When visiting the Emerald Isle for the first time, many begin with planning a 2, 3 or 4 days in Dublin itinerary to start their trips. The capital of Ireland is one of Europe’s most dynamic cities and there is something delightful to explore around every corner.
Whether you’re only about to spend a couple of days seeing the highlights of the Irish capital or you have the time to use it as a base to go on some day trips in the surrounding area, visiting Dublin is something you’ll never regret.
A completely different world to the rest of the country, Dublin is an inimitable city with lots to offer visitors.
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How Many Days in Dublin?
Before making any other plans, it is important to decide how many days to spend in Dublin. As Dublin is relatively small, you can definitely see most of the famous, notable sights in the city centre in just 2 days or a weekend in Dublin.
With 2 days in Dublin, you can hit all of the highlights and get a good feel for the city, but you won’t have the time to dig deeper and really get to the soul of Dublin. There is plenty to do in Dublin in 2 days and you certainly won’t be bored.
If you have 3 days in Dublin, then you will have the time to explore a bit more and head a bit further out – visiting some of the towns reachable on the city’s public transit network. If you’re seeing Dublin in 3 days, it is the sweet spot to really kick back and enjoy your trip or enjoy further-flung neighbourhoods like the seaside or the docklands.
But if you want to get off the beaten path and explore some different areas around the city, a 4-day itinerary for Dublin is definitely ideal. With this amount of time, you will have time to head out for a day trip from Dublin to somewhere like the Boyne Valley or the Wicklow Mountains where you can visit Glendalough and the Powerscourt Estate.
However, regardless of how many days you decide to spend in the capital city, you’ll find there is plenty to see and do to keep you well occupied.
Getting To & Around Dublin
The Dublin Airport is the largest in the country and services many international flights and different airlines, so finding an affordable flight into Dublin should be no issue.
Once you arrive at the airport, you can opt to either take a bus into the city centre or a taxi. The bus, the Airlink Express, departs from Dublin Airport frequently. If you decide to take a taxi, expect it to cost around €20-30, depending on where you’re staying in Dublin city center. You can also book a private transfer if you prefer a hassle-free journey.
Once you’re in the city itself, you’ll find that getting around is very easy. The city is extremely compact and walkable, so you’ll likely only use public transportation a couple of times during your visit.
However, it is a good idea to get a Leap Visitor Card from a convenience store when you arrive. Leap Cards are pre-paid contactless smart cards that allow you to use the buses and trams throughout the city, and are very affordable.
Related to the transport card, it can be worth purchasing the Dublin Go City Pass, which includes entry into several sites listed in this itinerary along with some other bonuses. It can be a great choice for those looking to save money if they plan on visit a lot of paid attractions.
2, 3 or 4-Day Dublin Itinerary
With 2 days, you’ll find just enough time to check out most of the major historic sites, stroll through the best neighbourhoods, and sample some great Guinness at traditional Irish pubs.
However, if you have the time to spare, spend 3 days or, ideally, spend 4 days in Dublin in order to really get to know the area surrounding the city and see some amazing places that tourists often miss.
If you want to see the city with the help of a knowledgeable guide, one of the best things to do in Dublin is to go on a guided walking tour of the city. Alternatively, you could also embark on this cycle tour of Dublin. Foodies will also love this guided food tour of the Irish capital.
Day 1 – Dublin Castle, Trinity College, Temple Bar & More!
Explore Dublin Castle and Gardens
The perfect place to start your first day in Dublin is at Dublin Castle, right in the heart of town. This castle is one of the most important historic buildings in Ireland and the perfect place to learn about the history of Ireland and its struggle for independence.
The castle was the headquarters for the British administration in Ireland right up until 1922 and now serves as an important government complex and a symbol of the fight for an independent Irish Republic.
On top of its historic importance, the castle is a beautiful and sprawling showcase of the Georgian architecture and style that is commonplace in Dublin. Book a guided tour of the castle or simply stroll the grounds and check out the beautiful gardens to get a good sense of Ireland’s unique history.
You can also book this tour of the Castle that includes entry to the Book of Kells (our next stop!).
Trinity College and the Book of Kells
After checking out Dublin Castle, head east on Dame Street for 10 minutes (stop and check out the infamous Molly Malone statue on the way) and you’ll arrive at Trinity College, considered one of the seven ancient universities (universities founded before the year 1600) and oldest surviving university in Ireland, having educated countless famous authors, poets, playwrights, and politicians.
Trinity College is as beautiful as it is prestigious — the campus is comprised of breathtaking Georgian-style buildings, lush green lawns, and a sprawling library that is home to more than 7 million printed manuscripts and books.
On display in the library is the incredibly famous Book of Kells, a lavishly decorated manuscript that contains the four gospels, written in the year 384 CE. The Book of Kells is an important and interesting artefact from Medieval Europe that is absolutely worth checking out while in Dublin.
