Insider Tips

Your First Dublin Trip

By Visit DublinDublin's Official Tourism SiteBIO
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Planning to visit Dublin for the first time? From getting to and from the airport, to squeezing every ounce of fun out of Ireland’s capital city while you’re there, we have some great suggestions for places to visit, things to do and experiences to treasure while you’re in town.

Your First Dublin Trip

Getting around

One of the best things about Dublin is its size. Small enough to fill a perfect weekend without feeling like you’ve missed anything, Dublin also offers lots more to delve into if time allows. And getting around won’t eat into your holiday time as the city has plenty of transport options, from buses and trams to city trains and Dublin bikes.

The Leap Card is the answer to convenient travel, and the perfect companion for any first time visitor to the city. This handy pay-as-you-go smart card means you save money on travel and you don't have to carry cash! You can buy a Leap Card straight off the plane in the Dublin Airport Arrivals Hall, and for less than €20 you can have 72 hours of unlimited travel sorted.

Use your new Leap Card on the 16, 41, 102 or 747 routes and travel directly into the heart of the city from Dublin Airport. Your return trip to the airport is also included in the price of the card too!

Alternatively, for a more direct, if more expensive journey into the city centre, jump on the Airlink or Aircoach (tickets can be bought on board the bus).

See the sights…

Guided tours can be a great way for first time visitors to get acquainted with any new city, and it’s a wonderful way to learn about Dublin. Get the lay of the land on an open-top sightseeing bus tour; journeys come with chatty guides full of interesting Dublin facts as standard. Some of the more eccentric tour masters have even been known to treat passengers to a little singing whilst pointing out some of Dublin’s most famous landmarks!

Combine your bus tour with some of Dublin’s best attractions, many of which are free, including the National Museum (closed on Mondays), the National Gallery of Ireland and the Chester Beatty Library, to name just a few. The Hop-On Hop-Off Dublin Bus Tour offers a 90-minute route with 23 stops close to all of the city’s top sights including the Kilmainham Gaol and The Book of Kells at Trinity College. Or if you are looking to learn some more about Dublin's historic and sporting cultural heritage don't miss Croke Park, an 80,000 capacity cauldron of passion on GAA match days, which houses the GAA Museum and the Etihad Skyline Tour.

  • Top tip: source a match ticket during the summer championships and you're in for a unique Irish experience!

There’s also a shorter, 35-minute route along Dublin’s Docklands on offer which features the historical Jeanie Johnston Famine Memorial ship. Alternatively, jump off at stop 7 to board a Dublin Bay Cruiser and see Dublin from an entirely different perspective. Discover the wonderful wildlife reserves that lie along the bay from north to south, while you’re taking in those panoramic views.

Your First Dublin Trip
Your First Dublin Trip

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside…

Did you know Dublin has a stunning coastline just minutes from the city centre? Hop on the DART and enjoy a short, relaxing journey north or south of the city to find yourself in one of Dublin’s many gorgeous seaside fishing villages. Yes, Dublin does have seaside villages!

Experience a different side to Dublin and go north to Howth, where there’s a walk for every fitness level. Get your heart pumping on the Bog of Frogs Loop for scenic views of the cliffs, Lambay Island and the Baily Lighthouse, or wander down the pier and take in the views of Ireland’s Eye, a beautiful island just a 15-minute boat ride away.

Check out Howth Market for Irish crafts and tasty street food, and immerse yourself in history at the nearby Howth Castle and Gardens. There are tons of great places to eat here and seafood, as you might expect, takes centre stage. Finish off your day trip by ordering a seafood platter at Deep on the pier, or slurp one of the three seafood chowders (the Luxury Chowder, a Manhattan Chowder or a regular one!) on offer at The Oarhouse. If you don’t fancy fish, then grab a slice of cheesy goodness at The Dog House Blues Tea Rooms, a quirky spot serving mouth-watering pizza.

Alternatively, head south and discover Dalkey. Home to more than one famous local (Bono, The Edge, Enya and Van Morrison live here), this charming spot has a rich history  the main street features not one, but two Norman castles and a 10th century church. If literature is more your thing, don’t miss the Writer’s Gallery for everything from Beckett to Binchy. Also south of the city is Dún Laoghaire – a town offering amazing views of Dublin Bay and a wealth of things to do and see. Stroll along the town’s mile-long East Pier Walk; grab some fish and chips to eat by the sea and don’t forget to sample a 99 (with a Flake!) from the institution that is Teddy’s – renowned as purveyors of one of Dublin’s best-tasting ice creams!

City rambler

One of the nicest things about visiting a city for the first time is that feeling of adventure and the unknown – being a little lost most of the time but not really caring! Long, rambling, unplanned walks around Dublin will ensure you’ll uncover your own city gems – from amazing home-baked treats and caffeine fixes in little hidden cafés and the perfect vintage find in a second-hand boutique, to a historical landmark with a thrilling back story or a chance conversation with a Dublin character – this city is layered and unique, and Dublin is full of treasures waiting to be found. Wander the city with a little purpose though, and you’ll add to the list of surprises.

Make your way down Merrion Square to gaze at beautifully preserved Georgian buildings while lazing in the park. Buy lunch and eat it in St. Stephen’s Green like the locals do, or experience a part of Dublin that has changed little over the years by walking through the Liberties’ own Meath Street markets (Friday is the best day!). Introduce yourself to authentic traditional Irish music at the Cobblestone in Smithfield, or sit down to some homegrown film-making talent at the Irish Film Institute in Temple Bar, where at least one Irish film is showcased every month. The options are endless…

For an oasis within the city, stroll through the grounds of Trinity College where the buzz of the city streets are dulled by the grand old buildings. On a nice day, wander the green spaces at the back of the campus and during college term, cheer along to the students’ rugby or cricket matches.

For shopping in Dublin, head to Henry Street for some high street bargains and a browse around Arnotts, the grand old dame of Dublin department store style. Grafton Street and its surrounds holds many a boutique gem as well as some relaxing cafés in which to wind down while you take stock of your new purchases.

Your First Dublin Trip
Your First Dublin Trip

Out on the town…

While you’re in Dublin, it’s unlikely you’ll escape the draw of our famous nightlife. From heaving bars and clubs to quaint old-style pubs; high-end culinary delights to tasty food on the go; street performers and buskers to seated harmonics and theatre shows, the Dublin music scene has it all! Music lovers are spoilt for choice with gigs a plenty; try Sin É on a Sunday night for folk and blues, the National Concert Hall for some class, Vicar Street for the biggest names in an intimate setting and Whelan’s for an indie boogie any night of the week.

Avid theatre-goers should pay a visit to the stages of the Abbey and the Gate Theatre to watch the finest Irish acting talent in action. Foodies won’t be disappointed with Dublin restaurants like the Rustic Stone, 777, Bunsen and Crackbird (and many, many more) serving up some serious grub to ensure you’re set for the night. Craft beer aficionados can jump for joy in bars like Brewdock, Against the Grain, Black Sheep and Bison Bar. So, get out there and explore Dublin at night – there are so many options for the first time visitor in Dublin, you’ll find you just have to make a second trip!

Now that Dublin has tempted you, find the best airline and ferry access to Dublin.