Post by: The Travel Tester
BREAKFAST AT KEOGS CAFE
If you’re planning what to do in Dublin for a day, just start your day by a nice breakfast, either in your hotel or for example at the little Keoghs Cafe. They serve the best muffins I probably ever tasted and have a wide variety of teas an coffees to go with it. I heard the scones are also heavenly. And pssssst, they got WiFi too! Now you’re probably all ready to explore more… let’s go!
1 Trinity St, Dublin 2, Ireland
TRINITY COLLEGE & BOOK OF KELLS
After breakfast, I would personally head over to one of the places that’s most popular to visit and can get crowded with tourist later in the day: Trinity College. It’s just around the corner from Keoghs and unmissable on your day trip to Dublin.
Once you’ve found the entrance (a big wooden door), it’s great to stroll over the campus and see the students go about their daily routines. But of course the main attraction here is The Book of Kells. This 9th-century gospel manuscript and the Old Library from the 18th century at the end of the exhibition are just incredible and a must see if you haven’t already.
In the library, you’ll feel a bit like Belle in Beauty in the Beast, wanting to sing and dance around. Of course, you have to be quiet though… It’s still a library! The winding staircase in the 65 meter long Main Hall is my absolute favourite, although the busts of famous people like Francis Bacon, Cicero, William Shakespeare, John Locke, Isaac Newton, Plato and Socrates (to name a few) add also something magical to the scene. And do I even have to mention the 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books that are stacked up from ground to ceiling? Oh my!
Apart from the Main Hall in the library, the centerpiece of the exhibition is The Book of Kells itself. It was written around the year 800 AD and contains a stunning decorated copy of four gospels in a latin text. It used to be a single volume, but it was rebound in four volumes in 1953 for conservation reasons. In all, there are 340 folios (680 pages). Two of the volumes are normally on display, one opened at a decorated page, the other at a text opening and pages are kept being turned over.
I would say that the Book of Kells is one of the best things to do in Dublin for a day, and it doesn’t matter what type of weather you have, you can’t go wrong!
College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
If you’re feeling all cultural and you love books, why not continue the Craic and pay a short visit to the National Library of Ireland. The reading room is simply amazing!
Kildare St, Dublin 2, Ireland
Visiting Trinity College
Just 1 Day in Dublin? Don’t miss The Book of Kells!
National Library of Ireland
ST. STEPHEN’S GREEN
Make sure to also have a quick wander around St Stephen’s Green, a beautiful public park that opened in 1880 (but has been around since the 16th century). It is the largest of the parks in Dublin’s main Georgian garden squares.
At the corner of the park with Grafton Street, you’ll find the ‘Fusiliers’ Arch’, which commemorates the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who died in the Second Boer War (a war fought from Oct 1899 to May 1902 between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on the one hand, and the South African Republic and the Orange Free State on the other. The war ended in victory for the British and the annexation of both republics)
In the park, you can find a large lake spanning much of the length of the park, filled with ducks and other water fowl. There is also a garden for the blind with scented plants and are labels in Braille!
St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
Our brilliant guide Brian Kennedy (Make sure to book him >> kennedysmagic@)
You cannot tell this used to be a swamp, can you?
SHOPPING IN DUBLIN
The park lies right next to Grafton Street, where you can do some great shopping, for example at Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre.
Shopping is also good around O’Connell Street. When you walk towards the Spire coming from the South side of the river (you can’t really miss it, bit pointy thing), turn left and there are some big shopping malls as well.
Not a fan of shopping, but love to stroll around? Then go in search of all the incredible street art, or the colourful doors that you can spot all around the city. We created a whole guide on art in Dublin, so check it out for suggestions.
Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre
Dublin is full of cool street art!
How to Spend Your Afternoon in Dublin
BRICK ALLEY CAFE
Let’s continue our Dublin day itinerary with a great place for lunch: Brick Alley Cafe in the Temple Bar area. They have great fruit shakes, sandwiches and bagels. And they serve the most amazing white hot chocolate you’ll find in Dublin, trust me (ok, ok, I didn’t try ALL the hot chocolates in Dublin, but still!). With the free WiFi, you can even get some work done if you need to.
The whole of Temple Bar is just great to walk around, see some street art and have a sneaky pint (or two) before you continue your explorations.
25 Essex St E, Dublin 2, Ireland
Another lunch option could be The Bretzel Bakery & Cafe. I had plans on visiting here, but ran out of time unfortunately. I’ve been told it’s a great bakery in Dublin’s old Jewish quarter, perhaps even the best of the city. They have everything from (kosher) wholegrain to olive and walnut loaves and Irish brown soda. Don’t miss the sweet selection of buns, sponges, tarts and cakes.
1A Lennox St, Dublin, Ireland
What to see in Dublin in one day? There is so much choice, but the Temple Bar area can’t be missed!