If you’re not tired of museums and history at this point, you could also wander over to the nearby National Gallery of Ireland to take in some historic paintings.
Shop on Grafton Street
After exploring Trinity College, stroll down Grafton Street, just left of the main exit of the college, to do some shopping. Grafton Street and the side streets in the area are full of great shops, restaurants, and pubs.
Spend some time browsing the shops for some unique Irish goods, such as Claddagh Rings, Aran Sweaters, or artisanal whiskey before stopping for a bite to eat.
Check out Bewley’s Café, a vibrant and cheerful Dublin landmark that has been serving up fresh coffee, tea, scones, and sandwiches since 1927 for sustenance before continuing on with your day!
Stroll through St. Stephen’s Green
At the end of Grafton Street, you’ll see the gates to St. Stephen’s Green, an oasis of green in the middle of the bustling city. The park is beautiful and meticulously landscaped, perfect for an afternoon stroll on a sunny day.
Make sure to check out the James Joyce Memorial Sculpture as you make your way around the perimeter of the park!
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
From St. Stephen’s Green, head west on Kevin Street Lower for about ten minutes and you’ll arrive at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland, and the tallest and largest church in the country.
The cathedral is beautiful and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to hear the world-famous choir that performs every day during the school term.
End your day exploring the infamous Temple Bar district, a must-see on any trip to Dublin. The area, just south of the Liffey River is full of unique thrift shops, a wide range of restaurants, and plenty of pubs, live music, and pints of Guinness.
While the area is definitely touristy and the drinks fairly overpriced, it is still an interesting area to visit. Stop into the famous Temple Bar Pub for the obligatory pint before getting dinner. I’d recommend Piglet Wine Bar on Cow’s Lane for affordable wine and small plates that are perfect for sharing with a friend, or for something quicker and simple, Bunsen Burgers are always a favourite.
End your night at The Auld Dubliner, where there is great live music nightly. Just be warned — this pub gets rowdy as the night goes on, as it is very popular among Hen and Stag parties!
If you’re looking to visit some historic pubs with a more intellectual twist, then consider heading out on this literary pub tour – perfect for book lovers!
Day 2 – Kilmainham Gaol, Guinness Storehouse, Creative Corner & More!
Start day two in Dublin at Kilmainham Gaol, a famous former prison where many Irish Revolutionaries were held by the British during the years of rebellion in Ireland’s struggle for independence.
Today, it is an incredibly interesting museum and an important historic site that symbolizes the Irish fight for freedom.
Tickets are €8 per person and the guided tour lasts an hour and a half. While the site is a bit of a walk outside the centre of town, it can easily be reached by bus (you can download the Dublin Bus app to check routes and timetables). Because this is a popular site, it can be worth it to book tickets online in advance.
After touring Kilmainham Gaol, walk about twenty minutes back in the direction of the city centre until you reach the Guinness Storehouse, arguably one of the most famous tourist attractions in Ireland.
Even if you aren’t a huge fan of the iconic stout, the Storehouse is definitely worth seeing, as it not only teaches you about the process of how the drink is made, but also the incredibly significant socioeconomic impact Guinness has made on the entire country.
The storehouse spans seven floors of unique and educational exhibits, culminating at the top floor Sky Bar, where you get to sample a complimentary pint. I’d definitely recommend booking in advance here to avoid waiting in a long line.
If you’re not a beer fan, you can also opt to go on a guided tour of the Jameson distillery and learn all about Irish whiskey!
Ha’Penny Bridge and O’Connell Street
From the Storehouse, make your way back to the city centre, either via public transport or on foot, and arrive at the Ha’Penny Bridge, which stretches over the River Liffey.
This pedestrian bridge was built in 1816 and got its name because passersby used to have to pay a toll of a “ha-penny” every time they crossed it, up until 1919.
Cross this historic bridge and get ready to spend the afternoon exploring the North side of town, which has a very different vibe from the South side.
Grab lunch at any of the many cafes and restaurants in the area (I’d recommend Brother Hubbard for all-day brunch with a Middle Eastern flair) and then make your way down O’Connell Street, a huge main thoroughfare.
Make sure you stroll down Henry Street, a popular shopping street, before making your way to The General Post Office.
If you want to spend more time on the water, it’s also a great option to head out on a river cruise of the Liffey.
The General Post Office
Located in the centre of O’Connell Street, you’ll find The General Post Office, one of the most beautiful and grand buildings in Dublin.
While the building is the current headquarters for the Irish Postal Service, it once was the headquarters for the leaders of the Easter Rising rebellion of 1916 and the site where Irish revolutionary Patrick Pearse stood and read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
The General Post Office is definitely worth checking out, as it is such an important site in Irish history.
