Thinking of going solo in Dublin? Well, you’ve made a great choice! After all, the friendly city was founded in the 9th-century by the Vikings, and as a result, is filled with history and plenty of quirky attractions. So whether you love tasting local food or want to soak up some literary inspirations, here’s a guide to the very best things to do in Dublin on your own.
Explore the National Museums
If you’re looking for both rainy day activities and free places to visit in Ireland, then the National Museums make for your go-to destinations. In total, there are four museums, and three can be found within Dublin itself. There’s the Archaeology Museum, Museum of Decorative Arts and History (housed in a former army barracks), and the Natural History Museum to be found all within the city limits.
Elsewhere in the city, the National Gallery of Dublin is also free to visit (with the exception of special exhibitions) and houses some of Ireland’s greatest artistic treasures. If you’re looking for something a little more outdoorsy, then you might consider a visit to the National Botanic Gardens.
Go searching for secret Irish locations
Throughout the city, there’s a whole treasure trove of locations, just waiting to be discovered. Between an abandoned church whose four walls are all that remains and a rather humorous statue of Oscar Wilde in the very heart of a popular park, there’s no shortage of secret spots in Dublin.
Elsewhere in the capital, St Michan’s Church dates back to the 11th-century and has mummies in the crypt, while in the middle of the Temple District, an exact replica of Rory Gallagher’s guitar hangs on an unsuspecting brick wall.
Take a self-guided Dublin walking tour
I’ve said it before and no doubt I’ll say it again: one of the best ways to truly get a handle on a new city is to explore it on your own two feet, preferably via a walking tour. My free and self-guided walking tour of Dublin takes you on a several hour journey of most of the main highlights of the city.
Enjoy the café scene
While the Irish capital is internationally famous for its sheer number of drinking establishments, what you may not know is that there are also plenty of incredible coffee shops and cafés worth checking out. Some of the top coffee shops in the city include the Queen of Tarts (excellent cakes!) and Peacock Green (Baroque interior and French-inspired pastries).
Seek out some literary locations
It’s well-known that many of the great literary writers from the 18th, 19th, and 20th-centuries all visited and grew to fell in love with Dublin. As such, there’s no shortage of literary locations throughout the city to uncover. So literary-orientated is Dublin, that it’s now designated as a UNESCO literary city (much like the Scottish Capital, Edinburgh).
Some must-see destinations include Sweney’s Pharmacy (mentioned in James Joyce’s Ulysses) and the Dublin Writers Museum (this small cultural space gives a glimpse into the world of the writers who once inhabited the city). For those who are ‘not museum people,’ you would do well to simply wander around the city and soak up the many attractions which inspired so many famous novels.
Visit a library (or two)
While in Dublin alone, there are two libraries you absolutely cannot afford to miss! The first is that of Trinity College Dublin. Likely the most famous library in all of the Emerald Isle, this iconic place of books was founded as early as 1592 and is the largest library in Dublin.
The other library in the city worth visiting is Marsh’s Library and can be found a little off the beaten tourist track. Situated close to 12th-century St Patrick’s Cathedral, the oldest public library in Dublin was founded in the early 18th century and was where Bram Stoker once studied and where Jonathan swift once read.
Go shopping around Temple Bar
Even if you’re not interested in visiting the many pubs that the Temple Bar district has to offer, you may well be interested to know that this area of the Capital is home to countless art galleries, as well as plenty of shopping opportunities. One of my favourite vintage shops in the area is Lucy’s Lounge. Though I don’t want to spoil the surprise, the wares are well worth perusing through!
Go on a day trip from Dublin
There are a plethora of incredible trips from Dublin just waiting to be taken. Highlights include the impossibly high Cliffs of Moher, as well as the equally as stunning Wicklow Mountains. If you don’t want to go it completely alone then you might consider joining a group trip tour from Dublin.