If you’ve been to Temple bar already, or want to do some more shopping, head over to the Creative Quarter. This area is located South of Temple bar, around William Street South and is filled with lovely little shops and places to eat.
There are many old pub that are worth a visit, like the famous McDaids. This pub was once the city morgue and was later converted into a chapel. It’s also the pub from the opening of James Joyce’s short story ‘Grace’ and favourite place of Irish poet, writer and playwright Brendan Behan. Nowadays McDaids provides jazz and blues music.
Also don’t miss the Powerscourt Townhouse, a speciality shopping centre set in an elegant Georgian house. It’s filled with Irish design stores and is a fine example of Dublin’s Georgian architecture; the house is unique in showing the transition from rococo style to neo-classic under one roof. You can also eat, see theatre and get tours in the Powerscourt Centre.
McDaids: 3 Harry St, Dublin 2, Ireland
Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, 59 William St S, Dublin 2, Ireland
Welcome to The Creative Quarter!
Don’t miss the George’s St. Arcade for lots of (handmade) goods!
We walked past this cute little stall of Lolly and Cooks in the George’s St. Arcade and our guide said it’s a brilliant place to get your sweet fix. They do savoury baked goods as well and cakes, all handmade freshly each day. Besides this little unit, they have a couple of other locations in the city where you can also sit down.
The Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, extra pretty during the holiday season
GUINNESS STOREHOUSE & OLD JAMESON DISTILLERY
After all this shopping, you’ve probably got a bit thirsty, so let’s head over to one (or both) of the most famous attractions in Dublin: The Guinness Storehouse and the Old Jameson Distillery. Definitely the number #1 places to visit in Dublin in 1 day, even if you’re not a beer or whiskey drinker yourself.
Both locations are a bit to the West, so you could walk there for sure, or simply jump on a bus to get there. Allow yourself at least 2 hours at each location, so probably choose between the two based on your time left and your personal taste.
Now, I didn’t visit Guinness during the actual opening hours, as we had a welcoming party for a blogger event in the evening here, but we did get to walk around in the insanely amazing designed building and through the interactive exhibition when you enter the building. And yes, there was some serious Guinness tasting involved, too. On 7 stories, you go through 250 years of Guinness history and of course you can taste it in their restaurant and cafe. Don’t miss the panoramic view on the top floor’s Gravity Bar.
At Jameson, you get to go through the entire history and production process of the distillery. The girl that led us around had a great way of explaining -and cracked a lot of jokes. Typical Irish! It ends with a tasting session, or you could head over to the restaurant or bar.
Have you been to Jameson already? Then perhaps you’d like to visit the new Teeling Distillery. While the guided tour is nowhere near as good as Jameson (in fact, I found it quite disappointing, but perhaps you get a better guide then when I was here), Teeling is Dublin’s only working distillery and they have a very cool interior design and a funky bar and restaurant that is definitely worth checking out.
Guinness Storehouse: St James’s Gate, Dublin 8, Ireland
Old Jameson Distillery: Bow St, Smithfield Village, Dublin 7, Ireland
Teeling Distillery: 13-17 Newmarket, D08 KD91, Dublin 8, Ireland
Visit to the Guinness Storehouse
Visit to the Old Jameson Distillery
Visit to the Teeling Distillery
ST. PATRICKS’S CATHEDRAL
After all this sin, it’s straight onto St Patrick’s Cathedral, of course 🙂
I must admit that I’m not into religion and perhaps even less interested in churches, but for the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin I made an exception – and it is really was quite beautiful.
St. Patrick (for those of you who, like me, don’t really know who this guy is) was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. He’s the primary patron saint of Ireland. On the site of the current cathedral, a stone church was built here by the Normans in 1191. This one was rebuilt in the early 13th century into the building that you can see today. It has been severely damaged by storm and fire a couple of times and has therefore been altered several times in between.
Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, was the dean of the cathedral from 1713 to 1745, he’s buried in the church, next to his wife Esther Johnson (Stella).
You can get a guided tour, but even if you’re just there to admire the view and especially all the different styles of stained glass windows, you won’t be disappointed.
St Patrick’s Close, Wood Quay, Dublin 8, DZ08 H6X3, Ireland
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF IRELAND
If you are a history buff, then The National Museum of Ireland is the place for you. It has four locations, of which three are in Dublin. I visited the Archaeology one, because my dad is an archaeologist and it always attracts me the most… and of course a little bit because it had free admission.
I really enjoyed this museum as it was a great introduction into the Celtic and Medieval art. They covered prehistoric Ireland as well as the interesting Viking Age of Ireland, which I knew very little about myself, so I really enjoyed that.
