The idea of this five-day itinerary is to get to know the tourist part, the historical part and the atmosphere of the city. In short, to try to cover everything there is to see and do in Dublin.
Highlights include Dublin's two cathedrals (Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patrick's Cathedral), Trinity College, Kilmainham Jail and the atmospheric Temple BAR district.
Day 1: Visiting Dublin's Architectural Gems
The first day of the 5-day Dublin itinerary will focus on the area south of the River Liffey and the western part of the city center. Today you will learn about the medieval and Viking past of the Irish capital and have the opportunity to visit its famous castle and other Dublin landmarks.
Start the day with a guided tour of Dublin Castle. As a visitor you can see the excavation site of the Viking and medieval parts of the castle, the Gothic Chapel Royal and the State Apartments.
You can purchase a ticket for a self-guided tour of the castle or a guided tour. Dublin Pass holders can take a self-guided tour for free or upgrade to a guided tour for only 3 euros extra. Please note that access to Dublin Castle may be restricted due to government events or activities.
Within the Dublin Castle complex are also the Garda Museum (Irish police museum) and the Chester Beatty Library museum. Both are free and well worth a visit, especially the Chester Library museum.
Christ Church Cathedral
There is much to see at Christ Church Cathedral. First there is the beautiful nave and main building, which contains the organ, a music area and some tombs, including the tomb of Strongbow, a Norman-Welsh medieval earl and warlord.
There is also the crypt, the largest cathedral crypt in the British Isles. Inside you will see a number of items of interest, including monuments, a mummified cat and rat found trapped in the organ pipe and an extensive collection of silver.
You can visit the cathedral as part of a self-guided tour, or join a guided tour (for an additional fee). Check the website for times and prices.
Next door to Christ Church Cathedral is Dublinia(fee), a fun family museum that tells the story of medieval and Viking Dublin.
Dublinia and Christ Church Cathedral are next door and connected by the Synod Hall and bridge. Both attractions are included free with the Dublin All-Inclusive Pass.
However, if you do not plan to purchase the Dublin Pass but still wish to visit both attractions, you can purchase a discounted combined ticket for both at the Dublinia Welcome Desk.
Then I recommend you to finish the night in the famous Grafton Street. This is one of the most famous streets in Dublin and one of the main shopping streets of the city.
It is a lively place with many stores, restaurants, cafes and street artists. Most of the street is pedestrianized, making it a friendly place for walkers and tourists.
Day 2: Walking day in Dublin city center
For this 2nd day of the 5-day itinerary, I recommend you to visit the famous Trinity College and its ancient library, the Dublin Cultural Museum and then rest your eyes and limbs in the beautiful St. Stephen's Park.
Trinity College and the Long Room
Trinity College, officially the College of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth, is the only college of the University of Dublin.
One of the most popular attractions at Trinity College is the Old Library (for a fee), also known as the Long Room. This dates back to the 18th century, and houses over 200,000 books that are stored on two floors. The library is over 200 feet long.
When you visit Trinity Library, you can also see a section of the Book of Kells. This 9th century decorated copy of the four gospels is the most famous medieval manuscript in the world and is considered Ireland's greatest cultural treasure. And if you want to complement your visit, don't hesitate and book a Book of Kells guided tour.
Molly Malone Statue
No visit to Dublin would be complete without a visit to one of the city's most famous inhabitants: Molly Malone, or at least her statue.
Molly Malone is a fictional character featured in one of Ireland's best-known songs, which tells the story of a fishwife who plows her produce in Dublin.
The Molly Malone statue was historically located on Grafton Street; however, you will now have to look for her along Suffolk Street.
Little Museum of Dublin
If you are interested in life in Dublin from the 20th century to the present day, then you should consider visiting the Little Museum of Dublin (for a fee).
This museum will take you on a journey through life in the 20th century. It has more than 5,000 artifacts on display on three floors, including a room dedicated to Ireland's most famous musical exports: the rock band U2.
