The Capital of the Emerald Isle is a buzzing, vibrant city filled with plenty of pubs, friendly locals, and lots of history. And while a weekend in the Irish capital is barely enough to scratch the surface, you’ll still begin to get a feel for Dublin. Here’s your ultimate guide to spending 2 days in Dublin; a guide and itinerary.
Day One in Dublin: Must-See Attractions & Tourist Hotspots
While day two of this itinerary is more about getting to know the foodie locations and culture of Dublin, day one of this 2 days in Dublin guide is all about ticking off those Irish bucket list items and snapping photos of all the must-see attractions the city has to offer.
Explore Trinity College & Book of Kells
I recommend seeing Trinity College and the Book of Kells as early as possible in the day as the places gets pretty busy (and the queues can become rather long) after lunch. The oldest university in Ireland was founded in 1592 by Elizabeth I and is called Trinity College Dublin.
One of the best places to see spring blossom in the city, it’s here where you’ll find the magnificent medieval manuscript, the Book of Kells, as well as one of the most beautiful libraries in Ireland, if not all of Europe. Should you visit at certain times during the day, there’s also the option to embark on a student-led tour for an extra- but well worth it- fee.
Embark on a Self-Guided Walking Tour
Like many European capital cities, Dublin is a place which is best explored on foot over the course of several days. This free and self-guided walking tour takes a couple of hours and will lead you through the top highlights of Dublin. I recommend setting aside at least 3 hours so as to make the most of all the places listed within the tour; there are several museums to admire and pubs at which to stop and drink a pint included!
Along the way, places of note include Dublin’s Castle, The Molly Malone Statue, and a wander over the Ha’Penny Bridge (so-called because once upon a time, you had to pay half a penny to cross the River Liffey). Be sure to bring some extra cash when you visit the Winding Stair Bookshop as there’s even an adjacent teahouse where you can drink coffee as you browse…
Drink Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse
For any beer fans, Guinness likely needs no introduction. The iconic tipple is so famous that there’s an entire museum and interactive experience dedicated to the brew. Once at the Storehouse, there’s the chance to sample beers, pull your own pint, and learn about the history of the brewery’s founder.
I recommend dedicating a whole afternoon there so as to make the most of the experience and ticket price. To save money on your ticket (and ensure you get a space at your preferred time slot), then you should purchase your ticket in advance.
Wander around the Temple Bar District
So-called thanks to the Temple Bar which sits in the very heart of this part of Dublin, Temple Bar district is the coolest place to hang out at night, as well as being the best place to go for a meal, and so you may want to book your accommodation close by!
Highlights of this area of Dublin (discounting the many bars and pubs!) include numerous galleries, as well as vintage clothing shops. I personally recommend Lucy’s Lounge. And while I don’t want to spoil your experience (and ruin the surprise), quirky decor even includes dolls scattered across the walls of the two floors!
Day 2 in Dublin: Off The Beaten Path & Exploring the City on a Local Level
Enjoy breakfast in a charming coffee shop
Dublin has a plethora of cafés, teahouses, and coffee shops in Dublin, all worth discovering. Some of the best places to go include Peacock Green & Co. (close to the city cathedral and filled with French-inspired decor) and Queen of Tarts (though the cakes are on the pricier side of things, portions are large and oh os delicious).
Visit the National Ireland Museums & the National Gallery
All of the four National Ireland Museums are free to visit, and each are worthy of a trip in their own right. Three of the museums are located within Dublin itself (the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts, and the Archaeology Museum), and the fourth can be found in Turlough Park, County Mayo.
While the Victorian Natural History Museum offers a glimpse into how museums were set out in the past (and is even complete with stunning Gothic architecture), the Archaeology Museum is home to some of Ireland’s greatest historical finds and treasures. If you’re looking to escape the crowds of Dublin, then you may want to consider a visit to the Decorative Arts & History Museum, which is set in former army barracks.
Elsewhere in the city, not far from the River Liffey, the National Gallery is also free to visit and is home to some of Ireland’s best painting collections. Highlights of the Gallery include a Vermeer, a Turner, a Caravaggio, and a Monet.
Seek out literary locations
For fans of literature, Dublin is a must-see destination. After all, once here there are locations which inspired locations within James Joyce’s novel, Ulysses, as well as a library (Marsh’s Library) where Bram Stoker once studied.
Elsewhere in the city, there’s a strange statue dedicated to Oscar Wilde, while the Dublin Writers Museum offers a delve into Dublin as a literary destination. And, if you’re looking for a 2 hour guided tour of the city which encompasses plenty of pubs en route, then you may want to purchase tickets for this Irish Literature Walking Tour.
Go in search of secret locations
Did you know that there’s an abandoned church in the North of the city by the name of St Kevin’s? Or that a replica of Rory Gallagher’s guitar hangs somewhat surreptitiously on a corner of the Temple Bar district? And even if you knew of both of those locations, did you know about the National Leprechaun Museum?
Or that there’s a somewhat forgotten 17th-century Huguenot cemetery behind a large set of iron grilled gates? Well, Dublin is home to plenty of hidden gems, all waiting to be sought out. Here’s my complete guide to secret spots in Dublin.
Where to stay in Dublin
Due to its status as a capital city, Ireland has no shortage of places to stay at every price range. From hostels for the backpackers to luxurious accommodation for those who love their holidays served with a slice of luxury, here are the best places to stay in Dublin (based on price and web reviews):
Abbey Court Hostel: For those looking for a hostel and a very affordable option, Abbey Court Hostel is centrally located and generally well-reviewed.
O’Neills Victorian Pub & Townhouse: This mid-range priced pub can be found in the very heart of the action, somewhere between the River Liffey and the National Gallery of Ireland.
The Shelbourne Dublin, A Renaissance Hotel: Situated in a hotel building dating back to the 19th-century, this five-star accommodation is just a ten-minute walk away from Trinity College Dublin.
Merrion Hotel: This five-star place to stay offers luxury at its very finest. Set within a restored Georgian building, the hotel can be found just over a five-minute walk away from the National Gallery of Ireland.
Tips for visiting Dublin for Two Days
Bring some waterproofs! Ireland isn’t called the ‘Emerald Isle’ for nothing. The country has been awarded its green nickname thanks to its rolling green hills, which are in turn so because of the sheer amount of rain the country receives. As such, barely a day of your Irish travels will likely go by without a downpour or two (particularly if you’re travelling in the shoulder or low seasons).
Purchase the Dublin Pass: If you want to get your money’s worth and are planning on seeing a number of Irish museums and cultural attractions while in Dublin, then you should consider investing in the Dublin Pass. The Irish Capital is not the cheapest destination to visit and any opportunity you can save money while visiting is definitely a bonus!