Last Updated on 7th February 2021 by Sophie Nadeau
Capital of the Emerald Isle, European hotspot for some of the best pubs in the region, and home of Guinness: Dublin has plenty of claims to fame and is a must-visit for many travellers wishing to explore Europe. However, as with any city, there are some things you should know before you go! Here are the top Dublin travel tips I would offer first-time visitors to the city.
#1 Plan your accommodation well in advance!
Start your stay the right way by being well-prepared and booking all of your accommodation well ahead of your stay. I’ve personally stayed in the Temple District on several occasions (one time in a hostel and another in a B&B) and have loved it each time! Close to all of the major attractions and within easy walking distance of everything you could possibly want to see, check here for the best Temple Bar accommodation rates.
#2 Dublin is much more expensive than you might think
When I visited Dublin for the first time, it’s fair to say I was more than a little surprise at just how expensive the city is. From accommodation costs to going out for a meal, be sure to budget for a more expensive trip than you might have already planned for!
#3 Trinity College Library is a must-see
Easily one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, if there’s one Dublin attraction you can’t miss, it’s the Trinity College Library. Housed within the beautiful Trinity College University complex, the Library is all wooden shelves stacked from floor to ceiling in books and a plethora of marble busts.
Underneath the library, there’s a small display highlighting the Book of Kells, one of the most important ecclesiastical manuscripts to have survived from the Middle Ages. Be sure to arrive earlier in the day as opposed to later to avoid having to wait in queues for too long!
#4 The best time to visit Dublin is in the spring or Autumn
From the fall foliage of the autumn months to the beautiful cherry blossom in the spring, if you’re able to select what time of the year to visit the Irish capital city, then make it during the European shoulder season (i.e. in the spring or in the summer).
This way, everything will still be open and you’ll even have the benefit of reduced hotel prices and (likely) lower airfares. I particularly recommend planning your visit so as to coincide with the spring blooms, allowing you to enjoy the best of cherry blossoms in Dublin.
#5 It will probably rain at least once during your visit!
Truth be told, even if you’re visiting Dublin during the summer months, you can expect at least a shower or two during the course of your visit. As such, be sure to bring an umbrella and make sure to plan ahead.
Luckily, there are a plethora of indoor activities to keep you occupied when the weather is less than cooperative! Looking for more inspiration? Check out my guide to the best things to do in Dublin when it rains!
#6 Explore both sides of the River Liffey
Much of historic Dublin is distributed over both sides of the River Liffey, meaning that you’ll probably end up crossing over at least a handful of times during your stay in the city. On at least one of the crossings, be sure to take the Ha’Penny bridge.
This early 19th-century pedestrian bridge is officially known as the ‘Liffey Bridge’ and was constructed so as to serve as a safe passage from one side of Dublin to the other. Prior to this, seven ferries operated on a daily basis to transfer passengers across the River Liffey.
#7 Dublin has plenty of hidden gems worth discovering
If you’re in search of secret spots, then you’re in luck because Dublin has plenty! Between a rather unusual statue of Oscar Wilde and a church where there are mummies in the basement, the Irish Capital has no shortage of unique and quirky destinations. For more hidden places, check out my guide to the best-kept secrets of Dublin.
#8 Wear comfortable shoes!
When it comes to your time in Dublin, one thing is clear: you’ll be walking around a lot! As such, be sure to bring comfortable and flat walking shoes. In some of the more historic parts of the city, you’ll soon discover that there are cobblestones and little lanes, so be sure to leave your high heels at home.
Instead, wear some fashionable trainers, flat sandals, or cute boots so you can stay comfortable during your stay. I personally love these sandals and wear them on all of my adventures (I even have them in several colours)! During the daytime, I usually wear keds like these ones as they look good with dresses and can easily be packed into a small space in a suitcase. These boots are particularly cute for spring and autumn.
#9 Bring a universal travel adapter
The plug used in Dublin is the same as that used in the UK and so if you’re from much of the rest of the world, you’ll need to bring along an adapter so that you can charge all of your electronics on the go. Purchase a universal travel adapter like this one so that you can use it in multiple destinations!
#10 The Irish capital is easy to reach
Thanks to a closeby international airport, it couldn’t be easier to reach Dublin from a plethora of international destinations. Some of the cheapest flights into Europe go from New York to Dublin and the airport also serves a number of European destinations, including Paris, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, and Porto.
#11 Make the most of public transportation using a visitor card
And while we’re on the subject of public transportation, it’s worth noting that there’s one card which is relatively unknown to visitors to the city. The Leap Visitor Card is a great investment if you’re planning on hopping on and off public transportation, not least because most buses require change and don’t accept notes. Find more details about the visitor card here.
#12 Bring a tote along for your shopping!
If you’re looking to buy groceries (or even just some vintage clothing) during your stay in the Irish capital, then you should know that Ireland was one of the first countries in the EU to impose a plastic bag levy on bags. Better for the environment and better for your bank balance, bring a reusable bag along with you when you head out to the shops!
#13 Dublin has a fantastic café scene
What truly surprised me during our stay in Dublin is the sheer number of cafés and coffee shops dotted across the Irish capital. From bookstore hideaways to luxury establishments, there are a plethora of quaint places where you can read a good book, catch up with friends, or simply enjoy a great coffee. Check here for my guide to the best coffee shops in Dublin.
#14 Free WiFi in Dublin is available across the city
Travelling internationally and don’t have an international data plan? Luckily for you, there’s plenty of places where you can enjoy complimentary WiFi, including at Dublin airport, and all Dublin city buses. Most bars, cafés, and eateries also provide free WiFi for their customers.
#15 The Guinness Storehouse is an absolute must
Last but not least, the most visited tourist attraction in the Republic of Ireland is oh-so-touristic but in a good way! A must-see during your stay in Dublin, the Guinness Storehouse experience will give you the chance to learn all about the history of Ireland’s most famous tipple, that of Guinness.
You’ll even get a complimentary pint within the price of your ticket! In order to make the most of a trip inside ‘the largest pint glass in the world,’ visitors should set aside at least three or four hours to visit. Purchase a Guinness Storehouse ticket here in advance.
#16 Have an idea of what you want to see
Considering that Dublin is the capital of Ireland, it’s clear to see that visitors to the city will never be able to see everything in a single visit alone (or probably even two or three!) As such, be sure to prioritise the attractions you actually want to see, allowing enough time to relax and let the city reveal itself to you. Stuck for itinerary ideas? Check out this Dublin weekend itinerary.
#17 Enjoy a free Dublin walking tour
One of the best ways to enjoy most European cities is on your own two feet, preferably via a walking tour. And while there are plenty of paid walking tours available in the Irish capital, I personally recommend taking this free and self-guided walking tour of Dublin to allow you to explore the city at your own pace.