How to spend three days in Dublin

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Nicola BradyNicola Brady is a travel writer based in Dublin. She writes regularly for the Irish Independent, The Irish Times and Condé Nast Traveller, and has contributed to books on Dublin and Ireland for DK Eyewitness.
Media captionExplore all that Dublin has to offer.
People sitting outside of a café on Drury Street in Dublin City
Media captionExplore all that Dublin has to offer.

What’s better than a weekend in Dublin? Why, a long weekend, of course!

Whether you’re enjoying one of the bank holidays or taking a bonus day off work, there are plenty of ways to enjoy everything the city has to offer without those Sunday night blues kicking in. In the summer, the longer evenings mean that you can pack more into each day, whether you want to explore the cultural side of the city centre or get a breath of fresh air at the seaside.

If you’re looking for the best way to spend a long weekend in Dublin, we’ve got some ideas to get you started.

Three days for… culture vultures

Day One

Spend the day hopping between the museums around Stephen’s Green, starting off in the Museum of Literature Ireland for an insight into the country’s best writers. While there, visit the beautiful courtyard out the back, which backs onto the Iveagh Gardens. Then head over to the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology to check out the ancient gold and Viking treasures. Although they're temporarily closing their doors on St Stephens Green for renovations starting from April 7, the wonderful, donated collection of Dublin-centric memorabilia in the Little Museum of Dublin can still be found in the pop-up on Pembroke Street from April 9. But, if you want to learn about the city on the go, they also organise a Green Mile walking tour of Stephen’s Green every day at 2.30pm, giving their quirky take on the history of the park, with stories about the role the ducks played in the Easter Rising and why the local seagulls love one statue in particular. For something to do in the evening, there’s always the theatre: an Irish classic at the Abbey, a reinterpretation of a modern great at the Gate Theatre, or maybe a touring show at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre?

Media captionRoam the stunning Iveagh Gardens.

Day Two

Sunday is a great day for gallery hopping. In the Hugh Lane, there are free musical performances every week as part of the ‘Sundays at Noon’ series, for a live concert with an arty backdrop. There are public tours held at the National Gallery of Ireland, some that are generalised and some based on topics like Literature in Art or LGBTQIA+ connections. After your Sunday visit to the gallery, you'll find the Open Air Art Gallery directly across the street, with artists exhibiting and selling their beautiful paintings which are hung on the railing of Merrion Square. Out in Kilmainham, the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) offers free guided tours to un-ticketed exhibitions, with each tour led by experienced guides. Plan your visit between June to September and enjoy IMMA Outdoors, which makes the most of the beautiful grounds at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham with a season of activities like art workshops, heritage tours, yoga classes and evening gigs.

Day Three

On your third day, take a walking tour of the city to see Dublin from a whole new perspective. Secret Street Tours are led by people affected by homelessness, with walks running in both Smithfield and the Liberties, giving unique insight to these two storied neighbourhoods. Whichever tour you take, you’ll uncover plenty of Dublin fables, from historical happenings to tales of vibrant local characters. When you’re finished, stroll over to the Chester Beatty, where they often hold outdoor events like Qi Gong in the rooftop garden. In the summer months, you can spot the occasional theatre production outside in Stephen’s Green, when the Bewley’s Café Theatre performs al fresco – at other times, their lunchtime performances are held in the small theatre above the café. 

Media captionAdmire modern art at IMMA or chill out on the rooftop at the Chester Beatty.

Three days for… adventurers

Day One 

Fancy yourself as a bit of an adrenaline junkie? Take the DART along the Dublin Coastal Trail to Dalkey to go rock climbing at, where you can (quite literally) learn the ropes before abseiling down the sheer rock faces, with great views of Dublin Bay along the way. After a restorative lunch at The Queens, head out on the water with a guided sea kayaking tour with to see the resident seals around Dalkey Island. They also offer sunset tours, for a backdrop that’s even more Instagram-friendly. There are equally stunning views from the top of Killiney Hill, which has a handful of easily accessible walking trails.

Media captionSpot the seals around Dalkey Island from your kayak.