St. Stephen's Park
After the museum I recommend enjoying a walk through St. Stephen's Park, one of Dublin's most popular green spaces and a good place to take a short break.
It includes trees, a lake, a playground, a number of labeled plants (including some in Braille), fountains, statues and memorials. This city center park is located directly opposite the Little Museum of Dublin.
You can also take the opportunity to visit the nearby Iveagh Gardens, a Victorian-era garden with a rose garden, waterfalls and yew maze. The garden is also free of charge.
Day 3: Exploring Dublin's iconic landmarks
On this day, and following an almost straight line, you will visit St. Patrick's Cathedral (Dublin's second cathedral), the Guinness Storehouse and the historic Kilmainham Jail Museum.
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Dublin is unique in having not one, but two cathedrals and both date back to medieval times. It is believed that St. Patrick's Cathedral (fee-paying), founded in 1191, was initially intended to replace Christ Church, but for some reason this did not happen and the two cathedrals have had to learn to coexist together.
St. Patrick's Cathedral is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland and its spire makes it the tallest church in Ireland.
It is an impressive cathedral and the church can be visited on a self-guided tour, audio guides are available for an additional charge.
You can't miss the most popular tourist attraction in Dublin: the Guinness Factory. It is interesting to buy tickets for the Guinness Factory even if you are not a big beer fan.
The Guinness Factory is located in the St James's Gate Brewery. This is where Ireland's legendary drink, Guinness, has been brewed since 1759. It is quite a success story, with over 50 million barrels of Guinness being produced annually. The warehouse was built in 1904 and used for fermentation until 1988, but is no longer part of the active brewery.
Whether you are a beer lover or not, it is highly recommended that you book tickets to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. The self-guided tour takes you through all seven floors, and you'll learn a little bit about everything, including the history of founder Albert Guinness. The tour culminates at the Gravity Bar on the seventh floor, where you can sample a pint (included in the ticket price) and admire a spectacular view of the city.
Kilmainham Jail (museum)
The next attraction is a bit further away, so you would have to walk a bit, but it is worth the walk if you have the time. Kilmainham Gaol (for a fee) is a former 18th century prison now run as a museum by the Irish Office of Public Works.
Kilmainham Gaol can only be toured as part of a guided tour, with tickets sold at specific times of the day. Tickets are generally available at the box office; however, this is a very popular attraction, so I recommend buying your ticket in advance to avoid disappointment.
Day 4: Discovering Dublin's north central area and history
On this fourth, leisurely day, I recommend you cross the river to explore Dublin's downtown area north of the River Liffey.
For this day, I recommend learning a bit about Dublin's history by visiting some of the recommended museums to learn about Ireland's emigration history, the 1916 Easter Rising and Dublin's rich literary history in different formats.
Jeanie Johnston's Sailboat
Jeanie Johnston (free) is a three-masted sailing ship that was originally built in Quebec, Canada, in 1847. It was one of the so-called "famine ships," used to transport emigrants between Ireland and North America.
Today you can take a guided tour of this replica ship built in the 1980s, and learn about life on board for both emigrants and crew. The Jeanie Johnston made 16 voyages carrying emigrants across the Atlantic to North America, and was very famous as it did not lose a single passenger or crew member on any of its voyages.
Tours are conducted as part of a guided tour that lasts about 50 minutes. Be sure to check tour times before visiting.
EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum
Ireland has experienced a number of periods of mass emigration, not just during the Great Famine. If you want to learn more about the Irish emigration experience, book your ticket for EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin, a museum that tells the story of Irish emigration around the world. We are talking about 9 to 10 million people who have emigrated since 1700.
Through a self-guided interactive experience, the museum guides you through the personal stories of the many people who have emigrated and their journeys. You will learn what made them emigrate, what that process was like, and what their new lives were like in their new home country.
The museum is located in the CHQ building, which also houses several restaurants and cafes if you are looking for coffee, lunch or refreshments after your visit.
