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Dublin is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Ireland, being home to nearly a quarter of all Irish people living in Ireland. And since Dublin is also home to the country’s main international airport, it’s the city the majority of visitors are going to encounter first.
Dublin is the Irish city that feels like a proper “city,” with tons of museums and attractions, plus no shortage of restaurants, pubs, and nightlife opportunities. Dublin is a university city, too, meaning it’s got a young vibe that can be a lot of fun.
If you’re headed to Dublin for the first time, here’s how I would spend 3 days there.
I most recently visited Dublin as part of a paid partnership with Globus Journeys. I did a new Choice Touring trip with them called Green with Envy: Ireland By Design, which was a lot of fun! I’ve previously visited Dublin 5 other times in the last 15 years.
When to visit Dublin
When is the best time to visit Dublin? Honestly, I don’t think there’s a bad time to visit this European capital! You’ll find the warmest weather during the summer months of July and August – but that’s also when it’s busiest and when prices are highest.
In Europe, traveling April/May and September/October is often the best in terms of decent weather but less crowds. Of course, with Dublin being a university city, it’s almost always bustling, and you can experience wet, chilly weather any time of year!
3 days in Dublin itinerary
Do you really need three whole days in Dublin? I actually think you can fit the main Dublin highlights into 2 days if you plan carefully, but with 3 days you’ll be able to squeeze in some unique things that I think will help you enjoy the city even more.
Feel free to steal this itinerary to help plan your own trip to Dublin!
Day 1 in Dublin
Today you’ll hit up some of the most famous sites in Dublin like the Guinness Storehouse, a cathedral, Temple Bar, and more.
Morning: Guinness Storehouse
You may as well start your visit to Dublin at the city’s top attraction: the Guinness Storehouse.
To call the Guinness Storehouse a brewery would be doing it a great disservice. It’s a full-on visitor experience, with 7 whole floors to explore. The lower floors walk you through the history of Guinness (including the famous 9,000-year lease signed by Arthur Guinness in 1759) and the brewing process, while the upper floors cover everything from historical advertising to how to properly taste Guinness.
Every visit to the Guinness Storehouse comes with a ticket so you can enjoy a pint at the Gravity Bar on the 7th floor, which offers 360-degree views of Dublin. (And no, it’s never too early to drink a pint of “the black stuff” in Ireland!)
I recommend starting here because the Guinness Storehouse is a little bit out of the way in St. James’s Gate, and also can get very busy later in the day.
You’ll want to allow about 2 hours for the self-guided tour here, and you can book your ticket here. (And while you do need to be 18+ to enjoy a pint at the Gravity Bar, kids CAN still go on the tour.)
Afterwards, you can either grab lunch at one of the restaurants inside the Guinness Storehouse, or head to The Liberties neighborhood nearby, where there are lots of dining options along Thomas St. and Meath St.
Afternoon: Visit a cathedral
The Liberties is within walking distance to both of Dublin’s cathedrals. (And yes, you read that right: Dublin has two cathedrals!)
Both cathedrals are medieval, with Christ Church being the older of the two. It was founded by a Viking king in the year 1030, and is known for its neo-Gothic nave, medieval crypt, and copy of the Magna Carta. Christ Church is also connected to Dublinia, a history museum with exhibits on Viking Dublin, Medieval Dublin, and the archaeologists who were responsible for uncovering Dublin’s past.
Nearby St. Patrick’s Cathedral was originally founded in 1191, and is said to be built on the site of a well that St. Patrick used to baptize people into Christianity. It’s both the largest and tallest church in Ireland, and is known for its stained glass windows, and for being the resting place of author Johnathan Swift.
Both cathedrals still have religious services and are open to the public for tours. You can pre-book tickets for either St. Patrick’s Cathedral or Christ Church, and you probably want to allow up to an hour for a visit.
Late afternoon: Dublin Castle
Next you might want to visit Dublin Castle, which is close to Christ Church Cathedral.
Dublin Castle dates back to 1204, when it was built as a fortress under the orders of King John of England. It’s gone through some renovations since that time (after a fire in the late 1600s, it was rebuilt as a Georgian Palace, which is what you can see today), but was used as the seat of British rule in Ireland until 1922.
Today, the castle is mostly a tourist attraction. You can visit the former state apartments and Gothic Chapel Royal, and also see where they’ve excavated past the history of the current castle into some Viking ruins.
The castle is open for both self-guided and guided tours, and you’ll want to allow up to an hour to visit.
Evening: River Liffey and Temple Bar
You’ll be close to the famous Temple Bar district at Dublin Castle, so it’ll only be a short walk over to this lively part of the city.
Start with a walk along the River Liffey to see the iconic Ha’penny Bridge. This intricate iron footbridge was built in 1816 as an alternative to a ferry that used to cross the river. Both the ferry and the bridge required the same toll: a ha’penny (or half penny). Today, the bridge is one of the most photographed sights in Dublin.
After that, it’s time to delve into the pub scene in Temple Bar. Yes, this area is super touristy. And yes, there are plenty of other (perhaps better) places to go out for a pint. But most first-time visitors to Dublin want to see the famous red pub in Temple Bar, and that’s totally okay!
You’ll find lots of historic pubs in this area (“the” Temple Bar Pub dates back to 1840!), many of which serve up food and live music alongside pints of Guinness and Irish coffees. A few worth checking out that offer it all include The Auld Dubliner, Oliver St. John Gogarty, and The Quays Bar.
I also love The Bank in this neighborhood, which is an elegant restaurant inside an opulent former bank building on College Green. (Reservations highly recommended for dinner.) You can always hit up a famous pub afterwards.