to wait in line to enter the library, but it moves fairly quickly, especially in the late afternoon. Avoid visiting in the morning–everyone has the same idea and it never works out. Read through the exhibition before the Book of Kells before staring at the incredibly preserved and ornate Bible, then head up the stairs to the Old Library. Fair warning : the splendor of its long, vaulted hall in Irish oak and floor to ceiling books may lead to a sore jaw if you spend too long gaping in wonder at it. Especially for the booklover that I am.
4.30 PM | Guinness Storehouse
After a full day of sightseeing, you’re probably very thirsty. It’s time to reward yourself with a proper pint of Guinness. Catch bus 13 to the Guinness store house for a tour of the facilities and learn what makes a proper Guinness from Dublin. Fair warning: be prepared to hate the sad imitation of Guinness that’s available in America after this tour. At the end, head upstairs to the fifth floor for a free pint and savor its deliciousness in all its Irish glory. Pro tip: buy your ticket online ahead of time for a possible discount. Just be sure to book your tour with enough time to get there before hand, otherwise you risk being shuffled into a later tour or losing your ticket.
If you have time and the world isn’t spinning too much yet, you can also stop by the Jameson Whiskey Distillery on your way to dinner.
7.00 PM | Dinner
Finally, finish off the night with some authentic, good Irish food at Slatterys Bar in the old fruit market area. Try the classic fish and chips or go for the traditional lamb stew and wash it down with another pint of Guinness as you take in the pub atmosphere and reflect on a day well spent in Dublin. Or, sample some of Teeling’s single blend whiskey before dinner with a taste of single grain to wash down the food at the end of the meal.
For those who are still craving the beer experience in Dublin, visit The Black Sheep for dinner and choose one (or more) of their 27 craft beers they have on draft. My favorites include the Full Sail IPA, the Bay Irish Red Ale, and the Buried at Sea Milk Chocolate Stout.
10.00 PM | Nightlife
Still have energy left after that busy day and looking for a taste of the nightlife? Props to you! Go the traditional route and head just down Capel Street to J. McNeills Pub where local musicians often pop in at 9.30 PM bringing their guitars and warming Irish voices for some traditional music. Hands down the best pub experience I had in Dublin, sipping on a pint of Guinness and hearing gifted singers sharing traditional Irish songs mixed in with acoustic remakes of modern music. Get there early or risk standing because their back room fills up fast!
Or, for the party-goers looking to learn how the Irish party all night long, cross the river heading south past Stephen’s Green to Dicey’s Beer Garden. If you arrive after 10 PM, be prepared to pay a 10 euro entrance fee. But then you’re free to dance the night away on the outdoor terrace or inside the bar upstairs. This is a great bar because they have multiple rooms to explore, both indoor and outdoor. It’s also pretty popular with the international crowd.
You can also take the easy way out and do a pub crawl through the Temple Bar district. Just be sure to avoid The Temple Bar pub unless you’re looking for a fast way to waste money on fake Irish culture.
At the end of the night, you can rest easy knowing you treated yourself to a fantastic day of Dublin sightseeing. With a full belly and a warm heart of Guinness, you’ll sleep well and dream of the next time you get to visit this lovely city. Hope to see you there!
Follow more of my travels at CourtneyDuMonde.Wordpress.com.