Kildare St, Dublin 2, Ireland
How to Spend Your Evening in Dublin
RESTAURANTS IN DUBLIN
In the evening, of course the Temple Bar area is a very lively place to eat and drink. There is always some live music going on, for example at the Temple Bar Pub. This pub, as well as Oliver St. John Gogarty’s, is also the place to be for a nice pub dinner, like fish and chips for example.
The Temple Bar: 47-48 Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Ireland
Oliver St. John Gogarty’s: 58 Fleet St, Dublin 2, Ireland
For a more quiet dinner, I recommend The Green Hen. This lovely place is a French bistro offering classic dishes in a relaxed atmosphere. We had a great dinner here! I really like the atmosphere and the staff was super friendly. And I had the most amazing chocolate dessert as well, in case you were curious.
33 Exchequer St, Dublin 2, Ireland
Rustic Stone is also a nice option. I really enjoyed dinner at this restaurant in the Creative Quarter of Dublin. I had the quail, because I never had that before, but found it too difficult to eat because it’s full of bones and barely got any meat of of it (maybe it’s supposed to be like that, who knows?). I did enjoy my main though, which was tuna steak on a hot stone that you could finish cooking yourself. As a dessert I went for the sugarless Chocolate Soup because it sounded intriguing, but would probably go for a normal ice cream or brownie or something instead next time. I happen to like sugar in my desserts!
17 South Georges Street, Dublin 2, Ireland
Another good option is to visit Sophie’s, the restaurant on the top floor of the Dean Hotel where I stayed the last time in Dublin. I got to enjoy their lovely food at breakfast (order from the menu, not a buffet, which was a nice change, bagel was lovely and pancakes as well, just very large portion both) and at lunch and everything tasted really good. Another plus: you have a great view over the city!
33 Harcourt Street, Dublin, Ireland
For dessert, perhaps try Murphys Ice Cream! They were handing out samples just as I walked pass (ok, I quickly crossed the street when I saw that). YumYum. These guys make natural ice-cream without any colourings, flavourings, or powdered milk and you can taste the goodness!
27 Wicklow St, Dublin 2, Ireland
Sophie’s Bar and Restaurant at The Dean
BARS & PUBS IN DUBLIN
Got energy left after trying to see as much of Dublin in one day as you can? There are an unbelievable amount of bars in Dublin, you can’t go wrong here. Not recently, but during my previous visit, I had a great evening at The Church (Converted church with cafe/bar and Irish restaurant surrounded by terraces), 37 Dawson Street (Quirky whiskey bar and restaurant with cocktails and modern food) and The Odeon (Converted Railway Terminus with high ceilings, curtain-draped interior and an ornate marble bar).
The Church: Jervis St, Dublin 1, Ireland
37 Dawson Street: 37 Dawson St, Dublin 2, Ireland
The Odeon: 57 Old Harcourt Street Railway Station, Harcourt Street, Dublin 2, Ireland
The Church Bar
Good Night… or perhaps better said: Oíche mhaith!
Day Trips from Dublin
If you have more than just one day in Dublin, then there are of course plenty of things in the area to discover. Here are some quick suggestions:
Malahide Castle, parts of which date to the 12th century, lies, with over 260 acres of remaining estate parkland, close to the village of Malahide, nine miles north of central Dublin in Ireland. See all tours to Malahide here. And here, you can read more about things to see and do in North County (Malahide, Portmarnock and Howth). Enjoy!
Malahide Demesne, Malahide, Co. Dublin, Ireland
If you have a bit of time to spare in Dublin, another interesting place to learn in Dublin about the Irish history is the Glasnevin Cemetery. It’s Ireland’s largest cemetery, with over 1.5 million people buried here!
Our guide seemed very passionate about the history of her country, sharing many good stories about the harsh life back in the days, the work of the gravediggers (and bodysnatchers!) and the famous people buried at the grounds. After walking on the grounds, definitely make sure to also go into the museum as there is a great interactive exhibition on the lower level of the building that explains you even more.
From the cemetery, you can walk to the connected botanical gardens and walk around 17.000+ plants, an arboretum, vegetable gardens, glasshouses and a Palm house. Entry is free and the gardens also contain the National Herbarium and several historic wrought iron glasshouses.
Finglas Rd, Botanic, Dublin 11, D11 PA00, Ireland
The Wicklow Mountains form the largest continuous upland area in Ireland. They occupy the whole centre of County Wicklow and stretch outside its borders into Counties Dublin, Wexford and Carlow. You can read all about my experience on the Wild Wicklow tour in this blog.
Here is all the information you need to plan your own trip to Dublin:
WHERE TO STAY IN DUBLIN
- I’ve you’re looking for budget options, I would recommend to check out the hostelworld website for good hostel recommendations.
- For hotels, make sure to check out the Booking.com website.
- I stayed at The Dean Hotel, which was great in terms of style, but it was a little bit noisy as there was a pub nearby (could depend on the day, I guess)