Best Free & Paid Things To Do in Dublin

As a South African travelling over to Dublin it can be a bit daunting deciding what to do. This is mainly because of 3 things: funds, time and options! In our experience, some of the best things to do in Dublin aren’t part of the Dublin Tour so buying a card may not be worthwhile if you’re only there for a few days.

Considering Ireland is part of the European Union it’s also not one of the cheaper cities; with the accommodation being particularly scarce and pricey.

In order to get the most bang for your buck, consider what you want to do versus what the tours offer. Decide from there if you will have enough time for 3 things a day (morning, afternoon, evening) and calculate whether it’s worth the expense.

Having been to Dublin twice in the past 3 years, here’s what we recommend doing for a 4-night stay in the Irish capital.

Things To In Dublin

Our Top 10 Things To Do in Dublin

  1. Dublin Castle & Chapel Royal
  2. Trinity College’s Long Room
  3. Book of Kells
  4. EPIC Ireland
  5. New Grange or Knowth
  6. Irish Dancing
  7. Tech Quarter
  8. Brazen Head
  9. Temple Bar
  10. Crossing the Ha’Penny Bridge
  11. Jeannie Johnson Ship & Statues
  12. Samuel Beckett Bridge
  13. Guinness Store House

Please note: due to lockdown restrictions in Dublin, MANY of these sites are currently closed. Please check back in January for updated information on all locations.

1. Dublin Castle & Chapel Royal

Dublin Castle is located a few blocks south of the Temple Bar and offers a free or paid tour. Frankly, the free tour isn’t worth much – unless you’re only interested in stately rooms. The paid tour is affordable and gives you a FAR greater insight into the city, including going underground to the formations of the castle to see the trickling River Poddle that silently runs below the city. This is a brilliant glimpse into medieval life in Dublin and includes a quick visit to the Chapel Royal, a cathedral made entirely out of wood!

  • Cost per Adult: €8.00 (Currently closed due to Covid 19.)
  • Part of Dublin Pass: No

2. Trinity College & the Long Room

Our number one and two things to do are in the same paragraph because they’re in the same location! The Long Room is located at Trinity College and are two wonderful visiting experiences in Dublin.

Starting with Trinity College and the Long Room: Trinity College is Dublin’s most well-known university that was established over 500 years ago. More recently, it was the university location for Sally Rooney’s Normal People novel and TV program by the same name.

Inside the university is the beautiful “Long Room” library, which holds over 200 000 original books as well as the Brian Boru harp. This is one of 3 surviving harps and the source of Ireland’s national symbol as well as the Guinness beer logo. It’s a beautiful library and worth a pop in.

  • Cost per Adult: Form part of your Book of Kells ticket so “free”!
  • Part of Dublin Pass: No

3. The Book of Kells

Another win! The Book of Kells is ALSO located at Trinity College Dublin! The Book of Kells is an ancient manuscript from 800AD that illustrates the last four books of the New Testament in Latin. It’s illustrative nature and preservation of language of the time, makes it one of Ireland’s most national treasures. With Celtic illustrations and Christian iconography, it is not only a snapshot of Christianity but a time capsule of Christian life during the 9th century Ireland.

  • Cost per Adult: €16.00
  • Part of Dublin Pass: No

4. EPIC Ireland

EPIC Ireland isn’t any old boring museum, it’s a fantastic interactive tour of the Irish diaspora across the world. From Rihanna’s Irish roots to the Kennedy’s and more, take a self-guided tour through the Irish Emigration museum’s digital multimedia displays in the Dublin dockland’s venue. Voted as Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the World Travel Awards in 2019 and 2020, it’s both informative and fun.

  • Cost per Adult: €16.50
  • Part of Dublin Pass: Yes

5. The Merry Ploughboy

You can’t go to Dublin or Ireland for that matter, without taking in the best of Irish dancing. We visited a restaurant along the river for a 3-course meal and Irish dancing, which was great! But, by the far, the best Irish dancing show is at the Merry Ploughboy in the Dublin Hills. Enjoy an excellent 3-course meal, ice-cold Guinness, great craic and exceptional Irish music and dancing played by traditional Irish musicians.