Day Two

There are plenty of adventures to be had in the city, like stand up paddle-boarding in the Docklands at Surfdock, where you can master the art on the calm waters of the Grand Canal. Afterwards, have lunch at Nutbutter and enjoy a scrumptious poke bowl while looking out at the water. Once you've fed your appetite, wander over to Escape Boats, where you’ll solve puzzles and crack codes in an escape room set on the Zorg Ella barge, right on the canal.

Day Three

Finish your break with a spot of mountain biking at the GAP, aka Glencullen Adventure Park, a 20-minute drive from the city centre in the Dublin Mountains. You can rent bikes and tackle a range of trails from intermediate to advanced pro lines. And they even offer up lifts for those who don’t fancy dragging their bicycles back to the top of the trail. If you prefer something a little less adrenaline fuelled, you can hike the Ticknock Fairy Castle loop, which goes right through the park. Afterwards, grab a burger at their on-site restaurant, or head to nearby Johnnie Fox’s for a pint and some seafood. 

Media captionTackle the trails at Glencullen Adventure Park before grabbing food at Johnnie Fox's.

Three days for… foodies

Day One 

Spend the day eating your way around the southside of the city, starting off with breakfast in Angelina’s for pastries or avocado toast on a table right next to the Grand Canal. Then take a walk along the length of the canal to Portobello, stopping for a coffee (and maybe a cinnamon roll) at Perch Coffee on Leeson Street Lower. When you reach Camden Street, take a quick detour into Portobello for a glass of wine or kombucha at Lennox Street Grocer or Brindle Coffee and Wine – both have outdoor benches that get all the afternoon sun. Finish up with dinner at Locks, a canal-side restaurant serving excellent modern Irish fare – think Dooncastle oysters with kombu vinegar and charred mackerel with salsify.  

Media captionStop by Angelina's for a yummy brekkie.

Day Two

If your trip falls on a Saturday, make a visit to the Temple Bar Food Market for their regular rotation of stalls selling pastries, artisan cheese, smoothies and Indian food in Meeting House Square. Afterwards, walk towards Drury Street, which is awash with outdoor dining options – you can get an iced coffee in Kaph or a handcrafted ice cream from Spilt Milk.  But save some space for dinner – the cult favourite steakhouse Hawksmoor opened a Dublin location in the historic National Bank building on College Green.   

Media captionSample the tasty treats on offer at the Temple Bar Food Market.

Day Three

The food truck scene in Dublin has really taken off in recent years, which means there are loads of places to go for a street food fix. You’ll find several trucks at The Place Street Food Yard on Grand Canal Street Lower. Take your pick from Indian dosas, burgers, pasta, falafel and more. Then get a coffee from 3fe across the street and make your way to the quays for a scenic walk back into the city centre. 

Media captionEnjoy your coffee as you stroll along the quays.

Three days for… escaping the city

Day One

Want to fill your lungs with fresh country air? Getting out of the city is a cinch, with the ideal destinations just a short DART ride north and south of town on the Dublin Coastal Trail. Head to Howth for a walk along the Cliff Path Loop, taking in those gorgeous views of the sea and out to the islands. When you’re done, head to The House for award-winning dishes from both land and sea.

Media captionTake in the views on the Howth Cliff Walk.

Day Two

Make the quick journey out to Dún Laoghaire and join the swimmers at the Forty Foot who head out rain, hail or shine for a dose of ‘vitamin sea’. Afterwards, you can treat yourself to a hot chocolate and an artisan sausage roll at the Sandycove Store and Yard, where there are also two barrel saunas and an ice bath. Finish up the day with a cocktail at Haddington House, for a sundowner overlooking the sea.

Day Three

Spend the day out in Skerries, beginning with a walk at Ardgillan Castle and Gardens, for beautiful views out over to Lambay Island and even the Mourne Mountains on a clear day. You can take a tour of the castle or visit the gallery, and there’s a tearoom for a mid-morning refreshment. Afterwards, take a stroll around the Red Island headland then grab a bite to eat in Stoop Your Head, where they serve up excellent mussels and Dublin Bay prawns right by the sea. Afterwards, walk out along the harbour and have an ice cream from Storm in a Teacup for dessert.

Media captionSee the stunning sites surrounding Ardgillen Castle and Gardens.

Take a walk

Fancy stretching the legs over a long weekend? Check out our guide to Dublin’s best walks and cycles.