You can never really get to know a city very well in just one day, but sometimes you don’t have the option to spend more time in a place. Dublin is a smaller capital city that you can at least get a great impression of the place in just 24 hours.
During our trip, we spent a day in Dublin before setting off on a 20-day road trip all across the country. This was great because a lot of people tend to come to Ireland and only see Dublin. Which we can’t blame since it’s an amazing city and an easy weekend trip from practically anywhere in Europe and even the U.S.’s east coast.
Check out our picks for best things to do in during your one day in Dublin.
Shop until you Drop
Why not spend your one day in Dublin enjoying some shopping? Some of the best shopping in Ireland is all in one concentrated area near the famous Dublin Spire, the giant silver needle you can’t miss while exploring the city, on Henry Street. You can find everything from big name department stores such as Penney’s and other shops for souvenirs and clothing. Don’t miss the intersecting streets either, they are full of shops and little restaurants you can dine at when you’ve shopped up an appetite.
Another amazing place for shopping is Grafton Street during your one day in Dublin. Besides having great shops there’s a buzzing and lively atmosphere here with street performers and all. If you’re exhausted after shopping head over to St. Stephen’s Green for a relaxing break.
*Be sure to stop by a Three Mobile here which allows you to get an unlimited data SIM card for your mobile phone for $20 a month! So if Dublin is just a stop before exploring the rest of the country you may want to pop in here and get yourself an affordable SIM.
Walk the Ha’Penny Bridge
One of Dublin’s most iconic sites is the Ha’Penny Bridge connecting the north and south of Dublin along the River Liffey since the 1800s. This unique cast iron bridge is popular with pedestrians and a great spot for a photo. Don’t miss crossing the Ha’Penny bridge when you’re walking from Temple Bar to the Dublin Spire or vice versa. The bridge actually gets its name from the old toll they used to charge people to cross the bridge. The bridge is an integral part of Dublin’s history that they even made a limited edition coin featuring the Ha’Penny Bridge.
Besides having an absolutely beautiful campus to admire, Trinity College is one of the things to do during your one day in Dublin. Trinity College is not only one of the most prestigious colleges in Europe but also one of the biggest tourist attractions in Ireland. This university is home to the famous Book of Kells, the ancient Latin new testament made by Celtic monks as early as 800 AD.
The Book of Kells is what draws visitors in, but the old library here is another magnificent site to see on its own and feels straight out of a Harry Potter movie.
If you’re an Oscar Wilde fan you can also visit the exterior of his birthplace at 21 Westland Row. But do not try to go inside as this is a writing center for the students at Trinity College, you wouldn’t want to disturb or disrupt a lecture. But if you’re dying to experience all things Oscar Wilde during your day in Dublin check out 1 Merrion Square to see the house where he grew up, and you can actually go inside!
One of the more eerie sites to see during your one day in Dublin is the Kilmainham Gaol. This jail is famous in Irish history and one of Europe’s largest unoccupied jails. Famous for being the place of the 1916 executions of Irish rebels by the British and public hangings took place here even earlier. Now it is said that the jail is extremely haunted and you can tour inside.
Sadly, we didn’t make it to Kilmainham Gaol on our most recent visit but I did have a chance to tour the jail back in 2007 during my first visit to Dublin.
Besides being a great historical point of interest for Dublin, Kilmainham Gaol is also home to being a shooting location for many movies for any movie buffs out there!
St. Stephens Green
If you need a break from the city, or just looking for a beautiful place to relax, soak in the sites then take a stroll to St. Stephens Greens. This park is absolutely beautiful and well manicured. You will feel like you are completely removed from the city and have a wonderful time enjoying the beautiful 22 acres scenery and enjoy watching the local birds in the ponds.
The entire park is incredible picturesque so come prepared to take some photos, even awkward family photos like ours!
St Patrick’s Cathedral
Easily one of the country’s most visited and iconic places is St. Patrick’s Cathedral. St. Patrick’s Cathedral can be added to your day in Dublin just for its sheer gothic architectural beauty alone. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is easily one of the most famous churches in the world and the most important in all of Ireland. Coming to Dublin and missing a view of the cathedral would be a pity.
For 6.5 Euro you can go inside and admire the intricate details from the vaulted ceilings to stained glass. If you are pressed for time, you can still enjoy the exterior beauty and manicured lawns that surround the cathedral.
The Guinness Storehouse is a rite of passage for travelers spending a day in Dublin or a week or even longer. You shouldn’t miss the Guinness Storehouse experience during your trip. Or can you? While Scott believed it was an overpriced pint of beer with a killer view, I absolutely loved the Guinness experience. It’s one of the best beer tours we’ve ever done and we’ve done a few different beer tours on our travels.
From the interactive exhibits explaining the process of the beer, art installations, to the rooms playing all the old Guinness commercials, and finally getting a taste of a fresh Guinness on draft from the Gravity Bar with 360 views of Dublin (as long as it’s not super crowded). This tour is something you won’t forget. If you end up making it all the way to Dublin, you might as well go that extra mile and judge for yourself.
Do some Aimless Wandering
Dublin is an extremely walkable city and much less spread out than other capital cities we’ve encountered on our travels. Opt for walking to places so you can see and get to know Dublin a bit better. We ended up falling in love with the area of Dublin 8 walking from Temple Bar to the Guinness Storehouse.
We ended up finding a more off the beaten path area full of beautiful brick homes with adorable entrances and doorways, colorful art murals, and even a rogue fox running around during the daytime.
This ended up being one of our favorite areas and coolest spots in the city during our day in Dublin for photos even though we would have never encountered it unless we walked. Be sure to give yourself time to do some aimless exploring, you won’t know what you’ll find!
Try Some Local Whiskey
Maybe you’re not a beer person but a whiskey person, or maybe you like both! You can’t come to Ireland and not try their local brews! Lucky for you there are plenty of places to experience Irish whiskey during your day in Dublin. In Dublin 8 you can check out Teelings Distillery where you can tour and/or taste their whiskey. Besides being a distillery they also have a cute market cafe serving up sandwiches and drinks and just outside there are the cool colorful wall murals on display.
Then there’s world famous Jameson whiskey. If you are a whiskey lover like Scott, you’ve most likely heard of Jameson. During your one day in Dublin stop in for a tour, check out how the Jameson operation works, as well as have a glass (or two or three or four) of Jameson straight from the source.
You can’t visit Dublin without going to Temple Bar. We had a local friend who scoffed at us for going here saying we would just be getting ripped off. But it’s one of the touristy things you just have to do. Kind of like going to Hollywood Boulevard in California it’s just something you have to experience and see for yourself. Temple bar is great for nightlife, live music, and really having the locals take the piss out of you. They’ll let you know you’re a foreigner and crack a few jokes at you with their Irish humor if you’re lucky!
No trip is complete without amazing food! Check out this post by 2 Food Trippers about where to eat in Dublin.
Want to see more of Ireland and Europe but you’re on a budget? Check out these amazing backpacking Europe tips from A Backpacker’s Tale.
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