  • Cost per Adult: €32.00 (includes 3-course meal and show)
  • Part of Dublin Pass: No

6. New Grange or Knowth

Now technically this isn’t in Dublin, but the easiest way to get there is on the Mary Gibbons tour from the centre of Dublin. Explore incredible 5000-year-old tombs in the Irish countryside (older than the pyramids!). The tour also includes a stop at the Hill of Tara, another smaller burial mound site. New Grange is the larger of the two and allows you to go inside the tomb. Knowth is the smaller tomb and doesn’t allow inside visitors, however, it’s often a good option if you’ve “missed the bus” and can’t join the New Grange Tour.

  • Cost per Adult: €45.00 (includes transport from Dublin to Knowth and back)
  • Part of Dublin Pass: No

Free Things To Do in Dublin

7. Visiting the Tech Quarter

Considering we love blogging and work in digital marketing, visiting Dublin’s tech quarter is quite thrilling. Seeing the Facebook head office and Google building is quite fun when you live so far on the other side of the world and have an appreciation for the tech companies shaping modern times.

  • Cost per Adult: Free!
  • Part of Dublin Pass: No

8. The Brazen Head

The Brazen Head is the oldest pub in Ireland! Built over 800 years ago, the low ceiling maze of rooms gives you a medieval feeling as soon as you enter. Enjoy delicious a delicious Irish stew among other pub classics as the walls ooze of years of history gone by and if you visit on the correct night you will also enjoy live traditional music.

  • Cost per Adult: Free entry, cost of food/drink to your own account.
  • Part of Dublin Pass: No

9. Temple Bar

No visit to Dublin would be complete without a stroll through the Temple Bar. While you’re able to pop into any of the festive pubs lining the street (including THE Temple Bar, which has over 100 whiskies), be warned that it’s is made for tourists and prices will be higher than other pubs scattered around the city. Drink or no drink, it’s fun and it’s festive so be sure to walk down during the day to see all the street art and walk down at night to see all the shenanigans.

  • Cost per Adult: Free entry, cost of food/drink to your own account.
  • Part of Dublin Pass: No

10. Crossing the Ha’Penny Bridge

This famous walkway is an easy way to cross the Liffey river in the centre of Dublin. We stayed on the north shore in order to be slightly away from rowdy Temple Bar. This bridge made accessing the north and south of the city very easy. Created over 200 years ago, this walkway is a stable part of Dublin city living and is named after the penny residents’ had to pay to cross in the early days.

11. Jeannie Johnson Ship & Statues

We passed the Jeannie Johnson ship between EPIC Ireland and making our way to back into the heart of Dublin. It tells the story of the Irish famine, which is also commemorated with a statue on the pavement outside. Over a million Irish died from the famine, with another million leaving the country (one-quarter of the entire population).

12. Samuel Beckett Bridge

Around the same area you will a beautiful, harp-shaped bridge. This is the Samuel Beckett Ship that was built in 2009. It’s a gateway to Dublin and does swing, but we did not cross it (although it is open to cyclists and pedestrians). Samuel Beckett is an Irish author.

13. General Post Office

This is the heart of where “the troubles” kicked off in the early civil war years. Today, it is still a functioning post office, however, it remains an icon of difficult days past with a small museum inside.

Iconic Things To Do in Dublin

14. Guinness Store House

The Guinness Store House is an icon of the Dublin tourist landscape, BUT, it’s also hella pricey for what it is. Granted – you do get a full pint for free once you reach the top, but essentially it’s a modern, beer-making museum. The best part is the 360 views across the city once you reach the roof. As one of the most expensive things in the city we’d say it’s a nice to do, but not a must do if you’re on a shoestring.

  • Cost per Adult: Currently closed due to COVID 19.
  • Part of Dublin Pass: Yes

You may be wondering why we’ve left out whisky tasting? Well, truth be told, we haven’t done any! I love Irish whisky but you can get a bunch of them in any bar so I hadn’t priotised actually going on a tour, next time!

We hope you enjoyed this guide and that you have a fantastic time in the capital of Dublin. Make use of the public bus system and trams to get around and squeeze in as much as possible!

If you prefer vlogs, enjoy our diary below:

 

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