I visited Dublin as part of a work trip in February 2019 and as with most work trips, time for exploring was limited. Hence, as soon as I had checked in to my hotel, I picked up a town map and started walking. In the course of the afternoon, I managed to cover most of the city centre by foot. There where even time to stroll along the river, getting lost in small side streets and ticking two things of my Dublin bucket list. Below you find my suggested route to see Dublin in a day.
1. Start your day tour of Dublin by St. Stephens Green
Arriving Dublin in February, I did not expect to find a lush green park with palm trees and colourful flowers in the midst of the city centre. But that was exactly what I found when entering the gate to the beautiful St. Stephens Green. This is a good starting point for a sightseeing walk around town, as the large park is easy to find.
2. Grafton street and its cute side streets
If shopping is your thing, Grafton Street is where you should start. This wide pedestrian street with starts just across the road from St. Stephens Greens and the beautiful buildings and side streets houses enough stores to keep you occupied for most of the day. Shopping is not on my list of things to do with limited time in a new place, I rather took my time to venture off into the cute smaller side streets on my way towards the river Liffey.
3. Trinity College Library and the Book of Kells
At the end of Grafton Street, you walk straight into the majestic Trinity College. This is where you find Trinity Library. As a book lover by heart, a visit to the library was a must for me. You can purchase tickets for a selected time online and skip the queue. Entering the library all you can see and smell are old books. Do not worry about it being crowded, your focus will be on the two floors of old books from floor to ceiling and the beautiful architecture and ornaments. The library is most known for housing the Book of Kells. A gospel book in Latin with beautiful illustrations possibly created as early as 800 AD. It is displayed at the further end of the library.
4. A river stroll along Liffey
After visiting the grand library, head either directly down to the river or stop by the Irish Whisky Museum for a taste of the “water of life” before continuing. The museum is situated right next to Trinity.
Liffey is the largest of the rivers flowing through Dublin and a good place for strolling. Cross the O’Connel bridge and take a look at the neoclassical Custom House from the 18th century. Admire the different buildings lining the rivers. Some with bold colours, some made of traditional bricks and some with beautiful ornaments. Cross back on the famous Ha’Penny Bridge, a pedestrian bridge made of cast iron in 1816. Continue along the river until you have walked past Dublin City Council.
5. Christchurch Cathedral and Dublinia
You are now only a stone throw away from Christchurch Cathedral. A massive and majestic stone church built in the 12th century and the oldest of Dublin’s two medieval churches. The other being the also well-known St. Patricks Cathedral. Christchurch is formally known as The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. It was first erected by a Viking king in the 11th century, but was later rebuilt by the Normans a decade later. A built-in bridge connects the church with what once was a synod, but now houses Dublinia. A museum of medieval Dublin where you can, after what I have heard, learn about the Viking’s role in founding Dublin. Unfortunately, the museum was closed when I visited.
6. City Hall and Dublin Castle
Nearby the cathedral, you find two major 18th century institutions; Dublin Castle and the City Hall. Until 1920 the castle was the seat of the British government in Ireland. It is a large complex of buildings and two towers, and is today open to the public as a tourist attraction as well as housing government offices. The City Hall used to be Dublin Exhange until 1850 and is now meeting place for Dublin’s city council.
7. George’s Street Arcade
In need of a snack after all the sightseeing? Or maybe a little bit of shopping? Swing by the beautiful Victorian style indoor market at George’s Street Arcade. Inside the large, red-bricked building you find up to 50 stalls and shops selling everything from healthy snacks to fashion to antiques. The arcade first opened in 1881 as the South City Markets.
8. Sweet Molly Malone
After browsing through the market, you have one last place to visit before a pint awaits in Temple Bar. Go to St. Andrews Church on Suffolk Street, where you find the statue of Molly Malone. If you have not heard the song about Molly in Dublin’s Fair City before arriving, now is the time to do it. Did you know that this song of the fisherman’s wife who traded on the streets and died young of fever, is considered Dublin’s unofficial anthem?
9. End the day at Temple Bar
Finally. Temple Bar district is your last stop. The famous bar area may be slightly (!) touristified, but have you really been to Dublin without a visit here? For me, at least, it was the second place I had to tick off my Dublin bucket list. The first being Trinity Library.
Order a pint of Guinness (or whatever beer you prefer), sit back and enjoy before you shake off the walking stiffness to live music on the dance floor.
If you have more time…
If you have more than a day in Dublin, which I definitely hope you have, I have a few more tips to what you should fill that time with.
What is Dublin without Guiness? Visit Guiness Storehouse to learn more about the history of the brewery and get a taste of the beer in the sky bar with panoramic views of the city.
Want to learn more about Irishmen around the world? EPIC – The Irish Emigration Museum is a digital, innovative and involving museum by the river Liffey, where you will understand the Irish’ love for their home country.
Was Dublin Castle not exactly what you imagined of an Irish castle? Take a tour to Malahide Castle & Gardens by the sea just outside the city. If this majestic castle, partly from the 12th century, does not take you back to mediaeval times, no place can. Take the time to walk around the gardens and visit the butterfly house.