Creative Quarter/ Camden Street
For the evening of day two, stroll back across the River to the south side and check out the Creative Quarter, located between George’s Street and South William Street. This charming area is full of unique boutiques, cafes, and restaurants and is definitely worth spending some time.
Make sure to see George’s Street Arcade, an indoor marketplace with stalls selling all kinds of interesting art, jewellery, and books, or stop into the Irish Design Shop to pick up some handmade local goods to bring home.
After hanging out in the Creative Quarter and getting a bite to eat, stroll up just ten minutes to Camden Street, a vibrant area where there are plenty of great pubs to grab a drink or two. This area is far less touristy than the Temple Bar district, so you can enjoy feeling like a local for the night!
Those who want an alternative way to spend their evening may also consider this Dark Dublin tour which will teach you about the city’s darker history.
Day 3 – Dublin’s Seaside
Spend your third day exploring the beautiful seaside villages of Dublin, reached easily by train (called the DART). Try to get an early train from the city centre (there are a few different city centre stops, so you can look up the one closest to where you are staying) and get on the train headed toward Bray, which will take you out in the direction you’ll want to be in.
For your first stop of the day, get off at Dun Laoghaire, a wonderfully picturesque coastal suburb of Dublin. Stroll down the pier, check out the National Maritime Museum of Ireland, or if you happen to visit on a Sunday, check out the amazing farmer’s market in People’s Park.
If it isn’t too cold and you’re feeling particularly brave, take a dip in the Dublin Bay at The Forty Foot, a popular swimming and cliff jumping spot just a short walk from the main pier.
After exploring Dun Laoghaire, hop back on the Dart until you reach the Bray stop. This small seaside town is well known for a stunning coastal cliff walk that stretches all the way to Greystones, another village 7km away.
If you are physically able, I would highly recommend doing this walk- it is absolutely breathtaking, and the perfect way to get familiar with the Irish coast. After finishing the walk in Greystones, treat yourself to a much-deserved meal and pint before taking the DART back to the city centre.
Day 4 – Day Trip to the Boyne Valley
On your fourth day, do a day tour of some of the amazing ancient monuments of Boyne Valley, less than an hour’s drive from Dublin towards Belfast, such as Newgrange, Knowth and the Hill of Tara.
While you definitely could rent a car and do the trip yourself, I’d recommend booking a tour — Newgrange limits the number of visitors per day and tour groups always get first priority.
There are many different companies that offer day tours of these sites from Dublin including transportation and admission costs.
Newgrange, a prehistoric tomb built around 3200 BCE, is a particularly fascinating site to visit, as the completely dark chamber fills with light through a meticulously constructed hole in the roof only once every year- when the sun rises on the winter solstice.
It is a truly incredible experience standing in a tomb that old and mysterious. The other sites you’ll visit on a tour of Boyne Valley are equally as ancient, impressive, – even mythical, and will leave you absolutely blown away.
A day trip to this area is the perfect yet underrated way to spend your last day in the Dublin area before moving on with your travels!
If you do decide to hire a car and visit independently, we recommend using RentalCars.com to find a great deal. This platform aggregates prices across many of the major car hire companies so that you can get a good price!
Having a car when you visit Ireland for the rest of your itinerary is also a great way to be able to be flexible and see a lot of smaller places while getting around. For instance, there around countless places to stop and visit if you’re driving south from Dublin to Cork or west from Dublin to Galway or even if you’re heading to Northern Ireland.
Finally, while it can be tempting to visit places like the Cliffs of Moher and the Giant’s Causeway as a day trip from Dublin, both of these are too far in practice from the city and you will spend too much of your time in transit and not enough enjoying the gorgeous scenery that come along with these iconic places.
Where to Stay in Dublin
Hotel 7 – Situated in the centre of Dublin, this small boutique hotel is perfect for those looking for a clean and cosy place to stay in the city. Well-located within easy reach of the city’s top sites, they have a handful of comfortable rooms available and include and options available for breakfast.
Kilronan House – A wonderful Bed & Breakfast located in Dublin’s beautiful Georgian quarter, this is a perfect place to stay in the city. They have several clean and plush rooms on offer and a fantastic and hearty breakfast included each morning. It is also perfectly situated to explore the top sites of the Irish capital.
Jacob’s Inn – If you’re on a budget or travelling solo or just want a great social atmosphere, then this hostel is a great choice for you. Centrally located within walking distance of many of Dublin’s top attractions, they have several dorm rooms and private rooms available and great common areas to make meeting other travellers a breeze.
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As you can see, regardless of how long you spend in Dublin, you’ll definitely find such an incredible and wide variety of activities to keep you busy throughout your stay. Dublin is an amazing city for travellers of all ages, activity levels, and interests, and is sure to make for a trip you’ll never forget!
Are you planning to visit Dublin? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!