Ready for 900 year old pubs, lively music, flowing libations, fish and chips, and all things Irish? If you’re taking a trip to the Emerald Isle and want to make the most of your time in Dublin, here’s the perfect 2 day itinerary!
Morning: St. Patrick’s Cathedral
I highly recommend starting your day off a local cafe or coffee shop whenever possible. We rented an apartment in a residential neighborhood near the Guinness Factory and found an amazing cafe filled with locals sipping coffee, speaking Irish, and snacking on the most delicious rhubarb cake you’ll ever eat. To be honest, it’s the only rhubarb cake I’ve ever eaten. But it left me to wonder, “How have I gone my entire life without this??”
Now, on to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Yes, St. Patrick was real, and yes, the Irish love him. Whether he actually ran all the snakes out of Ireland or not is still up for debate, but what is not up for debate is how breathtakingly beautiful this cathedral is. You’ll have to time your visit carefully if you are here on a Sunday, as they are closed to the public during mass. Check their official website for additional information or other closures.
Noon: Dublin Castle
In the heart of the city, Dublin Castle has been the center of English and British government in Ireland since the 13th century, and of the Free Republic of Ireland since its independence in 1922. You can choose between guided and self-guided tours here. The guided tour takes you through the Viking Excavation, Royal Chapel, State Apartments, and Exhibitions. The self-guided tour only gives you access to the State Apartments. It’s definitely worth the extra time and money to take the guided tour. The medieval ruins underground include parts of the old castle walls and a moat with “black water”, which is the original meaning of the name Dublin. You can book your tickets to Dublin Castle online up to 28 days in advance to choose your tour time. Ticket prices below are for guided tours only.
Lunch: Fish and Chips
You are welcome to do your own research here, or just take my word for it and go to Leo Burdock. Seriously. Eating fish and chips will never be the same after this.
The location on Werburgh Street is not far from Dublin Castle. You’ll have to get it to go here…or as they say…take away. And if you don’t mind circling back a bit, take your little bag of heaven down to the park next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and find a bench to rest your feet and enjoy some people watching. As an alternative, there are other dine-in locations that will be convenient for tomorrow’s itinerary as well.
Afternoon: Irish Whiskey or Beer Tasting
You just can’t leave Dublin without a visit to one of the original masters of beer and whiskey. After a day of walking, this is the perfect way to wind down your afternoon! Learn how to pour the perfect pint at the Guinness Storehouse, or experience the magic of whiskey distilling at either the Teeling Distillery in the historic Liberties neighborhood or the Jameson Distillery on Bow Street.
Can’t decide between beer or whiskey? Do both! You’ll definitely want to book your tours online in advance to fit them both into your schedule, but it IS possible. If you’re ambitious enough to do this, I recommend going to Guinness first, then your choice of whiskey distilleries. Jameson will fit in best if you plan to take advantage of the evening itinerary below.
Evening: Dinner and Nightlife
Now how you spend the rest of your evening? This will depend on how you like to travel, how much whiskey and beer you’ve “sampled”, and how much energy you have left after a full day of sightseeing. That being said, you ARE in Dublin. Dig deep and carry on! My recommendation for dinner is The Church Cafe and Restaurant. This is a really cool restaurant and bar inside of a renovated church. The Irish stew was arguably the best I had during my entire trip. Wherever you choose to eat, look into making reservations in advance. I know this seems to be a recurring theme here, but it was a valuable lesson I learned the hard way, and I would be remiss not to share it.
From here, it’s just a short walk to the Ha’Penny Bridge (named for the price you had to pay to cross it - a half penny). Very pretty views of the River Liffey, a romantic photo spot, and a chance to hang a lock on the bridge make a walk across this bridge a no-brainer.
A short walk along the river and you’ll be right around the corner from the Temple Bar District. Even if you aren’t into the party scene, you should at least take a walk through the streets to say you’ve been there. And if you’re feeling brave, you may just end up in an Irish pub standing shoulder to shoulder with a bar full of people singing “Where the Streets Have No Name” at the top of your lungs.
Into a quieter scene? Equally as cool and highly recommended is the oldest pub in Dublin. Just a few blocks away, The Brazen Head is 900 years old and counting. With multiple indoor bars, an outdoor patio, and live music, I can’t think of a reason why you shouldn’t end your evening here.
Morning: Trinity College
Trinity College, established in 1592, came about from the belief that the establishment of a university was necessary to bring Ireland into the mainstream of European learning. It is now the leading university in Ireland. The campus itself is beautiful, but the main thing you don't want to miss is the Book of Kells Exhibition.
The Book of Kells is a 9th century manuscript of the four Gospels of the Bible. It is one of the world’s most famous medieval manuscripts! The Book of Kells Exhibition includes access to the Long Room in the historic Old Library, which holds 200,000 of Trinity College’s oldest books.
Noon: Whiskey and Leprechauns
Just around the corner from Trinity college is the Irish Whiskey Museum. With interactive displays and whiskey tasting, this can be a fun place to take shelter if the weather takes one of its crazy turns. I swear its possible for the weather in Ireland to go through all four seasons in one day!
Whether you opt for the Whiskey Museum or not, don't leave this area without a visit to the famous (or infamous?) statue of Molly Malone. It's said that rubbing a certain area brings good luck...
If you've had your fill of whiskey, or that's just not your thing, check out the National Leprechaun Museum of Ireland. Discover the legend of the Leprechaun and other mythical creatures in Irish folklore. The experience will bring tons of fun, and maybe a little bit of magic too!
Lunch and Shopping: Drury Street
If you didn’t make it to Leo Burdock’s on day one, there’s a location nearby in the Temple Bar District, so this is also a perfect time to check that out during daylight hours. Hopefully you’ve already partaken in this delicious treat, and you can head over to the hip and funky Drury Street for lunch and shopping. Dublin Underground is an excellent resource for details on the best shops and cafes here.
Want to take a break from the city without actually leaving the city? Not far from Drury Street is St. Stephen’s Green. Popular with both locals and tourists alike, this public park in the city centre dates back to the 1800’s and is maintained in the original Victorian style with pedestrian walkways winding through beautifully designed gardens.
Afternoon: Museum Tours
There is no shortage of museums in Dublin, and some of the best are all within walking distance of St. Stephen's Green. There’s something for every interest, with noteworthy choices being the National Gallery of Ireland, the National Library of Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland, and the Little Museum of Dublin. You’ll probably only have time for one, but you really can’t go wrong with whatever you choose!
If museums don't interest you, then by all means keep shopping! Grafton Street is in this area as well, and is a shopper's paradise! If you're lucky, you'll find local musicians entertaining passersby with everything from traditional Irish music to American rock and roll. Bonus if you happen to be in Dublin around Christmas time, as it's not unheard of for famous Irish musicians to pop up for a surprise performance as well!
Evening: Dinner and Nightlife
Dublin has no shortage of excellent restaurants, and the area around Grafton Street is no exception. Looking for a something unique? How about dinner at a speakeasy? We chose The Blind Pig and were NOT disappointed!
For a fun way to end the night, you MUST go to Whelan’s. Whelan's is a live music venue that boasts the best local music, and even some with international fame! With a fun atmosphere, an eclectic range of music, and some of the best beers around, you can pretty much guarantee that you'll end your last night in Dublin with a good time! Oh, and did I mention this was the bar they used in the film P.S. I Love You? Enough said.
I hope you enjoy visiting Dublin and would love to hear feedback on this itinerary.
May the luck of the Irish shine upon you!