GPO Witness History Exhibition
Ireland's premier History Exhibition is held at the General Post Office Dublin(GPO) on O'Connell Street, a beautiful Georgian building built in 1814 and one of Ireland's most famous buildings.
At the self-guided exhibition you will learn all about the events of the 1916 Easter Rising, as well as the events leading up to the uprising and the after effects.
The exhibit uses direct eyewitness accounts, documents and interactive exhibits to tell the story. There is also a memorial to those who died in the rebellion, including an outdoor sculpture for the slain children. There is also a coffee shop on the first floor to enjoy some Irish treats.
Temple Bar District
If you're not too tired and want to experience some Dublin nightlife, I recommend exploring the popular Temple Bar District. This is the party capital of Dublin, so if you're looking for pints of Guinness, live music and lots of merriment, this is definitely the place for it. For more information here is a post about pubs in Dublin.
The most visited pub is The Temple Bar, but there are plenty of pubs in this area to have a pint and enjoy some Irish food. Some others to consider are The Palace Bar, a traditional Victorian-era pub; The Brazen Head, believed to be the oldest pub in Ireland as it dates back to 1198; and Buskers, which offers a more contemporary bar atmosphere.
Day 5: Day Trip to South East Dublin, Dalkey
For this last day, after knowing all the things to see and do in Dublin, I recommend a day trip to Dalkey, located about 15 km southeast of Dublin. This town has beautiful cliffs, a great coastline and interesting monuments to visit such as the iconic Dalkey Castle.
You can get to Dalkey by train from the city center, the trip will take about 24 minutes and will cost 6 - 8 €. Another cheaper option is to take a bus from Kildare Street, the journey will take about 38 minutes and the trip will cost approximately 3 euros.
In addition, if you are passionate about this type of scenery, you can also book an excursion to the Cliffs of Moher.
Enjoy a sunny morning at Vico Baths
About a 10-minute walk from the center of Dalkey you will find the Vico Baths, one of Dublin's hidden gems. Here you can enjoy spectacular views thanks to the modest altitude of this area. In addition, it has a series of natural pools (baths) of little depth that give the area a very special air. There are stairs to reach the water area.
Except on swell days, the water is super clean and crystal clear. If you visit Dublin in summer, you will see many tourists and locals in the baths of Vico.
In any case I recommend you to sit on one of the benches in the area and enjoy a unique landscape in the world.
Stroll through Dillon's Park
Next, I recommend you to go to Dillon's Park, one of the most beautiful parks in Ireland, very leafy and very close to Dalkey Island. This park is adjacent to another park known for its views and called Sorrento Park.
In Dillon's Park there are several benches to choose from and enjoy views where the green is combined with the blue, a paradise on earth.
Another remarkable detail of this park is that it houses an ancient sacred well that was once a crucial part of the first Celtic Christian rituals. This well is located in the north of the park, I recommend you visit and photograph it, as it is one of the few historic Celtic wells that are perfectly preserved.
Spend the afternoon at Dalkey castle
This castle was a very important building when Dalkey was the main port of Dublin. Here you will have the possibility to enjoy dramatized visits where you can learn about its history through the characters (actors) of the Middle Ages (the count, the archer, the queen...) and thanks to the interactive group tours. Obviously, you can also tour the interior of the castle and climb to the top of the tower.
You can also see the old church of St Begnet (part of the castle) and a small cemetery. The castle is open to the public every day (except Tuesday) from 10 am to 5 pm. The entrance fee is 7 euros.
Night in Castle Street
The most bustling and famous street of Darkey is known as Castle Street, whose name comes from Darkey Castle, located on the same street. Here there are several pubs and restaurants to end the day.
For dinner I recommend DeVille's, one of the most famous restaurants in Dalkey. This bistro restaurant serves traditional French and Irish food.
Appetizers include a French onion soup and a range of locally caught oysters, while main courses feature red wine steak, pan-fried Dover sole and a wide selection of steaks. The restaurant is open from 12 noon to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.