A First Time Visitor’s Guide to Dublin

bank of ireland building by runaway jane

You’d be mistaken for thinking Dublin was just a party city. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly up there as one of the best places in Europe (if not the world) to go drinking, but this city is also a cultural heavyweight of the grandest scale! So with that in mind, I’ve compiled what I think are some of the best things to do in Dublin for first timers. I hope you find this guide useful should you ever come here.

The best way to experience Dublin’s main attractions on a short time scale…

If you’ve only got 1 or 2 days to spare and you’ve never been to Dublin before, I recommend buying both the Dublin Pass and a hop-on hop-off bus ticket for the green line.

Why the hop-on/off ticket?

Whilst I’m not usually a fan of these hop-on hop-off tourist style buses, I particularly liked this one because you got a live commentary from the bus driver rather than just a recorded voice. I actually stayed on for one entire loop first before getting off anywhere because our bus driver Greg was so hilarious!

Secondly, it just makes things really easy if you’re going to see any of the main attractions because you stop pretty much on their doorstep. For example, highlight stops include:

  • Trinity College Dublin
  • The National Gallery
  • Temple Bar
  • Dublin Castle
  • Guinness Storehouse
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • The National Museum
  • The Old Jameson Distillery
  • Liffey River Cruise
  • The Writer’s Museum

The price for 1 adult ticket is €19, however there is a 15% discount if you book online and if you’re travelling as a family it’s worth noting that every paying adult is allowed to bring on up to 2 kids (under 14) for free.

Why get the Dublin Pass?

The Dublin Pass gains you entry into 33 visitor attractions including the famous Guinness Storehouse, the Old Jameson Distillery and the popular Dublinia. It also allows you to queue-skip (in most of the included attractions) and provides discounts on many other activities too (such as a 25% discount off the highly regarded Dublin Literary Pub Crawl.)

Additionally, the Dublin Pass entitles you to a free one-way Airport transfer into Dublin city centre. Although it’s worth noting that the pass is valid from the moment you use it on the bus, so it’s best only to use it for this if you’re arriving in the morning!

The price of 1  adult Dublin Pass is as follows:

1 Day – €39

2 Day – €69

3 Day – €71

6 Day – €105

Beautiful buildings

trinity college dublin by runaway jane

trinity college dublin 2 by runaway jane

Dublin is a city filled with architectural hotspots that make it an incredibly inspiring city to just be in. There are many stand out buildings, but if it’s your first time in Dublin and you don’t have a lot of time to go walking around the city, make sure you don’t miss out on Trinity College Dublin (the entrance of which is pictured in the 2 photos above.) You can also kill two birds with one stone here by visiting the magnificent Trinity College Library inside.

If you’re a true architecture aficionado though, you may want to keep an eye out for events in Dublin such as Open House, where you’ll be able to experience many free architectural walking tours of the city over the course of a weekend.

More generally though, other beautiful and/or interesting exteriors in Dublin that you may want to check out include The National Museum, Dublin City Hall, Dublin Castle, St Andrews Church (Suffolk Street), Leinster House and The Bank of Ireland building (pictured at the top of this article.)

Adventure Activities

wake boarding dublin by runaway jane

If you’re more of an ‘activities and adventure’ kind of traveller or you’re just looking for a bit of variety in terms of things to do in Dublin, then I highly recommend checking out the wakeboarding dock down on Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock! For a 30 minute introductory lesson including all equipment and kit, prices are €60 per adult or €45 for students with a valid ID card. I’d also recommend this as the perfect solution to any Dublin hangover! 😉

Night-time activities in Dublin

culture night dublin by runaway jane

You’ll never be short of places to go at night in Dublin. However, in my personal opinion you should really take advantage of the live music and live comedy scene in Dublin if you ever come here. It’s one of the best places in the world to do so. Good pubs/venues for checking out comedy and/or music include The International Bar, Ha’Penny Bridge Inn, The Laughter Lounge and The Stag’s Head.

Dublin Fringe Festival (5th to 20th September) is also a fantastic event to time your visit around if you’re seeking an eclectic variety of acts to choose from and a chance to support some local up-and-coming performers.

– If it’s your first time in Dublin and you’re looking for things to do, hopefully this article has been a helpful place to get you started. If you’d like more tips or recommendations on what to do here though, you’ll find more information over on Failte Ireland, Ireland’s official tourism board website. Also, please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section below!

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3 Responses to “A First Time Visitor’s Guide to Dublin”

  1. Claire says:

    Great choices Jane! I would also recommend The Science Gallery and Dublin Zoo too.

  2. Shannon says:

    Great suggestions!
    When I was in Dublin this summer, we did a free walking tour (look up Sandeman’s walking tour for more info).
    We saw all of the sites and were taken around by a tour guide who was so passionate about the city. I would suggest this to anyone who is a first-timer in the Dublin!
    I blogged about my time in Dublin here: http://classiccosmopolite.wordpress.com/category/dublin/

  3. Katie says:

    While hop on/off buses are poo-pooed by “elite” travelers, they certainly are efficient for those looking to see the best of a city very quickly … great overview of Dublin … can’t wait to get there soon!

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